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Arsenal fall short in derby classic

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Phil McNulty | 00:53 UK time, Thursday, 21 April 2011

White Hart Lane

Arsene Wenger fell back on the cushions that have provided constant comfort throughout Arsenal's barren years - but nothing can offer protection from the brutal reality that unfolded before him at White Hart Lane.

Despite seeing the Gunners drop to third in the Premier League table behind Manchester United and Chelsea, Wenger praised his players for their mental fortitude, commitment and attitude in a 3-3 draw with Tottenham that was a classic of its kind.

And yet the agitated, animated behaviour of the Frenchman in his technical area as Arsenal cast aside a two-goal lead, betrayed torment at the latest wasted opportunity.

Wenger, whose side lie six points behind United with only five games left, rightly stated that Arsenal can still claim the title but the body language of manager and players as referee Martin Atkinson called time on a wonderful game suggested this may well be the setback that takes the goal tantalisingly out of reach once more.

Wenger looked drained from the sheer emotion and disappointment of it all. And for all his understandable praise for Arsenal - and there is so much to admire - there is a vulnerability, a fragility about his side that has once again driven at the heart of their pursuit of success this season.

He railed against decisions with the fourth official, gestured furiously at his defenders when Arsenal were under pressure and engaged his backroom staff in heated discussion. The pressure, self-evidently, was on.

Van der Vaart find the net for SpursVan der Vaart find the net for Spurs. Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal have had six points for the taking against Liverpool and Spurs and walked away with two. In a Premier League season that has hardly been vintage quality, these are the fine margins on which it will be decided.

And if Arsenal do not win the title, they will have cast aside a golden chance.

The neutral would need a hard heart not to feel sympathy for Wenger and his admirable principles but the evidence suggests his philosophy needs tweaking.

For those who might want someone else in charge at Arsenal, they should be careful what they wish for. The Gunners do not need a new manager, just a slight change from the current one.

Spurs and Arsenal deserve huge credit for laying on a lavish feast at White Hart Lane, a carnival of positive intent, flowing football and excitement from first to last.

Arsenal were a delight in the first half but faced opponents who are also among the most pleasing on the eye in the Premier League and who finished the stronger following a free weekend.

The Gunners' boss appeared to derive only occasional pleasure from this purist's delight. Even a purist such as Wenger knows trophies have to come eventually. He is now looking at the sharp end of six seasons without success - unless there is a late twist.

Arsenal arrived at White Hart Lane knowing victory was imperative but produced a performance full of the good and bad that has come to characterise them.

For a team carrying the wounds from a Liverpool equaliser so late in the day on Sunday that it almost carried over into Monday, Arsenal were breathtaking in the first 45 minutes. Cesc Fabregas ran midfield with Samir Nasri, while the speed of Theo Walcott and thrust of Robin van Persie offered an added dimension.

Walcott, Nasri and Van Persie were all on target - but this fine work was undone by the strain of frailty that runs through this Arsenal side and which Wenger has failed to address.

Rafael van der Vaart cancelled out Walcott's opener then scored the 70th-minute penalty that rounded things off but the goal from Tom Huddlestone was the one that really drove a wedge between Arsenal and their title aspirations.

Leading 3-1 and with half-time approaching, the outcome may well have been different had Arsenal survived until the interval. Instead, sloppy work gave Huddlestone the opportunity to find the net with a thunderous strike - and Arsenal were left exposed.

A breathtaking second half ended with honours and the score even but it was Spurs who were more satisfied at the end. They had a point that keeps them in the hunt for the Champions League. Arsenal had a point that is likely to be less than they required.

Wenger praised his team under what he feels is the weight of media criticism, saying: "I don't know any team that has been hammered like us for the last two months who would have turned up with such an attitude."

Nasri scored Arsenal's second goalNasri scored Arsenal's second goal. Photo: Getty Images

The siege mentality is a predictable default position but Wenger requires a trophy to satisfy those he sees as Arsenal's critics. No-one ever won silverware armed only with a set of newspaper cuttings. Success is the best reply he can give.

He may still do it this season, remembering its unpredictability, but the odds are now against him. What he witnessed again at Spurs will tell him that Arsenal still require greater authority in central defence and midfield to cure their ills.

Wenger looks to have a keeper of stature in Wojciech Szczesny, who had an eventful evening but showed rich potential with fine saves and a legitimate show of bravery and decisiveness that effectively ended Gareth Bale's involvement after 45 minutes.

For Spurs, cut apart with regularity in the first half and threatened throughout, this represented a point gained. In Van der Vaart and Luka Modric, they had players fit to stand comparison with Nasri and Fabregas on Wednesday.

Van der Vaart was back to his early-season best, while diminutive Croatian Modric was on the receiving end of heavy physical attention but was still able to show the appreciation and awareness that makes him such an outstanding performer.

After Tottenham's victory at Arsenal earlier this season, Redknapp announced his side could be regarded as serious title contenders. This has not come to pass but Spurs have the squad and the capacity to be regular top-four contenders.

A share of the points was the right conclusion, although Wenger clearly felt a Van Persie strike ruled out when the score was 3-2 should have stood.

The season may yet hold one last twist - it has been that type of campaign - but the twist at White Hart Lane may well be the one that finally snuffed out Arsenal's title chances.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Wenger's frustrations are all of his own making. He is given absolute and sole control of everything football at Ashburton Grove and so has no one to blame but himself when his team come short season after season.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was a game of two halves for both Arsenal and Spurs.

    In the first half, Arsenal were simply the brilliant Arsenal team of the first half of the season: full of movement with intend, creative ideas, lethal up front, a joy to watch, with the defensive frailties hidden due to their attacking approach to the game.

    In the second half, especially after the substitution of Nasri, we saw the Arsenal team of the run-in: wasteful in attack, losing concentration, weak at the back. Has anyone checked statistics for club football fans starting suffering from heart / depression conditions? After the introduction of Bendtner, I wasn't expecting anything more from them, really.

    Spurs started the game like wanting to advertise the weaknesses to teams seeking Champions League football: they gave away the midfield, all over the place in defense, without danger in attack. Their two goals were opportunistic rather than the result of resilient, attacking football.

    In the second half, they woke up, ran the midfield and the introduction of Lennon provided teeth to their attack. They could have won the match in the second half, besides having had to come back from 1-3 down.

    Arsene Wenger can't really claim an undefeated run of 15 games, as 8 of them were draws - what you don't want when you're chasing a title. In the end of the season he can justifiably be called Monsieur Scrooge of the Premier League.

    On the other hand, if Harry Redknapp doesn't sort out his defense and his attack, Spurs will have no more to hope for than being about there, in my poor opinion.

  • Comment number 3.

    Wenger can say what he wants, the fact is his stubborn refusal to buy a quality goalkeeper, centre back and striker are what has cost his team the title this season.

  • Comment number 4.

    No mention of the penalty that could have been given at the end of the first half for Djourou's clumsy challenge on Modric; the catastrophic defending from Gallas to gift Arsenal their third (probably worse than the gift Huddlestone benefitted from), or a string of excellent saves from Szczesny late on then, Phil? All well and good to talk about Arsenal carving Spurs open throughout, but Spurs had a lot more attempts - most of which were very good chances, to win last night.

  • Comment number 5.

    At 3-1 up, with 3/4 minutes to play until half time Arsenal were still trying to score goals and losing possession as a result.

    It's naivety, every other team in the PL would become defensive at that stage would be content to go in at half time 2 goals to the good, but because of the constant attacking we do it went back to 3-2 and Spurs are right back in it.

    Was a fantastic game to watch though and despite the rivalry i thought it was played in good spirit, a few challenges and words being had but at the end whistle it was like they are all best mates!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    amazing game last night, one which i was privileged to watch from the stands. For those Gooners whinging that they haven't seen a trophy for 5 years, let me say this. Wenger replaced Bruce Rioch to derision of 'Arsene Who?'. He won the double within 2 years, then went on to win another double, ended up in a champs league final and won the league on other occasions, once going unbeaten. Those fans questioning the manager - You don't know how pathetic that sounds! You consistently challenge for the league every year, something that my beloved Spurs haven't done in my 30 years on this planet. You're in the champs league every season.

    I genuinely cant understand how a 5 year trophy wait equates to a 'barren run'.

  • Comment number 7.

    'The neutral would need a hard heart not to feel sympathy for Wenger and his admirable principles but the evidence suggests his philosophy needs tweaking.' Although I think most Arsenal fans agree (barring the handful ill-advisedly chanting "Wenger out!" around Highbury last night), you've exhausted the point about the philosophy being outdated and needing to be seriously examined. Please find something else to write about. The probability of Bendtner choking on his chewing gum, perhaps?

  • Comment number 8.

    Also both teams are fantastic in attack, but woeful in defense. Tottenham more so i would say based on some of the teams that have beaten them this season.

    Chelsea and Utd just don't concede goals like a couple that were scored last night.

  • Comment number 9.

    Arsene Wenger seemed uneasy an frustrated for the whole period of the game even when they where leading. In contrast to other managers like KD he does not show any passion for the game. His frustrations are sometimes understandable with the wasteful nature of Arsenal but he has to learn to control it, encourage your team. Spurs were the better team in the 2nd period and could have easily won it, however defensive problems will haunt them if they don't do something about it this summer

  • Comment number 10.

    I suppose this is the sort of game you get when you put together two set of defences goalkeepers and defensive midfields that have been discussed as not too much short of a joke in football circles around Europe for the past few years.

    Harry may gloat "that's what football is all about" all he likes and Arsene talk all he likes about "principles" and "philisophies", but against Real & Barca they both go "koookoko" and become the Stoke City of Europe -and still ship a handful any day.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's not Arsenal's defence which has been a problem.

    Do you people really not realise that? They've the 2nd least amount of goals conceded, even with a goalkeeper who's cost them a few goals by making making clangers.

    It's Arsenal's midfield and strike-force which badly needs improving.

    Arsenal were unlucky that Vermaelen was injured for such a long time.

    What Arsenal really need is a Patrick Vieria/Roy Keane style midfield "general" and a ruthless selfish striker ala van Nistelrooy type players.

    They need a striker unlike van Persie who wont drop deep, who'll always be there in the 6 yard box to score the easiest goals you'll ever see, but to get 20-25 of them a season.

  • Comment number 12.

    A blood and thunder derby at your fiercest rivals and coming away with a draw is pretty respectable, 3-1 up or not.

    Before the season started, spurs were meant to take arsenals top 4 spot (they might yet) but why bother to nit pick at such a match.

    Why cant great games like last nights just be left to be taken for what are. We dont need to rip into the lack of central defender or keeper, especially when szescszschzhzhney had a great game.

    By all means chastise for the awful recent efforts against Liverpool, Blackburn and Sunderland, but lets just sit back and enjoy what we saw from both teams last night shall we?

  • Comment number 13.


    Although #7 wastecoasts has been a bit blunt, moving on from last nights game do you think that Wenger is flawed? Many if not most people seem to think that Arsenal have the resources to achieve more than they do, and yet each season they fail.

    Do you think Wenger is not pragmatic enough in sorting out what leads to their perennial 'just short' position? Are his admirable ideals and principals a little bit fanciful compared to the ruthlessness of others when it comes to getting the job done? Can you reconcile his philosophies with the business of winning trophies?

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm starting to like your blogs more, Phil.

    For me, Arsenal seem in a rut with their managerial situation. Arsene certainly provides some entertaining games, but seems to rest on the laurels of previous success'; but I can't see anyone to replace him who could maintain their regular position in the champions league places, which are undoubtedly important financially. The problem for me is that arsenal are so deep in the philosophy of playing the way Wenger wants, that any new manager would have to reconstruct them (however good the manager would be), which would jeopardise that position. While, under Wenger, I can't see them achieving silverware anymore, or at least any silverware of the sort that people want.

    He's too stubborn with his philosophy of younger talent who often fail to deliver. If we look at the previous glory years under Wenger, all his best players were bought in. I can't think of any player that has been brought through the academy that has been a success outside of Arsenal. He grooms petit Wenger's in his style which is not conducive with any other team, as far as I can see.

    There's no pan B, or even plan C; there's no hard-men in the team; there's no prolific goal scorers; and Wenger needs to utilise a holistic approach with his tactics covering the above, even if it is a bit ugly at times. Football is a business, and silverware is the goal, especially for a club like Arsenal. Over the years of a barren trophy cabinet, I've just seen the squads quality diminish further and further. With the (re)rise of City, Tottenham and Liverpool, and indeed other teams, I can see Arsenal dropping out of the Champions League places, and by that time you cannot refer to great, attacking and exciting football and your principles as a saving grace.

  • Comment number 15.

    Alot of the Arsenal fans out there will be keen to mention on how well Wenger has done in bringing up these young players, that are no doubt going to be world class.

    but there is always a time that comes when they need to deliver and that is now, and the fact is, they cant.

    personally i think wenger should go at the end of the season if they dont win the title (which now looks lost after last night) and they should bring in some one new that will bring in the right sort of players to make Arsenal win the title.

    In the summer every pundit, fan and Journo knew they had to strengthen to have a chance of winning the title, and he didnt. the same for January transfer window. they needed a decent keeper, centre half also a world class striker. how can Arsenal compete with the strikers in the prem like Tevez, Rooney, Drogba and next year Torres for Chelsea will bag 15+ same for Suarez.

    they need a manager that can change this team so they dont bottle it in the big games, to many this season have Arsenal had the chance to go ahead or close the gap on United and they havnt.

    oh and Fabregas is gone to Barca in the summer. Arsenal fans should be worried of the same old, same old.

  • Comment number 16.

    Did anyone notice Assou-Ekotto's ball distribution last night, that lad is Good

  • Comment number 17.


    It was a brilliant match that had a great tempo and 2 teams with exceptional attacking players, if you didn't like it why bother even watching football?

    I completely agree with Nicole that the goalkeeper and defence isn't the problem, we need another all action midfielder (like Essien) and another top striker because RvP is the only one we have and he is injured too much to count on.

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Come on MrBlueBurns we all know it is never Wenger's fault.

    But he won his titles on the back of a very strong defensive ethic put in place by George Graham and it seems to me that he has never been able or willing to put together a resilient a back-line himself.

  • Comment number 20.

    Arsenal is a joke. Wenger need to have a long look in the mirror and really think about this seasons failings. I think Arsenal would do well with selling Fabregas sorry self for a filth load of cash and use the proceedings to buy some heavy weights.

    What is more important, they really have to work hard on their mental strength. There were times during the season that Arsenal was made to look like a team of boys, especially against the top teams, be it in England or Europe.

    Incidentally, I think that is Mourinho's best quality as a manager. He really gets the best out of what he has. More than it actually says on the package - think of Pepe this season and before his arrival or Inter this year vs last year winning team. Wenger recent statement that 2nd place isn't so bad borders in the ridicule for a team that count's itself as one of the "big ones" (they are currently 3rd).

    A few years back, when Mourinho was still with Chelsea, he said Wenger had the best job in world football because his job status was not linked to results. Five years on and nothing has changed. The man is accountable to no one.

  • Comment number 21.

    oh and Fabregas is gone to Barca in the summer. Arsenal fans should be worried of the same old, same old.
    Really? Like he was last summer? And the summer before that? And the one before that?

  • Comment number 22.

    @21, watch, he wouldnt of come out and talked about not winning a trophy with arsenal, he is young and an amazing football player, he doesnt want to sit there finishing 2nd for ANOTHER year. when he could go play for the best team in the world. and if you do get all the money for him, Arsene would spend it on average players when he should spend it on world class players.

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    Like many have mentioned a predictable result. Many Arsenal fans, including myself, were resigned to not getting the three points but it still surprises how we manage to give away such advantages. Its bizarre and frustrating in equal measures. When a trophy does arrive it will make it all the more satisfying though. I wrote something afer the Liverpool game but still applies following last nigh's result if anyone fancies some thursday reading.

  • Comment number 25.

    Arsenal play the victim card too often. It's a mentality that Wenger has spread through the club. Arsenal expect to lose when it comes to the crunch

  • Comment number 26.

    as an arsenal supporter, i am more exhausted about reading the endless amount of generic articles stating the same thing over and over than i am watching six years without a trophy. obviously success is great, but football is a sport that is supposed to provide entertainment.

  • Comment number 27.

    10 Print "Aug - I have a good feeling about this season!"
    20 Print "Feb - We are gonna win the Quadruple"
    30 Print "April - Cheating other teams and injury's, dont worry Wenger will invest in the summer!"
    40 goto 10

    It happens every year, and will no doubt happen again.

  • Comment number 28.

    Without attempting to bring back the "referee" issue, as I believe Atkinson had a more or less good game, I'd like to add two issues we're watching over and over again.

    Early on a match, when someone "tackles" from behind, getting or not the ball with one foot but kicking the opponent with the other and leaving him to the ground is a yellow card offense. Andy Townsend mentioned recently that early yellows can spoil a game because it could result to later red cards. What he didn't say is that such decisions allow for two more reckless challenges before a player gets sent off. At the same time, we tend to see players on the receiving end of early fouls to not offer much to the game afterwards.

    There was a case for a penalty for Spurs when Djourou(?) stopped/delayed Modric with a wide open arm and body check, giving time to a team mate to "steal" the ball and take it away. In such cases, the defending player has no other intention than to obstruct the opponent and it's a foul. If it's in the box, it's a penalty. It has nothing to do with 'body to body' or whatever. It's not intelligent, collective stealing of the ball but a blatant obstruction.

  • Comment number 29.

    As a neutral I really enjoyed last nights game,but if I were an Arsenal fan I would be starting to get worried by Wengers attitude and demeanour. The constant bickering with officials that we have seen over the last 3-4 games, complaining to Dalglish at the weekend about the late penalty etc.
    He makes much of the unbeaten run and says that "we are remakably consistent".
    I agree with him on this last point - I am no longer surprised when Arsenal manage to draw games that they should have won.
    He says that the Premiership race is still wide open, but really should acknowledge that but for a poor run of form over the last few league games( I make it one win out of six),his team could have had this years title sewn up by now.
    I suspect that what frustrates Arsenal fans the most is that with the brand of football that they play and how thrilling it can be to watch, that the trophy cabinet doesn't reflect this.

  • Comment number 30.

    #19 sowhatdoiknowanyway

    Come on MrBlueBurns we all know it is never Wenger's fault.

    But he won his titles on the back of a very strong defensive ethic put in place by George Graham and it seems to me that he has never been able or willing to put together a resilient a back-line himself.
    Since Adams hung up his glass, I mean boots (chortle, chortle) in 2002, I think the only successes that Wenger has had are Toure, who had enough and got stars in his eyes, and Vermaalen who they have been unlucky with. Actually, the litany of failures probably goes back further than that. Pascal Cygan anyone?

    For all his scouts in the world game, someone's judgement is quite awry and Wenger has to take responsibility for it.

    I said before that for the money spent of Squillaci and Koscielny, how come he didn't see someone like Luiz last summer? That's the sort of animal they need to shore things up and add some real bite that would get attackers scared.

  • Comment number 31.

    Wenger needs a reality check. After failing to capitalize on Manchester United's slip vs Newcastle he goes and says "We're 15 games unbeaten, who else has done that?"

    Well Mr Wenger it's a pleasure to break it to you but the team who have done that (and better) are the team you are chasing and will not catch.

  • Comment number 32.

    Just staggered that any Arsenal fans could even contemplate getting rid of Wenger. His success rate is superb, and by that I mean top 4 finishes every year. Over the years he has had a good set of trophies, and run the club to a tight budget. What do you think keeps a team in the top 4? Name and history? Plenty of clubs can attest that it doesn't.

    Arsenals place as a key contender for every trophy including the EPL every year is down to Wenger and the supporting club heirarchy.

    The farce of the Financial Fair Play will only serve to keep the top clubs as the top clubs, and keep the rest out, so an almost guaranteed top 4 finish every year is the most important thing to an EPL team full stop, and it is far from easy. Man City haven't done it yet - though they have a great chance again and look at the resources they have!

    Meh, can't believe I'm bigging up Wenger..... :) Hey I don't have to like him to appreciate what he does. Actually, come to think of it, get Wenger out. Will be much funnier for us other London clubs!

  • Comment number 33.

    It was a great game of football, Shame for both teams as Spurs now look set to miss a champions league spot and Arsenal missing out on the league.

    As we are discussing Arsenal in this blog i will stick to them.

    A team winning 3-1 is good enough to close out the game. Saying that a team 4-0 is expected to win rather than end up drawing. Problem with arsenal yesterday was they were too quick to give possession away and began panicking at moments. Which can be pointed to wenger like many tend to do, but i feel the players are responsible and have to put their hands up and have to work on that for next season.

    Difference between United and Arsenal this season is United's never say die attitude which has resulted in them turning loses into draws and draws into wins.

    Whereas Arsenal have played great football for 45 mins or 80 mins of a game then lose concentration and end up drawing games they should have won.

    Wenger is a great manager but i feel his need to play great football without damaging the financial books at Arsenal, has hindered him in bringing home the silverware. I feel wenger needs to bring in some experienced players 2-3 with some 2-3 new young stars while getting rid of some players who do not perform.

  • Comment number 34.

    Bottlers. Wenger has to realise his style of football is nice to watch but there is not enough end product when they need it. They have thrown countless chances away to close the gap, last night should have been a formality after they went 3-1 up and they should have seen the game out against us on Sunday. But their lack of ability to see a game out is unbelievable! They have no steel at all. He needs to buy players because this system of bringing players through does not work. Henry, Bergkamp, Vieira, Petit, Pires, Wiltord. All had success at Arsenal and all were bought. Ah well, the only good thing is that if they losr Fabregas in the summer we should have their CL spot next season.

  • Comment number 35.

    3-1 up or not, 3-3 is not a bad result away against Tottenham, especially when they happen to be your local rivals. The current PL leaders took the same amount of points in the corresponding fixture. This was not the game where Arsenal blew it, and consequently, not really the time to start bleating about Arsenal frailties, which we've all heard before, like some broken record stuck on repeat.

    Far more telling were the results (to name but a few) against Newcastle (a), Wigan (a), Blackburn (h) and Sunderland (h). In the latter two, it was not defensive frailities, but an inability to put the ball in the net which cost Arsenal dear. Arsenal have a better away record than both Chelsea and United, and that's with their first choice centre back playing only 270 minutes this season.

  • Comment number 36.

    @ No.16 - I though that Assou-Ekotto was outstanding last night, save for the fact that he played Walcott on-side for the first Arsenal goal. He has been probably the most consistent player in the Spurs side this year when going forward and distributing the ball, and that is why he has played every game this season (I think?). He is susceptible to lapses though, a bit like Gomes, and they are principal reasons why certain results have not gone our way.

    But I agree, on his day, BAE looks a multi-million pound player, who we bought for about 3 million I seem to remember, and when he's on his game he is not far off the best LB in the league... only Baines and Cole are up with him IMHO

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil is spot-on when he says that Arsenal don't need to change their manager, but their manager does need to change himself. In terms of needing a Viera/Keane type, I thought this was supposed to be the role of Song/Denielson/Diaby? After all at the start of the season, with the win at City, wasn't this the time that they had finally "come of age", especially in that department?

    As a United fan the nerves are kicking in a bit. In August what I wanted most was the 19th title but the more likely it looks the more worried I become (strangely)! I felt confident we could hold off Arsenal but the spectre of Chelsea taking 2nd place has left me a bit more worried. Fortunately we have a team and a manager of a far less nervous dispositon!

  • Comment number 38.

    mr gentleman, re: post 26.. what is more entertaining than watching the team you support win trophies?

    its like foreplay without a climax.. ultimately pointless!

    Wenger had a successful team with successful players... he thought they were 'old' so moved them on prematurely. He constantly makes reference to his young team that is maturing every season... Wenger's transfer policy means that the average age of the arsenal side seems to actually get younger year on year... Arsenal are living in Never Never Land and will not grow up and win trophies again till Wenger leaves.

  • Comment number 39.

    "Spurs have the squad and the capacity to be regular top-four contenders."

    I wonder though, will the key members of that squad still be there if they fail to qualify for the Champions League?

  • Comment number 40.

    @36 - not disputing your appraisal of BAE, Baines or Cole but I think Patrice Evra might have something to say about your elite clubs of left-backs that he is presently excluded from!

  • Comment number 41.

    For some reason Arsenal keep getting compared to Barcelona with regards to their passing style and play. Difference is that when Barca get the ball they keep it for 90 mins and the opposition don't get many chances to score. Arsenal don't hold on to it like that and keep giving the opposition opportunities to get a goal. It's all very well trying to score goal after goal but without some balance to the team they will always concede goals like they did yesterday. Man U and Chelsea have arguably their weakest squads of the last 10 years and yet are now both ahead of Arsenal who have a very strong squad with quality players. Great game though!

  • Comment number 42.

    #28 "If it's in the box, it's a penalty. It has nothing to do with 'body to body' or whatever. It's not intelligent, collective stealing of the ball but a blatant obstruction."


    If its blatant obstruction isn't it an indirect free-kick rather than a penalty? I cannot remember the last time i saw a ref give an indirect free-kick for obstruction. Seems they have forgotten the offence exists.

  • Comment number 43.

    What's disappointing for me is yet again Arsenal have let a two goal lead disappear. I would have rather won and lost a couple of them and we would have been in a better position in the league.

    It was an excellent game to watch for both supporters and I have to say that there was a great atmosphere watching it in the pub as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    Cdt make the game last night and watched it wishing that i was a nuetral! A feast of football. The games between Tottenham and Arsenal are always the best 'derby' encounters in this Country and have been for years. Great football. Great passion and great approach by the players of both Clubs always abounds. Yes, defences were both poor, but the forward play was exhillirating once more and the goal glut predictable.The warring, hacking clans of the North West in their own illusory 'derby', despite 30 odd miles of geography between them should watch and learn from Tottenham and Arsenal i reckon.

    Mc Nulty, yours and most of the medias carping and sniping at our Club ought to stop for once. Many supporters took the view that our title challenge went weeks ago at West Brom in reality. Its such as you who need to peddle myths, by distorting reality to earn a living who try and keep it alive. We ve not been good enough again this Season. We know that, but we ve still given more people who love the game far more pleasure than any other Club without a doubt. Such a game as last night should be looked at in isolation from what both Clubs are seeking to achieve and lauded for what it was.

    I agree that Wengers approach needs to be 'tweaked' as you put it. You have a penchant for stating the bloody obvious if nothing much else! The game was the winner though for once last night in a Season where its been blighted too often for comfort by some Clubs and individuals who hardly offer it anything positive, that even you and your motley crew of idle hacks can never level against Wenger. We ve not won the title. Nobody died!

  • Comment number 45.

    The big problem I see with Arsenal is the lack of any winning mentality. The team does not believe that they are winners. Wenger saying second is acceptable says it all, can you see the likes of Fergie, Mourinho, Ancelotti and Guardiola settling for second?

    For my money had Arsenal won the Carling Cup the next few weeks would have turned out very differently, they've looked resigned, almost shell shocked ever since. I think they've won about 3 times since that defeat

    Wenger has to take some of the blame though. As great a manager as he is in many areas, tactically he is hopeless. Chelsea's woes this season have shown the importance of a good assistant manager. Arsenal could have done a lot worse than bring in Steve Clarke, proven track record at Chelsea and West Ham. I really don't see Pat Rice offering anything

    Arsenal would be crazy to ditch Wenger after all he has brought them both on and off the pitch, but something clearly needs to change

  • Comment number 46.

    28. At 10:29am 21st Apr 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    "Without attempting to bring back the "referee" issue, as I believe Atkinson had a more or less good game, I'd like to add two issues we're watching over and over again."

    There was a tackle by was it Djourou? on Mordic where he got a bit of the ball and then trapped Modric's leg on the followthrough, that was a RED CARD OFFENCE. And no foul was given.

    Contact with the ball or not makes NO DIFFERENCE, he put himself in the dangerous position where he could have broken the opponent's leg ie. serious foul play, that's why Fifa had issued a few years ago a specific guideline about exactly this kind of "scissor tackle". I think any referee would go along with this.

    And then that muppet Ray Wilkins -we thought we had escaped Andy Gray but didn't see that one coming- goes "no foul he got the ball first nothing malicious". People in this country generally haven't got a clue about the rules of the game, even Spurs fans or their manager haven't said a word about the incident.

  • Comment number 47.

    @ .3 Rich Indeed.

    I reckon it's fair to argue that Wenger doesn't need to buy a top quality goalkeeper, cos WS is pretty class. Takes the best of goalkeepers a little while to settle down as well. Victor Valdes at Barca took a season or two, Gomes of Tottenham took a little while.

    Vermaelen is a top quality defender, and i'm sure that Wenger is using the rationale of 'when he's back from injury.' But why not splash out £10m and get a world class defender, like you'd think it'd do the world of good.

    I can really see Fabregas leaving Arsenal this summer, all the things he's said / saying. 'I'd never leave Arsenal for another English team.' Unfortunately it's just another way of saying get me out of here.

  • Comment number 48.

    If you want to see how to defend with composure, and arguably a bit of flair, watch Real Madrid from last night. Amazing

  • Comment number 49.

    The hunt for the Premier League title might have another twist before the season is over. United already look tired and we see individual errors and poor distribution of the ball increase in frequency, as they have played too many games in a short period of time.

    United will visit The Emirates to play their 9th game in 30 days and the following weekend they wait for Chelsea at Old Trafford, to play their 11th game in 5 weeks and 1 day. Plus, the United squad is weaker than previous squads that had gone through similar uphill tasks. They might end with nothing if it proves too much to cope with.

    As a United fan, I looked relieved at the final whistle. Still, though, I wouldn't right Chelsea off who may have their own problems but they're much more ruthless in attack and appear to be on a good run since some time now.

  • Comment number 50.

    @11 - Wenger has dabbled with out and out goal poachers, I don't think it ever worked in his system. Not saying it can't, but it hasn't in the past.

    If memory serves Anderlecht were a feeder club for Arsenal around the time Vincent Kompany was considered one of the most promising young centre backs... what would Wenger do to have him in his team now!?

    What three signings would you make in the summer if you were Wenger?

    Personally I'd have:

    Gary Cahill - Could form a good partnership with a fit Vermaelen.
    Charles N'Zogbia - N'Zog provides the direct pace and goal threat of Walcott who is often missing for large parts of the season.
    Scott Parker - I believe Song is a good defensive mid, but misses games and Parker also seems to work well with Wilshere in the engine room.

    I've purposely not chosen a striker because I believe Arsenal's system works best with just RVP up on his own, the only problem is that he misses a lot of games. Maybe Daniel Sturridge could do a job in there, but I doubt Chelsea would sell him to Arsenal.


    Sagna - Cahill - Vermaelen - Clichy

    Parker / Song - Wilshere

    Nasri / Fabregas

    Walcott - Van Persie - N'Zogbia

  • Comment number 51.

    @40 one person you are missing from this left back position is Jose Enrique! easy has been the best left back this season!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    #45 "The big problem I see with Arsenal is the lack of any winning mentality. The team does not believe that they are winners. Wenger saying second is acceptable says it all, can you see the likes of Fergie, Mourinho, Ancelotti and Guardiola settling for second?"

    I couldn't agree more. Wenger is not a bad manager but he does seem to have developed a defeatist mentality (along with a penchant to blame everyone but himself and his team). In my view this has clearly rubbed off on the players - and even the fans.

    They are so fragile, one strike and they're out. An Arsenal supporting friend I know said the season was over after the Carling Cup final. In my opinion, if United win the league it will simply be because Fergie (a) simply refuses to lose and (b) uses adversity to galvanise his team - whereas Wenger starts whinging and capitulates at the first sign of trouble.

  • Comment number 53.

    Football UK, i think you've got a point. As notorious as Utd are for bringing it home, they will be a little tired and there may be a twist yet. Arsenal could pull off a big result against Utd, and as Alex McCleish said, Chelsea are improving and looking more and more 'tremendous' (bit of a hyped superlative). So who knows.

    It would be stupid to sack Wenger, he's a legend. A couple of signings in the summer would do the trick

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 46 nibs,

    I didn't want to kick off the referee bandwagon about this match.
    When the incident happened, I remembered Andy Townsend and a relating comment he made. Then, foreign referees came to my mind and how they referee the game in such tackles: they give yellows right away and we see attackers carrying on attacking and defenders playing more carefully for the rest of the game, which I think is the right approach.

    Perhaps English referees can learn on this by their continental counterparts.

  • Comment number 55.

    @36 - not disputing your appraisal of BAE, Baines or Cole but I think Patrice Evra might have something to say about your elite clubs of left-backs that he is presently excluded from!


    Who? :)

    OK, fair enough...

  • Comment number 56.

    To The_arsenal_midget_society (#17)

    Agreed that if Van Persie could stay fit and in the form he has been this season then he could be considered a world-class player. I read something interesting a couple of weeks ago that raised Van Persie in my estimation. It was one of the BBC's blogs (unfortunately can't remember which) about Torres since joining Chelsea and it had the seasons stats from 5 or 6 top strikers in the PL including Van Persie and it turns out that he has the lowest minutes per goal rate. For me he can't be considered world-class yet though as he is out injured far too much.

    If Arsenal/Wenger have the money to spend then I do think they should purchase a very good strike partner/stand-in for Van Persie, maybe a defensive midfielder with experience (preferably winning titles/cups) and possibly a new centre back.
    The midfielder would be to provide the experience and possibly mentor some of the younger midfielders at Arsenal
    The centre back is a bit of a gray area as obviously they do hve a very good record over the season and also had their number 1 defender out for most of the season. So they may not need one in the end
    If they don't currently have the money (Stadium payments) yet then they should continue as they have only spending the money they have, because once the stadiu is paid off they are only going to be behind Manchester United in self-generated spending power and with the UEFA fair play rules coming in they should be able to compete with Manchester City and Chelsea in the transfer market as the "sugar-daddy" spending will be limited.
    While 5 (probably 6 soon) seasons may seem like a long-time without a trophy it should be pointed out that the only regular winner of trophies in that time has been Manchester United and Chelsea and Arsenal have not been that far of the pace in most if these seasons and are probably getting better each year (being in the title race for longer)
    Plus most of the cup victories that haven't been by these two have been clubs coming off much longer runs and if you discount those clubs then the rest of the premier league has a long run trophyless as well.
    Add in the relative money spent over the past 6 years then Arsenal are doing extremely well.

    While I hope the Arsenal streak continues, this is mostly because I want all clubs to be having a trophyless streak as I want my club to win everything (I don't think they will realistically but I can always hope)

  • Comment number 57.

    50. At 10:58am 21st Apr 2011, DJ500 wrote:

    @11 - Wenger has dabbled with out and out goal poachers, I don't think it ever worked in his system. Not saying it can't, but it hasn't in the past.


    Then he needs to change part of his system to accomodate one.

    Really, everyone complains about Arsenal's defense, it's conceded the second least amount of goals in the premier league AND has a mediocre goalkeeper for most of the season (I happen to think Sczenzy has a very good future) but Almunia has long since become a liablity.

    I'm not an Arsenal fan, so it really doesn't bother me; but you've gotta say at some point "this isnt working", they don't kill teams off, which is why they need a poacher, someone like the old van Nistelrooy of old who'd get 25 "tap ins" a season which would turn alot of those draws into wins and alot of "also-rans" into title winners.

  • Comment number 58.

    The neutral would need a hard heart not to feel sympathy for Wenger and his admirable principles but the evidence suggests his philosophy needs tweaking.


    What principles?

    When teams turn up and "park the bus" he moans.

    When he meets Barca in the CL he does the same and it's fine?

    His "principles" are the cruch he clings too to cover his failings.

    He's won dirty in the past and never mentioned his principles, I only ever hear of them when he fails.

  • Comment number 59.

    To be fair to Wenegr, he did what his critics demanded and bought defenders last summer. unfortunately they haven't turned out to be as good as expected & Vermaelen has been out pretty well for the season. If he'd been fit, Arsenal would've been 6 points ahead of the rest.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    Great game, as a Man City fan I was hoping Arsenal won but hey Spurs deserved their well earned point, so good on them!

    As for Arsenal. I have to say, allowing a 3-1 lead to slip is not what Champions do. They could still win the EPL, but can you imagine United letting a 3-1 lead go? You can, however, definitely imagine United coming from 3-1 down to win - and therein, perhaps, lies the difference.

  • Comment number 62.

    Im sorry but it looks like you and the majority of other sports journalists need sky pundits and commentators to do your job for you! You completely forgot to mention the Robin Van Persie goal on 56 minutes which was disallowed for offside, for me that was the main talking point of the match!Having the advantage of sky plus i replayed that back a few times, i can tell you even with a bollard restricting my view even i can tell that was onside!Im bewildered by the fact that the night before Herndandez takes a dive against Newcastle and that is replayed over and over to see if any there was any injustice done against utd, but a legitimate goal which could make or break Arsenal's season doesnt even get a second mention, and just because the sky pundits dont talk about it, no other journalist uses their own initiative to talk about it. Phil did you even watch the match or did you just watch the highlights?

  • Comment number 63.

    @57 - I get what you and other people are saying about them not conceding many goals, but for me, that is more because they tend to dominate posession than anything to do with the quality of their defence. Against the big teams where they get less posession I think the quality of their defending gets exposed. I think that having two commanding centre backs who take control and win everything would make a huge difference, as it does to Man U, it gives the option to absorb pressure and hit on the conter attack with pace which can be an excellent plan B if they're not running a game.

    No doubt they need to learn to kill teams off and score more goals, but I think if Wenger told them to gamble on a shot from the edge of the box / through a crowd once in a while they'd be half way there!

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm not sure this article does justice to the spurs performance - At times in the second half we looked dominant and could so easily have won the game. Even at 3-1 down the players looked positive and full of goals.

    Wenger annoys me, why does he always moan and go into default mode during media interviews, he clearly needs to motivate his players better and give them a kick up the backside rather than mollycoddling all the time. Guess what Arsene?! It's not always someone elses fault!

  • Comment number 65.

    What amazes me is the chants of Wenger out that I heard at the final whistle. Ok so it does look likely that this will be a 6th season without a trophy, but as people have said you have been in the champions league every season and constantly challenge for trophys. Maybe Wenger needs to admit defeat and buy a keeper, defender and striker but tbh Szezcheny I think is maturing fast to become a top class keeper. Arsenal rarely have a problem with scoring goals so I think any striker that comes in would only be a bonus though maybe a big target man would be helpful. The only area that needs improvement is in defence. As a keeper myself I know that you can only be as good as your defence allows you to be. A couple of decent defenders this summer and I guarantee arsenal would win the title. The purchase of Eden Hazard would also add to arsenals options but hey, Gooners can't have everything that they want!

  • Comment number 66.

    @ 62, praggz_derby,

    I'm afraid the RVP disallowed goal was not more legitimate, neither more "onside" than the beautiful Hernandez disallowed goal against Chelsea: they were both offside.
    A little offside and a lot offside are both offside.

  • Comment number 67.

    Man U vs Arsenal used to be one of the biggest derbies and the hatred between the clubs and between Fergie and Wenger was immense! Why do you think Fergie and Wenger have become friends over the last few years? It's because Fergie no longer views Arsenal as a serious team to challenge his own and doesn't rate Wenger anymore who uses the same tactics to no effect for the best part of his 15 years.

  • Comment number 68.

    my bad i retract part of my comment, I see that you gave it a small mention, but still a major talking point

  • Comment number 69.

    The day SAF and Wenger become friends will be the day the sun will rise from the west :)

  • Comment number 70.

    Lol at Sergio Ramos dropping the Copa Del Rey trophy under the Real squad bus which then drives over it in front of the whole crowd

  • Comment number 71.

    #61 - As a United fan I'm sorry to point this out but United let a 3-1 lead go against Everton earlier this season.....

  • Comment number 72.

    #69 Football_UK

    I think alot of it is show. They probably unite against the nouveau clubs behind the scenes.

    I've read in the past how they get on fine at conferences and the like.

  • Comment number 73.

    54. At 11:01am 21st Apr 2011, Football_UK wrote:

    "I didn't want to kick off the referee bandwagon about this match.
    When the incident happened, I remembered Andy Townsend and a relating comment he made. Then, foreign referees came to my mind and how they referee the game in such tackles: they give yellows right away and we see attackers carrying on attacking and defenders playing more carefully for the rest of the game, which I think is the right approach."

    In this case it wasn't just a yellow but a red, it's precisely Fifa's guidline for leg trapped between defender's legs or leg & ground to avoid danger of fractures.

    Plainly speaking if an attacker has been fortunate to have escaped a leg break and 1.the tackler didn't have full control of the danger 2.the attacker couldn't have avoided the situation, then it's a straight red regardless of anything else.

    But people don't know or understand or agree with the laws and because there was a touch on the ball first they think it's ok.

  • Comment number 74.

    Tom Huddleston deserves a mention, is there anybody in the Premier League who can strike a ball as well as he can?

  • Comment number 75.

    Kit wrote:

    Football UK, i think you've got a point. As notorious as Utd are for bringing it home, they will be a little tired and there may be a twist yet.


    Indeed there could - most sensible United fans are not counting their chickens just yet - there is a tough game against Everton to come.

    The problem is that Arsenal and Chelsea will have to beat United. Now, it is possible they can do it, but haven't United shown recently they can beat Chelsea home and away (indeed the league game was unlucky not to get a result too), and United have in recent seasons performed very well against Arsenal. I can see a win and a draw for United in those 2 games - tiredness or not. All they need to know is get over those 2 humps and the league is won.....

    .....easier said that done though......

  • Comment number 76.

    I agree that Wenger needs a "tweak".
    The tweak he needs is to remind him of a little thing called honour.
    At the end of the game you shake hands with the opposition and look them in the
    Not slink off with your tail between your legs like he did. He even made Harry laugh!

  • Comment number 77.

    63. At 11:14am 21st Apr 2011, DJ500 wrote:

    @57 - I get what you and other people are saying about them not conceding many goals, but for me, that is more because they tend to dominate posession than anything to do with the quality of their defence.


    Yeah, I agree...but thats a perfectly valid way to play? Thats what makes the current Barcelona team "great", its not their intricate passing, its not their amazing forward players (thats part of it) its the fact that they dominate possession and have an extremely high-tempo pressing game all over the pitch from the forwards to the defenders.

    It's fine to not concede many because you dominate possession thats a perfectly valid form of long as your able to kill teams off, which is exactly what Barcelona have.

    And what Arsenal do not.

  • Comment number 78.

    @74 - Hitzlsperger, Drogba, Alex spring to mind immediately.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ 71, pdlepage,

    as another United fan, I'm sorry to notice that both Arsenal and United let a 2 goals advantage slip against Spurs and Everton in the first half of the season. Arsenal did it twice yesterday and we play Everton on the early Saturday match!

  • Comment number 80.

    @GreekRooneyGod7 "uses the same tactics to no effect for the best part of his 15 years." come on mate everyone knows footballs a money game, if Wenger had gone out and spent £25 odd mill on ferdinand, £25 odd mill on Rooney, £20 odd mill on Nani, £30 mill on Berbatov ,even just a decent keeper like van der sar....... Arsenal would be dominating every competition they're in with those tactics.Its those tactics that have kept Arsenal in the top four of the premiership for the last 15 years!

  • Comment number 81.

    Well it's no surprise we have all been saying it for months Arsenal wont win the title. I would fear Chelsea much more than Arsenal.
    However can someone explain how come the Keeper didn't get booked last night for giving away a penalty?

  • Comment number 82.

    # 71 - True, I'm sure its happened a few times, but it seems Arsenal have shot themselves in the foot more often. Why did they concede the penalty against Liverpool, there was almost no immediate goal threat. Earlier in the season they conceded a 4 goal lead against Newcastle, and last night it was a 3-1 lead they threw away (albeit against a very good Spurs outfit). My point is that you associate United with great comebacks (Blackpool game for example) rather than dropped points, and that perception is there for a reason.

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 75, SirMouseburger,

    What makes me pessimistic when thinking of having to play Arsenal and Chelsea after many matches played in a short period of time is an Italian memory.

    We had beaten Roma 7-1 at Old Trafford, cruising to the next stage of the Champions League. Then we managed to beat AC Milan 3-2 at Old Trafford but United were United-shadows at San Siro on the return leg.

    The encouraging surprise to me on Tuesday was that United found the strength to attack on the second half but the question is: how many times will they be able to repeat it until they start playing one match per week again? It's a bleak thought.

  • Comment number 84.

    @77 - It is a valid way to play, but lets Arsenal down at key moments when the chips are down. Barcelona do the same thing, but on top of dominating possession they win the ball back more quickly higher up the pitch so aren't as reliant on defenders, although in my opinion they have better centre backs than Arsenal currently do anyway. As well as having more of a goal threat.

    In short, I agree with you, but teams are still going to create some chances, and that is when you need someone to take charge.

  • Comment number 85.

    Nothing will change at Arsenal. The Whinger is an alchemist who is looking for that magical gold formula but he has not got it quite right yet. The formula looks promising at the top end of the pitch but go further back and you have ingredients
    like Djouru and Koscielny etc etc who will never produce gold. Nothing will change, the Whinger will go on looking for that magical formula and ignore all the fans and pundits. On the sidelines he may come across as the nutty professor but he will keep experimenting and no amount of carping from fans or press will change him.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ Football UK.

    Take a breath, calm down :). i'm sure it'll be ok in the end.

  • Comment number 87.

    Has anyone noticed yesterday that Barcelona have also no plan B' when the opposition presses them non-stop, hitting them on the break?

  • Comment number 88.

    @ 86, Kit,

    I believe myself that United are the prime candidate for this title. All I'm saying is that it is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    For example, Saturday's match is not the easiest match around. Everton are doing well right now, pressing in midfield, with a tidy defense and threat up front.

  • Comment number 89.


    I think you have hit on a valid point there which is that football IS a money game. And until they moved to the emirates arsenal had very little in comparison to Man Utd and Chelski. They werent able to fork out the millions on people like Ferdinand and Rooney.... I realise that now they have moved they are making big profits and can therefore afford to spend more but you have to remember that it is not just a question of transfer fees. Chelski are being crippled by the huge wages they pay as are Man Utd
    I think Arsene is being sensible, with tighter regulations over money coming in from UEFA, Arsenal are being held up as the model to follow whereas the big spenders like chelski and man city are going to struggle to comply with the regulations. Everyone says ooh well arsenal havent won the champions league or this or that but you can bet on the fact that Gooners will be pretty happy when they are one of very few english teams that CAN play in Europe!!

  • Comment number 90.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 91.

    Wenger said second place is acceptable.. almost 6 years without a trophy. hmm.. Accept it, Arsenal play for a top 4 spot - play CL to bring more money to the club, not for trophies.

    They are consistent in achieving their goals. Stop criticizing them.

  • Comment number 92.

    @Football UK. If you're talking about last night's game, Barca don't really need a plan b. Yes Madrid were better, and i was routing for them. But in the second half they only counter attacked a couple of times, and do you know why, let's say two or three of those counter attacks looked promising? it's cos they had ronaldo. nobody in the premiership compares to him. the defence tried lobbing it to adebayor, didn't work. when it got to ronaldo (after endless barca pressure) they had a chance. his skill and technical ability made it possible to break barca.

    gotta say di maria was amazing.

  • Comment number 93.

    #87 Football_UK

    I thought that their plan B was to go down like a sack of spuds as soon as the opposition have the temerity to press them and try and take the ball. They then wave imaginary cards around, regain possession and repeat until they are allowed to play their football.

    Everyone does it to an extent, but Barcelona have turned it into a plan.

  • Comment number 94.

    Phil, Whether this game will be our complete undoing this season? is just too premature to say, as there are still a few games to go. However yes, I would concede that we definitely have the mental inability to close games out from definite winning positions - such as in the games against Newcastle, Liverpool and Spurs twice!

    For all our pretty play, I would hope our players would just pass the ball to death and then blast it into row Z! Although well acknowledged, Spurs also played their part, in a very entertaining encounter, but ultimately this result will hurt them more, as they might fall short of their goal of reaching the CL and that would be a miserable end to their season. I for one hope they pip Man city to that spot.

  • Comment number 95.

    80. At 11:33am 21st Apr 2011, praggz_derby wrote:

    @GreekRooneyGod7 "uses the same tactics to no effect for the best part of his 15 years." come on mate everyone knows footballs a money game, if Wenger had gone out and spent £25 odd mill on ferdinand, £25 odd mill on Rooney, £20 odd mill on Nani, £30 mill on Berbatov ,even just a decent keeper like van der sar....... Arsenal would be dominating every competition they're in with those tactics.Its those tactics that have kept Arsenal in the top four of the premiership for the last 15 years!


    Right, it's money that has kept United dominate, its not like other clubs have spent anywhere NEAR the money United have amirite...


    Wenger has spent big, he's just spent poorly when he's gone big.

    Honestly, Wenger is a coward, he prefers to make buy players with smaller fees because he's afraid to making the decisions to sign the big players for the big money because he'd be critised more for big spending that doesn't pay off.

    Fergie isn't afraid of spending big money on players and its worked relatively successful in the past, whereas Wenger biggest signings; Reyes did well somewhat but eventally couldn't cut it, Arshavin's been good again but this is his worst season by far, Francis Jeffers; 8m well spent.

    There is far less pressure when a 5-10m player doesn't make it, then when a 30million player doesn't; and from an outside perspective Wenger seems to be afraid of making those decisions.

  • Comment number 96.


    The point I'm making is that Wenger only has one approach with his tactics and won't change them. Yes United have spent more on players but at this moment in time which club has the more talent and quality? With the players at his disposal Wenger should be winning everything right now. A few years ago Man U had Ronaldo, Tevez and Rooney upfront and they were an incredible all-out attacking force. Ronaldo and Tevez left and this lead to Fergie having to change the tactics to fit the team.

  • Comment number 97.

    89. At 11:45am 21st Apr 2011, wycombetilidie wrote:

    Chelski are being crippled by the huge wages they pay as are Man Utd


    For your information, Man United pay amongst the lowest % on wages compared to income in the Premier League and are in no way at all "crippled by wages."

  • Comment number 98.

    Morning. Thanks for all the comments. It was a great game of football that reflected real credit on both sides and their managers. Bottom line though, was a draw good enough for Arsenal? I fear not, a feeling shared by many of their fans, but this has been a strange old season.

    To MrBlueBurns...I think Wenger simply has to sort it out and become more pragmatic because every Arsenal season is becoming a replay of the one before. Challenging for trophies, but then not winning them as chances are missed. Yes, the football is entertaining and can be beautiful to watch, but surely a club of Arsenal's stature wants the silverware as well.

    And I'll use the post from ANotherGunner to answer the charge that I never give Arsenal credit. Feel free to check back over many months and I have given Arsenal credit where it is due. I know many feel there is an anti-Arsenal agenda in the media, including here, but nothing could be further from the truth. Wenger himself hinted at it last night.

    I think there is a real frustration among myself and my colleagues that we watch the same old Arsenal failings undermine some superb football time and again. This is not an agenda against Arsenal it is merely stating what I suspect thousands of their own fans feel. I do not know any journalist who has an anti-Arsenal agenda.

    And to wycombetilidie...are you kidding me? Were some Arsenal fans chanting "Wenger Out" at the final whistle? I never heard that, in fact I thought Arsenal's fans gave their team and manager great backing. For all the criticism and questioning of Wenger, I do not believe there is a better manager out there. As I said in the blog, it's not a change of manager that is needed, more a case of a manager who needs to change.

    Keep the views coming. All welcome.

  • Comment number 99.

    #89 wycombetilidie

    Arsenal seem to understand capital investment when it comes to the ground. However, they could apply capital investment to the squad as well. Spend a bit more on a key player and they might win more, and gain the relative riches that come from prize money etc

    I think I'm right in saying that if you take out the property income, Arsenal's turnover is less than Chelsea's. So even with the flawed financial fairplay rules, would Arsenal 'win'?

  • Comment number 100.

    I find the apologists for Wenger missing the point.

    He is the current Arsenal equivalent of Don Howe. A top coach, technically very good, but lacks the wherewithall to be a top manager.

    When he arrived at Highbury he inherited,

    1. Dennis Bergkam

    2. A strong English defence eg. Seaman,Adams, Parlour, Keougn, Dixon, Winterbottom etc.

    Being French he was very successful in attracting French world class players when France as top, eg Vieira, Petit, Wiltord, Anelka, Henri etc.when prices were still not high.

    This all culminated in the unbeaten side of 2003/4. This should have been the start of an Arsenal domination but it wasn't. He was beaten by first of all Abramhovic's money, and then by Sir Alex F's determination and nouse.

    Question, if Fergie had been at Arsenal for the last 5 or 6 years, what would have been the trophy count by now?


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