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Groundhog Day

By Northbank123

Reflections after last weekend

This piece is being written a few hours after the absolute shambles that masqueraded as a game of top-flight football at Villa Park. Watching Arsenal is always a highlight of the week. but today was two hours of my life I will never ever get back. We’ve now fired four blanks in thirteen league games. In fact, we’ve only scored seven goals in our seven away games, and, if you take out the anomalous spanking of Southampton, only seventeen in twelve. Not good enough by a long shot, especially for a team that quite commonly needs to score at least three goals to win a game.

Villa Park was not his finest hour…

The performance was all too familiar, with a complete lack of tempo and support for Giroud when we actually managed to get the ball forward. Villa are a team short on confidence, and desperately devoid of real ability, and the disillusionment of their fans hardly makes it the most daunting away trip. However, just as with Schalke, Sunderland, Stoke and Norwich, we rarely (if ever) looked like scoring a goal, making them look like a dangerous and dynamic team for periods of the game.

Worst of all has to be the substitutions, which were made far too late in any case. Why on earth was Wilshere on the bench if not to try and inject some quality and tempo into an insipid performance in order to try to stop us throwing points away? Bringing Gervinho off the bench to stumble around the pitch giving the ball away was embarrassing. The final two fingers up to the fans was bringing off Giroud for Coquelin, as though it was a point well-earned and we should protect it.

It seems patently obvious to any Arsenal fan I have ever spoken to that we need to play with two up front at least some of the time. Giroud has made rapid strides but gets isolated far too often. Even Chamakh prospered from playing with a partner at Reading, and Walcott or Podolski could well make effective partners in certain games for Giroud. Wenger unfortunately hasn’t learned from his lesson of forcing square pegs into round holes with Arshavin, as he seems insistent on banishing Podolski to the left wing when his talents really could be used up top.

Our squad is nowhere near good enough, with the obvious deficiencies that existed before the season started manifesting themselves for all to see. Rosicky did well for about six weeks last year but how can a lucrative two-year contract be justified when viewing his stay at the club as a whole? Especially, when you think that we forced Pires out by refusing to give him longer than one year. Our only useful left-back gets injured at the blowing of the wind. Diaby can’t be factored in when assessing the strength of the squad, such is his propensity for injury. We have one striker who is doing a good job in his first few months in English football but clearly can’t carry the burden alone. Our defence is as bad as ever.

What has Wenger done in the last seven years to convince the fans that he deserves to be the man commanding the supposedly-increased resources from 2014 onwards? The sponsorship money won’t be directed sufficiently towards transfer-funds anyway, Wenger treats the money as if it was his own, and who in this day and age could possibly find “super quality” players available? Llorente, or preferably Huntelaar, is desperately needed in January, and are available on the cheap, but chances are we’ll watch them go to somebody else.

Even the most delusional optimists would have been hard-pressed to genuinely foresee us as title-contenders this year. given the past few seasons and the departure of our best player (again) to an ex-rival. So how can Arsène Wenger stand in front of the cameras when we are more than ten points off the top already and still talk about the possibility of our winning the league? Surely even the most ardent AKB (for want of a better term) must feel their intelligence is being insulted. Nobody else on the planet thinks we are still in with a shot of winning the league.

It’s the same old story from week to week and season to season. We are told Wenger has done brilliantly on limited resources, but look at our turnover and, moreover, wage-bill and it shows us as far closer to Manchester United than it does to Everton and Spurs. But we’re competing with the latter two while United are yet again at the summit.

Wenger has filled the squad with overpaid underachievers and put his faith in the wrong principles and people. He is becoming an old man and blinded by his arrogance and stubbornness. In his entire 16-year reign we may have qualified for the Champions League consistently, but one final and one semi-final, where we were outclassed by a team that was subsequently outplayed in the final, is a dismal return given the number of teams that are in the bloated competition merely to make up the numbers. If Wenger thinks he’s been successful in the circumstances of the last few years, then it shows that he strives for mediocrity. There is no coherent argument based on the evidence of the last few years to say that we will ever go forward under Wenger. The sooner the man leaves the club the better. Even the fans have realised this with boos and chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” audibly aimed at Wenger at Villa Park, although the home support is somewhat more passive to say the least. Unfortunately we’ll probably scrape fourth place this year, and he’ll be rewarded with another contract on more money than any other Premier League manager.

30th November 2012

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User Comment and Reaction

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Bill  9:56am 30th Nov 2012

Wenger is a dictator kept in power by our delusional fans.As long as the stadium is full Wenger remains.The fans have the power to remove Wenger but choose not to. - Post No. 31397


CB  10:02am 30th Nov 2012

Wenger is right that everyone has an opinion, including the one above that he isn't as good as he was. This ignores that over the last few years that there is the extra money in the game (meaning that two teams have become financially ‘doped’ and able to buy success) and the new stadium (and the constraints that placed on Arsenal). Once you take these things into account you could argue that he is a better manager (to lose so many top players (Cesc, Henry, RVP, Nasri, Flamini amongst them) and still be in the CL each season, for example) than previously. He is recruiting well within his budget and regularly moulding new sides, both of which require much skill. As an Arsenal fan the lack of trophies is painful, especially with the previous success that Wenger has had and the expectations that go with that. Now there is more money coming in (shirt/stadium, kit, TV) he can operate in a more stable environment. Wenger has taken the (agreed well-paid) responsibility and performed better than probably any other manager would in the circumstances (and I include Mourinho, Ferguson and Guardiola in that, who have had lots more money to spend). I will support him and hope that other supporters can, given the facts above. I hope this is a coherent enough argument for you... - Post No. 31398


John Abrehart  10:07am 30th Nov 2012

I know that I have said this before, but with the increased sponsorship money and the crying need for reinforcements in the team, this January transfer window really is his last chance for me and he must settle terms with his 10 goal striker after 3 months of the season surely? - Post No. 31399


Ron  10:23am 30th Nov 2012

I doubt he really thinks we can win the title either, but hes never going to say it is he? He probably thinks the majority of that league is next to rubbish though and despite having only a very average team himself, still thinks its 'competitive'. The word 'competitive' is a loaded word, it doesnt necessarliy mean compete for the title, more compete for the top 4 which is all the Clubs bothered about after all. Somebody had a go at me the other day that my views meant that the romance in football and Arsenal has gone. Exactly, it has! Wheres the romance in not caring about the Cups (and usually aborting them), accepting we cant win a title and being content with getting into a euro tourny we ve no chance of winning. Stale, futile and sterile are the words it all brings to mind for me.I never thought id say this about Arsenal (and in fairness football geberally), but suspect many feel the same. - Post No. 31401


Jumpers for Goalposts  10:39am 30th Nov 2012

NB 123 - He's still in the job because too many people at our great Club are still blinded by his early success. Those same people are now terrified of change so they cling onto the past, in the vain hope that he'll turn it round. It amazes me that after 7 years of collapsing before the finishing line, so many Gooners still trust in Wenger. If you want him gone, get out and protest starting tomorrow!! It may not be a "Wenger Out" protest but it's hopefully the start of a fan fightback for much needed change at our Club. - Post No. 31402


Tony Evans  11:04am 30th Nov 2012

Exactly my feelings and I really can not fathom how any true Arsenal supporter could feel any differently. Wenger knows he has the backing of the board because he delivers what they want but why do we as fans sit passively back and let him have such an easy ride when he delivers us nothing in the way of trophies or even a squad of players we can be proud of again? By the way I am no glory hunter either - I just want to be proud of my club again and have some hope for the future and what is wrong with that. - Post No. 31403


Rocky RIP  11:10am 30th Nov 2012

John Abrehart - I agree. With 30 million coming in every season now thanks to the new sponorship deal, it has to make some difference in our ability to compete in the transfer market. At the very least not sell our best players and captains every year. If not, then I'm very concerned. Wenger/the club need to make January count, big time. TH14 alone will placate nobody. - Post No. 31405


chris dee  11:10am 30th Nov 2012

Yep ,we have reached the tipping point in Arsene's management of Arsenal where 4th place and no other trophy this season will be unnecceptable,and I'm sure he,and the board know this Sadly,because I believe most Gunners fans love the guy and want him to succeed, the knives have angrily been sharpened to the nth degree ready to attack him. But he can change the mixture of indifference,anger and frustration of us all,if he could see his way clear and play our strongest team in 4 matches in the Capitol Cup.Win those 4 matches and that would give us a trophy. We know how Arsene sneers at this competion but he badly underestimates what it would mean to the people who really do have Arsenal in their blood,the frigging fans. It would also give the players a taste of triumph and would help in the pursuit of other trophies.I agree with the old cliche,nothing succeeds like success. But alas Arsene has pledged to put out a full strength team against Olympiacos in a dead rubber but we will no doubt have the the pleasure of watching a weakened team captained by the inspirational Johann Djourou in the Capitol Cup. Give it a thought Arsene. - Post No. 31406


Jack  11:30am 30th Nov 2012

I love the way the writer takes away Arsenal goals ie.The 6 against Southampton to suit his agenda and mentions the fact we have only scored 7 away but fails to mention that we have conceded the least goals away in the Premiership.If you hate Arsenal that much don't go.It just the same old drivel from the AAA (Anti Arsenal Arsenal). - Post No. 31407


Rocky RIP  11:39am 30th Nov 2012

correction - Will NOT placacte people. Sorry. Subtle but important difference. - Post No. 31408


WE SOLD VAN PERSIE.....  11:42am 30th Nov 2012

to be honest "we want our arsenal back" we already have 7th in league take me back to the mid 80s....happy days. - Post No. 31409


Mark  12:15pm 30th Nov 2012

Here here, agree with everything in this post. The best thing that could happen to Arsenal this year would be to not qualify for the Champions League. We need to take a step back to go forward and as long as we keep qualifying for a competition we will never win, the board are happy and Wenger sees it as a great achievement. We've moved backwards whilst everyone else has moved forwards. I'm sick of people telling me that who else could manage Arsenal if Wenger left, there are plenty of people who could do it. No doubt Wenger has been a wonderful manager for Arsenal and achieved great things, but it's stale. Does past success mean we need to keep him for ever? Sir Alf Ramsey won England the World Cup but this counted for nothing when we didn't qualify in '74. For me the only way Wenger will go is if HE calls time and the only way he'll do that is if we don't qualify for CL. - Post No. 31411


Tony Evans  12:40pm 30th Nov 2012

CB - Good try but you are fooling nobody. Can we please put this myth to bed once and for all that Wenger is doing such a great job on a such a small budget because he imposes his own spending limits to suit his own agenda and not once have we heard the board say that there is no money available to him should he want it. If they had may be I would think differently about Wenger and be more sympathetic but even then there is a great deal to question about his transfer dealings, his tactics, the amounts of money he pays to the likes of Djourou, his insistance on playing people out of position, and most importantly that his teams now have so little backbone or consistancy. - Post No. 31414


Der Projekt ist Kaput  13:03pm 30th Nov 2012

To paraphrase an African proverb: 'He who considers himself too small to make a difference, has never tried to sleep with a mosquito in the bedroom'. Protest. Demonstrate. Make the difference. Get our club back. - Post No. 31416


maguiresbridge gooner  13:20pm 30th Nov 2012

Highlight of the week ? There's not much to get high about lately where arsenal's concerned unless your a shareholder. There's been plenty of two finger salutes to the fans alright from all the team, we're all aware by now the more something needs doing ie changes, coaching,lessons learned, signings, etc, and especially if the fans want it the less chance there is of it happening. OGL will not be told what to do or how to do it(by anyone)like you say stubborn and arrogant. Mediocrity he's certainly been successful at that. - Post No. 31417


billthered  14:08pm 30th Nov 2012

The question we must ask is who gives contracts to players who we have no intentions of playing because they are either no good or their attitude stinks.I'm talking about 50k plus for rubbish that cant get into championship sides someone has to take the blame for them.I know GG is old hat but do you think he would give contracts to players who showed a lack of passion and before anyone tells me we had bad players under him I know that but when they came off the park we could see sweat stains and we could not fault their attitude. - Post No. 31418


ATID  14:35pm 30th Nov 2012

Saturday's game will be interesting. If Swansea win (and you would be a mug to bet on an easy home win) it is inevitable that the crowd reaction will be ugly and the pressure for change will mount. From my seat, where I have a good view of the technical area, it will be difficult choice between watching AW's body language and the game on the pitch. I also agree with Chris Dee when he said that the manager should play his best squad in the League Cup games. The Olympiacos game is absolutely meaningless. It will make no difference to our chances of winning the CL whether we win the group or come second. We all know that the squad isn't good enough to get to the final let alone win it. There is a growing lack of confidence within the squad which I think can only be sorted out by winning some genuine silverware. Our best chance of that is in the League Cup. - Post No. 31420


Kevin Tonkinson  15:21pm 30th Nov 2012

Unfortunately we're now one of the teams that make up the numbers in the CL. The way he dismissed the ideas of the fans because they haven't been a football manager for 30 years was disgraceful. Wenger used to be the innovator, now he's stuck in the early 2000s. - Post No. 31422


Moscow Gooner  15:21pm 30th Nov 2012

It s quite hard for those who argue (quite plausibly) that the cash streaming into Citeh and Chelski has changed the game irrevocably, to use this argument to defend AW s lack of tactical awareness and increasingly bizarre 'pre programmed' substitutions. (Not to mention the continued use of players out of position.) Why keep Walcott on the bench for so much of the season? Why only give Arshavin 4 or 5 minutes on the pitch at one time to make an impact? Why not use Wlishere at Villa Park? Is that because of the burden we re carrying for building a new stadium?! All going to change when FFP comes in?? - Post No. 31423


Der Projekt ist Kaput  15:37pm 30th Nov 2012

@Kevin Tonkinson - mate, agree absolutely about making up the numbers in the CL, but we are now simply making up the numbers in the Premier League, too. No team is intimidated by us anymore and they all play us now (with just cause) like they can turn us over. - Post No. 31424


Bard  16:18pm 30th Nov 2012

Your use of the phrase 'overpaid underachievers' sums it up perfectly. Villa was the epitome of a side going through the motions. They clearly don't believe they can win the title and from the looks of it don't care too much either. I have never been anti Wenger but I do believe that he had past his sellby date. It happens to al managers. As you rightly say its a myth that he has managed on a shoe string. Our club is full of the mediocre and the injured all on very good wages and as a consequence the squad is threadbare. I have seen nothing from this team that suggests they are a shoe in for a Champions League spot on the contrary we look decidely mid table. In a perverse way I almost hope it goes pearshaped so the real problems can be highlighted. To those who says we won't have a life after Wenger I say there are plenty of top class managers who would jump at the chance of managing Arsenal. - Post No. 31426


Ron  17:04pm 30th Nov 2012

Kevin and Der Projekt - We're making up the numbers in the domestic Cups as well fella's. Of our own choosing! - Post No. 31427


maguiresbridge gooner  17:06pm 30th Nov 2012

Der Projekt ist Kaput spot on, long gone are the days when we used to intimidate the opposition and they hated playing us. They've all had wengers number for years, they must love playing us now. - Post No. 31428


Charlie  17:17pm 30th Nov 2012

Hi great article, I have been an Arsenal fan now for ten years. I am thinking of changing clubs next year and will be supporting the black scarf march tommorrow with all the other WOB's. A friend of mine has told me that the March is to be done in fancy dress.Can someone confirm either way as I don't want to come dressed as Widow Twankey if this is not correct. By the way I supported United in the 90's and Liverpool in the 80's so I've always had the glory. Up with the WOB's down with the AKB's. - Post No. 31429


Fozzy's mate  18:33pm 30th Nov 2012

I agree with those who we have/will soon reach a tipping point. With the new deals and DDT pronouncing that in 2 years we will be the richest club in the world OGLs get out of jail free card will finally be extinguished. We are buying at the prices we were in 2000 but paying 3 times as much at the turnstile! - Post No. 31431


Nutty's Right Peg  23:28pm 30th Nov 2012

Can't really argue with any of the author's sentiments. Whilst Giroud has settles in now quite well & Podolski is proven class, the fact one is played on his own & the other banished to the wing a la Bendtner tells you all you need to know about the deluded behaviour of our once great and visionary leader.It defies logic to replace a man whose goals held us together last season with two strikers with no premiership experience whatsoever between them, it stands to reason they'll need a decent chunk of games this season to bed in, by which time any remote hopes of a premiership title challenge have already disapeared. Too much money in wages thrown at players either, always injured/not good enough or worringly in some cases,both. - Post No. 31433


LastOne  0:14am 1st Dec 2012

Terrible Wenger. Without below par results against the likes of Sunderland (Ho-D), Norwich (Aw-L), Fulham (Ho-D) and Aston Villa (Aw-D) = 7-9 points loss and WITH the loses to MUnited and Chelsea we would still be third with 28-30 points, very close to the Manchester leaders (33 & 32 points). Taking in consideration squandered chances at Stoke (Aw-D) = +2 points, we should have been in a real contention for the top spot in PL. There you lose the title(s) i.e. against the mid+bottom teams. For Christ sake, Arsenal can not beat Aston Villa which is on 18th and Wenger is satisfied with the draw!? Wenger OUT NOW!! - Post No. 31434


Jason B  1:44am 1st Dec 2012

Well we'd better start calling for his head at home games,then.Starting with the Swansea game.That is what we have to start doing if we want change.If we don't,then we cannot complain. - Post No. 31435


DW Thomas  4:13am 1st Dec 2012

I haven't submitted any articles in a while as my passion is just barely burning for Arsenal these days. But I agree, yet again, we are in another season of mediocrity. That word sums our once great club up,in a nutshell. Wenger is an arrogant, disrespectful, has been. His past gives him confidence to live in a bizarre world where only he makes the rules. Is that not a dictator? The worst part about everything these days is that we fans are being taken for mugs. Our minds say boycott, protest. Yet, in our hearts we want to hope. Well, my last bit of hope is slowly fading away. No manager should make what Wenger makes and be allowed to fail repeatedly without consequences. Instead of questioning him at every wrong turn he makes, as we should, it is our right, too many of us give in to a false hope/belief that he will eventually turn it around. Not a chance as he won't change. And now his own belief in his omnipotence is so often present in his comments to the media and fans. Spirit, belief, tiredness, jaded, etc. are all the words of a snake oil salesman. He is what I would call a politician, not a manager. Says anything but what is real and true and obvious. Take Diaby. Great player, potentially. 3 weeks now is 8-10 weeks out. Again. That alone represents the incompetence running amok at the club. Top to bottom, new ideas and change are badly needed. - Post No. 31436


George  9:45am 1st Dec 2012

Wenger’s point of having funds to reinforce the squad this January is ambidextrous in my candid opinion. Its a ploy to see an increase in numbers at the stadium against the backdrop of falling ticket sales. I bet you, January will come and he will start naming the good players we have hence no need to beef up the squad. The delusion Arsenal fans must wake up from their slumber and wise up.They should realise that Wenger has lost it and must exit arsenal. As one writer said, Change is something everybody dislikes except a baby with a wet diaper. They must realise that you cant do the same thing and expect different results. In Arsenal’s situation, change is inevitable considering our poor run of disappointing performance. - Post No. 31439


Andy  17:43pm 1st Dec 2012

Anyone still think Wenger is the right man for the job?.At any other club he would be sacked by now. - Post No. 31441


Bonsoir tout le monde  19:12pm 1st Dec 2012

i see that j'ai managed to convince tout le monde that it is the Board's fault that we are not spending. ha. well they are spending. on Me ! £7mpa to be precise. plus i get a cut of ze profits so i am completement motivated to make certain that we make a profite every year. how to do that ? eh bien cest simple. Finish 4th, qualify for Shampions league, get ze income from zhis, train up ze players and sell sthem onto the clubs which pay too much. City, Man U, Chelsea, Barca. £16m pour Song ? magnifique - he's going for a song eh ? £16m pour Toure ? fabulous. they got the wrong brother. and so on and so forth. i am so clever i have outsmarted those stupid british fans who like the cold and wet to watch their football. arsenal fans are particulary stupide i must say. - Post No. 31442


Dandy Mod  21:06pm 1st Dec 2012

Arsene is the right man still. He will never abandon our sinking ship. You just wait for FFP and all that. Good night! - Post No. 31443


Any Old Lumber!  21:21pm 1st Dec 2012

After today's debacle, I just want to say to the Wengerites..''no knee jerk reactions please.'' - Post No. 31444


Wombledin  0:35am 2nd Dec 2012

A very good summary of the AMG (Arsene Must Go) arguments, and many of them hard to argue against frankly. We'll scrape into the Europa league this year (can't see third or fourth this time frankly), and Wenger will get one more season to redeem himself before shoving off when his contract expires. - Post No. 31449


tfSmudge  23:47pm 2nd Dec 2012

Overpaid underachievers, complacent, predictible and totally average... And that's just the board. Gazidis out... But before we all join in with the Wenger out campaign consider this: Wenger's won nothing without Dein – reinstate him now... Never mind the bollox - Post No. 31532


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