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Gunners firing blanks without Van Persie

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Phil McNulty | 06:46 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Robin van Persie's absence made the hearts of Arsenal fans grow fonder as the feast of Chelsea was followed by famine in his absence against Marseille.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, with a caution shaped by Van Persie's chequered injury history, restricted the hat-trick hero of Saturday's 5-3 win at Stamford Bridge to the role of substitute rather than offer him the full Champions League experience at Emirates Stadium.

And in doing so, Wenger laid bare the dilemma that will face him and his team as the importance - some might say indispensability - of Van Persie was exposed by this drab draw that denied Arsenal the opportunity to secure early qualification from the group phase.

Wenger said starting Robin van Persie on the bench was "a gamble that didn't come off". Photo: Getty

Wenger explained the thinking behind his decision not to start Van Persie as he said: "It was a gamble. You can say tonight that it didn't come off. Robin was tired, that's why I left him out. It was down to fatigue. He cannot play 50 games."

There is sound logic in Wenger's argument, although hindsight suggests a better ploy might have been to start with Van Persie and use the wave of brilliant form he is currently riding to apply early pressure to Marseille in an attempt to establish a winning position before removing him.

Instead, the arrival of the team-sheet more or less set the tone for the evening. Arsenal's fans turned up on a high after Saturday but there was an almost instant sense of deflation when he was only listed among the substitutes.

Van Persie received a roar markedly more resounding than any of his team-mates when his name was read out, while even a gentle jog down the touchline, especially in one the many turgid passages during this group game, was greeted like the arrival of a conquering hero.

It was almost as if this game would not be complete until Van Persie made his entrance, which he did just after the hour. But when he arrived the pattern was set and Arsenal had lost momentum to such an extent that even he was unable to effect a change.

On the field at least, in the absence of injured Jack Wilshere and even with the rapidly developing Aaron Ramsey, Van Persie carries the hopes of this club.

It is disrespectful to those two talents and others besides to suggest Arsenal are a one-man team, but there is no doubt Van Persie's quality means he now wields a lop-sided influence.

So while there must be full understanding of the balancing act Wenger has to perform with this precious but occasionally fragile talent, it was a night that emphatically underlined why Van Persie now lines up just behind his manager as Arsenal's most influential figure.

And it also illustrated the potential consequences should Van Persie suffer more frailty with his fitness. At the sharp end of Arsenal's game the Netherlands striker is starting to look irreplaceable, especially when statistics such as 28 goals in his last 27 Premier League games and 33 in his last 37 all told are presented.

Van Persie may have missed Arsenal's best chance of the game 13 minutes from time when he failed to get enough height on his attempted chip over Marseille keeper Steve Mandanda, but he carries an air of menace no other striker at Wenger's disposal comes close to giving off.

Gervinho was hard-working but unsure of touch against Marseille, while the South Korean Ju-Young Park looked a work in progress, off the pace and a marginal figure.

Andrey Arshavin emerged as a substitute with no impact and has undergone a rapid decline in performances, while the injured Marouane Chamakh's recent displays have provoked the jibe that he is the free transfer that looks increasingly like a waste of money.

Should Van Persie suffer an absence of any length - and his class alone means no-one with Arsenal or the Premier League's best interests at heart would want this - that particular cupboard looks bare.

Wenger would have to mix-and-match should that happen and even then he may have to consider strengthening in January, never the ideal time to add real quality to a club with ambitions in the Champions League and Premier League.

At least, while Wenger keeps his fingers crossed that his finest player stays in his current rude health, Arsenal kept a clean sheet despite a disappointing performance and remain in control at the top of their Champions League group.

They will have high hopes of topping the group and avoiding the most hazardous opponents in the knockout phase, while another player of great importance returned to show his quality.

Thomas Vermaelen was captain in Van Persie's absence and showed the authority that has been sorely missed in his battle to recover from an Achilles injury.

He coaxed a more assured performance from his central defensive partner Per Mertesacker, and a happier conundrum for Wenger will be how to accommodate that pair and Laurent Koscielny, outstanding at Chelsea but sitting alongside Van Persie on the bench on Tuesday.

The Belgian may yet end up at left-back as Andre Santos once again showed he is a real talent with the ball at his feet but has a very loose interpretation of his description as a defender. The Brazilian, still looking short of fitness, covers plenty of ground but much of it is when he is out of position.

Santos is a wing-back masquerading as a left-back, too prone to indisciplined runs upfield and too often the cause of gaping holes on the left side of Arsenal's defence. He is, to put it kindly, a free spirit when it comes to positioning.

He will undoubtedly be fun, but Wenger's task is to harness natural gifts on the ball to the structure of his team to ensure he is fun in a good way for Arsenal.

No serious damage was done to Arsenal's Champions League aspirations by this result but it was an opportunity missed to confirm qualification.

This can be achieved with a point at home to Borussia Dortmund later this month, but history and last season's exit to Barcelona will tell Wenger finishing at the head of Group F has to be top priority.

Van Persie is central to all those ambitions as the one reliable, ruthless attacking weapon Wenger has in his armoury.

Arsenal supporters, understandably frustrated on Tuesday, may point to the talent elsewhere in Wenger's squad but reality, the sort of reality they saw against Marseille, will tell them Van Persie is the man they need to stay fit.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Ramsey played in a very advanced position but couldn't really link up with Park. Behind him, Song was fantastic. We did miss Van Persie, but Marseille's back four was really good and I think Park will shine against weaker teams. I would have played Van Persie today and rested him against West Brom at the weekend.

  • Comment number 2.

    to much to soon for Park
    Geromino needed a rest
    Vermalen good
    Song as ever a workhorse

    as for the three muppits sitting on the sky couch?

    How many more x Arsenal players are they going to pay so handsomely to spout the mantra? Seamen ? shut up! why do you sit there and allow Souness and Gullit to call your tune.

    and as for Souness himself: now i can see why he wouldn't cut it as a manager and
    Guillt as well.

    now to read Phils Blog :)

  • Comment number 3.

    Agree with Wenger; the team did look like it was missing a bit of sharpness, probably due in no small part to Van Persie's absence. I'm not one of these fans that is calling for Wenger to strengthen in every position but i think we are missing some creativity (another thing, as well as goals that we are heavily reliant on Van Persie for). A large part of me worries that a decent string of results will paper over the cracks that we have in our squad.
    But on the positive side of things Vermaelen looked excellent, Mertesacker looked much improved and we came out of a tie with tricky opponents with a clean sheet.

  • Comment number 4.

    having now read the blog:

    I conclude Phil your really wanting to say Arsenal are a one man team.

    no mention of the possible penalty, but to be fair to the ref he was to busy doing a J terry impersonation, prior to the incident and was not in a good position to call it, so
    fair enough. some of his decisions were a lil bizarre which luckily had no affect on the result.

    credit also must go to the opponents who unlike Ghent are hardly a push over :)

  • Comment number 5.

    4 points against Marseilles and no goals conceded doesn't look too bad to me, especially for a 1-man team.

    I agree that Chamakh has been very disappointing but it's much too soon to write Arshavin off. He needs some start time and I hope he gets a full game against West Brom this weekend.

    The team is starting to come together well, and while City look like they are well ahead of the pack, I still believe Arsenal will get a top-4 finish and reach at least the QF stage of the Champions League.

  • Comment number 6.

    Didn't take you long to go back to having a go at Arsenal did it Phil?

  • Comment number 7.

    Did Arsene forget to let the handbreak off this week ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Marseille had a bucket load of chances in both matches and really should have come away with six points, but there you go - not good enough on goal.

    That is of course very worrying for Arsenal when they come up against better opposition, but at least they can fall back on the Europa.

  • Comment number 9.

    I think Arsenal are a one man team, take Van Persie out of the side and they would struggle against the top teams. Having said that if you take Rooney out of Utd or Silva out of City at the minute then the same would hold true. Every team has one player they turn to more than others, it's just unfortunate for Arsenal that their current best player is so injury prone.

    With Van Persie Arsenal are a team that can (and do) punch above their weight. I think he and Vermaelen aside there isn't much else to write home about with that team, maybe in a couple of years when Wilshere and Ramsay in particular have matured a bit more they will be but not right now. Without Van Persie Arsenal won't finish in the top 6, the squad just isn't anywhere near strong enough.

  • Comment number 10.

    The system Arsenal play suits RVP perfectly - quick counter-attacking, pace down the wings and cut backs along the floor. Strikers like Chamakh and previously Bendtner are for more of a plan B style - high up the field pressing - the Gunners don't or simply can't deploy. Plan A relies on quick wingers like Walcott, Gervinho and more technical players like Arshavin, Ramsey & Wilshere and previously Nasri/Fabregas to chip in with a fair quota of goals (which to be fair they often did). Wenger knows the team is set up to be one dimensional, unfortunately others do too!

    It is not so much a reliance on RVP but the inability to get the best out of the fringe players by adapting the formation to suit best.

  • Comment number 11.

    I didn't see the game as I was watching Chelsea.

    So, taking this blog at face value, all I can see is contradictions in this reporters words.

    Arsenal as a whole were a shambles early in the season and I doubt that their recent good run is down to one person alone.

    Last nights draw doesn't do any damage in itself and if it means that Van Persie is more able to help the cause for 3 points then the 'gamble' will have been worth it.

    Meantime, other players at Arsenal are getting back to form and others have been given a chance to play into form.

    The only logic here is that if Van Persie is Arsenal's best player, then it would stand to reason that they would not be as good without him (whatever the reason for his absence) whatever the consequences of that.

  • Comment number 12.

    The good thing about this Arsenal side, is the strength they seem to have in depth which has been missing in previous campaigns.

  • Comment number 13.

    They are a one man team.
    Only one Arsenal player would get into Man U, City, Chelsea or even Liverpool or Tottenhams team! It will be the same story, a good streak of wins esp over the next few fixtures, i think its west brom norwich and wigan, they will be up there then the lack of fitness and strength will mean they will be struggling again. Pressure to buy that will force Wenger to buy more poor players like Arteta and Mertesacker who like Arshavin Gervinho Chamakh will flop!

  • Comment number 14.

    Even with Fabregas and Nasri, we were short fell short, especially defensively but also up front missing and wasting countless scoring opportunities.

    Some players are either beyond their best or have always been just average and should be sold in January and next summer. The departure of Fabregas and Nasri marked the beginning of a rebuilding process and after Wenger was waiting too long again to add more quality last August, the time has come to dig deeper into the transfer market and buy the quality players needed.

  • Comment number 15.

    #14 Peter

    So, I would assume, say, Chamakh and Arshavin, to name but two, out, but, who in?

    And let's face it, there MUST be money there to spend now, surely?

  • Comment number 16.

    Song was class last night. Why can't he play like that all the time?

  • Comment number 17.

    Van Persie played 90mins in the turgid away leg which was won with a very late goal. Maybe Marseille are just good at defending?

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 11

    i think you sum it up nicely.

  • Comment number 19.

    #13: what are you smoking mate? from your post you know nothing about are only good at taking pot shots at Arsenal from your keyboard. I can tell you this: if Arsenal were to put up Ramsey, Wislhere, Vermaleen, Walcott, Song and Sczezny for sale, every single one of those teams you mention will come calling or think about making a bid. Guaranteed.

    And as for Mertesacker, you don't get 78 caps for Germany by being a bad player. You probably are one of those people who rates a foreign player a flop after 2 months or who probably elevates a player to star status after 2 games. But I promise you this: come March, you will come back to this blog and apologize for slating Mertesacker. That is also a guarantee!

  • Comment number 20.

    HaHa charade. Are you a paranoid arsenal fan? clearly, RVP is by far the most influential Gunner. therefore Phil's comments were quite measured IMO. Respect to Wenger, he follows a high risk strategy, buying unproven young players, but the fact is they fail more often than they succeed. And when they do succeed, he's got to pay them more.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ 19


    i think he's Souness in disguise

  • Comment number 22.

    #18 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    So do I. :-)

  • Comment number 23.


    Don't think City would bid for Song.

    Don't think United would bother with Walcott. Nor would Tottenham.

    Neither Utd, Chelsea or City would move for Sczesny.

    Spurs have no need for Wilshere or Ramsey.

    I mean I could go on and on really, but I think you get my point. They're decent players, but not universally coveted.

  • Comment number 24.


    I beg to differ

    it seems everyone is quite blinkered to the role that Gervino is playing , as was very evident in the chelsea game.

    Looking at him with park last night showed the latter is not ready for this particular stage.

    to sum up:

    there is more to Arsenal than RVP, as there was when henry departed and others its also beginning to show there is in fact much much more since CF moved and SN move to be a bit part player in Citys CC Run.

    looking at Santos i think he could quite easily play up front should we become that desperate.

  • Comment number 25.

    @ 22


    as ever a reasoned opinion from you

  • Comment number 26.

    #15 Tiote could do a job for Arsenal. Jagielka. monitor Krul. and some City reserves who will surely get hacked off after a season

  • Comment number 27.

    At 10:22 2nd Nov 2011, tork wrote:

    #15 Tiote could do a job for Arsenal. Jagielka. monitor Krul. and some City reserves who will surely get hacked off after a season


    Sadly, there's only so hacked off the modern footballer can get when he's pulling £150k a week.

  • Comment number 28.

    #27 kanchelskis_legend

    Players such as Adebayor and Bellamy have left, for example.

    As the season wears on and Man City play more or less games, depending on what competitions they are still in, perhaps a few players might look to jump ship in January, particularly if their place in their national team is under threat as we approach the Euro's.

  • Comment number 29.

    and congratulations to CF and golden boots messi

    I look forward very much to us all meeting up again very soon.

  • Comment number 30.

    Over the last few seasons, looking at the Arsenal I can't help thinking that they are nearly there as a team. In that time that have always looked a couple of players short defensively and at the real cutting edge goal scorers. In midfield they have looked the part. This season the game at Blackburn summed them up, the game should have been won at half time, they created so many chances. The defence was probably the worst defending against an average side that I can recall.

    Arsene's problem is where does he find the players needed to solve the problem. We all know he loves to develop the younger types but there has been a shift recently Arteta and Mertesacker hardly untried and ancient compared to his usual signings. There is also the fact that Arsenal will not compete if it comes down to wages for really top players and I do not blame them for taking that stance.

    Are they a one man team? No but I agree they are better with RVP than without him.

  • Comment number 31.

    #29 HAHA CharadeYouAre

    How SOON do you want Arsenal to be out of Europe? ;-)

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 Londoner in exile returns

    There is also the fact that Arsenal will not compete if it comes down to wages for really top players and I do not blame them for taking that stance.
    Arsenal's annual wage bill is apparently about £125m.

    Man U's is apparently about £132m.

    Make of that what you will.

  • Comment number 33.

    Firstly its easy to criticise Arsenal (considering they don't win anything!) where ever your sitting and I've reluctantly been to the Emirates twice this season to see them play. Secondly, no they wouldn't.
    About Mertesacker thats a bit contradictory, because your rating his success on Caps for Germany not the ability to play in the Premier League, you just got to look at Koscielny, Squillaci, Djorou, poor players!

  • Comment number 34.


    Mr Wenger has always used 'wing backs as full backs'. Its his way and its also a massive scource of our defensive weaknesses. Just look back over 10 years and you will see all of the candidates for the description. Gibbs is the latest member of this strange type of player.

    As to the game, Arsenal will be OK with 0-0. They ll focus a full team on the Dortmund home game now. In the greater scheme of things it doesnt matter. We arent seriously trying to win the CL. Getting past the group stage is vital though. The Premier League is the thing now and whatever the media and critics say Arsenal will finish top 4. Theyre better than Tottenham and Liverpool even as things stand as they are.

  • Comment number 35.


    at the risk of sounding very insane i was just pondering putting a bet on Stoke vs Barcelona in the EC Final

    and Arsenal vs APOEL in the CL Final


    as the saying goes " its a funny ol game "

    and if your about Soul , thats not a serious dig at Barca its a fanciful thought how i can possibly become as rich as Usmanov and put my hand in my pocket and buy Tevez and turn the Ethiad Stadium into a block of Flats.

  • Comment number 36.

    This blog shows once again England's fan's lack of knowledge with europeen football, Marseille are not a push over, both Chelsea and United got 4 points against them last season and there starting line up is very strong, players like the ayew brothers, loic remy, valbuena, mandana are good players. Not only that but they did not create any rely clear cut chances, unlike arsenal. Good solid result if you ask me. How Arsenal are being bashed after 8 wins and 1 draw and a lost in their last 10 games is beyond me, why not right a blog about Chelsea and how dire their squad/form is?

    ps: Lucho Gonzalez was on the bench for Marseille, there hardly Genk!

  • Comment number 37.

    @MBB (28)

    Yes, Bellamy's left. But Adebayor's on loan and his wages are still being played by City. Redknapp has already said it's unlikely Spurs will be able to keep him cos of his wage demands.

  • Comment number 38.


    i thinks he is pointing out @30 that Arsenal " won't " be competing , not that they can't

  • Comment number 39.

    I'm really bored of this Arsenal bashing by McNulty...again, and I'm a liverpool fan.
    Come on Phil, there are other teams to talk about, what about Newcastle and their performance against Stoke or Bolton's woes or Blackburn and their anti Kean demo's or the failure to shut up shop in the last few minutes.
    An article about other clubs would be nice once in a while.

  • Comment number 40.

    arsenal were good in the first half, bit flat in the 2nd half imo. I thought the defending was (comparatively) pretty solid, vermaelen and mertesacker looks like it could work and arsene wenger clearly (finally!) told santos to try a bit of defending for a change in the second half - but he must still be getting heart palpitations with santos on the pitch. I think arsenal definately need a new striker and left back in jan, if RVP does get injured park doesn't look like he will provide enough goals on this evidence

  • Comment number 41.


    You are taking the overall wage bill into acount for both clubs.

    For the stars at UTD example Rooney [near k200 per week] is on near double of what Arsenal will pay their top player. An example is Wellbeck at UTD and his reward is a threefold increase in his recent new contract but it still only [laughable really] took him to k50 a week.

    Arsenal cannot or will not compete with the likes of City and UTD when it comes to paying top dollar for a player.

    City luring Nasri, he doubled his money, to sit on a bench, a prime example. Although RVP is probably Arsenal's most valuable asset at this time, Nasri earns more. Therefore Arsenal are unwilling to pay the real stars top dollar.

  • Comment number 42.

    #37 kanchelskis_legend

    And you BELIEVE what Redknapp says? Anyway, come next summer, he'll only have two years left at Man City. If he's not in their plans, there is likely to be some sort of clear out one assumes.

  • Comment number 43.

    does there have to be an article written about every Arsenal match?

  • Comment number 44.

    Phil, you should have played your “joker” and not bothered submitting an article for such an excruciating match. I’m sure your BBC bosses would have understood. However, you do get to show your skills in generating a blog about nothing of consequence. When will we be rid of the dull part of the Champions League, you know, the bit before Christmas, it’s obviously not working, but at least it cures insomnia.

  • Comment number 45.

    Phil, it is clear you are not paying attention to watching Arsenal games. Arsenal are more than a one man team.

    Many commentators noted Aaron Ramsey as the man of the match at Chelsea, not RVP. Ramsey has been key to some of Arsenal's success. Gervinho has not been a flop at all. While he isn't scoring, he is providing great linkup play and has been the creator behind many of RVP's goals.

    Arshavin has played well in the last few weeks - lest we forget that he was man of the match against Bolton in the Cup. Arshavin made some great runs against Marseille and made good passing in the limited 15 mins he was on the pitch.

    Koscielny has also been impressive. His postioning needs improvement, but his tackling, heading and overall defending has been great.

    People seem to forget that Chamahk has had limited game time since RVP recovered from injury last season. Chamahk was the prems top goal scorer in Oct-November 2010. His movement off the ball has been awesome in the matches he has played.

    Szczeny has been one of the best GKs in the league this season and has made a consistent reputation in goal.

    Szczeny, Koscielny, Vermaelen, Sagna, Wilshere, Ramsey, Gervinho and RVP are all key for Arsenal's success.

    However, Santos is a midfielder not a defender. Mertesacker is still too slow. And Wenger should stop playing his players out of position!

  • Comment number 46.

    for those asking the question:

    the sole reason for this spate of Blogs on Arsenal is that the BBC combined with Sky are eager to blog/spin about Arsenal's downfall apart from the freak result at OT it seems they are going to be very disappointed.

    they expected a derailment at stamford bridge, this did not materialise, so the next best option was to hope for a major disaster against Marsellie, this also has not materialised, having no joy at all on these fronts, the attention has now turned to Arsenal being a one man team, when this is shown to be highly inaccurate they will move on to.....

    the mind boggles!

  • Comment number 47.

    Sick to death of Arsenal blogs!! Who cares......? Does another team exist?? Surely their are other more import things to discuss than a dull 0-0 draw for the Gooners?

  • Comment number 48.

    #41 Londoner in exile returns

    With the utmost respect (I don't come on here to insult people), I think what you have said is nonsense.

    The point is that the wage bills are comparable and yet Man U seem to get more out of their wages than Arsenal.

    It is a management issue how you use your resources.

    Afterall, if Man U have some higher earners than Arsenal, then it must surely follow that some of their players are earning less than those at Arsenal.

    Or, is it the case that Arsenal are paying, say 50 players compared to Man U's, for example, 30 players and the difference is that Arsenal are saving on transfer fee's by hedging their bets on a larger pool of reserves, or something similar.

  • Comment number 49.

    i forgot also to mention:

    according to myth and legend the more they talk about you the more they fear you

  • Comment number 50.

    At 11:10 2nd Nov 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    for those asking the question:

    the sole reason for this spate of Blogs on Arsenal is that the BBC combined with Sky are eager to blog/spin about Arsenal's downfall


    Oh dear. Here we go again. Whip out your tinfoil hats. Polish off those conspiracy theories. Whip up that sense of deluded paranoia... HAHA is back in the game!

    Let me ask you, do you have ANY substantiation for your outlandish claim?

  • Comment number 51.

    #46 sorry charade, i thought you were just a paranoid arsenal fan, but now I see there IS a media conspiracy to persecute arsenal ;)

    wenger (like some other managers) buys too many players of a particular type. Good players, but all roughly the same. He needs someone to provide the platform. Song is patchy, and he shouldnt ask someone like wilshere to do the job. look how parker's improved spurs. I think the arsenal defence gets too much flak - they need protection in front of them

  • Comment number 52.

    Europes top awards:-

    Messi - Ballon d'Or
    Lampard - Carte d'Or
    Torres - Barn d'Or
    Terry - Fallon d'Floor.

  • Comment number 53.

    Wont be long before * Soul Patch * wakes up from his siesta to turn this blog into Barcelona's 4-0 win against a pub team

  • Comment number 54.


    Bottom right corner reads " complain about this comment "

    being one step ahead of the game I've added " ignore this user " bottom left in anticipation of your arrival.

    i hope thats clear.

  • Comment number 55.

    @HAHA CharadeYouAre

    I'll take that as a 'no'. Glad we've established that so quickly.

  • Comment number 56.

    Missing a bit of Soul Patch to brighten up my morning!

  • Comment number 57.


    Terry? Surely (Nick) Griffin'dor?

  • Comment number 58.

    they need protection in front of them


    You wont find many Gunners fans argue with that. The argument comes when people say Alex Song can do it. He cant, hes not good enough, not disciplined enough and hes far too slow, hence his last resort fouling tendency in dangerous positions. Hes good for low grade games v lowly Clubs. Parker would have been a great buy for Arsenal to replace him with.

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.


    very good but why no mention of rooney :) ?

  • Comment number 61.

    United -arsenal - wipe d'flor?

  • Comment number 62.

    Arsene Wenger - Water Bottle d'or

  • Comment number 63.

    United-City wipe the neighbours floor?

  • Comment number 64.

    arsenal-marseille - bore d'ror?

  • Comment number 65.

    arshavin - showim d'or?

  • Comment number 66.


    Good form! :-)

  • Comment number 67.

    Is anybody going to do a blog about the home nations dispute about the GB olympic football team instead of the same old arsenal / chelsea / manchester rubbish?

  • Comment number 68.

    Cant we talk about Chelsea's world class fans?

  • Comment number 69.

    R.V.P a one man team many will argue that ARSENAL are not but stats tell u at the moment they are. Arsenal fans can argue all day long that this is not the case, but everytime Venger leaves him out he is forced to bringing him on, i do wonder where the goals will come from when R.V.P is injured which at some stage will happen????.

  • Comment number 70.

    squillaci - pissp'or

  • Comment number 71.

    Can we have a blog about that punch in Romania? And the state of Eastern European Football?

  • Comment number 72.

    #69 Jesus the Teddy Bear

    Only if we extend it to talk of german bombers, air crashes in the 1950's, predilections of managers on the age of lovers, fans dying in Turkey, terrorist attacks on team buses etc etc

    Or is it just Chelsea fans you want to have a pop at?

  • Comment number 73.

    The Chelsea result was a freak result, which could have gone either way, we deserved to be on the right end of such a result! OM are a very good team. Arsenal was the better team and should/would have won, had it not been for some careless play by Ramsey & Gervinho. The real Gooners, are not getting carried away with that exceptional result, we had against Chelski! Felt sorry for Park, he didn't get the service last night - I felt he could be a real menace but the final ball to him was not good at all.

  • Comment number 74.

    67. At 11:37 2nd Nov 2011, jaydrawmer wrote:
    Is anybody going to do a blog about the home nations dispute about the GB olympic football team instead of the same old arsenal / chelsea / manchester rubbish?



  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    Chelsea fans aren't to blame - it's just a hardc'or

  • Comment number 77.

    @MBB 72

    To be fair, the matter JtTTB raised is rather more current than any of those. And - I'm sure you'll be objective enough to agree - rather alarming.

  • Comment number 78.


    Shakter have been a disappointed this campaign

    as for the fan that threw that punch i imagine him to be sampling hospital food for many months via a straw if not he should be.

  • Comment number 79.

    Rooney - Old'Or

    I wouldn't say Arsenal are a one man team but they are certainly dependant on RvP. He will probably get injured somewhen and that will cause Wenger problems. I believe to get top 4 he will have to buy well in January.

  • Comment number 80.

    It would be incredibly unfair to label Arsenal a one-man team as undoubtedly they have talent throughout their squad. The issue I think is becoming more psychological and is driven by the media identifying this headline tag and sticking with it.

    Arsenal have had a rather disjointed start to the season with players lacking form (Arshavin for instance), the departure of arguably their two most creative midfielders in Fabregas and Nasri, the introduction of new squad members and the misfortune of injuries to key players (Wilshere, Vermaelen, van Persie, Gibbs and Sagna) all to cope alongside a backdrop of suggested off-field disharmony.

    The issue is I think is that there is a collective expectency on van Persie which may convey negatively on the rest of the team. There is plenty of creative ability available to Wenger but at the minute, if Arsenal don't produce a free-flowing display, it is very easy to say that it is because the club is overly-reliant on the Dutchman.

    I think it would be fair to say that van Persie is integral and the current run of form highlights that the club needs additional firepower; between them Nasri, Fabregas and Bendtner scored 32 and 36 times in the previous two seasons as support players... Walcott, Gervinho, Chamakh et al need to provide van Persie with a little more support.

  • Comment number 81.

    46. At 11:10 2nd Nov 2011, HAHA CharadeYouAre wrote:

    "the sole reason for this spate of Blogs on Arsenal is"

    The main reason is that Arsenal have been second best in nearly all of their European games so far and in most of them they enjoyed fortunate results which their play did not deserve.

    In a stage may I add which according to some is uncompetitive easy and predictable. Whether they reach the latter stages or not is absolutely irrelevant as this depends massively on fortune and draws in addition to performance.

    If their supporters and followers of English football are pleased with this there is nothing to be said indeed.

    But after all this is to be expected when even the two teams looking one click above the rest in the EPL and seemingly running away with it are pretty average as well, as 100% of their European performances this season also confirm.


  • Comment number 82.

    #77 kanchelskis_legend

    @MBB 72

    To be fair, the matter JtTTB raised is rather more current than any of those. And - I'm sure you'll be objective enough to agree - rather alarming.
    Yes and no. It was only a few weeks ago the chanting at the Spurs Arsenal match was attracting moral outrage and that soon died a death.

    Sure, the whole incident at Loftus Road is topical but let's wait and see if there is a boil to lance or whether people are getting their knickers in a twist over nothing.

    I hear some quite horrible things at football matches (Stamford Bridge and elsewhere) it's that the what may have been said last night has been reported whereas most of the vile stuff that comes out of the stands isn't.

  • Comment number 83.

    "23. At 10:15 2nd Nov 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:

    Don't think City would bid for Song.

    Don't think United would bother with Walcott. Nor would Tottenham.

    Neither Utd, Chelsea or City would move for Sczesny.

    Spurs have no need for Wilshere or Ramsey.

    I mean I could go on and on really, but I think you get my point. They're decent players, but not universally coveted"

    Cherry picking players against teams who are strong in that position makes your point meaningless. For example, United could use better creativity in midfield, so we would happily take Wilshere and Ramsey, but we have pace up front so that's not where we need to strengthen.

    Vermaelen is a good player, alongside a strong Vidic / Terry (i'm being generous) character. Walcott will prove to be a great striker if they can play him in the right role and with the right players around (something that Messi enjoys), and the two young midfielders are true stars.

    The rest however are not up to much.

    As far as without Van Persie, he is the player on form and with huge talent - a talent that ANY team would miss and most teams will covet. Were it not for his injury record he would be spoke of more widely as one of the top strikers in the world.

    So, it's no shock that Arsenal, with at best luke warm replacements, will lack some edge without him.

  • Comment number 84.

    Just how many duplicate logins does Soulpatch need to big himself up?

  • Comment number 85.

    At 11:48 2nd Nov 2011, nibs wrote:

    "there is nothing to be said"


    Off you trot then.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Wont be long before * Soul Patch * wakes up from his siesta to turn this blog into Barcelona's 4-0 win against a pub team"

    No no, you've got that wrong. All Spanish teams are world class, but some are more world class than others...

  • Comment number 87.

    @77 | 72.

    For what its worth I would argue that all clubs have moronic fans, so its not a pop at Chelsea so much (although within reason I do find it amusing trying to wind up rival fans)

    Its more a pop at the fact last season we could have had a discussion on the relevant football topics of the day, where as now we are limited to what the BBC see fit to discuss.

    Over the past month there have been lots of topics (not just the racism subject) that the BBC deem unwilling to discuss.

  • Comment number 88.

    My view is that the home nations should have no say in who wants to take part in the olympics,this decision should be with the british olympic commitee. Putting politics apart ( such as the Welsh F.A ) who reckon they are worried they will loose thier vote from FIFA. The olympics is a festival of sport for all to be enjoyed, but soon as a G.B Football team gets involved it becomes some political merry-go-round. No wonder the likes of FIFA don,t want to entertain our World cup bids. Why o Why can,t we just behave like adults for once and stop believing we are gods gift to everything sport has to offer.

  • Comment number 89.

    At 11:52 2nd Nov 2011, GenesisRed wrote:

    Cherry picking players against teams who are strong in that position makes your point meaningless.


    No it doesn't... it makes my point.

    My point being that the OP's claim - that all top teams would be interested in those players if they were 'for sale' - is a rather silly one.

  • Comment number 90.

    #87 Jesus the Teddy Bear

    The whole racism issue is a hot potato that the moderators would probably have a coronary trying to administer.

    But, I agree, there are some big issues in football which don't really get blogged on. Of course, that is because despite noises, there is no appetite within certain quarters of the game to change the status quo.

    Oh, and BRING BACK 606!

  • Comment number 91.

    you mean except how United (and honestly, any of the top teams in the country) would love to have Wilshere and Ramsey and might be interested in Vermaelen and van Persie were he available?

  • Comment number 92.

    Don't think we necessary need topical discussions around matters such as, shall we say, the 'kick it out' issue that's reared its head.

    What I do find frustrating is the apparent editorial imperative to constantly draw such broad conclusions from single matches.

    Instead, why can't Phil zoom IN, and focus on a very specific, maybe tactical, issue that may have been raised by the game.

    Last night, for example, the unorthodox defensive style of Santos presented itself quite obviously. Why can't Phil blog about the game he had, the questions it raises, what Wenger has to do with the LB position. Maybe illustrated with a few chalkboards, etc?

    That might focus the discussion board a bit as well, instead of people skipping to the end of a predictable broad-brushtroke article, and commenting about whatever they fancy.

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 81

    this being the case and contrary to the likes of Souness, Guillt and now Seaman ( yawn ) and all the other ' experts ' ( yawns again )

    Arsenal will not be the only side to be found wanting when coming against the " real teams " and " big boys " in the CL

    as i said before as a Gooner i look forward to the up coming re-match with Barca

  • Comment number 94.

    If Referee's are professional, why can't the EPL authorities offer better wages to the best referees around the world instead of leaving us with the numpties we have to suffer week in and week out?

  • Comment number 95.

    "Why can't Phil blog about the game he had, the questions it raises, what Wenger has to do with the LB position."

    Because he doesn't have a clue what he talks about?

  • Comment number 96.

    " that the moderators would probably have a coronary trying to administer."

    true, but they have put blogs up in the past and had it fully moderated, so that anyone can post but only reply s deemed sensible get through.

    Its just a general frustration, for example they have two items up on fergies 25 years, and either one could have been a blog, as it is nobody can comment on them.

    Its the same with Scott Carsons one, and always happens with the SPL ones.

    Why cant they just be put in a blog and people aloud to comment on them!

    Shambles springs to mind.

  • Comment number 97.

    "Instead, why can't Phil zoom IN, and focus on a very specific, maybe tactical, issue that may have been raised by the game."

    He would need to have some understanding of the game and not what sells heat magazine to achieve that.

  • Comment number 98.


    I don't think that can be the case. The editorial focus of the blog won't be Phil's decision. It's quite clear that there's a very narrow focal remit which all his writeups have to follow.

    Interestingly, I find his tweets more insightful than his blogs, and they often prove that he does in fact know what he's talking about. He's just restricted in his blogs by what he's told to write about.

    The question is, why is his editorial brief so narrow for his blogs?

  • Comment number 99.


    they can't compete with man u's wages

  • Comment number 100.

    #96 Jesus the Teddy Bear

    What annoys me is that a blog should be styled to host a discussion, not provoke a discussion. 'We' saw what happened last night and are perfectly capable of discussing the issues. We don't need the pot stirring in order to be minded to have an opinion.

    #98 kanchelskis_legend

    If the 'chief football writer' (as everything associated with him seems to have to be branded) can't be given journalistic license to say what he wants, then god help the rest of them!


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