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White Hart pain for Wenger

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Phil McNulty | 06:25 UK time, Monday, 9 February 2009

Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger are aiming at contrasting goals as the Premier League campaign enters its final straight - and a swift lesson in body language during the north London derby deadlock told you who was more confident of hitting the target.

Redknapp's eyes are solely on salvation for Spurs after being employed to mount a rescue job at White Hart Lane, while failure to reach the Champions League is an option Wenger cannot afford to contemplate.

White Hart Lane offers almost a "reach out and touch" experience when it comes to examining Premier League managers at close quarters under intense pressure - and what an education it was.

Spurs were frustrated at a failure to break down determined 10-man Arsenal, operating in reduced circumstances after the north London derby witnessed another public demonstration of Emmanuel Eboue's flawed temperament.

But Redknapp was a figure of relative calm during the game and was able to talk positively in his post-match inquest about the promising signs shown by his expensively re-shaped side.

Redknapp's only serious show of frustration came when Aaron Lennon wasted a perfect crossing opportunity late on - it will not be the last time he unleashes a high-pitched squeal in those circumstances - and when Luka Modric missed Spurs' best chance in injury time.

Wenger issued similarly optimistic bulletins about Arsenal, but his agitated display in the technical area hinted at what he must accept in his darker moments - that they are in serious danger of missing out on the money, prestige and attraction of next season's Champions League.

He stalked the touchline, going through the full range of emotions - arms outstretched, imploring his players, turning to remonstrate with his backroom staff and indulging in several discussions with the fourth official.

The frustration continued afterwards when he complained bitterly about referee Mike Dean's decision to rule out Eboue's early goal.

He insisted he did not want "to develop a paranoia" about referees - at which point you could have gambled your mortgage and life savings on this particular sentence being followed by the word "but".

Wenger said a foul on Jonathan Woodgate was "illusionary" - a term that can also be applied to any suggestions Arsenal remain as serious title contenders.

He is a man and a coach who deserves the greatest admiration for the football principles he simply refuses to desert, but it did not appear that watching this match contained any moments of pleasure or satisfaction for him.

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal, of course, were resilient and may well have been satisfied to escape from White Hart Lane with a point. The bigger picture, however, is not a promising one.

The creative spark has temporarily left this Arsenal team. Wenger must hope the return of injured Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, plus the introduction of Andrey Arshavin will re-ignite it.

But the longer the flame is extinguished, the greater the danger will become of Arsenal falling away in fifth, or possibly even sixth, position in the Premier League.

Of course, Wenger can point to a run of 11 games unbeaten - but seven of those have been draws so that particular statistics tells a white lie. If you cannot turn some of those draws into wins you will not win titles.

The purists will hope they recover the poise and style that delights us all. The realists will tell you the purists may not get their wish this season.

And there is also a question of balance that may not neccessarily be addressed by the acquisition of Arshavin.

Arshavin is lavishly-gifted, but it is hard not to believe a more pressing requirement is a central midfield player of power and presence to complement Fabregas. Alex Song is an able stand-in rather than an automatic choice.

Wenger can have no complaints about Eboue's red card - or at least he should not have. He droned on and on before referee Dean rightly lost patience and brandished the yellow that effectively set him up for his sending off in the wake of a needless flick at Modric.

Spurs failed to take advantage of that numerical supremacy, and there will be lingering annoyance that they wasted a perfect opportunity to record their first league win against Arsenal in 10 years.

But if Redknapp's more modest target is to avoid relegation while building for next season, then he had reason to be well satisfied. Spurs will not be in the relegation zone at season's end.

Redknapp has performed a vital task by restoring confidence to Luka Modric. The Croatian was outstanding, although his position on the left flank narrowed Spurs' style and was hopefully a temporary tactical measure.

Wilson Palacios also hinted at great promise, although that £14m transfer fee from Wigan remains eye-wateringly high. He is a muscular figure who enjoyed the physical aspects of the north London derby and will provide a perfect counterpoint to the delicate Modric in future.

In fact, Palacios looked like the sort of powerful workhorse that would not go amiss in the current Arsenal team.

Robbie Keane's return to White Hart Lane - hugely welcomed despite his summer desertion to Liverpool - came and went. He was busy and had a couple of opportunities, but still looked like the next case for Redknapp's well-practised art of rebuilding confidence and self-belief.

Redknapp will move forward with increased confidence about Spurs' ability to move away from the wrong end of the table - for Wenger, the agonies on show on the White Hart Lane touchline may worsen unless Arsenal rediscover the creation that has become their hallmark.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Will Harry keep Porstmouth up? I think so.

  • Comment number 2.

    Tottenham (not portsmouth lol)

  • Comment number 3.


    An okay effort by your standards, but a lot of stating the obvious about the Gunners and for that matter Spurs.
    However I'm in agreement about Wenger and cannot understand how such a well educated coach will not change his approach to win games like this. Time after time Arsenal will not change and with many a noise being made by the board that club can cope without CL football next season, they seem resigned to the fact.
    Let's face it not qualifying means they will lose players next year and it will be harder for them to qualify.
    As for Spurs you are I believe a little off target here, Spurs have some seriously difficult games left and they are horrendous on the road, they may escape the Championship but only on the last day

  • Comment number 4.

    we're not going to win the league this year and we're not playing well, but neither are chelsea who have spent zillions. not qualifying for the champions league is only a disaster if players like fabregas leave, but at the end of the day no club, even man utd, could cope with the injuries to key players we've had.
    that's what did for us last year and i mantain that given a clean bill of health we are good enough to challenge for the title. the manager (and their respective national coaches) certainly believe that diaby and song are good enough to fill the void left by vieira/flamini and to say song is a stand in after his performance on sunday is unfair. i thought he was the best player on the park, but maybee because he didn't cost £14m he didn't catch the eye.

  • Comment number 5.

    Infact Phil

    The more I think about it why don't you get stuck into Wenger and try to understand why he will not change his tactics or philosophy to get a result, like Ferguson. I'm not Man United fan but he changes his team to suit the the challenge

    Is Wenger?

    a) Lazy
    b) Stubborn
    c) Narrow Minded
    d) Afraid of spending someone else's money?
    e) Destined to undo the work he has made is hallmark
    f) Probably all of the above and more

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Why are you bleating about injures?
    Wenger can buy nearly whoever he wants but refuses whinging thankyou trying coping with the squad size of Bolton or Everton
    Even then all Prem teams have no right to get upset compared to the rest of the English leagues, try again I'm afraid......

  • Comment number 8.

    Good blog. Arsenal may implode if they fail to make the Champions League. I foresee several players going on the lam.

  • Comment number 9.

    Arsenal can't carry injuries well... the Walcott and Fabregas injuries - particularly Fabregas because can carry a team - have been massive.

    But I tell you what Phil, you sneer and makes snide remarks at a club trying to do things the proper way instead of spending another mans billions. You probably can't wait for City to get into the top 4 to change things and to hell with a side like Arsenal that are trying to build a decent club.

    And whoever took the job at Spurs was going to keep them up, their squad is far too good to stay in the relegation zone. Redknapp is so far doing a pretty average but easy job.

  • Comment number 10.

    I should add that the chances of Arsenal making the top four depends now on how badly Chelsea plays. As for Aston Villa, its now a matter of 2nd or 3rd place, no longer top four.

  • Comment number 11.

    I love the fact commentators continue to assert Arsharvin was the wrong purchase and we needed a "powerhouse" midfielder or another "big, tall" centre back. All this proves is that most commentators don't watch most Arsenal games. If they did they would have seen us concede about 3 league goals since Fab was injured against Liverpool. What does this tell you. That on the whole Arsenal aren't that bad defensively, and when deprived of the player who creates the constant, possesian based football we usually play the defenders and DM get an easeir ride (similar to every other team in the prem.) and we concede hardly at all. Whats missing has been attacking talent with Fab. out, and with it we may concede more but we'll get less draws as well. because as pointed out, 7 draws out of 11 undefeated is less good than 9 wins and two losses.

  • Comment number 12.

    5. The first one is correct. Wenger is suicidially stubborn and cannot bring himself to admit that he is going down the wrong path. He has talked the youngsters up so much that if he changes tack the press will start crowing "We told you so Arsene!" I'm an Arsenal fan but I do admire the way in which Ferguson has continually reinvented United over his reign, yes he has made some mistakes and gone down blind alleys, Veron, Blomqvist and Taibi for example, but to his credit he has realised at an early stage and reversed course, usually covering himself by launching a tirade at the media!

    The harsh truth is that some of Wenger's supposed prodigies are just not good enough, Alex Song is one of the biggest wastes of space ever to disgrace an Arsenal jersey, this guy makes you nostalgic for people like Steve Williams and that is really saying something! Denilson looks like a player whose confidence has been shot by being played out of position as a holding midfielder which he is clearly unsuited to and Eboue is a hot headed muppet who is a liability in pressure games. The thing that really annoyed me and the other fans watching on TV yesterday was that Wenger only used 1 sub! He is hopeless at changing things round and usually leaves it far too late to do so anyway. Why not have brought on Arshavin for the last quarter when Spurs were tiring and he could have had some time and space to give a killer ball? Why not have brought Eduardo on for Adebayor instead of Wenger's little pet Bentdner, another player who is simply not good enough for the PL?

    Just to finish off this rant! MOM yesterday was Palacios, a player we had on trial and let go as not being good enough and then Wenger recommends him to Steve Bruce! Why weren't we back in for him? We haven't replaced Flamini and that's what has killed us this year! The other problem we have is that Wenger is given far too much power at the club. The board should be asking him hard questions about his strategy and the poor performances, instead they're fawning at the altar of St. Arsene. Maybe we need to finish outside the top 4 for our board and manager to finally wake up and smell the coffee!

    Rant over!

  • Comment number 13.

    i think one of the sunday papers had it right this weekend.

    Wenger must thank god for rafa benitez.

    Ive said this for a couple of seasons now, if i were an arsenal fan id have lost patience with Wengers style over substance.

    This transfer window was a classic example, the whole footballing world can see that arsenal are crying out for a holding player but wenger goes out and splashes how much no a creative player who's hardly young!

    I think this year will be wenger's lsat at arsenal,ramos is only on a 6 month contract and his signings have failed to excite the madrid fans. Wenger will be outstanding in spain, the crowds will love his approach and he will get the money he wants

  • Comment number 14.

    From this I can only conclude that Phil McNulty is in the ranks of the Flash 'Arry can do no wrong brigade of London hacks.

    If anyone else had inherited a team which had just had 60 odd million spent on it over the last couple of years then you would expect them to be pushing top half/UEFA qualification spots, even a team in the position Spurs were when 'Arry took over.
    When he took over and they won a couple you all bought into it and were saying what a fantastic manager he was. Then they went back to their old ways and out came the lines about having a wafer thin squad and again you all bought it. No-one ever questioned Redknapp about this sudden change of fortunes.

    Now after Spurs spent £40+ million in January you are making out like he is some sort of managerial genius because he will probably keep Spurs up.

    Still at least now the transfer window's over he can stop talking about how much he would love to sign players from other teams before making a really low offer for them!

  • Comment number 15.

    richyroyston, comment 4:

    You state that "at the end of the day no club, even man utd, could cope with the injuries to key players we've had"....

    You seem to neglect the fact that United has missed this season

    1. Wes Brown
    2. Gary Neville
    3. Rio Ferdinand
    4. Patrice Evra
    5. Johnny Evans
    6. Owen Hargreaves
    7. Paul Scholes
    8. Anderson
    9. Nani
    10. Park ji Sung
    11. Cristiano Ronaldo
    12. Wayne Rooney
    13. Michael Carrick
    14. Rafael
    15. Fabio

    And by the way, each of these players has missed at least a month of football, many at the same time.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think that Andy Gray's post-match analysis was far superior to this. Wenger is revolutionising the game again, transforming midfield tactics to remove the 'holding' player. This will take time but players like Arshavin, Fabregas and Denilson will prove this.

    Gray also said that despite the numerical disadvantage Arsenal went for the win, playing 2 up top until being forced to bring back van Persie to midfield. He didn't complain about the sending off, saying if anyone saw it then it was the right thing to do.

    As for imploding without the Champions League? They are financed without relying on that income - I doubt players will want to leave given the potential and bad luck of having so many key players missing through injury.

  • Comment number 17.

    Villa have no recent experience of competing in the top 4. I reckon Chelsea will come good by season end. But Arsenal will lose out tho. Here is my Prediction for the season.

    20.West Brom

  • Comment number 18.

    at 8.42 I posted a response which broke the rules not sure why-Eboue was booked for doing his job on the 1st yellow and rightly booked for the 2nd yellow so he should have stayed on.

    Wenger was right about the goal Woodgate fell over and was not pushed.

    Spurs fans were poor in their response to the Adebayor injury and Clichy who was clearly injured.

    I criticised Redknapp and Fereguson in my first response better not do that again or it will be removed.

    If you are going to remove something please tell us why, I was not defamatory, libellous or used foul language-poor show BBC

  • Comment number 19.

    Good blog but I feel you failed to point out the goal which was disallowed should of stood. There was no foul involved in that incidident and if that would of stood I don't think Eboue wouldn't of done what he did even though it was stupid and deserved a the two cards he got it would have been 1 nil to the Arsenal all over again!

  • Comment number 20.

    wenger needs palacios.
    you were left wondering which team was aiming for champions league and which one was trying to avoid relegation. spurs were a good level above arsenal yesterday even at 11v11.

  • Comment number 21.

    Taken from your match report,
    "Modric has shown signs of flourishing under Redknapp's guidance after struggling, along with many others, under the stewardship of Juande Ramos."
    Is this fair journalism?
    How many players moving to other countries settle instantly? Glenn Hoddle was quoted as saying (Sunday Mirror) that it takes at least 3 months. This comment is just an unnecessary dig at Ramos.
    Please feel free to explain yourself

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    what is frustrating is media sensationilising of football... Arsenal left a ground which all the top teams have struggled at this season with a draw, playing with 10 men for most of the game look at Arsenals next 7 games and look at the players they are due to have return, you may see a different picture as a pose to the narrow minded senasationilist rubbish that tends to be spouted because mindless Sky Sports fan buy in to it!

  • Comment number 24.

    Who is Arsene going to blame this time? Poor performance. Eboue seriously does not warrant a starting berth in that team. What are playing like Vela doing on the bench? And you know it's gone wrong when you have Bendtner as plan B - or your only proper striker on the bench. For all those Arsenal fans who think Eduardo would do much better - I don't think you have enough evidence to say that. He was poor in the first half of the season, and it's a pity he got injured when he started scoring. But that doesn't mean he'd put away the chances Adebayor is missing. Look at Rooney - one hot scoring goal streak every year followed by months without a goal. Eduardo wouldn't be prone to this dip in form either!

  • Comment number 25.

    Wenger whinges with the best of them. This issue notwithstanding, he has created a team of great talent, who are underperforming.

    Spurs, by contrast have a charismatic, relaistic manager but are languishing perilously close to relegation.

    Compare the financial outlay of the 2 teams. We have all had our eyes turned by Man City's extreme wealth but Spurs have lavished huge amounts of money in the past couple of years. Bent (£16M0), Modric, Corluka, Palacios, Keane (again), Pavlyuchenko, Defoe, Bentley, the list goes on. Ok, they did well from Berbatov, but they must have spent more than Liverpool, Chelsea and certainly Arsenal in the last 2 years. Yet here we are, slating Arsenal while Spurs get a gentle ride - wrong way round, I think!

  • Comment number 26.


    This article definitely suggests that a point was bad news for Arsenal and better for Spurs. But how so?? Didn't Man Utd draw at White Hart Lane with 11 men? Didn't Liverpool lose? It can be a difficult ground to visit and so a point, with 10 men, is a good result. True, it doesn't help the push for a top 4 place but it was the best they could have hoped for really. Just take the point and move on.

    Arsenal actually have, on paper, a very friendly set of fixtures coming up. The top 4 is out of their hands in a way, but i can't help think that a very good return from the run-in will be good enough to displace one team (Villa, or Chelsea?).

    As for Spurs, i think the others have got it just about right. Harry won a couple of games when he took over and they were in a similar position to where they are now. Little progress. I think they will stay up but they are a terrible example of how to run a club. In my whole life following football Spurs have been in crisis or one step away from a crisis.

  • Comment number 27.

    To no point did I say Arsenal would implode without the Champions League, but you are kidding yourself if you do not think they would be seriously damaged by failure to qualify.

    The money is vital, the prestige is vital and who is to say some players may not want to leave is they finish outside the top four?

    Would you be satisfied to just qualify for the Uefa Cup after all your recently experiences in the Champions League?

  • Comment number 28.

    As a neutral on this I can only assume that Richyburger is a gooner. Like him or loathe him Harry Redknapp has made an enormous difference to Spurs since he arrived, just look at the points they are winning compared with under Ramos. They are still inconsistent and I think they will still be in the relegation mix to the end of the season, but as they were playing before he arrived they would be almost down now.

    As for Wenger, he has produced fantastic football consistently almost since his arrival, but only when Arsenal had ball winners in midfield have they looked like winning things. Viera has never been replaced and this has been a serious omission on Wenger's part. The only team ever who consistently won by playing fantastic football were the 1970 Brazil side, and they were a one off.

    The two managers styles when interviewed couldn't be more different either. While Redknapp is open to the point where you wish he would stop, Wenger only ever sees fouls by opponents and only ever loses (or in this case fails to win) matches because of bad refereeing. This makes neither manager a neutrals favourite, but you can't deny the joy of watching Arsenal when they are in full flow...

  • Comment number 29.

    #12 - I think you'll find that the new Chief Exec will be expected to question Arsene in his new portfolio and will be expected to be the man to ask the questions about the manager's strategy.

    #13 - Incorrect. Arsene Wenger is a man of principle. Like him or loathe him nobody can argue with that fact. He has NEVER broken a contract in his life and he will not do so this summer. Secondly, if you think Wenger would be attracted by Madrid then you have no understanding of what makes the man tick. He's not after a billion pound transfer budget and trigger happy directors. He craves stability.

    And to all those who generally have knocked him this season - you have a point. The centre half issue has gone on too long now. Sol Campbell went off the rails in February 2006. Three years later we sit here with no proper replacement. Yes we will have spells (as we are at the moment) where we are defending better and conceeding fewer goals, but ultimately over a season we will conceed too many.

    The defensive midfielder question is a more complex one. Mathieu Flamini was our best player last season and at the point that Arsene allowed Diarra to leave he clearly had Flamini's word that he was staying. Naive? Maybe.

    Since failing to sign whoever his genuine target was in August (it was not Alonso) he has decided to get through this season with the youngsters (Denilson, Song, Diaby). None of them have really stood up to the plate and as a result I think he will have no option but to buy someone in the summer.

    But as an attacking force we've been hamstrung by a serious run of awful injury luck. When Rosicky and Eduardo bowed out of last season we were 5 points clear at the top. This season with neither of them kicking a ball, Walcott missing the most part, Fabregas being out for half a season and Adebayor about to start his 3 medium term lay off of the campaign it has simply been too much to cope with. In Wenger's plan I'm sure Nasri would have been eased in this season, instead he's played almost every game. Van Persie has to be handled gently with his injury record, but again he's played 90% of matches.

    I honeslty believe we are now competing with Chelsea and Everton for 4th. Which is frustrating and disappointing, but we have it within us to beat anybody in this league home or away. Our run in looks manageable and the FA Cup is still a realistic target.

    This season is not lost yet - however much Mr McNulty might want to say it is.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Of course, Wenger can point to a run of 11 games unbeaten - but seven of those have been draws so that particular statistics tells a white lie. If you cannot turn some of those draws into wins you will not win titles."

    I think you'll find we've won 5 and drawn 6 of our last 11 premier league games. And whilst I suspect you mean in all competitions, the fact you've talked about champions league qualification would suggest you are more concerned with our league form.

    The fact that Spurs' holding midfielder got man of the match in a game where they had a man advantage for the best part of an hour says an awful lot about our neighbours.

  • Comment number 31.

    The north london derby showed two teams ihaving problems.

    Are still in the thick of it. Arsenal are still a good team but we should have pressed the advantage. Disappointed that Modric didn't do better at the death but a draw is always better than the expected loss. I think we'll do well to finish 14th.
    I expect that Mr Levy would like to see us retain the Carling Cup for all the money spent.

    Arsenal have not done anything since 2004 (apart from winning the FA cup on pens 05). Looks to me more like a business than a football club. Pretty football? yes. Tangible results? No. Who this is down to I don't know but I can't see Cesc of RvP hanging around just to be able to say "I scored the goal that secured another year of CL football".
    WRT Arshavin, is he Cesc's replacement? Or does Arsene like hoarding creative central midfield types?

  • Comment number 32.

    Is Wenger the new Nicholson?

    Bill Nic was a legend, a great man, but he had to go because his style and approach became outdated, tired. Spurs never really recovered, although did ok in a hit and miss way.

    Wenger is much the same. Those above (ie #16) that say there is potential, that Wenger is re-inventing the game, are missing a point: he has been doing this for over four years now, with zero success. His team are treading water for the optimist, for others they are going backwards.

    Yes his style is great, but no one could call Man Utd boring and yet Fergie is preapred to bite the bullet and buy what he needs. The result is a frightening squad of talent that can compete in the modern game of multiple competitions and injuries.

    Missing Champions League footy will be devastating to Arsenal. It isn't just the money (they may be rich but no club can simply absorb a loss of near £30 million), it's the kudos, the prestige. Players like Fabregas have already spent years waiting for the potential to come good and may well decide enough is enough.

    Milan have been in the UEFA this season, but they are a really huge club with prestige that cannot be dulled, Arsenal don't have that luxury.

  • Comment number 33.


    You seem to have omitted your usual pop at Liverpool.

    Just thought I'd remind you.

  • Comment number 34.

    Phil, decent blog. Fully agree with the fact that missing the CL for Arsenal would be pretty bad. However, if they can keep their key players fit, or make sure they have top quality replacements fit - it will be a one-off.

    However I have some points on which I disagree with your views. You mention the 7 draws of Arsenal in recent matches. You do not mention the opposition in those matches:

    - Everton away
    - Liverpool at home (10 men)
    - Tottenham away (10 men)
    - Aston Villa away

    Only the draws away to Cardiff and Boro and to West Ham at home are relativaley poor results.

    Also about the midfield anchor man, Arsenal have improved a lot defensively recently I think. In this sequence of 11 matches Arsenal have only conceded 8 goals and kept 6 clean sheets.

    So I do think a creative midfielder is a good purchase - maybe a 4-3-1-2 system would work at the moment, with Arshavin in behind the two strikers. As Arsenal do not have any (good) wingers available at the moment, this would solve the problem of people consistently playing out of position.

  • Comment number 35.

    Appart from terrible luck with injuries Arsenal also had some pretty bad luck on the pitch.

    In the home match against Hull it could have been 2-0 and possibly match over if Adebayor's goal had not been harshly disallowed.

    In the drawn match with Sunderland Arsenal had a goal disallowed when the ball was wrongly adjudged to have gone out of play before Walcotts cross.

    In both Spurs matches only bad luck and a harsh referee prevented 2 wins.

    The fact that Arsenal lost the early points meant that every game is a must win - backs against the wall affair which is equivalent to playing with chains on your legs.

    Despite all that Arsenal are still up there playing quite well. There is no way they will finish outside the top 4 so all this speculation of what will or will not happen is pointless.

  • Comment number 36.

    I never thought I would say this but i think it is time Wenger left Arsenal. He is being too stubborn with his philosophy " I can win with this team". This is Wengers worst group of players he has evered had. Gone are the days of buying experienced world class players e.g Overmars Petit Wiltord Campbell Pires etc. The last Arsenal team to win the Premiership had a least 6 world class players on it... now we have 0 Fabregas isn even there yet he will be in a year or two. He has replaced nobody off the 2004 untouchables. Wenger is still a world class manager but he needs a new challange and Arsenal need a new hungry manager that only cares about winning and not the financial state of the club, leave that to the directors. Last point Newcastle wouldn even play Eboue... thats how bad that child is!!

  • Comment number 37.

    @ #17

    since when did we only have 19 teams? what happened to your number 18 position, and sine you missed out sunderland im assuming that 18 should be sunderland - you serioulsy think they (we) will go down ?? i very much doubt it !!

  • Comment number 38.

    Spurs should've had all three points, Arsenal were there for the taking, but they showed the kind of lack of poise and over-excited play that has had them in trouble this season. If they'd just calmed down and attacked with more intelligence they'd have had the victory.

    Two points from Arsenal is certainly good for them but it could well have been more.

  • Comment number 39.

    To Chelsea Saffer.....

    What happened to Sunderland??? I'm guessing they'll finish 18th. Unless both the Sunderland and the 18th place get chucked out of the premiership by the end of the season..................

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    Wenger has done much good for English game though may, and only may, be reaching the end game of his tenure. He contributed to a much more professional approach across EPL

    Why is every media person in the throes of Appy Arry I know not? Probably becuase he is good for a quip and will never turn down an interview.

    Every club he has left has faced difficulties as he gets out in time normally becuase he spends so much money on transfers and wages - something he has started already at Spurs - 60m already

    West Ham got relegated not long after he went as the wage bill spiralled.
    Portsmouth are in dire straits and he recommended Adams for job - can only think as he wanted one of bottom 3 places to be occupied by them and not Spurs.
    Southampton - what a job he didn't do there. Relegation and a complete mess to boot.
    Modric is a class player though 2 good performances in 20 under Redknapp doesn't qualify as an unparalled succes

  • Comment number 42.

    The one thing that has frustrated me since Wenger came to England is his unflinching belief in the way he sets his teams out. It is the same belief that when it works makes us all coo in disbelief and admiration.

    I am from the school of thought that says you set out your team to play against what you have in front of you, and if that means adjusting your formation during the game, so be it. Players who cannot adjust from a 4-4-2, to a 4-3-3, to a 4-5-1 etc should not be playing in the Premiership.

    On the CL failure theory, well we shall just have to wait and see. It hasn't done Milan too much harm over the last 2 years has it? And Flamini is proof that it then becomes all about the moolah rather than 'playing at the top level - i.e. CL'.

    I have no doubt that whilst Wenger is at Arsenal, we shall continue to play lovely football, and be more than frustrated on numerous occasions when we fail to destroy teams in terms of goals scored.

    Next Arsenal manager? I shudder to think.

  • Comment number 43.

    Many people correctly point out that Arsenal no longer need the cliched 'Tough Tackling No Nonsense Midfielder' Its no longer priority one.

    Diaby, Denilson and Song have improved since the beginning of the season when that claim was justified but is no longer so.

    Our defense isn't UTDs or Liverpools but it has tightened up considerably.

    Now we lack the creativitvity, the decissivness going foward, thats a lack of experience that we miss from Cesc and Rosicky. And that is where Andrey Arshavin comes in, he knows what to do and when in the final third.

    Arsenal are in danger from finishing 5th yes, but we have been ridicolously unlcuky with injuries, hopefully we have some players coming back in a few weeks, and still should have enough firepower for our next fixtures.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a mad Arsenal fan I can only feel dismay at the state the team is in right now.

    Arsene Wenger has rightly been credited with being one of the best managers in the world in recent times.

    However, even though I hold him in the highest regard, I have to say that his stubborness is now becoming his main and worst personality trait.

    All and sundry have said, for quite a while, and continue to say, that Arsenal need a solid central midfield player, and a commanding centre half.

    He doesn't buy either.

    Arsene keeps telling us that he is happy with the players at his disposal. Yet they are the same players that see us lying in 5th place, 12 points behind Man Utd, and likely 15 points behind them when they have played their game in hand.

    The words that we hear most often from Arsene are "Quality & Solidarity" but Arsenal clearly lack exactly that most of the time. Solidarity anyway.

    It seems as though they can show quality against the sides at the top of the league but abandon it against any other team.

    Arsenal in seasons past have at times been a joy to watch and set the bar for attractive football.

    But I have not seen this "Quality" or "Solidartity" from Arsenal since they defeated Man Utd earlier in the season.

    Arsene's refusal to give Arshavin 10mins or so to try and win the game almost smacked of him refusing to do it because he knew that is what everyone wanted to see.

    It seems as though Arsene is digding his heels in and telling us that Arsenal have "Quality" and "Solidarity" till the proverbial cows come home but I for one have not seen any of these attributes for quite some time.

    I am now fed up with watching Arsenal's wheels fall off, a 0-0 against Spurs, bore fest against West Ham, and many other un-memorable performances makes me say very reluctantly that Manchester United are clearly better and by a long long way.

    If Arsene continues to live in denial about the decidedly lack of quality and solidarity that the majority of the Arsenal players are showing, then we Arsenal fans are in for some more trophyless seasons ahead.

    You can say all you like about who has and has not shown quality or solidarity under this circumstances or that, but the fact remains that Arsenal's title challenge that hung by a thread before the game at White Hart Lane, is now OVER.

    I held out hope that the introduction of Andriy Arshavin might inspire the rest of the players to go on a winning run, not an "unbeaten" run for the remainder of the season and mount a comeback.

    But that was comprehensively snuffed out by Arsene's decision to not give Arshavin the chance to make a spectacular debut by getting us an unlikely winner.

    I am very dissapointed and the only hope I hold now is that we can hang in their for 4th spot but we really are only the 5th or 6th best team in the league now.

    We may have a lot of injuries but that is just an excuse, all teams get injuries, Man U, Liverpool, Chelski the lot.

    The best CLUB can deal with those problems and still win the league.

    I hope "Arsene Knows" that us Arsenal fans are hurting at our fragile predicament, brought about by stubborness, and head in the sand decisions made by himself, and I dearly hope he works to rectify this situation ASAP.

  • Comment number 45.

    You obviously have not watched any Arsenal this year if you feel that we need a centre half. We have Gallas and Toure, individually two of the best cb's in the world and Djourrou to come in who also has been immaculate at every opportunity. Do we need a holding midfielder? Possibly but I personally believe that the problem there is playing Denilson over Song or/and Diaby not that we are lacking personnele. The biggest problem, especially after losing 3 quarters of our midfield (Walcott, Rosicky, Fabregas) for almost the entire season is creativity. Yet again Wenger makes the right move and yet again the media believe they know better than one of the greatest managers of all time.
    If you're going to make bold statements I believe there should be some research done instead of plaguerising the opinion of the fairweather fan.

  • Comment number 46.

    I feel this is a little harsh on Arsenal and on Wenger, though the results recently have been very poor.

    Arsenal are a team stretched to breaking point. Imagine Liverpool having Torres, Gerrard, Riera and Kuyt all on long-term injuries and you'll get some idea of the kind of players Arsenal are missing.

    As you said, Arshavin is a talented player, but not the kind of one Arsenal will need for next season or seasons to come. Song, Denilson and Eboue simply cannot cut it in a side with title ambitions.

  • Comment number 47.

    There is a long way to go. Arsenal have key players coming back from injury. Those players will be fresh, eager and ready to get down to business.

    There's still a lot to play for.

  • Comment number 48.

    spurs have spent yes, but look at just how much they have made back.
    selling carrick, keane, berbatov, defoe, chimbonda, malbronque etc...
    and then subtracting that from what they have actually spent and you will see their net is pretty much in line with other clubs.
    they are the most efficient operating business in the premier league and that is a fact. their revenue and profits make them the fourth richest british club. fact.
    spurs under levy don't need any advice on how to do business or run a club.
    and with all due respect, they haven't lost their ethics nor sold their soul to the devil buy transforming a british club into a foreign one like their neighbours.
    65% of the spurs squad is UK based. compare that with arsenal's where the majority of the board, management and players are from overseas.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hee hee...

    Still no blog on Villa, Phil?

    Maybe after they win the PL you might take a bit more notice??

  • Comment number 50.

    It's bizarre to me how quickly the media seem to forget. Honestly, one good result and Redknapp is a genius who gets the best from players that Ramos apparently didn't understand. A bad one and he's out of his depth and Spurs are staring relegation in the face.

  • Comment number 51.

    I don't quite understand some of the pro Palacios comments.

    Certainly the way he kept trying to cuddle Song at corners I thought he was a wrestler.

    I thought Spurs MOM was Mike Dean. Obviously Eboue had to go but Mike Dean was at fault on both occasions. You know you've a chance of a card when you protest a decision and he should have known better. He got too overheated when penalised for a non foul and payed the price for a poor decision. On the second occasion, had Dean blown up when Modric fouled him the retaliation would not have taken place.

    In between we had the goal disallowed because Woodgate fell over a man on the ground.

    However, the most disappointing thing was the cheering and clapping bySpurs fans when Adebeyor went down injured. We also had a close up laughing, jeering fans when Sanya was in pain following a bad foul, (no free kick given of course).

    I don't understand the criticism regarding the non use of substitutes. The 10 men were doing a great job and came close to getting a win near the end. With everyone mostly doing their job, any substitution could well have disrupted things long enough for \spurs to sneak in.

    My biggest complaint about AW is that he will keep picking Denilson. I have to wonder whether Denilson is short sighted or colour blind as 90% of his passes seem to go to the opposition.

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ Comment 13 -

    "I think this year will be wenger's lsat at arsenal,ramos is only on a 6 month contract and his signings have failed to excite the madrid fans. Wenger will be outstanding in spain, the crowds will love his approach and he will get the money he wants "

    You make me laugh copiously. Ramos has failed to excite the Madrid fans? Right. Winning 7 games on the trot, only losing 1 in his reign at the Bernabau (albeit against Barca) has failed to excite the fans???? Genius. Pure genius.

    As for Wenger being outstanding in Spain, this may happen, but at Real? Can you really see him being given the time to perfect his team in Madrid? As for the money aspect, every Arsenal fan I know still claim that the Club have no financial constraints and that Wenger has all the cash he wants to spend, but refuses to do so. Ahh well, as long as Wenger leaving is to the detriment of Ashburton Grove, I'm all for it.

  • Comment number 54.

    'errr, i didn't zee it
    (an incident literally a few yards away where his own player was at fault clearly)

    'i did zee it' (an incident 60 yards away where his team were 'victimised')

    arsenal were lucky to get a point. be grateful arsene

  • Comment number 55.

    Well im a man utd fan and have huge respect for Arsenal. Despite the rivalry over the past decade or so between the clubs I have always wanted Arsenal to be the main challengers against utd for 2 reasons. 1 you cant escape the fact that they play good free flowing football rather than the doll game we have associated with Chelsea over the past 3 years. The 2nd reason is Wenger will give faith (sometimes blind) in youngsters, just a shame there not english.

    Ultimatley I think this season will be without a champions league place (unless they win it) but I think they will be able to rebuild for next season. Wenger just needs to work on developing his squad as injuries will always happen. I would liek to see them beat Chelsea for 4th spot but cant see it.

    Oh and a draw at Tottenham is not a bad result.

  • Comment number 56.

    It is now getting tough every day,now i am beginning to afraid of that top four this season lying down in fifth and trailing AV by six point is scaring not to talk of Man u, liverpool and even chelsea.chelsea is not confortable in that fourth and i believe they will continue to fight and fight until they occupy second spot if winning the league is above their power coz outclassing man u from that first spot is very difficult.Back to my team we need to stop all this draw and start winnning matches, for AV, that top four is not meant for them they are just using extra time it is now time for them to drop back to where they belong coz we are coming i strongly believe that.I rest my case

  • Comment number 57.

    "In fact, Palacios looked like the sort of powerful workhorse that would not go amiss in the current Arsenal team."

    Ironic indeed that Palacios was on trial with Arsenal before he made his move to Birmingham (from where he joined Wigan and made his name.)

    Wenger was impressed but let him go as he already had the likes of Gilberto Silva, Fabregas, Denilson, Flamini, Diaby and Diarra in his position.

    With only 3 of these midfielders left, this lack of cover is what is costing/has cost Arsenal so deary. The lack of world-class central midfielder to partner Fabregas (despite the undoubted potential of Denilson & Diaby) has left the team without an engine strong enough to run it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Im sorry but enough of the winging please. Eboue was stupid and although a bit unfortunate for the disallowed goal i can see why the ref thought it was a foul. Anyway are the arsenal fans saying that Arsenal are only good enough to create one chance per game? They should be annoyed that their not-so-young-anymore squad is lacking the depth to compete and that their manager seems happy with a uefa cup place. And I also wouldnt describe Arsenal's main tactic of stealing young foreign talent from all over the world as doing things the decent or correct way.

  • Comment number 59.

    Arsene Wenger is really an enigmatic figure, well educated and clearly a talent coach.
    He again though uses fiery language like "unacceptable" when talking about
    a relatively everyday occurence in the premier league. He has now lost Adebayor for 3 weeks and this comes at a time when they have been struggling for goals anyhow. No, Arsenal are 5th and it is difficult to see them improving on this
    position when Villa/Everton are on very good runs and hardly look like dropping points.

  • Comment number 60.

    Another blog that completely misses the point with Arsenal. If you care to look back at the last 6 league games we have conceded 2 goals. This doesn't sound like a team that is crying out for a new defensive midfielder. In fact, your comments about Song are very harsh, his performance yesterday was as good as anyone, and he cost £13.5m LESS than Palacios.

    We have had three quarters of our first choice midfield out - all creative players - with long-term injuries, hence the signing of Arshavin - exactly what we need at this time.

    As for the Wenger bashing, this is a man who has delivered 3 titles, 4 FA Cups (plus another final), an unbeaten league season, Champions League final, a UEFA cup final, a Carling Cup final, 10 years unbroken Champions League qualification and played a crucial role in the building of new academy and first team training facilities and The Emirates.

    He has done all of this on a net transfer spend of less than £30m (less than 'Arry spent in January alone). He has also stayed loyal to the club when other clubs came calling.

    Yes, he is stubborn, yes he has selective eye sight, yes his persistence with Eboue can be frustating, yes he is a bad loser and no, we might not make the Champions League places this season....but you know what, he deserves the support and loyalty like he has given us.

    We have no divine right to finish in the top 4 or win trophies, but we are still in there competing. We are in the FA Cup, 2nd round of the Champions League and with our run of league fixtures coming up (compared to Villa) have every chance of getting into the top 3 this year. Compare our situation with other so-called 'big clubs' i.e. Newcastle and Spurs and you'll see my point.

    Sometimes we need to take a step back and realise how very lucky we are.

  • Comment number 61.

    I notice that none of the Arsenal fans moaning about the disallowed 'goal' and complaining the ref was against them are very quiet about the penalty shout Spurs had against Gallas. The ref got most things right just about. Disallowing the goal was for a soft free kick, but there was a push there, it wasn't just Woodgate falling over.

    And anyone who thinks Spurs haven't been criticised for our recent spending and buys obviously lives on a different planet. We've taken plenty of stick, most of it deserved in all honesty.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    ha ha red sam. I saw your comment awaiting moderation and wondered what you would be moaning about this time as there was no mention of Liverpool, sure enough you didnt disappoint with your silly little conspiracy theory.

  • Comment number 64.

    Phil - Just want to pick up the point you mentioned regarding Robbe keane:

    "but still looked like the next case for Redknapp's well-practised art of rebuilding confidence and self-belief"


    Was Harry rebuilding Darren Bent's confidence when he said his wife Sandra could have scored with the header that Bent put wide against Pompey ...or when he slated the whole squad, calling it mish mash? The squad that cost about 200 Million (at last count) to assemble, 50 Million alone spent in Transfer Window after Redknapp only expected to bring in "a couple of loaning signings"

    Tottenham have 1 of the biggest squads in the whole league and could quite comfortably field 2 different first XI's, but havent been out of the bottom half in 2 years.

    If Harry cant make a success of this squad with a seemingly endless supply of funds, then maybe he is not the Houdini that everyone thinks.

  • Comment number 65.

    I still don't really understand what all the extreme pessimism is about around Arsenal (both by fans and outsiders).

    Whilst I cannot deny this season has been a step backward for us as far as League form/position is concerned, I still do not see people addressing or even realistically highlighting the plight of a club who have had to deal with significant injuries to significant players on and off all season and 2-3 of them happening at once (which, I feel should be pointed out, was the origin of the slump out of the top four - lets leave alone any benign arguments about winning the League).

    Again, the comments regarding the need for a muscly/defensive/strong (you get the point) CM are totally valid. However, I ask you these 3 questions:

    1.) Who, in world football, would you want in that position?
    2.) Is your answer to number 1 LIABLE/AVAILABLE to be sold by his club?
    3.) Is he liable to be sold for anywhere less than £15 million?

    People have mooted Veloso and such as possible available replacements - I am not convinced they are defensive enough and I am not convinced they will do a better job than the players we currently have - that's honestly what I think. Of course I would love us to go and get someone like Aquilani, but he's going nowhere. The players who could fill the void are just not going to be sold, because they are hard to come by - and those that might be sold are of negligble relative quality difference in comparison to the transfer fee that club would demand - even more contentious an issue in such an economic climate.

    This problem is exhaserbated when you try to consider the other argument of getting hold of another CB - there are even fewer strong AND available candidates - so it actually doesn't surprise me that Wenger hasn't signed anyone. But that does not hide the frustration (undeerstandably from Arsenal fans but also, to my great surprise, the sheer number of outside fans also!).

    Walcott has become a big player for us - he cuts teams apart and can change a game with a yard and we have missed that. The games such as the classic CL encounter at Anfield don't happen without players like that in your side. Fabregas is even more talismanic for us - his distribution is second to very few and he's our first choice captain and plays with passion. Add to this the fact that Denilson has slid rapidly from his average/decent performances to a player who's passing seems consistently profligate and wasteful and who seems to only move the ball forward with his feet before being muscled off the ball by a player like Luka Modric!!! (No disrespect intended here - Modric is class - but he's not built like Palacios for example - a CM should not be moved off the ball by someone like that). Eduardo has always been our best finisher (although, on second thoughts, van Persie can really frighten me with what he can do from absolutely nowhere). It will be great to have him back, because Adebayor has, like Denilson, slipped into below-par passengers in the side. Bendtner has all the raw abilities of a classic CF, but if you can't finish even 1 in 4-5 chances then it's over and that's his probolem right now. He was even passing well on Sunday (which is a real area of his game he should improve if he wants to be considered a backup holding-striker, considering his inconsistent finishing) and he's so good in the air...but he's not good enough at the moment. I cannot deny, however, he's better than Adebayor at the moment - which in itself is a huge indictment against the Togolese striker.

    We have to hang in there. Yes we've only been drawing, but we are still undefeated and are impriving our defensive standards - which is vital. Now all we need is to get Walcott and Fabregas back in to give us more creativity, and maybe even Eduardo could take his chance with both hands now that Adebayor is out for 3 weeks or so - or maybe Bendtner will continue to grow...

    We do risk losing a CL place and that is very frightening - but I see Liverpool struggling, Chelsea sliding a little and even Villa are due for a few tougher games and for their luck to turn - but I cannot deny they are value for money for their current Premiership place and well done to them!

    February/March will be the turning point...with 3-4 very strong selective players returning to the fold, it will be the test of the Gunners to focus on the job, ignore everyone else, take each game as they come, and get ourselves that Champions League spot. Silverware may be elusive this term...or we might just get our second wind in the late part of the season and surprise a few people.

    Hang in there Gooners - we know we don't do things the easy way, and we may risk losing out for a number of reasons - but all we can do is get behind the team, the players and PUSH!!!

    (Apologies - this is far longer than intended - but clearly I've held out on commenting for too long! :) )

  • Comment number 66.

    "Spurs will not be in the relegation zone at season's end."

    Always entertaining to read such flat out statements.

    Spurs always raise their game against the big boys but it's the defeats to Bolton and the like that see them where they are. Sufficed to say Harry has been there long enough now, and they are still teetering on the brink.

    Statements like yours do make me laugh when all the evidence this season (i.e. the league table) suggests they have just as much right to be struggling at the bottom as Arsenal do to be outside the top four!

    Just cos you spend tens of millions year after year without any real success, does not give you the devine right to premiership security, just as Arsenal have no devine right to be in the Champions League just cos they are 1 of the "Big 4"

  • Comment number 67.

    With regards Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League and the detrimental effect that would have on the team - One season in the UEFA Cup has not done AC Milan much harm has it? and if they come away this year with the trophy as arguably the strongest team in the competiton - even post the CL dropouts then surely that would represent a successful campaign under the circumstances?
    Arsenal would likely go into next season's UEFA Cup in similar circumstances and may profit in exactly the same way.
    Drop out (of the CL) regroup and win the UEFA. End the season with a trophy and come back (to the CL) at the next attempt.

  • Comment number 68.

    Phil: I apologise - the Champions League comments were moreover aimed at some of the posts than yourself. In fact I'm not an Arsenal fan but a massive admirer of what Wenger has done for the English game. My team won back-to-back European cups playing scintillating, and sometimes pragmatic, football managed by the greatest of them all- but given the way modern football is run will never achieve that ever again.

    It was more of a criticism of the way the 'big four' almost seem to believe they are pre-destined for qualification to the top competition & the demands for continual success. Fans, and indeed players, of the Gunners need to remain patient, I don't think they are far off a new brand of breath-taking football.

  • Comment number 69.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 70.

    Chelsea may yet save the day for Wenger, as I can't believe Arsenal are playing any worse than their west London rivals. However, I just want to comment that after watching Wenger's post match interview, I got the impression from his tone and body language that he was a man now totally fed up and tired of the Premiership, and I just wonder if he will look for a new environment and challenge next year. Finishing outside the top 4 may prove to be a catalyst in making such a decision.

  • Comment number 71.

    Eewires #28

    No actually I am a Sunderland fan therefore impartial on the subject.

    The facts speak for themselves the press are making it out like Redknapp will have performed miracles by not getting a team that cost over 100 million relegated.
    Anyone else and he would be slated (or at least questioned) for the results he has had up until now.

    After a certain BBC program the press now seem afraid to even question him anymore

  • Comment number 72.

    It's not Wenger you should be focusing on, it should be Scolari.

  • Comment number 73.

    All Gooners please give your stressed out hearts a rest. All teams big and small have injury plagues, the bigger the team the less it should hurt you. So stop complaining that all your better players are injured.
    No team has conssitently bad luck on the injury front, yes some do get injured in a match. Either you've bought players who are injury prone (v Persie), or the training regime is condusive to producing injuries.
    If you believe your squad is too small then look to your manager, why hasn't he spent money to cover positions you are short on?
    Or just maybe players don't fancy it anymore under Wenger?
    Remember you have no divine right to finish in the top four and a little humility that the team is not quite good enough would be a start. Oh to be clear Liverpool, Utd and Chelsea's fans would recieve the same message but they're not 5th.......

  • Comment number 74.

    it makes me laugh the number of people saying Spurs are safe-spurs are too good to go down-they still have to go to Liverpool Man U. Villa Everton and Blackburn. dont fancy them to get more than around one point from those 5 games and have Chelsea and West Ham at home which again are hardly gimmes !

    they simply have to beat the likes of West Brom, Newcastle and Middlesbrough at home or they could quite easily go down

  • Comment number 75.

    Phil, you are aware that Arsenal has Walcott, Eduardo, Rosicky and Fabregas to come back, right?

    I believe Aston Villa will choke. Two losses and two wins by Arsenal corresponding and Villa is juts 1 point ahead. Same with Chelsea almost. So, this talk of Arsenal being out of top 4 is way premature. I believe Arsenal will finish 3rd. Definitely!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    why is it taking SOOOOO long to get the comments on screen - they are almost 2 hours behind ??? v poor BBC !

  • Comment number 77.

    It's comical to read what the Gooners write, Woodgate was tripped that's why the goal was disallowed. Arsenal were totally outplayed before and after they rightfully went down to 10 men. All Arsenal do is curse their luck year after year, sure they have injuries so do lots of teams and the players that are injured are not all world beaters. Fabregas is world class but none of the others are even close to that standard. Face facts Arsenal aren't top four they are barely top six material now. Success is not round the corner for them because they don't have the players and with no CL football almost guaranteed for next season they are going to lose their better players, not attract more.

  • Comment number 78.

    Everyone who is saying players will leave Arsenal for not qualifing for the champs league can you please answer the following.

    How many players left AC Milan after they failed to qualify for the champs league this year? (A team that hasn't won its national league since 03-04)

  • Comment number 79.

    arsenal need to build a team from the back, hence a gk who is solid as almunia has never convinced, Jaskelinan?
    two full backs - Glen johnson?
    1 cdm - didi haman
    1/2 strickers who look like scoring, i do not rate adebyor.

    Tottenham, well who knows, a good laugh though

  • Comment number 80.

    Since when did it become accepted in the game for players to be sent off for a 'flick'? I know it was a second yellow and retaliatory actions are usually dealt with by a booking nowadays, but this was just as petty as the incident with Beckham in the 98 World Cup. A petty 'flick' is now dealt with in the same way as a nasty leg breaking tackle, which cannot be right. Our game is turning into a game for nancys.

    Still, at least you didn't bang on with the usual, boring 'Wenger myopia' nonsense.

  • Comment number 81.

    44. As a mad Arsenal fan

    Is there any other type?

    42. The next Arsenal Manager

    A former centre half is now available?

  • Comment number 82.

    Oh and Phil - the bigger picture at Arsenal, look at this for a first team:


    Sagna - Toure - Gallas - Clichy

    Walcott - Song - Fabregas - Nasri

    RvP - Adebayor

    Added to that a bench consisting of: Eboue (RB), Djourou, Troare, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Eduardo and Bendtner.

    Tell me: What is wrong with that picture? A good team at present and for the future.

  • Comment number 83.

    Crickey, Arsenal being in 5th place is not the end of the world - I know of at least 12 other teams who would like to be 5th! Admittedly not qulaifying for CL will be a blow, but it's not like Arsenal are suddenly the worst team in the world and all the players will walk out! For years commentators have been harping on about the Prem being a 2 horse race, then a 4 horse - all of a sudden it opens up and wow, Arsenal are doomed! Get a reality check please!! I say well done Villa, well done Everton and good luck Liverpool, they deserve to be there and I hope they go further! I say Chelsea aint exactly the team they were 3 seasons ago, but again it's not doom and gloom, it's football! Man U are undoubtably on for top spot, unless Liverpool pick up the pace, but so what? It makes the league suddenly interesting and shows that money cannot buy everyting! Arsenal are not doomed at all, they are 5th and still in top flight. When we start hitting the relegation zone, then I will change my tone! Until then people need to remember that we cant win every game all of the time and every now and then we will be disappointed!

  • Comment number 84.

    I cannot believe arsenal fans (or others) who are saying Wengers losing the plot and should go. not qualifying for CL and then losing some top players is a possibility after a bad 1st half to the prem, but with players coming back from injury I can only see a strong end to the season. When you have a good manager, stick with them. Look at Spurs.
    Tipped to be the team to take arsenals CL spot this season, their squad is a jumble of players who don't gel thanks to having been bought in by the constantly changing management. With Redknapp in charge expect to continue to spend a shed load of cash on average signings before gloriously failing to compete with the top sides. The fact they've re-signed half the players they sold three months earlier points to a club going in one direction- nowhere.

  • Comment number 85.

    Before the season started I really thought Arsenal would struggle this season. The loss of Hleb and Flamini really being huge.

    Despite clearly looking short of title contenders for a while they showed enough on the big occasion to make me think that they had enough about them to stay in the top 4 but the injuries to the emerging Walcott and the key man Fabregas looks like being to much on top of that.

    I can understand some doubting Wenger but I think there isn't a lot he can do at this point. Arshavin should add some creative spark before the season ends but it may be to little to late by time he is match fit and Fabregas and Walcott return also to match fitness.

    As a club Arsenal need to stand by their manager and hold onto their key players in the summer when the vultures hover looking to prey on their weakness.

    If they can keep hold of Fabregas, Van Persie, Walcott, Sagna they have enough quality to bounce right back next season.

    I have my doubts over both the big strikers, Adebayor and Bendtner but the biggest questions in my mind over making that step back to the very top comes with needing to find a centre mid to compliment Fabregas(Ramsey or Wilshere in time perhaps) someone with a bit of dig, an engine and who can fit into Arsenals style of slick passing football. Also at the back, Toure seems a shadow of his former self a player who can maybe come back but another position with big question marks over it.

  • Comment number 86.

    As a fully paid up member of the pessimistc spurs fan club I can say one thing about yesterday's game. I enjoyed it. First time this season I have enjoyed watching spurs play. I thought Palacios was excellent and Modric and Lennon were pleasing on the eye. I thought Dawson played well and even Jenas worked hard. It was nice to see Keane back and the only downside of the team was Pav and Bent's inability to hold the ball up or threaten too much in the air.

    It was a shame we didn't win but credit to Arsenal for getting two banks of 4 and making us break them down (the only option after the red card) whilst they hit us on the break. We just lacked a little bit in the penalty area but that will come with Keane being back.

    I agree with person who praised Andy Gray's analysis of why Arsene hasn't got a Viera type of player in and thought that was an interesting view point. Time will tell if you can win the PL with a squad who are good on the ball but smaller in stature. I still think Arsenal are a couple of players short in terms of a title challenge as they will drop too many points against teams they shouldn't.

    I am more confident about our ability to stay up now than I have been all season so I can breath slightly easier this week!

  • Comment number 87.

    moderators, moderators,
    where art thou moderators?

  • Comment number 88.

    Sorry Phil but another average blog. Where is the original thought and insight?

    Why don't you chose an issue and provide justification for one (or more) points of view - instead of just stating the obvious.

  • Comment number 89.

    I am really struggling to work out the net spend of the clubs as so many transfers have'undisclosed fees'. But if you look at the last 2 windows then Arsenal and Spurs both look to have been pretty frugal (especially Arsenal) despite Spurs having apparently splashed the cash. They had income from Berbatov and Keene which covers all the admitted spend, and there are a lot of other sales there too.

    Arsenal only seem to have spent any serious money on Arshavin, and have had income from Flamini and Hleb (and others)

    Actually it is only Man City who seem to have spent without getting money in as well...

    More interesting might be to look at the wages bills of all the clubs as that shows where the power really lies, and I would expect Arsenal to look good in that league table too. Spurs probably less so, but when you get to Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool you might then see where the financial muscle is really used.

  • Comment number 90.

    To comment 72

    That's tomorrow's blog.

  • Comment number 91.

    To comment 80.

    And the great irony to your blog is that if Arsene had his way, there would not be any contact in football at all.

  • Comment number 92.

    Everyone who is saying players will leave Arsenal for not qualifing for the champs league can you please answer the following.

    How many players left AC Milan after they failed to qualify for the champs league this year? (A team that hasn't won its national league since 03-04)

    Let's see, the gravitas between these sides is immnense, how many European Cups have Milan won?
    They always were and will a more attractive proposition than Arsenal.......

    Remember AC Milan is not the type of club you leave

    Do your research.....

    Coppa Itlaia 2004
    CL Winners 2007
    Super Cup 2007
    World Club Champions 2007

    Poor Comment, Rash statement, Back to school for you #78

  • Comment number 93.

    If you look at the stats Arry has a worse winning percentage than the last 3 managers at Spurs. He has not done any better than the managers that have come before him. WIth the amount you have written and also other reporters it seems that Spurs were so unlucky not to have won yesterday. Surely this just proves how badly the team and squad are. All reporters and commentators over the last 2 years have slated Arsenal and that they are to finish outside the top 4.

    Yes maybe AW should have strengthen the squad a bit more with a little more experience but he has done so much for the club, and English football. You complained that he didn't see the Eboue incident but maybe he was following the ball so then he wouldn't have. He did say the agreed that he should have been sent of if that was the case. I also don't think any Arsenal fan with disagree with him going off.

    Song had a good game yesterday and if it wasn't for Palacios trying to get inside his shirt then I think he would have scored. As Palacios wasn't looking at where the ball was I was surprised he didn't give a penalty away.

    The goal was a good and lets face it Woodgate was trying to pull on Eboue as well and then he went down for very little reason.

    Spurs who may have had a lot more possession had very few clear cut chances and the shots the had didn't really trouble the keeper and it shows why they are near the relegation zone.

    AW used the subs well. Bentner was the right person to come on for Adebayor and when Clichy went off for Gibbs to come on. Eduardo and Arshavin are not match fit and for one of them to have come on could have meant that we might have been down to 9 fit men putting more strain on the team. I'm sure if we had had 11 on the pitch one of them would have come on.

    Arsenal do not have the right to be in the CL spot or top 4 every year and Spurs might have to admit that they are not too good or too a big club to go down either.

    With easier games for Arsenal to come over the next few weeks and for European cups starting again I don't think the any team from Liverpool down to Everton are safe for either a top 4 or Uefa place.

  • Comment number 94.

    To the person who suggested we sign Glenn Johnson........ there are 3 people in our squad who I would argue when fit would get into any side in the Premier League.

    One is Cesc Fabregas, the second is Robin Van Persie and the third is the best right back in the league.... Bakary Sagna.

    We do NOT need Glenn Johnson.

  • Comment number 95.

    Just a quick point: In Wenger's, Scolari's and Benitez' defence, the fourth estate love knocking foreigner's whatever their profession. Allardyce, Redknapp and the other English mediocrities get much better treatment, even though 8 of the top 9 positions in the Premier league are managed by non-English managers and the bottom 9 are all managed by persons born in England. An exception to this rule is if you have been national manager. Then, you get the same as Johnny foreigner for being so presumptive.
    Yes, Wenger is emotional, embarrassing and annoying, but hey! He can't help it, he's French. Foreign manager's and player's have made the Premiership the world's favourite sporting event. It's about time we started giving them all some well-earned respect.

  • Comment number 96.

    personally i am delighted that wenger and arsenal don't give up on what they feel is right. pure it is and i love it. they, of course, will end up 3rd w/out nearly the fanfare or derisory comments/articles by the "pundits" it will all be rather ho-hum, but i think everyone waits w/ anticipation of what could be if rosicky, fab, arshavin, and a decent defense was in place. even man u would be in trouble...

  • Comment number 97.

    spurs would have lost were it not for palacios; i agree he was outstanding yesterday, but modric was very poor!

    bearing in mind arsenal were playing with ten men, after his booking, he was hardly getting a mention on the commentary.

    check the BBCs livetext;

    not one reference to modric kicking a ball in play after the booking, until 90+2 minutes!

    he certainly wasn't "pleasing on the eye"... we never even saw him!

  • Comment number 98.


    In regards to #78 and the whole issue about players leaving if we don't qualify it might be a blessing in disguise. I don't think there would be to many Arsenal supporters crying if Adebayor left. After this seasons offerings you can tell his head has turned! As for Fabregas, wouldn't want to see him go but if a offer of say £35mil came in or more the stability that would give the club and extra players it could bring in might mean it could be a worthwhile deal. I can't see RVP leaving. Unlike the others you can see he cares about the club but as I said if tyhe right offer came in a replacement was in place me personally wouldn't lose sleep over it. It's a very strange team we've got at the moment. For the first time in years theres more players I would prefer to see leave than stay.
    To leave

    Nasri(every other game)
    Even Almunia if a better keeper can be brought in??

    Now I'm not saying I want to see them all leave at once but thats a hell of a lot of players I would like to see replaced at some point over the next couple of years and from speaking to other Arsenal fans I think in many eyes this is the group of players that have got us into this mess in one way or the other!

  • Comment number 99.

    I believe what you'll find is that since Redknapp and Allardyce agreed once more to do interviews with the BBC (at the same time, you should note), all coverage of them from the BBC has become - hmm, shall we say more positive? I think they're simply trying to stay onside as it's embarassing for them to have Assistant Managers interviewed on Match of the Day.

    In terms of what's being said:-

    Missing out on the Champions League wouldn't be disastrous. Wenger's barely spent any money in the last five years, so the loss of revenue would affect us a lot less than a big spending club. Also, our profits/operating strategy isn't based on Champions League qualification - I think you'll find the only club in history to do that was Leeds United. We'd have less money, yes. But is that really an issue with a manager who spends barely anything?
    This "disaster" is also implied by the idea that people would leave if we didn't qualify. This is, to say the least, highly ironic. Your argument is that the players who could only achieve 5th would leave, and this would be disastrous? Players who get you 1st place leaving (like the Ronaldo/Madrid saga last summer) is disastrous. Maybe we need to cut a few underachievers out of our team. Would any Arsenal fan seriously cry over the loss of Adebayor?

    I don't know whether we'll get fourth - or third - or not. Villa could choke, Chelsea could continue their freefall. Hell, Liverpool are stuttering. I believe the biggest question facing Wenger this summer is why Man Utd can almost effortlessly cope with so many injuries over a season, yet Arsenal are completely shackled by theirs. That's what he needs to work on before next season.

  • Comment number 100.

    @ Post nr. 93: excellent remarks, totally agree.

    Also some people tend to say that Arsenal have had a slump for several. I would disagree with that and say we had a really good season last year, in which the top 3 sides (Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal) were really close to each other. Certainly the best side won, but the point tally Arsenal had then would have won them the title this season and the two seasons before.
    Also the CL exit was highly unlucky (refereering decisions), and in the FA Cup we had the toughest draw en were totally outplayed by Utd.

    Also, I think Villa deserve more credit - it is not only the case of Arsenal being not as good as usual, but that there also is a real challenger for the top four.
    And as a realist, I am also looking at fifth spot, as Everton are on top form at the moment. If they can keep it going, they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

    However - Arsenal are good side and with a little added creativity coming up, they will definately challenge Liverpool, Villa and Chelsea for the CL places.

    Looking forward to grand finale!


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