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Wenger must cure Arsenal frailty

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Phil McNulty | 10:41 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008

Arsenal's capitulation at Stoke City reinforced every stereotypical criticism aimed at Arsene Wenger and his players in these recent, relatively barren, years.

To see a group of lavishly gifted performers bundled aside so unceremoniously - and deservedly - by a Stoke side showing greater heart and stomach for the fight would have presented an unedifying spectacle for Arsenal's fans.

The mantra "Arsene Knows" has been presented as fact by those inhabiting Highbury and The Emirates on a regular basis during his wonderful reign, and to write off Arsenal's season on the basis of events at The Brittania Stadium on Saturday is premature and folly.

But if Arsene truly knows, and his track record suggests he does, then the fears of Arsenal fans who rightly revere him are valid and should be acted upon.

Wenger may be many things, myopic in matters concerning his own team and stubborn when it comes to matters of footballing principle, but he is not stupid.

He will know his Arsenal side has a very visible soft under-belly, and they will struggle to mount a serious Premier League challenge unless it is dealt with swiftly.

For all their gifts, they are frail when confronted by a physical approach. This may not please the purists, who can include Wenger in their number, but it is a fact of life and must be eradicated.

Let's start with Arsenal's positives, because they must not be ignored in the current rush to underscore their problems.

Arsenal, in full flow, are a spectacular sight, as pleasing on the eye as anything in the Premier League and arguably in Europe.

And in young men like Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, they have players who will grace the world stage for years to come.

Wenger himself is one of the great footballing figures of the modern era. He has built a young team that perfectly fits his template of fast, attacking, passing style.

He has steadfastly stuck to those principles, refusing to lavish vast transfer fees in the market, even though Arsenal director Danny Fiszman made it clear the funds would be available.

Arsene Wenger

How can anyone fail to admire the beauty of Arsenal's game when at its best or praise Wenger for his approach and determination to play the game in its most attractive form?

This cannot, however, be used as a shield to protect Wenger from the current reality.

He is being questioned seriously about whether the principles that have built an Arsenal dynasty may actually be holding back their search for silverware.

Arsenal are only six points off the title pace-setters, so it is hardly a time to start alarm bells ringing, but this does not mean there are not glaring weaknesses that need the manager's instant attention.

If Wenger sticks to playing his long game of nurturing youngsters and making the occasion big (ish) buy, then it is hard to see them seriously challenging at the sharp end in the league and Europe, especially as it is an open secret on how you can undermine them.

There is a naivety, some might call it an unprofessionalism, about them that can occasionally put them just one step away from catastrophe.

It was almost insane that they somehow ended up drawing with a Spurs side they had comprehensively outclassed for almost all of the north London derby.

Would Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool draw a game they were leading by two goals with a minute of normal time remaining? Unlikely.

And yet Arsenal, through a combination of carelessness and basic incompetence, managed it - giving their down-trodden neighbours a leg-up in the process.

If they had beaten Spurs, as they should have done with several goals to spare, then morale would have been high and the trip to The Britannia would not have seemed daunting.

But the mood in the camp would have changed in those vital, wasteful final moments and confidence will have taken a severe dent. This made the Stoke game an accident waiting to happen.

In defeat, Wenger will have surely discovered some brutal home truths about his side and what he must do in January.

When Chelsea won at Stoke in September, they kept them in their own half and consequently reduced the threat from Tony Pulis's side from set-pieces.

Arsenal, in contrast, were flimsy and cannon fodder. It was a game that cruelly emphasised how urgently they need beefing up physically, no matter how much this drives at the heart of Wenger's carefully-held principles.

Wenger must cure what Stoke keeper Thomas Sorensen rightly described as a "lack of spine" in Arsenal's team.

Could anyone imagine that charge being levelled at great Gunners such as Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn and Patrick Vieira? It would have been right up their street.

Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia showed a lack of presence at Stoke, a reluctance to take charge in an emergency. He is vulnerable and teams will need no second invitation to test him.

In central defence, the signing of Mikael Silvestre was strange indeed. Injury-prone in his final days at Manchester United and hardly at the peak of his powers, it did not fit the usual Wenger strategy.

And surely someone at Arsenal must have smelt a rat when Sir Alex Ferguson waved him on his way to The Emirates with nothing other than his best wishes? Since when was Fergie in the business of doing favours for fierce rivals in the transfer market?

Wenger requires a dominant central defender to challenge Kolo Toure and William Gallas, especially as the latter has proved a flawed choice as captain.

And in midfield, Wenger needs to conjure up a Vieira-style figure to complement the skills of players such as Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Denilson. Not easy to find, but Arsenal need an imposing character in the heart of their team that sends out the message that they will not be messed with.

This is not a crisis for Arsenal - they could still go on to have a successful season under a manager who has proved to be a master of his craft.

But it is a time for serious assessment of their prospects and the questions rightly being posed by Arsenal fans.

They will bow to no-one in their admiration of Wenger, but they will also want their manager to work on the deficiencies in their team and literally beef up their squad in January.


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  • Comment number 1.

    An almost perfect blog...right up until the last minute. Literally beef up his side?? As in feed them beef??? The misuse of the word literally aside, Phil, you're absolutely right. As a United fan who so very nearly saw his team beat L'Arsenal at Dubaibry last year, here's to going one better and Tevez, Berbatov, Rooney and Ronaldo filling their boots against such a weak and flimsy defence.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Phil and Co.

    I like this blogg very sensible comments and and enjoyable read from my perspective.

    I have to say articles like this will perhaps finnaly get the messge across to AW who being as I am Gooner, has my support no matter we may not win the Title but we sure have a great deal still to play for.

    as for stokes goalkeeper saying, or did he say, " arsenal have no spine " whos he to come out with rubbish like that!

    Stoke have naff all to offer the PL apart from a long throw! hows that for starters! for him to judge Arsenal on the back of his sides victory is not worth paying attention to. and as i say Stoke have naff all to offer football apart from survival in the PL and reading comments from their keeper now has me feeling I hope STOKE take the drop! we dont want thier type of football in the PL its nothing more than park soccer, so the sooner they are dumpd back into the championship the better.

    As for Hull, now there a different story, I had considered their result to be somewhat flukey, however their games after have proved this to be anything but the case, and i take my hat off to Brown and his team and they will defo be safe, and they are playing FOOTBALL! they are not dirty, or aim to maim, they are playing to thier strengths and I really applaud them for thier efforts thus far.

    to phil: erm Man u nearly drew with hull? did they not? in effect they nearly threw away a substantial lead, and in the end hung on.

    as i say Arsenal have still a lot to play for but i like the blogg quite sensible really.

  • Comment number 3.

    Let's not get carried away with this "beefing" up the squad. Maybe a goalkeeper at most. If Wenger puts Diaby in front of the back two Viera style then no problem. The problem in the team is the Captain, the attitude, the smoking cigarettes. When we have Edu, Rosicky and a few more places being fought for Wenger will have all the Arsenal he requires. Watch Bendtner outgun Man Utd this week end !
    Gigarette smokers win Zilch !

  • Comment number 4.

    Cantona's Collar,perfect comment about the use of the word literally. Literally means to actually do something, so literally beef up means force feeding them beef a la froi gras!! or attaching steaks to them...

    anyways, blog is correct, all the great teams have imposing disciplined holding midfeilders to allow the flair players to express themselves. Carrick and Hargreaves at Utd, Alonso and Mascherano at L'pool, and Mikel/ Makalele at Chelsea. Wenger seems reluctant to spend the cash to bring in an already established 'big-name' holding midfielder, maybe its time.

  • Comment number 5.

    You actually put your finger on it when you say that Arsenal outplayed Spurs and had they won the Stoke game may have been a different story.

    All this actually came down to a slip at a crucial moment which resulted in maximum punishment.

    Arsenal's problem in my view is that they are prone to react very badly to adversity.
    When they are winning they are fine but one bad result and it takes a few games to work it out of their system.

    So it comes down to one slip to cause all this ink to be expended and millions of theories to be offered by those waiting (just as last year) for the moment to say that Arsenal were warned.

    Last year it came down to the last 20' against MUtd. This year who knows. Maybe Mutd will be the team to offer Arsenal a new lifeline and renew their confidence.

  • Comment number 6.

    True Manchester United nearly drew with Hull - but they didn't!

    The point I was making was that Arsenal were two goals ahead of Spurs with a minute of normal time remaining and threw away the win.

    I take your point that any team is capable of losing a two-goal lead, but this was so late in day and so careless.

  • Comment number 7.

    Spot on we need cover in defence and an imposing midfielder to challenge the big boys

  • Comment number 8.

    why doesnt he try and mould abou diaby into the role of viera.

    he is so much like patrick viera in every sense of the word.

  • Comment number 9.

    i think it is significant that Arsenal have won nothing since Viera left.

    we all know what he needs, although i would be very pleased if he were to bring some players through who are able to do the job

  • Comment number 10.

    Quite frankly Phil youre almost spot but this is a crisis for us. Weve been in crisis for a few years now. This may seem ludicrous but we have had these same flaws for years now and it is the exact reason why we threw away the league last year. I am getting increasingly annoyed with Wengers stubborness. I love the guy for whats hes done but its because of his attitude that we havent won a few more trophies over the last few years. Im afraid to say it but we are clearly going to finish a long way back in fourth this season and it may be time for Arsene to move upstairs and make way for a new approach. He should rightly be lauded for his achievements at this club and he will never be forgotten but he just refuses to accept that his beautiful game will very rarely reap the trophies we should be winning. Denilson epitomises this. He is not good enough for the first team and wont be for at least a few years. We lost Flamini because of arrogance and Wenger somehow thought that we could fill that imposing figure with a weak and haphazard midfielder. Last year I said we were in trouble and would not win anything unless something was done about it and im afraid to say im being proved right. Knowing what Wenger is like he will do nothing about next year or the year after so for me he has to move on. Hes holding back the very club he built up and the sooner he realises this the better for all concerned.

  • Comment number 11.

    Diaby does bear a striking resemblance to Vieira, but I feel Wenger needs someone who is closer to the finished product.

    Finding this person is the trick, but Wenger is not short of contacts or expertise.

    As for literally beefing up the squad, I meant by buying players who are bigger physically to give Arsenal a more imposing appearance. Players who have more beef on them - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    And maybe he could feed them beef? Why not I say?

  • Comment number 12.

    to phil:

    I agree with you 100% about Arsenals slip up at Spurs . no probs.

    as i say it makes a nice change to have some proper perspective shown towards Arsenal and i think you have covered the situ very well.

  • Comment number 13.

    really baffles the mind wat arsene is doing.he may be an idealist.remember the youthful ajax side which played utopian had experienced players.danny blind,rijkaard.arsenal need quality defenders really.i feel that their midfield is ok.maybe one addition for central mid.but the defence is really bad

  • Comment number 14.

    Goonergetit - I thought Edu left years ago?

    I agree though, Arsenal are in need of a few additions - not sure if Diaby is in the same mould as Vieira, selling Diarra (in preference of Flamini) was a HUGE mistake.

  • Comment number 15.

    Good blog.

    Wenger is there to win trophies, not just to get his team playing attractive football. In the trophy winning Arsenal teams of the past there has always been a couple of players who would hold their own in battle (Adams and Viera). I just don't think they have players who can win games with power anymore.

    Chelsea and United have these players though. I know it is still early on in the season but I just can't see Arsenal picking up points when not on top form like United and Chelsea can.

    Mr Wenger has done a lot for Arsenal and English football but if he wants to retire a legend and not have a poor and sour end to his managerial career then he better win some trophies soon...doing whatever it takes.

  • Comment number 16.

    Alex Ferguson once said the first Arsenal double winning side were physically imposing. This made it dificult to knock them off their stride, YA Ya Toure would be a perfect fit. Or if you really need beef there is always Huddlestone LOL.

  • Comment number 17.

    a well written blog, i as a spurs fan enjoy arsenals defensive frailties as it is their only weakness, they are to built to win the premier league, they are built to win the champions league and that is a shame for the premier league that the champs is deemed more important to wenger, and at chelsea (even thought they have enough money to have 2 squads to compete for both) and man u who in Ferguson knows how to build a side that can win both, albiet with the help of £££. anyway if wenger doesnt get diaby playing every game behing fabregas or he doesnt get veloso of diarra then i cant see them winning the league anytime soon.

    goonergetit - edu left 2 years ago.... unless you have another edu on your books?

  • Comment number 18.

    a great blog, hes right and its blatently obvious you cant win the league without good players in the air, well adeybyor (however you spell it) toure's ability has been questioned and gallas is average as are diaby and song the rest are completly useless. if you compare arsenals strikers to another teams..... says united arsenal have adeybyor in the air man u have tevez berba ronaldo all of which are very strong and give them another dimension in attack it is not only in the air they need strength they need a comanding central midfielder who can win the ball like viera, who have they got? denilson, ramsey and diaby none of which are even defencive let alone 2 of them being teenagers either diaby needs to get alot better or they need a new viera.

    aresenals ability to play great attacking football is undouted but it wont win them the league.

  • Comment number 19.

    The problems with Arsenal are psychological, not physical.

    They've got some fine athletes in their team, but when they hit a setback during a game or things aren't going their way, then they crumble mentally.

    I have to say it: that mentality must come from the manager.

    Wenger has few peers when it comes to playing the transfer market to his benefit, but I wonder what he's like in a dressing room. Campbell and Cole both walked out on Arsenal because of personal issues and problems in the dressing room. Players like Flamini, Hleb, Henry and Pires could not wait to leave. It's conjecture, but for me there is something not quite right.

  • Comment number 20.

    I am fed up with the fixation about winning trophies especially when it comes at the expense of good football.

    For years Arsenal are in the mix of most major competitions, challenging right upto the end playing exciting football.

    Of-course ending up with a trophy would be the ultimate satisfaction but its not the be all and end all for me (and I believe also for a lot of others). We cannot saccrifice the whole journey for the final destination.

  • Comment number 21.

    *NOT built to win the premier league*.........

  • Comment number 22.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! First hull and now stoke, arsenal might as well send out the lasses!!

    As for diaby he looks more like eric djembe-djembe then vieira! remember him utd fans!!

    having said that should be a good game saturday but i can see united sneaking their first win at Dubai-bury. c'mon u reds!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    Diarra would have made a big difference to Arsenal now, but he was a victim of his own impatience and wanted to go elsewhere.

    If he had stayed at Arsenal, there is every chance he would have been playing regularly by now rather than plying his trade at Portsmouth.

    Flamini left under freedom of contract. I am not in full possession of the facts so it would be unfair of me to speculate as to how much Arsenal did to keep him.

  • Comment number 24.

    Sorenson described Arsenal as lacking spine. I don't know if that was an intentional play on words, but when you look at the 'so called' spine of Arsenal's team compared to Chelsea, Man U and Liverpool you have to be concerned for the gunners e.g. Almunia V Cech or Reina, Gallas Vs Ferdinand, Carragher, or Terry, Adebayor Vs Torres,Drogba or Berbatov. Only in the midfield with Fabregas can Arsenal truly compete in the spine, but it is too much pressure for one player and it is beginning to show.

  • Comment number 25.

    I watched the West Ham game a couple of weekends back and Song played great in that holding midfield role - regularly recovering ground and stopping dangerous WHU runs between the centre circle and our box.

    I was dismayed to hear he had been rotated on Wednesday against Spurs and then again on Saturday Denilson was preferred. Denilson is not and never will be midfield muscle.

    I fondly remember the early Wenger years of Petit and Viera - both big lads who seemed to spend entire matches dispossessing the other team's midfielders and passing the ball to a teammate, often involving a little flick over the head of the other lot's midfielder. Glorious! And a far cry from what Denilson can do clearly.

  • Comment number 26.

    "Arsenal have no spine" its true no matter whether its sorenson saying it or whoever, that was the worst defensive display i have seen down the britt this season.
    They lacked battle and as soon as the maych wasnt going Arsenals way they where rolling round all over the place.
    Arsenal have been found out for being top heavy, exeptional in attack but very weak at the back.

  • Comment number 27.

    On the ever increasing frequency of occasion that Arsenal lose we hear the usual tirade of excuses from Wenger and his cronies: "We are tired", "they wouldnt let us play our stylish game, the british public must be pleased", "we are a team in transition", "we showed a lack of maturity".....and today some new ones "It was too windy".

    To me this all adds up to one greater picture that he will never admit to: Incompetence. That is simply they are not anywhere near as good as they think they are. They get found out all too regularly at home and when European sides do their homework properly it will start happneing there aswell.

    For a team as arrogant in their posturing as Arsenal, who rabbit on about how great they are incessantly, and have little runts like Fabgregas saying that Rivals couldnt beat their ladies side, to not be able to manage a top 2 finish in 4 seasons (probably 5 this year) is a joke.

    Its simple:-
    1) Either they ARE that good and are thus currently in a MASSIVE crisis
    2) They arent as good as they think, are living off a reputation that is half a decade old, and should re-align their attitude accordingly.

    For me to be in transition for a quarter of the Premierships existence is totally laughable.

    They should just admit it. Theyre a team going nowhere, and are chuffed to bits about it!

  • Comment number 28.


    Good article. A few comments:-

    'young men like Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, they have players who will grace the world stage for years to come.'

    That may be true enough but, certainly in the case of Fabregas, I doubt they'll be doing it with Arsenal!

    Also, is Wenger just getting it plain wrong to not spend the money. I know money doesn't buy you everything and paying inflated prices isn't all good, but, no trophies in over 3 years AND not using all the resources at his disposal? This is an error, surely?

    Is there the issue that for all Wenger's vision brings and has brought much to Arsenal, is he now too big for the club and will this be to there detriment in the long term? Perhaps he's given more license because he stayed loyal in the lean times when the Emirates was being built?

    Finally, the French don't like English beef do they?

    p.s. with regard to Stoke v Chelsea, I don't think Delap was playing that day. (Even though on MOTD they tried to say that Cech dealt very well his threat)

  • Comment number 29.

    to amilAO
    clearly he meant Eduardo

  • Comment number 30.

    Arsenal obviously have many, many positives and it is admirable of Wenger to stick steadfastly by his idea of "real" passing football. However, Wenger has in the past been ignorant to criticism of his team, so I hope he actually shows a bit of humility this time around and recognises the deficiencies in his side. If he does, and buys wisely in January, Arsenal could find the missing piece(s) to their jigsaw.

    They've obviously got talent in the squad, just lack that little bit of "oomph" required in the English game.

  • Comment number 31.

    Call yourself Gunners. Edu=Eduardo.

  • Comment number 32.

    It seems easy to forget that Arsenal beat Fenerbache 5-2 in Istanbul only two weeks ago in the Champions League - a feat never done before by any british club. Wenger is indeed one of the worlds great coaches and has produced some stunning performances in his 12 years at Arsenal. However the disappointment of gifting Spurs a point in the 4-4 draw will linger for years like a bad odour and give their North London rivals bragging rights far outweighing the unimportant Carling Cup win of last season.
    Sir Arsene needs to produce a side that can both produce stunning football and ride out the storm of a physical challenge such as Stoke City gave them. Only then will he produce a side capable of winning his holy grail of the Champions League. Unless he changes his philosophy, I can't see it happening so the Wenger years will remain a frustration for Gooners until he is moved upstairs.

  • Comment number 33.


    I don't agree with your argument. Henry and Pires couldn't wait to leave? I think they both provided many years of service to Arsenal and it was the right time, for both players and club. Campbell was another whose performances were declining, he was ageing and the time was right to go.

    As for Hleb and Flamini, it was disapponitng they left but i think every club experiences players wanting to leave.

    I think, as most posters point out, the problems are with the ability (or lack of) of some defenders and a midfielder rather than any foul smells coming from the dressing room.

  • Comment number 34.

    Great article Phil and absolutely spot on.

    Ichi_1 - Your point that Arsenal's current problems are not exactly a new phenomenon is spot on too! Phil's blog would have been current had he published in any of the season's since Arsenal went unbeaten.

    How Arsene is going to address it is anyone's guess right now. I do not think there is an immediate solution in the team at the moment. Something, others have pointed out already.

    As for Kolo's brother, the last thing Arsenal need right now is another African player who will dissapear for the Cup of Nations every other season. Especially an Ivorian as they are one of the more prominent sides who are likely to reach the closing stages.

    Its going to be difficult to find someone that's for sure. We need only look at how Man Utd struggled to replace Roy Keane. You could argue that the outstanding talents and form of Ronaldo are masking the fact that Keane has not been replaced.

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Arsenal's problem is one of budget. United, Chelsea and Liverpool spend far more than them and therefore have much stronger squads.

    Wenger's teams have over-ahieved for years. Given their finances, they are a top 6 side at best and qualifying for Europe each year must count as a successful season.

    The Utd fan at the top made me laugh - " Rooney, Berbaov and tevez go thru their flimsy defence..."

    Each player's been bought for £30m. What sort of pride can he take in watching his team "buy" another title.

    Chelsea and Man Utd are the richest, they buy all the best players and hence finish 1st and 2nd in the league. It's not rocket science. The team Arsenal fielded against Sunderland recently cost less than their opponents...says it all really.

  • Comment number 37.

    Certain names mentioned here are why I find it hard to criticize Wenger - To replace Vieira/Gilberto he's bought L.Diarra, he's bought Flamini ...but they've left of their own accord through impatience.

    Flamini was just a prospect when he joined. He looked fairly average to me but he'd all but been moulded into the perfect defensive compliment to Cesc's brilliance at his time of leaving. That was down to Wenger and now Flamini's struggling to hold down a place in the Milan 1st team.

    Diaby too looked an awesome defensive midfield prospect until a severe injury halted his progress a season or two ago. He's back in the side now but seemingly used as a utility man by Arsene rather than a more rigid holding player.

    It's a tough one.

    I think if Arsenal's players would've been as patient as their manager, they would've had another championship winning squad by now. But every time Wenger looks to have got it just right one or two of the cogs come off the wheel to seek pastures new.

    Hleb is another example of a player who'd finally found his game after a couple of years tutorledge, only to leave at the wrong time.

    And it's not a Wenger philosophy to just plaster these cracks with players to fill shoes immediately means the developing/rebuilding process begins once more.

  • Comment number 38.

    Phil, I agree with your assessment in the main but I don't subscribe to the predictable media hyperbole everytime Arsenal briefly lose their way, using words like "crisis" and "capitulation".

    Yes, there was lack of professionalism against Spurs in the dying minutes and Wenger is entitled to expect more from his team and particularly his captain. However, a clearly superior outfit at Manchester United came within a hair's breadth of throwing away a 4-1 lead against Hull City and dropping points. No-one seems to be jumping on Fergie in the same way. I feel Arsenal must stick to their footballing principles and learn to use their common sense rather than having to resort to negative and over-physical approaches just to win. The only time I can remember Wenger playing negatively in the Wenger era was when we beat Man United in the 2005 Cup Final after being outplayed. Of course Arsenal were slated in the Press and everyone had to feel sorry for Man Utd!

    You mention Keown, Adams, Winterburn and Vieira who would, in their pomp, undoubtedly be major assets to the current side but I also remember the press being highly critical of their physical approach every time they received a Yellow or Red card. Let's get this into perspective, we are unlikely to win the Championship unless we can beat the top 3 in all our games but we are only 6 points, 2 games adrift, and as much as Tottenham have done well this week, they will be bottom once again tonight if Newcastle beat Villa. In the meantime I am happy to watch Arsenal play the way they do and will look forward to seeing them beat Fenerbahce (again) on Wednesday.

  • Comment number 39.

    Is the moderator on a comfort break? Good blog Phil, I'm sure a lot of Arsenal fans are worried about the apparent defensive frailties.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hi Phil

    As you allude to, Arsene quite clearly needs to find a balance of having a skillful and a physically strong side.

    It is the key for any successful team. Footballers generally rely on one of these aspects as the main component of their game but a team needs to blend both.

    England's recent problems of late have been down to having not enough skilful players and too many who rely purely on the physical aspect of the game. Fabio Capello seems to have worked a system and tactics that maximises our relatively limited skill level and also makes the most of our physical attributes.

    Arsenal have the opposite problem. Our technique is excellent but our players not only lack the physicality to their game, but we also don't have any really physical players.

    Teams that have blended the two well are the Invincibles (Campbell, Vieira, Henry, Bergkamp), Chelsea 2008 (Terry, Carvalho, Deco, Joe Cole) and Spain 2008 (Puyol, Marchena, Senna, Xavi, Iniesta, Torres).

    Some of the very best players have an evenly balanced skill/physicality level but these are rare. Most have one aspect as the dominating attribute of their game. None at Arsenal have physicality as their key, dominant aspect.

    We need to get in two physical players, one in midfield and one in defence, in January. In the meantime we need to remain in touch in the league and in the CL and take it from there. Easier said than done though, especially with our upcoming run of games.

  • Comment number 41.

    crisis, what crises arsenal have lost game,s before and will do so again,but they will alway,s play a style of football that may well be pleasing on the eye,but might not get the result,s it deserves. the arsenal are set up to play a style of football that suit,s them better against european team,s and not against the likes of a purely physical side ie the stokes of this world.

  • Comment number 42.


    I see what you're trying to do with the 'literally beef them up' comment, but it just doesn't work logically. Whenever you use 'literally' in conjunction with a metaphor, it is almost always incorrect.

    A good example was a Film degree essay I corrected for a friend, in which she made the statement ' the next scene, Bubby literally turns into a phallus.' It took me a while to explain that Bubby had not, in all probability, turned into phallus (except metaphorically). The issue with your statement is that you actually don't need the word 'literally' at all, as it adds nothing to the sentence. The metaphor implies its literal intent, i.e. 'to beef up' equals 'to make stronger, more physical'. It's like you don't trust the reader to understand what you mean.

    In terms of your actual content, sadly (as a Gunner) I agree. It is telling that without Campbell and Vieira we've struggled. Our creative midfield is goal-shy (and shot-shy, annoyingly), our strike-force is a little low on inspiration (compared to Thierry era) and the issue with this is that, if we are flimsy in defence, advantages are lost and points are dropped. It's always been a weakness of Wenger's, the defence. It's why he held onto Adams and Keown for so long, why he held onto Seaman and Lehmann for so long.

    The problem is, does he have the fortitude to say 'I need to fix this', go out and get a Goalie, Central defender and Defensive Midfielder in January? And will he get the right ones, big names, instead of people like Silvestre and Bischoff?

    Who do we want, and who could we realistically get?

  • Comment number 43.

    amilAO - he was talking about Eduardo, but not sure how he's going to help with out current issues...

  • Comment number 44.

    the irony of this post is not lost on me.....but can someone moderate the posts quicker please?!

  • Comment number 45.

    Hammer, nail and head. The really annoying thing for me as a Gooner is that we are only a few players away from being a strong title challenging team but Wenger is too stubborn to admit that he needs to buy. He has talked the youngsters up so much that if he changes tack the press will start crowing "We TOLD you so Arsene!" Which exposes another Wenger flaw, overly sensitive to criticism, give SAF credit, he has never been slow to change his strategy, without admitting he was wrong at the time! I'm dreading Saturday's game, more actually that we might pull a result out because that will lull Wenger into a sense that the squad is good enough when it patently isn't.

  • Comment number 46.

    Although I am a great fan of Arsene, the Premiership has changed since we last dominated it. There are three key areas which Arsenal need to improve on if they are realisticly dethrone 'The Big Two'

    1. A midfield general. Okay, last season Flamini was top drawer for us. Ran like crazy, good tackler and even grabbed a few vital goals. We wasn't the finished product that Wenger would of made him, and I lost a lot of respect for Flamini when he left, as he owed his whole career to AW, but left at the first chance of limelight. When Danny Fiszman said there were funds to be spent. I thought this would of been his top priority, but surprised me by not investing. Song and Denilson aren't built for the job.

    2. A dominating centre-back. Sky Sports made a very interesting point this morning. It stated Arsenal were one of the only teams (maybe the only team) to have both it's first-choice centre-backs under 6ft. Adams and Keown were big, 6ft-somethings that had a lot of presence. Although big fans of Gallas and Toure as individuals, as a partnership, they lack this. Making Gallas captain compounded this. Loaning out Senderos didn't help things ever, and he was around 6ft 4, and although clumsy, would of dealt with a lot of the long throws. Not buying Kompany was our loss and City's gain, considering he only went for about 6m, and having his whole career ahead of him.

    3. Goals from the wing. Okay, give Nasri and Walcott a chance, they're only quite young, but when either of them are injured, who could we turn to? Even though I'm not a big fan of Eboue's attitude, I think he has qualitys as a right-sided MIDFIELDER, not a WINGER. He had a very good first season at RB, and should be used when we're a few goals up with time left for his defensive capabilities, not as a starting winger, who doesn't score and can't cross. Again, Quaremsa to Inter for £15m, promising and we could of afforded him.

    With that said, Arsenal aren't too far away from the league with the current crop, but those areas need improving as soon as possible.

  • Comment number 47.

    To Bluesfrog...I did state clearly near the end of the article that I did not regard this as a crisis for Arsenal.

    But I do feel there was an element of capitulation at Stoke and there are serious causes for concern.

    The beautiful game will only sustain Arsenal's fans for so long. They will want silverware - and the sooner the better.

  • Comment number 48.


    I enjoyed your assessment of the current problems at Arsenal, and it has been years in the making. We continue to let proven player leave (albeit on their way down) and replace them with unknown starlets which threw the balance of the team into inconsistency. You can get a couple splendid performances from the kids, but when it comes to consistency you need a spine of veteran players who will remain composed and help the inexperienced kids calm down when under pressure.

    I will, however, disagree with two points you've made.

    1) had we held on to win against spurs, it would only cover up and delay this discussion of our problems at the club. The sooner we get exposed and force the manager to admit the shortcommings of his squad (and of his own tactic), the better. Had we won against spurs, Wenger would have applud his kids for being "composed" and holding on for the 3 pts. Almost everyone congratulated on Arsenal's 5-2 win at Fenerbache, but no one seemed concerned how easy it was for them to score those 2 goals.

    Our sucess thus far this season has been down to other teams not taking their chances rather than us shutting up shop. Defensively I'm not convinced especially the tactics employed by Wenger.

    2) "This is not a crisis for Arsenal...." I'm sure we'll stay up in the prem, if that's what we want our club to do. But to remaing competitive and challenge for the title we're falling desperately short. Being up 8pts at the top of the league last season and having ONE bad result at St. Andrews SHOULD NEVER be accepted. Big clubs will once in a while suffer a bad result but they always bounce back.

    The inconsistency is a direct result of Wenger underestimating his opposition, over rating the potential of his players, and being stubborn on his egalitarian views and philosophies on how football should be played while other more sensible managers will think "how do I best play based on the opoosition, ability of my squad, and conditions on the pitch".

    The only thing that "Arsene Knows" are the following:

    1) He will never be fired by the board. He can be as complacent as he wishes
    2) He will have a faithful following of supporters who will defend him and attack supporters like me who questions Wenger's current abilities (i give him credit for what he's done in the PAST)
    3) He will have a host of excuses to give to the supporters and most of us will readily eat it up
    4) By chance or by fluke, once in a while these young starlets will put in a good performance to shut us up and then he will claim that this squad has the potential to win things, without having to do so.

    The squad is a reflection of the Manager, it's more true than ever for Arsenal now.

  • Comment number 49.

    To the Arsenal fan who isn't too bothered about winning trophies and think this obsession with winning is not as important as the style of football you play: Do you live in Newcastle?

    Winning is everything. Anything else makes you a loser. Winners will understand this statement.

  • Comment number 50.

    Hmm, we Gooners are certainly erudite, judging by the standard of this blog! I believe if the players (via Wenger) get their heads right, then their feet will follow. The same side, with the same skills-set are transformed by a sense of belief and purpose.

  • Comment number 51.

    Watching Arsenal over the last couple of years I have come to the conclusion that what they really need is a hardman.

    A defensive midfielder or maybe a Centre-back someone who demands respect from his fellow players cos he will not let anyone through. They need someone maybe like Tony Adams used to be or John Terry is now, or Carragher or Carrick or Ferdinand, someone who can't be bothered with all that ponsing about with the ball, but would continue to play if there were blood pouring from there head which was just held at bay by copious amounts of bandages. I don't see that they have a player like that in there entire squad , it certainly isn't Gallas he seems to have a Hissy fit when the going gets tough.

    The problem is, it seems to me that Wenger is to proud of his beautiful game to employ such a player.

    Those who can remember them, it's like entering the Harlem Globetrotters into the NBA and watching them getting mauled by REAL teams.

  • Comment number 52.

    Bagshot wrote:

    "for years arsenal are right up there in the mix to challenge for trophies"

    I won't dispute the facts, but keep in mind that the LEAGUE is the a better reflection on how good the team is rather than cup competition. Liverpool won the CL in 2005 but finished 5th.... Spurs won the League Cup last year despite finishing at mid-table..

    The problem with arsenal in the last couple of years has been our consistency. That's why after finishing 1-2 in the past we've only managed 3rd or 4th since 2005/6. We're saved from dropping from the top 4 because there weren't any genuine contentders to break into the top 4 on a consistent basis.

    I don't expect Arsenal to win the league every year, but I also don't expect them to lose it by x'mas - which looks to be the case this season.

  • Comment number 53.

    u said a very truthful truth about arsenal. they should buy more experience players. i do not support any team but i watch football. i ve friends who are fans of arsenal and they are saying the same thing always. the man should buy more exp players

    djeniko chris
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 54.

    Phil - do you think Arsene ever suffers in the eyes of the fans for his professionalism in the transfer market? Which is to say, by not letting the papers know every little detail about negotiations - both with players he wants to come in and with the current squad - he allows fans to assume he doesn't do enough?

    As you say, we have no idea what the ins and outs were with Flamini leaving, but many Arsenal fans seem to think we didn't do enough. Likewise, there is this widely held belief that there is an incredibly strict wage structure yet we also have, apparently, a similar wage bill to Man U and Liverpool.

    Benitez, in contrast, has managed to keep fans on side for a long time simply by blaming the owners for not giving him what he wants. Arsene on the other hand acts like a professional and gets on with it quietly and gets criticised at every turn...

  • Comment number 55.

    I must say I totally disagree. Two seasons past I would agree you that the Arsenal team was not ready physically to match teams like Bolton and Everton. That is not the case now, if it was then Arsenal cannot have 65% possession of the ball to Stokes 35% for the whole game. This simply means that Arsene's analysis is right; the fact that his players did not create enough chances that is why they deserved to loose the match.

    First and foremost we all agree that Arsenal is an Attacking team; then we all must agree that in any attacking team goals will be scored against you but the point of an attacking team is to score more goals than you concede. Right now Arsenal is not doing that. However I am not saying that Gallas and Toure are having their best season ever.

    Arsenal main problem is not that they are not physical enough, it is that they are scoring when they need to. Yes Wenger is to be blamed for this because he knows that is where his team needs maturity. However, I must say it is not totally his fault; over strikers and attacking midfielders must take some of the blame too. I am very surprised that Adebayor and Van Persie have not stepped up to the challenge. I love those two guys as talented footballers. It has to be said that Adebayor and Van Persie have had more chances to put Arsenal in a better position in the table than Gallas, Toure, Silvestre and Song (when in defence) have made mistakes that have caused Arsenal to concede goals.

    I agree with you 100% on questioning Wenger for bringing Silvestre to Arsenal. I was livid when read the news on BBC website. I would be even more livid if I was English.

    Last but not least Wenger needs to buy a Midfielder that will give Fabregas some needed rest. Right now Cesc is not playing the game he needed cause I feel he is tired. One always wants play there best players but I think everyone will agree that resting 45 minuntes here and there will help him and the Arsenal team a lot.

  • Comment number 56.

    Spot on Phil, Arsenal were for the taking as outlined last week by Tony Pulis. As for the keeper coming out and saying what he did, I say good on him.

    In my opinion the problem with Arsenal is that whenever they suffer a defeat one of the players (Gallas, Adebeyour) comes out in the press criticising the mentality of the other players, do you ever see Rooney, Terry, Lampard or Gerrard doing this. No. They get on with it and win the next game.

    Good luck to Stoke this season as it's obvious unbeatablePinkFloyd does not know what he is talking about.

  • Comment number 57.

    Diaby was supposed to be the 'New Vieira' would be good to see if he can fill that potential. Although Senderos was supposed to be the 'New Adams'...

  • Comment number 58.

    I think that Wenger knows that there are some areas in which he needs to strengthen. He knows he needs a strong central midfielder- witness his interest in Gareth Barry over the summer, but overall, he needs to get them playing as a team rather than a bunch of individuals.
    He is obviously a fantastic manager but I wonder if he has become complacent in a few areas. For me, it is plain that Adebayor and Bendtner still don't get on and you wonder if any of the other top managers would have let that situation continue unchecked. Perhaps he thinks playing " The Arsenal Way" will bind them as a team but I feel that they need to add some of the steel to their game that some of the other clubs have done this season.

  • Comment number 59.

    it just goes to show the negative effect of having too many fancy foreigners in your team. Man Utd have Darren Fletcher, Scholes, Brown, Neville and Rooney - all with that never-say-die British Bulldog attitude coupled with nagging aggression of a jack russell terrier. I can just imagine the conversations on the Arsenal bus when they have to go up north and face the likes of Stoke and Bolton: "Ooh, Monsieur Wenger, I am not 'appy about ze mud on ze peetch, and zose loud supporters - how can one concentrate?!"

    And there is another problem - that of language. Too many bleeding French there! This just instills an attitude that preparing a good meal is more important than winning a football match, moreover, it must be done in style without the slightest bit of physical contact.

    I personally preferred watching George Graham's Arsenal, at least there was always a bit of a scrap and the team was full of characters. The current squad reads like a menu in some posh London restaurant, where all posh London Types go.

  • Comment number 60.

    I'm a Spurs fan and whilst much of what you say is true, not all of it. You ask the question whether Man Utd would give up a two goal lead ? -- you reach the conclusion of "no". Well, hang on a minute, they were three goals in front vs Hull on Saturday and had the game gone on for another 5 minutes I think Hull would have equalized, even so, Man Utd surrendered a 2 goal advantage. Chelsea in fact surrendered a two goal lead at Spurs last year if you remember perhaps ?. 5-Live were saying before the game that the conditions were very cold and raw and would Arsenal be up for the fight ?. Fight it was tho and I Don't know how Stoke get away with much of it at the Britannia -- the tackle on Adebayor was disgusting and he should have been sent off for it. I Can't wait for Stoke to play Bolton, I Should think the St John's ambulance from 5 counties will be on stand-by.

  • Comment number 61.

    Hang about, 'comprehensively outplayed Spurs?' not forgetting that Spurs gifted Arsenal 3 of their goals whilst hitting two goals of the month in the process (although 'unbeatablePinkFloyd' has previously stated that Bentley's was a 'hit'n'hope' - almost as un-gracious and deluded as Wenger himself).
    So bearing that in mind I think Arsenal can consider themselves lucky to get a point out of the game.
    The big problem is Wenger's arrogance which appears to be filtering through to the players, hence the ridiculous 'Arsenal ladies' comments by Fabregas and Van Persie's petulance on Saturday. When you have a manager who, with a straight face, says his was the better team after being beaten 5-1, you have a real slender grasp of reality at the head of your team.

  • Comment number 62.

    MitchD, it's "would have" and "could have", not "would of". "Would of" makes absolutely no sense whatsoever! Sorry to be a pedant, but that is quite possibly the most irritating failure in modern day English.

    Anyway, on to Arsenal. Strikes me that Wenger's ego is the problem here. He wants to be able to lord it over his fellow managers, just like Arsenal fans love to lord it over the other teams in the league with cries of "we play the best football without spending any money".

    No. I'm sorry, but you don't. Good football is free-flowing, yes. Good football involves a lot of skill, yes. But good football is also effective, and ends with the ball in the net. I can learn to shuffle cards in a hundred different ways, spin a chip over my knuckles, and deal out hands with my eyes closed, but that doesn't make me a good poker player.

    Chelsea have been playing good football this year, as have Liverpool. United are renowned for it, and are coming into their own again. At the beginning of last season, Arsenal played good football. This season, no chance. They play fancy football. There's a difference. You can go up to a bar and order a cocktail, and the waiter can juggle the bottles, balance them on his elbow and spin them behind his back, but if he ends up serving you a strawberry milkshake, you're still going to want your money back. Give me United any day.

  • Comment number 63.

    I absolutely agree with you Phil. What they need is a player with character. I suggest Arsene bids for Gattuso.

  • Comment number 64.

    Good blog Phil I believe Arsenal going through lack of confidence rumours of a dressing room bust up after Spurs game. Had a brilliant game against Fenabache ,but the same thing happened against Birmingham when our season collapsed. On Saturday morning I was on World Football Phone in on BBC Radio 5 live saying we needed a defensive midfielder and centre back. Several of Arsenal fan sites say Wenger has to spend in Jan transfer window. Andy Brassell on World Football Phone in recommended Jean Makoun of Lyon and Sergi Busquets take note Mr Wenger

  • Comment number 65.

    Stokerambo wrote:

    it just goes to show the negative effect of having too many fancy foreigners in your team. Man Utd have Darren Fletcher, Scholes, Brown, Neville and Rooney - all with that never-say-die British Bulldog attitude coupled with nagging aggression of a jack russell terrier. I can just imagine the conversations on the Arsenal bus when they have to go up north and face the likes of Stoke and Bolton: "Ooh, Monsieur Wenger, I am not 'appy about ze mud on ze peetch, and zose loud supporters - how can one concentrate?!"
    I may a similar point (albeit not with 'Allo 'Allo type language) to some Gooners on here a while ago.

    I suggested that in the EPL with two teams of absolutely equal talent etc the one with more Englishmen would win. This was nothing to do with being foreign per se, more to do with the fact that the English players are playing in front of their 'home' fans and will be around long enough to have to live with their reputation. The foreign players are likely to 'go home' and can always escape to a foreign league if things go wrong here.

    You could argue that is 101% compared to 100%. Not much, but enough to make a difference.

    It's already been well written but look at Ferdinand, and Rooney, Carragher and Gerrad, Lampard and Terry. Absolutely vital to the cause, over many years and will be around for the consequences.

  • Comment number 66.

    Nesh London types canner cope with proper ard Stoke lads. Drinkin bitter pays, so Arsene, a bit of advice. Stop scouring these exotic holiday destinations for young talent - look no further than lower league players from the North of England. Reet bit of grit, you'll get - someone like young Jacob Butterfield of Barnsley. Combine that with the silky skills and you're onto a winner. There is nothing wrong with aggressive players: Rooney, Savage, Keane, Vieira and Batty are all good examples of top quality aggressive players who will fight till the last drop for their teams. They intimidate the opposition and galvanise their own charges. Football needs more of this type of player, not fancy pansies like Ronaldo and Fabregas.

  • Comment number 67.


    Are you able to clear up this "budget" Arsenal have to spend?

    I think I have read anything from £150m to £70m to £20m to a packet of monster munch and a double decker.

    If, and it's a big if, Arsene has more than £25m to spend then please don't be shy in January and make some acquisitions. However, I would think he has about £10m - not enough for what we really need and he knows it.

    Brandyforever - an excellent post. Ppl (mainly other "big four" fans) forget what Arsenal achieve on a budget comparable to the clubs in the bottom half of the league. I just don't buy that fact that Arsene does it out of stubborness - I think there is more to it.

    Chelsea, and Man U, buy titles. They pay the biggest fees, they pay the biggest salaries, they attract the best players....they win. Most of their fans don't care if it's a bunch of mercenaries holding the PL aloft - just that their club is.

    Even though it means Arsenal would probably have won less overall, I yearn for a more competitive football league in this country, and Europe, like the NFL where just about anyone is in with a chance from the start.

  • Comment number 68.

    All these comments, and what's laughable is that you are ALL WRONG.

    Phrasal Verb:
    beef up Informal
    To make or become greater or stronger: beef up the defense budget.

    It's a very commonly used phrase, Phil has got it spot on. Just do a google search for "beef up" and you'll see how many pages and news outlets use this phrase.

    Would be helpful if you could get off your high horses for once and do 5 seconds of research.

  • Comment number 69.

    Reading threw the above article i sit here with a smile on my face, Phil Mcnaulty, hmmmmmm, there are a few things that you seem to have forgotten, when spurs came to stoke we won them, we didnt give them 2 goals in the last minute, and as far the stoke and Chelsea match we wernt at full strength, we had 2 of our star players not playing, ROCKET RORY DELAP WAS NOT PLAYING, and neither was LAWRENCE, to the chelsea match was a bit one sided, because of this, we have a tatic in the prem that causes problems for everyone, and we are not the push over's that everyone predicted, we went to ANFEILD and they couldnt break us down, we took the game to spurs and shown them what we are made of, sunderland, and villa, we have now won the 2 north london sides that people said they should have had a easy 3 points off us, and villa another so called top 10 finisher, and stopped liverpool another so called top 4 side......
    id love to see the owner of paddy power who payed out before the season started on STOKE being religated, i bet they are kicking,


  • Comment number 70.

    Spot on Phil, excellent blog. The title is out of our reach this season. We have an average keeper, a soft defensive pairing, a soft midfield and a squad lacking experience and a winning mentality.

    However, the club has an excellent structure and is solid financially. The team is 90% there and we are only two or three signings away from a fantastic squad, it's not as if we need a complete overhaul.

    Of course we want success this season, but I won't be pulling my hair out if we end up empty handed. The future is bright and I have confidence that Wenger's plan will bear fruit very soon.

    The FA Cup and Champions League are realistic targets as on our day we can outplay anyone, and I will retain a 5% hope of the title as the potential is clearly there although it just looks a season too soon.

  • Comment number 71.

    Arsenal are a side that I consider to be mentally weak. When they are flying they play brilliant football and are capable of taking most teams apart - and are also capable of mixing it with the physical sides. However, as soon as something goes against them their mentality seems to be to crumble and sulk at the perceived injustice. This is often seen in matches like that against Stoke where they seemed to have the attitude from the start that Stoke weren't a 'proper' team and could only play physical football and worry them with long throws. Instead of working out how to combat this threat and trying to impose their own game on Stoke they came out with the mindset that they had already lost and it wasn't fair. I also think this is why they have had so many petulant red cards over the years. Good a manager as Wenger is the fact that this seems to be a characteristic of his teams must surely mean the finger of blame points squarely at him. It is up to the manager to instill the winning mentality as well as the technique, and Arsenal just don't seem to be a team that can raise their game when the going gets tough.

  • Comment number 72.

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

  • Comment number 73.

    I do not believe Wenger has become complacent, but he clearly has very firm principles on how the game should be played.

    He may also be working behind the scenes on solving the problems Arsenal are currently having.

    Let's face it, if we can spot them and debate them then it is fairly certain he has as well.

    It will be very interesting to see how he goes about his business in January, because I sense a growing frustration among Arsenal fans at an apparent reluctance to spend big.

  • Comment number 74.

    how ironic that arsenal are now desperate for a good defensive midfielder and they've let three really good ones go in the last three yearsin diarra, flamini and viera a serious error from wenger thats now costing them.

  • Comment number 75.

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

  • Comment number 76.

    I hope Mr Wenger will see these comments

  • Comment number 77.

    MagicWok wrote:
    All these comments, and what's laughable is that you are ALL WRONG.

    Phrasal Verb:
    beef up Informal
    To make or become greater or stronger: beef up the defense budget.

    It's a very commonly used phrase, Phil has got it spot on. Just do a google search for "beef up" and you'll see how many pages and news outlets use this phrase.
    People are increasingly using the word 'proud' instead of 'pleased' to try to add a human quality to something that is essentially soulless. Doesn't make it right!

    Anyway, he said 'literally'. Perhaps he should have said 'metaphorically' since putting on weight alone wont sold the issue.


  • Comment number 78.

    Next time you're on you might notice that it's spelt 'defence' (we're not American yet)

  • Comment number 79.

    mostly valid points, but it also has to be remembered that there is a cycle here that has resulted in the 'best' ie most expensive players, going to clubs such as chelsea and manchester united. due to the long running and continues success of manchester united, they are a bigger pull for players like berbatov, ronaldo, rooney, tevez, carrick, vidic, etc, all the key players that give united incredible firepower and a skill and strength balance which is lacking in the arsenal team. the same at chelsea, drogba, ballack, carvalho, alex, etc etc. these two clubs can almost guarantee their signings trophies, therefore it is harder for arsenal to attract players such as these when they could go to one of the other big name clubs. also, don't forget that the arsenal wage structure will not attract the big name signings they need as they can earn better money at other clubs. for this reason i don't think spending huge big name players is the answer, arsenal's success in the past decade has been nased on shrewdness in the transfer market. viera, petit, pires, henry, fabregas, van persie etc, no one knew who any of these players were when they signed and the've all turned out to be world beaters. they key to the current trouble clearly the defense, the midfield and attack need little doing to them. vidic/ferdinand, carvalho/terry. another parntnership like that is needed and the rest will fall into place. granted, perhaps a little more muscle in the midfield would help, but i think it's the cenral defence which needs to be sorted out. where the players are to do the job, i don't know, they're tough positions to find world class players, i hope the january window produces though. recent problems or not, i'm still a gooner til i die, there's much worse teams to follow so i'm still happy regardless of what's happening now!!!!

  • Comment number 80.

    No I do not agree completely. We are not in a mess. Peopel seem to foegt that the EPL is the best, toughest league in the world. And consistently finishing 4th is an achievment. Only one team can win it.

    doe sthat mean all other teams have failed? if you finish 4 points you have failed? the truth is we have come very clsoe to winning much more. from the CL, to the league, and only one team and manager has a better record. And he was there for years before Wenger came along.

    So a little perspective. And you can win things without money. the problem isnt age. or experience. we were less aged and experienced last year and were 4 points off. its a mental attitude. Wenger is showing too much faith in some players who do not have the hunger to succeed.

    And i do not count Gallas in there.

  • Comment number 81.

    In fairness to Wenger over the departures, we have already discussed the circumstances surrounding Diarra and Flamini.

    As for Vieira I believe, as in the case of Thierry Henry, that Wenger judged his sale just right.

    He sold these two undoubtedly great stars when they were past their best, as he did with Petit and Overmars.

    No-one can say Henry or Vieira has done anything to suggest Wenger made a mistake to sell them.

    Diarra may well be a source of regret though - for both player and manager - because he would be perfect for Arsenal right now.

  • Comment number 82.

    Basically wenger needs to drop gallas or toure (which he will never do...) and replace them with Djourou. He is a very promising player and our tallest defender by a long way which is what we need at defending set pieces.

  • Comment number 83.

    Fergie has firm princicples too. He has said for years that he has always had to add attacking play to the winning element. That is Manchester United's tradition. Wenger could add a bit more grit to his side and still be attacking but chooses not too...he wants passing perfection. Wenger wants to win HIS way rather than THE BEST way...this is why your club is not competing with the great all round teams of Man Utd and Chelsea.

  • Comment number 84.

    I've just got a feeling that when Eduardo and Rosicky return from injury, things will pick up for Arsenal.

    These are two excellent players who's quality and experience, I believe, would have made a real difference to Arsenal's season so far if they were fit.

    There are also tiny details making the difference for Arsenal right now, things happening which won't happen in every game - Clichy sloppy in possession against Spurs, excellent Bentley and Jenas strikes, a Toure own goal.

    I've still got a lot of belief in this Arsenal side and think the current players can turn this round and consistently produce the goods.

    Over the next few weeks, they'll probably go on an unbeaten run and be top of the league!

  • Comment number 85.

    All power to AW. The guy has a brain, principles and a philosophy. To see that approach take on the 'buy it now' philosophy of so many other teams ( not just the big 4) is refreshing.
    If you really love the game, trophies are not everything....I'd always watch Holland rather than Germany

  • Comment number 86.

    matchboxmaster wrote:
    Fergie has firm princicples too. He has said for years that he has always had to add attacking play to the winning element. That is Manchester United's tradition. Wenger could add a bit more grit to his side and still be attacking but chooses not too...he wants passing perfection. Wenger wants to win HIS way rather than THE BEST way...this is why your club is not competing with the great all round teams of Man Utd and Chelsea.
    I agree that Fergie has his principles. However, I think it may also be true to say that he has modified them since the 99 Treble winning team (which lasted for a few more years).

    In those days, he seemed to attack and just outscore the opposition.

    Recently, I think I am right in saying, the number of goals conceded has improved meaning they are overall a better team. If I'm right, perhaps Fergie has dealt with the issue in a pragmatic way.

    Perhaps Wenger needs to modify his approach in a similarly pragmatic way.

  • Comment number 87.

    phil think u right with the 'beef up' abt barry or yaya toure in jan? i'd go for barry... like how he leads villa and i think he deserves a 'big team'. i mean berba and keane used the same arguments and even harry so why shouldn't he (barry)? think barry-diaby-rosicky (when he comes back) can provide the much needed 'oomp' we're lacking.
    yaya only if we can't get barry...
    though o'neil might seem reluctant i am sure 18-20 mil will fix him (after all that's what he was haggling 'pool for....) or if wenger wants a cheap buy, he should go for

  • Comment number 88.

    Ok Phil, perhaps complacent was the wrong word but I still think that Ferguson et al would have got Adebayor and Bendtner together at the end of last season and hammered out their differences. This is a problem that goes back to almost this time last season and at times has proved to be detrimental to the Gunners. I have the utmost respect for Wenger and would hate to see him go. As a neutral, it is always a pleasure to see his team play when they turn on the style but perhaps he needs to get tougher with some players, make them show a bit of commitment to the club.

  • Comment number 89.

    i have been an arsenal supporter for 40 yrs and it is sad to see this team at the moment,adebayor has been poor since last season,gallas is'nt good enough,the midfield is poor including fabregas most of the time,a few good passes a few years ago and he has'nt done much since,walcott tries hard but he is'nt mature enough too play well week in week out, almunia has been very poor recently,should fabianski be given his chance?and finally the manager,should he take some of the blame?probably yes as he buys the players and tells them how he wants them to it time to let him go now as he seems to have gone as far as he can.

  • Comment number 90.

    I really do worry for Arsenal. Firstly these past few results can not be good for the "youngsters" development. It's all well and good saying that it's a learning curve but if it shoots there confidence to pieces what good is it. If we are going to blood so many "youngsters" then we should do it around seasoned proffessionals and not together! It's situations like this that Arsenal need a solid captain, a man who when things are going wrong will be heard roaring at the "youngsters" to keep going and not giving up! This unfortunately isn't Gallas who has to be up there with the worst captains Arsenal have ever had.

    Secondly I'm really worrying about the development of our rivals and the gap that could be in place come next season. Utd and Chelsea aren't losing pace, Liverpool have suddenly found themselves and then you have Spurs and City who come nex season will be stronger. If we don't get ourselves sorted soon we could be stuck in a 4 way play of for 3rd and 4th spot. I find it curious that Fitzman and Hill-Wood both made it clear that it was Wengers choice not to buy established names in the summer. Maybe they agree with the common supporter that we're just not good enough??

  • Comment number 91.

    Please i am appealing to Arsene to please leave Arsenal in peace by leaving Arsenal.Please tell him to quit the club before disgrace.

  • Comment number 92.


  • Comment number 93.

    What we are crying out for right now is a real leader of a defensive mid. Thats what we're lacking at the moment IMO. Yes, the strength and the tactics of the squad need improving, but right now we need a proper defensive mid in front of the back four that can captain the team and give the rest of the midfield a slap and recover the ball when they lose it needlessly. Would also hopefully allow Fabregas to be the more attacking player he was last season. Its a shame Flamini left really, he could have made a good captain one day.

  • Comment number 94.

    Slimso, I fear that you are a little bit misguided. We weren't "haggling" with Liverpool, we were trying to get a fair price for an established England player. Manchester United paid similar fees for similar players so we were completley entitled to try and get the most we could get for him, especially from a top four side. Also, there was some principle involved. It showed the big four teams that they can't get every player they want by unsettling them, and as we are trying to break into the top 4 ourselves, it would have been foolhardy of us to sell one of our best players to a rival.
    Perhaps you should think a bit more before you put in an ignorant post in the future.

  • Comment number 95.

    I knew they'd miss Flamini and Hleb far more then anyone predicted.

    For me Flamini was the reason Fabregas had such an outstanding year last year. He allowed him license to get forward and really dictate the play. Hleb was sensational last year as well, you don't have a team like Barcelona come calling if you ain't doing something right. Hleb would have been an absolute Star this year had he stayed, with Van Persie back to fitness, him and/or VP playing behind Adebayor would be devasting!

    Maybe Arsene should have done a little bit more to convince Diarra to stay, after all why did he bother to buy him in the first place if he wasn't going to play him....and the arrogance (or self belief) Diarra showed by quiting both Chelsea and Arsenal because he believed he should be playing first team football is exactly the kind of determination, drive and muscle that Arsenal are lacking.

  • Comment number 96.

    matchboxmaster wrote:
    Fergie has firm princicples too. He has said for years that he has always had to add attacking play to the winning element. That is Manchester United's tradition. Wenger could add a bit more grit to his side and still be attacking but chooses not too...he wants passing perfection. Wenger wants to win HIS way rather than THE BEST way...this is why your club is not competing with the great all round teams of Man Utd and Chelsea.
    Yeh, I think that Wenger is a little stubborn but that could just be the way the media portray him. His comments always seem to be directed for other reasons, except actually not taking the blame. And for those who think Fergie is always like this, (which he is occasionally) look at his opinion of the Hull game.

  • Comment number 97.

    We saw from last season when the chips were down after the birmingham game no one stood up and took the games by the scruff of the neck(ie how vieira keane gerrard essien would have),we need the midfield enforcer to allow fabregas to roam free and a centre back who is tall enough to head set pieces away and not get out run by a yakubu or fuller,almunia this season has been poor and im not surprised to hear that wenger has had a look at michael landreau of france,seriously who do you reckon we will look at getting in,if villa are above us in january i can see us spending like we did when spurs were ahead of us(when we bought diaby,walcott and adebayor),the players i would look at are joe hart,landreau,wheater,dunne,laursen,barry,

  • Comment number 98.

    I think the comment about Arsenal lacking a spine is actually correct, in both senses. As a team they lack strength, and fight. I think we, Arsenal fans, can all agree on that? However, more importantly the spine of the team is also lacking....from Almunia to Adebayor. Almunia is not world class. He might be good enough behind a rock solid defence, defenders....something not quite right about Toure. I think he should have been made captain, not Gallas. Toure is a fighter, but he is not here this season....he is VITAL to this team. Gallas is a double edged sword. Say no more. In midfield we lack a ball winner, defensive midfielder. Diarra was perfect, but AW let him go. Diaby is not like Viera. Song unconvincing. Denilson too similar to Fabregas. Finally, up front we need t find Adebayor, or RVP a poacher, a partner....Edu? Vela? BUT not Bendtner...I bemused why AW is so blind to him...bec gives us aerial precence? He is rubbush.

    So, in summary...we need to sort out the "spine" of the team. Our wide players are just fine...rosicky, nasri, walcott, clichy, sagna, eboue...I think we have enough players here. But we need to sort out 1. keeper 2. CD. 3. CDM 4. F

  • Comment number 99.

    it just goes to show the negative effect of having too many fancy foreigners in your team. Man Utd have Darren Fletcher, Scholes, Brown, Neville and Rooney - all with that never-say-die British Bulldog attitude coupled with nagging aggression of a jack russell terrier. I can just imagine the conversations on the Arsenal bus when they have to go up north and face the likes of Stoke and Bolton: "Ooh, Monsieur Wenger, I am not 'appy about ze mud on ze peetch, and zose loud supporters - how can one concentrate?!"

    And there is another problem - that of language. Too many bleeding French there! This just instills an attitude that preparing a good meal is more important than winning a football match, moreover, it must be done in style without the slightest bit of physical contact.

    I personally preferred watching George Graham's Arsenal, at least there was always a bit of a scrap and the team was full of characters. The current squad reads like a menu in some posh London restaurant, where all posh London Types go.


    mate its not really to do with foreigners at all. we (united) also have vidic, who is definitely harder than any of the other united players you've mentioned. what they really miss is vieira, there was a man you didnt mess with on the pitch, and a proper leader to boot, whether you loved him or hated him. you dont need to be british to be a physical and agressive fact i dare to you go up to vidic and tell him he's not hard enough...

  • Comment number 100.

    Just a question for Arsenal fans - which players do you think your gaffer should have bid for in the summer? Is there anyone who you think would have strengthened your team and that was up for grabs?

    Sorry if names have been mentioned already but there are so many posts to read through on here!


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