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Arsenal uncertain and unsettled

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Phil McNulty | 09:29 UK time, Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Arsene Wenger started the night perched high in The Emirates chewing on a toothpick; Arsenal's fans went straight for their fingernails and ended it grateful for the relief of victory against Udinese.

Wenger was fidgety and agitated. The gallery was nervous, unsettled, unsure. And every one of these emotions was mirrored by Arsenal as they inched their way agonisingly to a one-goal advantage to take to Udine next Wednesday for the second leg of the Champions League qualifier.

Theo Walcott's early goal gave Arsenal a very acceptable result against dangerous opponents, a 1-0 win and no away goal conceded. It was also achieved with Cesc Fabregas finally back in the arms of Barcelona, Jack Wilshere injured, newly-appointed captain Robin van Persie suspended and Samir Nasri also banned and on his way to Manchester City.

And yet it was an occasion that did little to dispel the mood of restlessness currently hanging over Arsenal, an uncertainty over direction and over what lies ahead if Wenger fails to act decisively and successfully before the transfer window closes.

Wenger watched his team from the directors' box on Tuesday night. Photo: Getty

Even Wenger's touchline ban, imposed after his clash with officials during the Champions League defeat in Barcelona last season, failed to pass off without incident as he was taken to task by Uefa for communicating with his assistant Pat Rice via coach Boro Primorac.

Club officials clearly believed Wenger had been given permission in the pre-match briefing to pass on messages. My view is that it would be petty to inflict further punishment on Wenger because this carried all the hallmarks of a genuine misunderstanding as opposed to an obvious flouting of his ban.

It resulted in Wenger swerving the traditional post-match media commitments as he claimed his ban covered all aspects of the game - also convenient as it spared him questions he may well be heartily sick of answering.

The questions remain, however, and are legitimate as it took the emerging talent of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to ensure Udinese did not secure the away goal they, and veteran captain Antonio de Natale in particular, deserved.

How has Wenger allowed his squad to thin out to such an extent without securing replacements and reinforcements? Fabregas, Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue are gone and Nasri is going, almost certainly to be followed by Nicklas Bendtner and others.

Arsenal's lack of defensive resources were exposed in the first 10 minutes of the second half, when Thomas Vermaelen switched from central defence to left-back after Kieran Gibbs suffered a hamstring injury - and then back again when substitute Johan Djourou suffered a similar problem.

It meant a full debut in the Champions League for Carl Jenkinson, a promising teenage talent signed from Charlton Athletic this summer but surely at this elite level ahead of his time. No slight on Jenkinson, but the need for his appearance underscored the current lack of depth available to Wenger.

Szczesny was outstanding, Walcott prominent and Gervinho industrious - which he had to be as Marouane Chamakh was only one stop short of useless alongside him, confirming his rapid decline from the early days of promise following his arrival at Arsenal.

These were the pluses, but they cannot disguise that Arsenal face a potentially uncomfortable return leg before they are assured of a place in the main Champions League stage for the 15th season in succession under Wenger.

Arsenal supporters, understandable anxieties aside, showed great patience and support as they backed their side through periods of suffering against Udinese, but they are clearly only too aware of their current frailties. They will not take the journey to Italy with complete certainty that they will return with the prize of a place in the Champions League group stage.

It was all summed up in one first-half mess of misplaced positioning and lack of tackling that allowed Pablo Armero to run 50 yards, unhindered by the pressure or presence of an Arsenal player, before Szczesny made a crucial save.

The win covers up cracks and progress with the right result in Italy next week would give Arsenal's morale a footballing and financial lift but these are strange days, with Wenger seemingly uncertain who he wants to fill the gaps appearing with increasing regularity in his squad.

There will be much talk of the usual £25m prize for reaching the main business of the Champions League - but Arsenal have earned themselves plenty of money already this summer and so much more than cash will be at stake in Italy next Wednesday.


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  • Comment number 1.

    'it spared him questions he may well be heartily sick of answering.' Why don't you and your colleagues stop asking them then? As long as Wenger communicates with Arsenal fans, presumably through their website, why do you think he owes you an answer?

    'lack of defensive resources were exposed in the first 10 minutes of the second half' Kept a clean sheet didn't they?

    Phil - can you tell me what BBC Sport journalists do most of the time please? The output seems to be minimal yet the fringe benefits seemingly quite good. I'd like a piece of the action if possible?

    Seriously though, the interactivity of BBC Sport seems to have nose-dived over the summer. Given the needless demise of 606, couldn't there be a blog on a Monday morning reviewing the weekends action, posted on the homepage so that we can all get involved in some banter please?

  • Comment number 2.

    It's such a pleasure to see English club football having lost all the respect it enjoyed in Europe a few years ago.


  • Comment number 3.

    Arsenal have to get Hazard instead of Mata and they defenitly have to get Samba.
    I even wonder wheather wenger even has a defensive coach? yes? no?
    ------------Van Persie------------

  • Comment number 4.

    Having not watched the match I can not comment on most of this blog, yet I can comment on the squad depth at the Emirates.

    Pathetic, completely agree a top club needs a solid base of players I would say in the region of 25/30, of course you are only allowed to register 25 in the premiership but players under 18 can play outside of being registered. So putting that into context do Arsenal have a registered squad of 13 for the premiership this season??

    SHambles and Wenger does not seem to be doing anything about it. Very glad I support United!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Never thought I'd say it but I can see Wenger being out of a job by Xmas if things don't improve. He's lost a lot of talent over the last 2 to 3 years without replacing it with equal talent & the Arseanl fans won't accept that. not even from their most succesful manager ever. And I reckon the board are already looking at who they think will be available in 4 months time. Buy now, big big or bye bye Arsene.

  • Comment number 6.

    #2 nibs

    Why is it a pleasure?

    How are you measuring respect?

  • Comment number 7.

    #5 Liam

    What 'talent' have they lost? Fabregas and Nasri out. Two years ago they were Wilshere and Ramsay of today maybe?

    I don't think it's that Arsenal aren't doing things, I think it's that they seem to be a in some sort of groundhog day.

  • Comment number 8.

    Is there a chance that anyone in the media might a something positive to say about The Arsenal and in particular Arsene Wenger.

    I just wonder where the implication that ALL the Arsenal fans are totally disatisfied.

    At least Arsene has not thrown away big money on a new keeper, and have a young player who appears to be much more promising than his counter-part at ot.

  • Comment number 9.

    Having been at the game i would agree that much of what Phil says in this article is spot on. The fact that it were the Arsenal fans longing for the whistle last night, Arsenal didnt even turn up in the second half, they looked scared and this was represented in the crowds too.

  • Comment number 10.

    It becomes a joke to watch Arsenal sometimes. Look at the other top teams- Chelsea: Terry/Alex get injured, on comes Ivanovic. Man Utd: Vidic/Ferdinand get injured, on comes Evans/Smalling. Man City: Kompany/Lescott get injured, on comes Richards/Savic. And then theres Arsenal......... Gibbs gets injured, on comes Djourou. He then gets injured and on 18 year old from a League 1 club. Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 11.

    Carlo Ancelotti should be Wenger's succesor when Wenger leaves Emirates in December

  • Comment number 12.

    It has been agony and nerves watching Arsenal these months and I believe the problems began back in January when Arsene should have brought in extra cover. In not doing so the performance and confidence of the team have suffered and key players who have left or are leaving should soon be replaced. Indeed world-class replacements should already have been in place since the departures of Fabregas and soon, of Nasri have been on the cards since the start of the transfer window. Yet, thus far nothing by way of adequate/quality cover. Arsene needs to act quickly to save the club from sliding further and to protect his own reputation and legacy.

  • Comment number 13.

    I even doubt Wenger will get Champions league spot after seeing thier performance.
    It all depends if Wenger can hang on until the final whistle at Italy

  • Comment number 14.

    Everybody that has read mcnulty over the last two years knows he has an agenda, he went there last night hoping for an arsenal defeat and left disappointed. nevermind Phil maybe next week eh

  • Comment number 15.

    MrBlueBurns - Idiotic first post. (in my opinion, as it contributed nothing to the actual debate itself and included a ludicrous inference that you are capable of banter)

    Phil - For me the one big thing is as you said, I am quite amazed how Wenger has allowed his squad to thin out to such an extent!!

    A quick analysis of the respective defences resources of Man United (Rafael, Fabio, Smalling, Evra, Evans, Vidic, Jones, Ferdinand) as compared to Arsenal (Sagna, Gibbs, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Squillaci, Djourou..Jenkinson..) really tells the tale.

    I genuinely think that Arsene's policy over the last few years has landed him in a right big mess with Fabregas and (in particular) Nasri, losing faith in the project and its prospects of success. I worry for their season.

    The only silver lining is the fact that there is money, and the transfer window isn't closed yet and it is possible that in two weeks time, 3 good signings have been made and the squad might look a bit stronger.

    As it stands, they wont be in the top 4 I think.

    And yes, what on earth has happened to Chamakh?? Enjoying the london life too much or what? After the first few months of last season he seemed to lose 2 yards of pace/sharpness never mind 1, and he has never got it back.

  • Comment number 16.

    #14 one eyed biased gooner

    If Phil DOES have an agenda, it seems to be to turn the ordinary into something greater by the use of overly romantic language!

    Your username, on the other hand, says rather more about your view of Arsenal than Phil's blogs over the last couple of years say about his view of Arsenal.

    Frankly, I think Phil is putting into words what an increasing (but not necessarily in any way a majority) number of Arsenal fans have been thinking for a while.

  • Comment number 17.

    #15 TeniPurist

    MrBlueBurns - Idiotic first post. (in my opinion, as it contributed nothing to the actual debate itself and included a ludicrous inference that you are capable of banter)
    Oooh, get you! Actually, I think the very basis of how we may interact with the stories on the BBC website is rather more fundamental that the detail of this particular blog itself. And if I can't post it on here (your royal highness) then where do you suggest I post such feedback?

  • Comment number 18.

    Anyone thought about this?.?.?.?.

    Maybe Nasri will now sign since Cesc has left. This would mean that Nasri can now play in his preferred position behind the striker. Maybe he was fed up with playing as a left winger? After all, he did tweet that Arsenal fans should remember he's still an Arsenal player right after Cesc was unveiled at Barcelona.

    Something to think about eh?

    As for Wenger, he's lost his touch. He has become obsessed with winning the title on a shoe-string. He needs to understand that the contradictory comments he comes out with, almost on a daily basis, is the reason that Arsenal fans are fed up. You can't say that you are willing to spend £30-£40 million on a player one day and then say that there aren't players of Cesc's/Nasri's quality out there for a good price. Makes no sense and the Arsenal fans are starting to twig!

  • Comment number 19.

    Nasri suspended, Van Persie suspended, Wenger suspended, Gervinho suspended, Song facing a disciplinary, Wenger facing a disciplinary. What does this tell you?

    Arsenal's culture needs a serious rethink.

    As for the transfer policy, Wenger is simply too arrogant to accept he is failing.

  • Comment number 20.

    yes but at least my opinion is honest and clear for all to see

  • Comment number 21.

    Don't worry Arsenal fans. I hear from good sources that Wenger is going to spend money on a 16 year old right back to replace Eboue. A 17 year old central midfielder to replace Fabregas. An 18 year old attacking midfielder to replace Nasri and here's the big one - due to their lack of amazing centre backs, Wenger has spotted the next best centre back in the world, he is currently 16 and going to be a real star.

    Wenger has also planned that these players will take a few years to settle into the club and by the time they do they will be older and not won anything. They will all want to leave the club as there isn't a good mix of experience and youth in the squad and they will want to win things. Wenger has planned for this and is already scouting 13 year old footballers to replace these guys in a few years time.

  • Comment number 22.

    The problem with Arsenal is what they need to fix their problems is obvious. But the manager (and the board who ultimately control spending) seems reluctant to spend the money to sort it out. Arsenal need Jagielka/Cahill/Samba and then another defender like Dann at Birmingham. They should renew their interest in Juan Mata and maybe even a punt on a knock down in price Scott Parker. If as expected Song will be suspended, it will expose the fact they need adequate back up for him. Parker would fit the bill. Also he wouldn't go missing in the more difficult away games against Stoke and others. He'd be the type of player that actually could make the difference in those games.

    If he did buy those players I would say they would have a shot at the title. Without those signings, everybody will be saying the same thing they have done since 2008....Arsenal need a centre half, a defensive midfielder a winger........

  • Comment number 23.

    Nasri should go, he simply is not a £185k a week player, if city want to pay him that let him go, don't giver yourselves heartburn arsenal fans just enjoy the game and last night was a good game.

  • Comment number 24.

    11. At 10:13 17th Aug 2011, Krish-The-Dude_CFC wrote:
    Carlo Ancelotti should be Wenger's succesor when Wenger leaves Emirates in December

    Not Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola!

  • Comment number 25.

    Wojciech Szczesny is a great keeper. The barca arsenal saga has dragged on too long and has damaged Arsenal, Wenger, and readers alike.
    Wenger is no longer a top manager he has grown stale and Arsenal need a change. Wenger needs a change, for crying out loud WE need a change. It's always the same with this nearly good team. Please give us something else to read other than the top 4 this season. Like the trashings handed out to the new boys, or how the league is shaping up after day 1 re your own predictions... The Arsenal saga is as boring as Wengers suits.

  • Comment number 26.

    'it took the emerging talent of goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to ensure Udinese did not secure the away goal.' What a total shocker that our GK helped in preventing the opposition scoring a goal - isn't that what he's there for? In the event the opposition are able to get a shot away, he trys to save it.

    At the end of last season the media were saying we need a clear out of the deadwood, i.e. Almunia, Eboue, Denilson, Bendtner, even Clichy. Now we've sold Clichy, Eboue and Denilson and agreed sale terms with Bendtner and Almunia the media try to say it is an exodus.

    We've started the season ok - two clean sheets (whether the keeper has made saves or not is irrespective), are in with a good chance of making the group stages. I fully expect Wenger to buy the players we need to boost the squad.

  • Comment number 27.

    Everybody that has read mcnulty over the last two years knows he has an agenda, he went there last night hoping for an arsenal defeat and left disappointed. nevermind Phil maybe next week eh


    I agree that he may have an agenda. Because Arsenal still won and with a clean sheet and yet the negative blog. But I think Phil is still spot on with his assessment. Arsenal need to make defensive signings and a midfield enforcer. Vermulaen, Djourou and Gibbs respective problematic injury records suggests they need the cover. Squilachi isn't good enough. Jenkinson is not ready. Koscienly will improve, but needs time. Time he won't get if results are not going the right way.

    If Wenger makes the right signings (especially as he now has the money), Phil and other journos will get off his back.

  • Comment number 28.

    For the record, I thought post #1 to be quite accurate.

    I watched Chamakh make a couple of decent runs off the shoulder, asking for a pass that would put him in - but the passes didn't come. It only takes one good pass to set up a goal, and if he had scored no doubt he would have gone from useless to 'had a good game' on your scale. Yes, he is not industrious like some players, but to call him basically useless is, in my mind, an exaggeration. All of that in a paragraph where you are allegedly discussing the pluses!

    I'm also sick of hearing about Nasri and how he will be at Man City any moment now. No offer has been accepted. He is an Arsenal player until the club decides otherwise. It's as bad as talking about how good Torres will be when Modric is playing in behind him - he is a Spurs player until they decide otherwise. It's tantamount to tapping up, isn't it? Except you get the press to do it for you.

  • Comment number 29.

    Thanks for all the early observations.

    The first thing we have to remember is that Arsenal actually won - but it was not convincing and did not give great optimism for a serious challenge for the major titles at home and abroad given the obvious lack of depth in the squad.

    Have to say I thought Arsenal's fans were very good last night and I cannot blame them for anxieties they felt during the game because with better finishing from Udinese, or without the outstanding keeping from Szczesny, they could be in a very precarious position.

    I must confess I don't understand why Wenger has left it so late to formulate his plans for this season. The departure of Fabregas, the certain departure of Nasri and issues in defence and midfield have hardly crept up on him - indeed the latter problems cost Arsenal dear last season.

    He may now face a problem encountered by other managers when he finally makes his move - namely other clubs know he has a bucketload of cash lying in the bank and will try to take large portions of it off him.

    Really keen to hear the views of all Arsenal fans on here today on all shades of this debate.

    What must Wenger do in the remaining time before the window closes - and has he already left it too late anyway?

    The floor, as always, is yours.

  • Comment number 30.

    Unfortunately Arsenal will not get anywhere simply because they are not reckless, in a world where debt and greed abounds, and football is surely on the high altar in this respect, if you aint reckless you are committing suicide, you will not compete at the highest point, yes 60000 crowds will let you compete up to a point but no further.

    I respect Arsenal, yes maybe its fallow times but eventually the world will crash on the others

  • Comment number 31.

    good win BUT 3 players (injury prone Gibbs, Djourou & Rosicky) injured in one game smacks of wreckless carelessness from Wenger. Almost masochistic. No bite or tenacity in midfield and we know he will not spend any money that comes from Clichy/Cesc/Eboue/Nasri sales. Arsenal fans have to get used to consecutively fighting to finish fourth. I'm convinced that with the path Wenger's forced the club on it will never win another trophy. No one is saying to spend 50mil on one player BUT strengthen the midfield with a player in the Scott Parker mould and a do-or-die defender(Per Mertesacker) for goodness sake! oh and Chamakh is just plain terrible!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Whilst Wenger continues to balance the books at The Emirates he will have a job. I firmly believe its the only reason he's still manager. The board are scared of what happens if a new manager spends £100m and they still win nothing. Tactically this team are as good as any under Wenger but his problem is he doesn't inspire. All we see is denial of his culpability when Arsenal lose and a stubborn refusal to review his masterplan. There's a fine line between genius and stupidity and these days Wenger tends to come across ad the latter.

  • Comment number 33.

    #30 John

    So when Arsenal have repaid all their debt and all other clubs have gone bankrupt, what do you imagine Arsenal will do with their profits? Spend loads on new players? Pay big wages? Reduce ticket prices?

    Any of those would be a change of policy, a change that Wenger seems resistant to.

    How do you see the future?

  • Comment number 34.

    #1 @MrBlueBurns

    I totally agree with you on all of those points. As far as I'm concerned, this is a good article, with many home truths in there for Arsenal and their fans. Nevertheless, and this isn't a personal attack at Phil McNulty who I consider to be a good writer, but surely the Chief BBC Football Writer could do something more substantial than what is effectively a summary of Arsenal's problems - all of which have been highlighted by many thousands of people over the last week.

    With regards to the weekly round-up, I agree too. I think BBC should publish some form of description of all that has happened over the weekend and offer the fans an opportunity to read and comment.

    The decision to rid of 606 was pretty ridiculous, frankly, and those of us who enjoyed discussions on there are left disappointed.

    I don't want to plug my own writing too much, but have a read of this Premier League Opening Weekend Round-Up that I did just yesterday on my blog:

    I think this is the sort of thing you are thinking of. It's getting some decent reviews thus far.

    Regarding Arsenal, I think everyone in the world expected Fabregas to leave Arsenal for Barcelona. Now the move has been made, however, it seems that everyone is accusing Wenger of having lost control and thinning his squad out too much.

    Frankly, I still believe the Frenchman to be an excellent manager and would like to see Arsenal fans maintain trust in him.

    If Nasri leaves, admittedly Wenger will have to drop his 'ant-spending' philosophy and bring in at least one top-class midfielder. His transfer policy, is frustrating, I appreciate that. However, he deserves a lot of credit for the players he has raised and the style of football he instils in his team.

    Have faith that Wenger will take you to where you want to be, Gooners. It's still very early on in the season, and while it seems like everything is happening at the wrong time for you - what with the disciplinary fines, players leaving, Wenger passing notes and Walcott releasing an 'autobiography', it all seems a bit of a joke and the players seem a little unconvinced that things are going to be ok.

    They will be. Wenger knows what he's doing. It could be worse, you could be like me and be a Villa fan...

  • Comment number 35.

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

  • Comment number 36.

    Phil is anti-Arsenal. However, he does have a point! The fans (not all) are becoming increasingly frustrated that our squad has no real strength in-depth. The frustration will only grow, unless the Arses get players in (preferably players, that we have all heard off) this frustration will only continue to grow. I can't imagine the level it will reach, if Arsenal don't make the CL next Wednesday and there's a real possibility that, that might be the case. Udinese played very well last night as did Jenkinson!

  • Comment number 37.


    The way you jump to be the first poster, to not even comment on the issues discussed but purely to lay down a few boring and predictable lines about Phil's inadequacies as a journalist, is pretty pathetic... read your first post back if you want and see what you think.

    How much more interaction do you want than being able to insult the journalists in real time (with them having to provide responses to your insults) on these blogs?? I expect you wont be satisfied until there is a weekly session where Phil and the other journalists stand in front of us, head bowed, allowing us the chance to repeatedly slap them on the top of the head?

    one eye biased gooner - if you seriously believe he is writing with an anti arsenal agenda, then you have issues with paranoia.

    You are right about Nasri though, Arsenal have a strict wage structure and Nasri has undoubtedly been tempted by the doubling (tripling?) of his salary offered by City. The only joy I get from City is seeing people like Milner, Barry (I am a Villa fan, I should say) sitting out on the bench, the same may well happen with Nasri.

    If you chase the £££ without considering the football side of things, this is what happens.

  • Comment number 38.

    phil is right, i watched the soo called kids play, they nearly lost, i wonder how it will be in the premier league? where did our arsenal of thierry, viera, berkamp go?

  • Comment number 39.

    It is worrying as an Arsenal fan to see the current state of affairs, however judgement should be saved until at least the end of the transfer window. Failure to bring in at least a couple of quality players would be very troubling. The most glaring issue is the lack of leadership, steel, height, ability and intelligence in defence. Defensive failures, not a lack of creativity have been the root cause of not winning a trophy for 5 years. Does Wenger have a defensive coach? If not, why not? and if yes, frankly he needs the sack. It is bemusing to many Arsenal fans why this has not been addressed.
    A source of pride however that should be given more weight is that Arsenal continue to be a club operating as a business, amongst a group of clubs who do not. It will be interesting to see how seriously UEFA take their financial fair play initiative. Do people really want their tickets, sky subscriptions, shirts etc to continue to go up in price, in order to finance the likes of Nasri (doubling his money), and vastly inflated transfer fees. £35 million for Fabregas only looks cheap when Chelsea pay £50 million for Torres and Liverpool pay £35 million for Carroll. When do we say enough is enough?
    In summary; yes Wenger needs to buy, the defence issues are critical, judgement should be reserved until the end of the transfer window, though I expect Arsenal to be there or there abouts by the end of the season!
    Also, all the clamour for Wenger to go is all very well, but who replaces him?

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't get why some Arsenal fans seem to think it is a given that Arsenal should be in the top two & consistently competing. When I was growing up they regularly finished around 6,7 etc... I also don't get why pundits expect it either, though they do have a self interest in self important rhetoric.

    Yes, just missing out for a few years may be frustrating, but it could be far, far (and easily) worse than always being in the Champions League, competing for trophies & generally keeping the excitement of something to play for up until at least March each year. That while being treated to arguably the best to watch football in the land. This while, first Chelsea & then Man City have had huge influxes of resources.

    Arsenal fans at least, need to enjoy the continued (relative) success & show confidence & backing in their team, otherwise the doom may spread & be self-fulfilling. It could easily be far, far worse & some I fear should be careful for what they wish.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 1. MrBlueBurns. Why do I Get the feeling you thrive in Phil-bashing? Honestly, there are issues at Arsenal that need to be addressed - as there are in other teams as well. You cannot attack Phil for pointing them out and bringing it up at press interviews with the man in charge of Arsenal, the aptly-named Arsene Wenger.
    I am not an Arsenal fan and I won't pretend to be, but I met an arsenal fan at my hometown yesterday (a couple of hours before the match with Udenese) and he told me he wished Arsenal were beaten decisively. Why, I asked him, would an arsenal fan want his team beaten? His answer made sense. He said if it would take such beating for Arsene Wenger to realize Arsenal needed fixing - so be it! I admire his thinking.
    He likened it to the nervous system of the body that warn the body of dangers such as fire (through intense pain) such that an individual can move away from the said danger before it is totally consumed. Imagine what would happen if the pain system was absent?
    The arsenal win against Udinese was good. The two clean sheets it has kept so far are good. But if they lead the management at arsenal to think that they can win the Champions league and the premier league with the kind of players they have now, then these achievements will be unfortunate.
    It, therefore, takes the likes of Phil to put this win and the clean sheets in perspective. And yes, Phil needs to ask Wenger more questions - to give us the real picture - which we can't get by visiting the arsenal website's spin-doctored info...

  • Comment number 42.

    Arsenal were very very lucky last night. If Udinese had been a little sharper they would have bagged at last three goals.

    Liverpool will punish them come Saturday.

  • Comment number 43.

    Losing two defenders injured hardly show a lack of defensive depth. How many left backs are you meant to have on the bench.

  • Comment number 44.

    The only thing Arsenal fans can rightly express disatisfaction with are the high ticket prices at the Emirates, but that said isn't that the case at most Premier League clubs - plus do you think that trend will reverse if the club goes out on a spending spree? I do think - despite what the media have us believe - most are proud that their team has managed to qualify for the CL for so many years running whilst playing great football and without resorting to the usual spiralling outlay astronomical fees and wages on egotistical players creates.

    The team has recently lost some talented players but as Arsene quoted 'The cemeteries are full of irreplaceable people' and the likes of Wilshere, Walcott, Frimpong, Gibbs and Chamberlain might be the way to go? I don't think spending crazy money on footballers used to relegation dogfights is the answer...the media should be applauding prudent management in the current climate not espousing the virtues of 'spend, spend, spend' culture - will we ever learn?

  • Comment number 45.

    I was at the game last night, and Phil has made a very fair assessment. Very nervy, and looking at the bench for inspiration wasn't much use. In fairness, Udinese were a pretty useful side.
    But essentially, and speaking as a fan of over 25 years, (and in the main a fan of the manager for what he has done for my club), Wenger has 14 days to save his job.

    I say this since you HAVE to replace quality with quality. Its all very well having a youth policy, but you can't just chuck Jenkinson and Frimpong into a Champions League qualifier worth £25m to the club, and not expect Gooners to be worried, particularly when we have just sold our best player. Wenger HAS to spend, on proven quality players that can come straight into the team and give the youngsters a chance to bed in.

    If Wenger can't change, he has to be changed. Its as simple as that.

  • Comment number 46.

    #37 TeniPurist & #41 Dave Kosgei

    I have nothing against Phil, in fact we have exchanged the odd bit of banter in the past.

    However, as I said earlier on this blog and on many others and in an email exchange with someone at the BBC around the start of last season, I simply do not understand the editorial stance taken with regards to how the BBC allow us (yes, the paying public) to interact with the articles on here. And my initial grievances were BEFORE the decision to drop 606, so my frustrations have been exacerbated!

    As I said before, as the moderators never comment, how do you expect me to air my grievances (grievances that other posters on this blog seem to agree with even if you don't).

    Phil is the chief football writer and if I agree with something I shall say so, and if I disagree with something I shall say so. Who shall I say it to if not to the Chief Football Writer?

  • Comment number 47.

    37 - How much more interaction do you want than being able to insult the journalists in real time (with them having to provide responses to your insults) on these blogs?? I expect you wont be satisfied until there is a weekly session where Phil and the other journalists stand in front of us, head bowed, allowing us the chance to repeatedly slap them on the top of the head?


    what a brilliant idea - where do we sign-up for a petition to get that started?

  • Comment number 48.

    Phil -

    To answer your question, I think Arsenal need to buy Cahill, Samba, and Ever Banega from Valencia. Shore up the defence and get creativity back in the midfield. And like last night, move Theo to the middle like Wenger did with Henry; the goals shall come!

  • Comment number 49.

    It's been obvious that Arsenal needed an experience centre-back, even if they have a lack of funds, surely the free signings of Upson or Woodgate could have been an option? Both are experience, English and have plenty of Premiership experience. I'm pretty sure either would have loved to have joined Arsenal and have fitted in Arsenal's wage structure.

  • Comment number 50.

    As for others, Nasri will go like Cesc, Gervinho will miss 2 crucial matches(Liverpool and UTD) Wilshire will play Behind RVP, AOX will be a flop and be under pressured by Arsenal fans(15m Waste of money for a league 1 player).

  • Comment number 51.

    @ Mr Blue Burns.

    I was going to say precisely the same thing. I'm not an Arsenal fan per se but I would remind everyone that Arsenal have been lighting up the league for over a decade under Wenger, on a comparatively minute budget.

    Wenger is one of the world's most respected managers ('fans' excluded) and it's appalling the treatment he gets at some of these press conferences. Some of their questions are purely mindless. Sure, he's lost Fabregas - imo the clearest case of "tapping-up" there has ever been - and Nasri. United lost Ronaldo and Tevez but haven't done too badly since....

    My point is that, unless someone has got hold of an illegal shipment of crystal balls it is FAR FAR too early to determine that Arsenal "will finish outside the top 4", as some have stated here with airs of authority. Wenger has gone from nobody, to somebody, to someone great, and now, (in the space of a single transfer window) back to square 1. It don't add up. Arsenal fans: Trust the manager, trust the players and stop undermining your own club.

  • Comment number 52.

    Away from the analysis of Arsenal, the performance of an ageing Antonio Di Natale provided me with a lot to think about concerning our domestic game. We know we struggle on the international scene. But for me, the Italian league gets it completely right in that their players are not autoatically rubbished at the age of 31.

    Di Natale has provided his most fruitful seasons post 30. Judging by his performance last night, he'll challenege for Serie A top goalscorer once more.

    Why does Serie A, and La Liga to an extent promote older, more experienced players than we do here?

    Older players seem to cope brilliantly with tournament situations also, which England could have benefited from, but haven't for years. Scholes, Shearer, Danny Murphy, Michael Owen and others should have played many more International tournament games

  • Comment number 53.


  • Comment number 54.

    Horrible, horrible, horrible. I´ve not seen a worse Arsenal side than those playing last night. Aimless kicking. No more than two successful passes in a row. Kick and run.....Arsenal? Shows his pedigree, does Jenkinson. All he did was pass back to the keeper which is what he probably did at Charlton. A disgrace to a once proud club. Udinese is a half mediocre half goodish side.
    They fully deserved to win last night and most certainly will in the return next week.
    I feel ashamed to call myself an Arsenal supporter after last night´s performance.
    Are you proud, Wenger? Are you happy, Wenger? Does balancing the books come higher than the performance in the field, Wenger? Does making a profit compensate the fans who have not seen a trophy of any sort in six years, Wenger?
    Did you notice the "less than full" stadium, Wenger?

  • Comment number 55.

    Why is Bendtner going and not Chamakh? Younger, better finisher, more potential, socres important goals, better creatively- the only advantage Chamakh has is he's better in the air...

    We need to spend some money soon

  • Comment number 56.

    On another point, if Man U were to play like Arsenal did last night and get the same result, I would suggest that some journalists would be hailing it as a good result early season and that Man U always start quietly.

    Arsenal do that and people try to write them off for the season trying to imagine a lack of self belief in the club/squad etc etc

    That's not to say I think this article is biased, I just don't know why people are jumping up and down so early. What did they expect last night?

  • Comment number 57.

    The fans that are upset are the ones who can't add up, the table will reflect the financial muscle each club has.
    United/city/chelsea have the cash and will battle it out, arsenal will slug it out with liverpool and spurs.

  • Comment number 58.

    If I could remember, RVP said this: " I will hand in a transfer request and leave the club if Wenger doesn't get Top class players" or something like that!
    So wenger, get your cheque book out and spend money on TOP CLASS PLAYERS to avoid another TOP CLASS player leaving the CLUB!

  • Comment number 59.

    All I can say is - welcome to the real world. Face facts - at the moment, Arsenal don't represent an attractive proposition to the highest quality players, because they don't have enough of the highest quality players. Good old catch-22 - all players want to win things unless they're past it, then they go for the money. Wenger won't pay top dollar for has-beens, very wisely. So therefore Arsenal have to wait and invest their money wisely elsewhere until the status quo changes. Football will not continue along this path, financial sense will eventually appear, and when it does, Arsenal will probably be best placed to take advantage of it. Then maybe people will appreciate what Wenger has really done.

    I'm not an Arsenal fan - but as a Middlesbrough fan, I'm as well-placed as most to understand how costly chasing a dream can be in the long term. I think Wenger is being very wise.

  • Comment number 60.

    Uncertainty at Arsenal has been around for year actually since 2006, even when the former Fabregas and the going Nasri the so called 'special ones' where part of the squad. As an Arsenal fan I always thought that we've lacked depth when matches against i.e. Birmingham carling cup final came along. To be honest we need top players, players that can make a difference in the team line-up. The players Arsenal currently possesses show a lack of leadership and team spirit. Last year Arsenal spent millions on players that to be honest have no place in our squad i.e. Skamak, Squilachi???
    Spending is necessary I have to say with the debutants performance in mind Aguero and the so called star ‘Gervinho’, different class different objectives.
    Ohh yeh one more thing
    Noooo moreee 15 year olds please……….

  • Comment number 61.

    It's fantastic to see Wenger's arrogance finally coming back to bite him in the backside.

    For too many years Arsenal fans have heard him promising that next year they'll go for it full throttle, that his team will finally mature into a side capable of challenging on all fronts; despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

    For years his team have lacked the traditional grit and determination needed to cross the finishing line in first place. The fans and media alike have urged the man to spend on players that could help them see out a game, help the more inexperienced players in tough situations and provide that extra bit of steel needed against more physical teams.

    Yet he continues down the same path, continuously bringing in young players with so mcuh still to prove. He's obsessed with the idea of nurturing a home grown team into title winners. It's all good in premise, but when you have title rivals spending cash all around you on tried and trusted international and world class players then what hope can his side seriously have of making an impact?

    World Class managers are those that detect a problem and fix it. Sir Alex has built a career around his determined win at all costs approach and has carved a reputation out of his ability to evolve his team in line with the changes in the game around him. Utd have lost world class players down the years but in almost every occasion he has quickly addressed the situation and brought in suitable replacements.

    Arsenal lost Lehmann and replaced him with the error prone Almunia, then Fabianski and now Sczezny. He lost Campbell and Gallas and replaced them with Vermaelen (injury prone and much more effective in the opposition box than his own), Koscielny and Squillacci (not to mention their other injury prone centre half Djourou). He's now lost Clichy and only has the, again, injury prone Gibbs, Sagna is now backed up by a youngster from League One, the central midfield is occupied by Ramsay, Wilshere and Rosicky rather than the Fabregas and Vieiras of yesteryear. Even the much admired frontline is looking ropey these days, Theo Walcott will never be a world class solution up top, Arshavin drifts in and out of games as per his want, Chamackh is simply awful and Bendtner is nowhere near the calibre he seems to think he is.

    Wenger reminds me of one of those deluded chefs you see in Ramsay's Kitchen nightmares. The sort of person that can be presented with all of the evidence suggesting fundamental problems exist but he is so wrapped up in his own arrogance that he will not even begin to consider that his approach may be wrong.

    Arsenal are not the British Barcelona. Barca play with an assurance about them, they know that they have the players to cause damage to the opposition. They know how to defend a lead. Arsenal simply don't. Until Wenger can marry the attacking talents of Wlishere et al to a more hardened defense they will not win a thing. Barca have Xavi, Messi, Villa, Iniesta and now fabregas, all players of a certain size but with superb technical ability. The key though is that they are balanced with Abidal, Puyol, Pique and Busquets, players who know how to defend infront of a top class goalkeeper in Valdes.

    Without Fabregas and Nasri this year Arsenal have no hope, none whatsoever, of challenging for any honours or indeed of qualifying for the Champions League. Without said tournament in sights or next year does anyone seriosuly expect Van Persie to be here in twelve months time? i certainly don't.

    Arsenal as a footballing club have everything needed to win things. They have the fans, they have the stadium, they have the commercial pull, they have European football, they have owners with money and they do have a good core nucleus of players. What they don't have is a manager capable or willing to adapt his footballing philosophy. Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson or Carlo Ancelotti would win things at Arsenal, it wouldn't be the Arsenal style of football and they would need to spend in order to do it, but they'd win things. Arsenal fans need to ask what is more important to them when they pay their extortionate ticket prices at the emirates, do you want to see pretty football week after week with no prospect of a league title to celebrate or do you want to see trophies being lifted whilst playing a less fluid style?

    I know which option i'd choose.

  • Comment number 62.

    A centre-back seems to be essential, and I would be surprised if one of Jagielka, Cahill or Samba wasn't brought in in this transfer window, and the same goes for a central midfielder, although I'm not sure whether they would go for someone proven, like Parker, or another young player, such as Cristian Eriksen.

    Juan Mata also seems a strong possibility, and if they can get these types of players in, alongside Wilshere, Ramsay, Walcott and Van Perise, then Arsenal will be a match for anyone, but maybe not strong enough to win the Premier League or Champions League. Same as always then I suppose.

  • Comment number 63.

    So, once again we get a reasonable match report with a negative spin again, Phil, something that we've sadly come to expect. Yes, Arsenal looked nevous, Yes, Arsenal have defensive issues, however, Arsenal DID actually win the game and managed to keep a clean sheet. If this had been your beloved Liverpool, it would have been a gritty display or a lesson in how to win ugly as we are often accused of not doing! However, this is not just limited to BBC journo's and pundits, just listen to Paul Merson's so called summing up of the game last night....
    I, like many other Arsenal fans, are concerned by the lack of urgency demonstrated by the board over transfer issues, even though it's always sad to lose great players, both Fabregas and Nasri should have left the club in June, not, two weeks before the window closes! Leaving it till now means that the players that could make a real difference are much harder to attract frugally. That's the Wenger way and always has been! Mertesacker from Werder Bremen IS available for a reported 9 million euro's, is a proven, world class international, that I feel is exactly what Arsenal need defensively AND he fits Wenger's financial model. Add Valencia's Juan Mata, Bolton's Gary Cahill and give Scott Parker a lifeline from the Championship, we would have a more balanced squad that can retain fourth place this year. No point talking about the title until next season, at the earliest as we still need more investment that we don't now have the time to do. Concerned about the season ahead, but, ultimately, Wenger and the board make those decisions, whatever happens, we should be supporting the players as much as possible - after all, isn't that what being a football fan is all about?

  • Comment number 64.

    'it spared him questions he may well be heartily sick of answering.' Why don't you and your colleagues stop asking them then? As long as Wenger communicates with Arsenal fans, presumably through their website, why do you think he owes you an answer?


    isant that what a journos job is? to ask questions? and if u listened to the booing of the fans in a pre-season game it tells u all u need to know about arsenal fans feelings towards wenger at the mo

    'lack of defensive resources were exposed in the first 10 minutes of the second half' Kept a clean sheet didn't they?


    yeah kept a clean sheet but if u watched the game that wasent down to the defence but more to do with the inept finishing from udinese


    everyone can see arsenal is in abit of a mess at the mo, there about to lose 2 out of their 3 best players from last year and wenger still refusing to spend the big bucks, then in turn expects everyone to feel sorry for him rolling out the same "we dnt have the money like chelsea, city, united do rubbish". Arsenal supposedly through their saying have millions to spend(many more now with sale of fabregas) but wenger will no doubt claim to be on a par with the likes of stoke or fulham financially

  • Comment number 65.

    I think if we axe Wenger (which I'm leaning towards) I think it might be an interesting idea to bring in Dennis Bergkamp. Maybe not manager, but as assistant manager, so that he can be groomed into the future Gunners manager. I dont say this because he's a former Gunners player, but I say it because he is genuinly a smart man, who knows what hes talking about. When I hear him talking in interviews, he clearly knows his stuff.

    As for a short term manager (or an immediate replacement for Wenger) I'd make the suggestion that we bring in Frank Rijkaard. He masterminded the return to the top for Barca after the Real Madrid period of domination in Spain. Hopefully he can do the same for Arsenal, without losing too much of the emphasis on our youth system. The system works, but we definately need some more experienced guys in side.

    Bring in Gourcuff to fill the gap left by Fabregas, I have seen Gourcuff play, and he look's like a fantastic player. He's perfect for Wenger too; French, young and relatively affordable.

    Finally, what do people think of Kieran Gibbs? Any good or should we get a new leftback?

  • Comment number 66.

    Also yes we most certainly have money. We earn't money from sales of Toure, Adebayor, Henry and now Fabregas. What was that money spent on? I can understand some paying off the stadium, but that's been fully paid for now hasn't it?

  • Comment number 67.

    Arsenal will go to Udinese and beat them there.

    This was just their 2nd team. Arsenal are a business concern now who happen to play football. So the comings and goings of players reflects the financial balance sheet eventually. See the sale of players who had been at the top of their game, Henry and Viera, and now Fabragas and Nasri - get the maximum financial benefit possible, and so it proves !!

  • Comment number 68.

    i want to be entertained, the issue about the prices is overblown the cost of going to a game is in keeping with the cost of other entertainment in London no big deal.

    Man city have a wage bill bigger than their turnover just to get where they are, and that was last year, are arsenal fans really that desperate and vain that they would urge the club to follow suit?

  • Comment number 69.

    Been supporting Arsenal for many many years, and all the time have supported Wenger since he took over. His philosophy is great. He could quite plausibly have come away with 3 trophies last year, but lack of depth, and consequent loss of confidence in the team meant they came away with nothing. Again.
    I believe that he's now taken his "philosophy" too far, being over arrogant and pig-headed, and refusing to do the obvious squad strengthening that is needed. Up until a couple of years ago his philosophy was fine. I live in France, and have come across this belligerent attitude many times in French men. It's time someone told him to spend, or get out. He's made his point, it was a good one too, he's done as well or better than many teams who spend more, but he's been unlucky with injuries too many times, and has failed to win a trophy. Ok, point made, now spend and bring in trophies. Please.

  • Comment number 70.

    6.At 10:09 17th Aug 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:
    "Why is it a pleasure?
    How are you measuring respect?"

    Pleasure because "best league in the world" is stuck in my throat, it was best like 4 years ago so let's all call it best for another decade eh

    Because your team Chelsea supposedly has a chance of winning the CL NOW, on the basis of ONCE UPON A TIME, COMING CLOSE to knocking out a 10 men crocked knackered Barcelona (the European highlight of CFC)

    Respect is that 3 or 4 or 5 years back European sides used to be scared of English clubs or coming to play here. Awe and fear. And you had 3 English teams that used to thrash some of them or occasionally come toe to toe with the best. Now you have them being thrashed by the 2 very best from Spain, on a different galaxy (I know most haven't faced Real as it stands they'd better not),

    and the sorry sight of Arsenal being outclassed, at home, and I don't care about the result, by CL newbies, who've also sold 3 top players, in their off-season. You have clubs like Porto Marseille Bordeaux Valencia coming to OT & SB and being their equal. You have the "richest club in the world" ie. Gareth Barry in CM getting knocked out by Kiev, and the Liverpool's strongest 11 away to Eastern Europe or Portugal not managing a shot at goal. That's what you'll get when your rest your hopes on players overinflated bubblegums too many to mention names, on top of usually labouring against weak sides domestically of course like in the weekend which confirms the point.

    Once upon a time -yes it's that old in football terms- when Liverpool used to knock Real out and there were 3 semifinalists Phil liked to generalise and write hymns about how it rubberstamps the authority of English football, now that the quality of the league has reached a low point they're discussing each club or manager individually or just enjoying how close and unpredictable it is.


  • Comment number 71.

    I went to the game last night and feel that Phil's criticism of Chamakh is reasonably harsh, He fails to mention the numerous times Chamakh brought the likes of Walcott and Gervinho into the game. However, he does need to learn to get in the box more in order to use his height!

  • Comment number 72.

    Wenger has got it wrong with his constant team-building. He had a great team that won the league in style and held on to that just that little bit too long and that has led to the current situation. He should have been continually building a team and players to replace current squad players.

    He should also get a new pair of glasses, I got fed up of him continually syaing "I did not see the incident therefore I cannot comment"

    If the qualify for the group stage it'll allow them to attract some players and spend some of the Cesc money but I reckon It'll cost them league places in the long term and ultimately a top 4 place at the end of the season.

  • Comment number 73.

    Udinese had 3 shots on target all game and the truth is arsenal came closer to scoring a second than udinese came to scoring at all, but that wouldn't make a good story.
    arsenal will beat them out in italy no doubt but hey so what, imagine if wenger had spent £20 mill on keeper and he started like de gea could you imagine? typical biased nonsense

  • Comment number 74.

    Arsenal have been going downhill since at least when Henry left and Flamini went on a free transfer. Wenger has bought badly and stubbornly persisted with the mediocre buys, when it was clear to most that they would never make the grade.

    The rot starts in 2006 when Cole, Bergkamp and Campbell go and Denilson and Rosicky are brought in. They are followed by Eduardo, Fabianski, Silvestre, Bischoff, Arshavin, Chamakh, Koscielny and Squillaci. None are fit to wear to shirt. The one decent signing was Diarra, but Wenger let him go.

    Wenger's time is up at Arsenal. A new broom is needed to clear out the dead wood and restore some pride and English backbone to Arsenal.

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh and by the way, Phil McNutter DOES enjoy winding up Arsenal fans, and it creates a heated debate, which is his job. So that's why he does it. Boring. Move on.

  • Comment number 76.

    Why are we looking a players like Cahill,Samba and Dann. I think we should be looking at players like Subotic and Hummels from Dortmund and Mertesacker. The first 2 have had a couple of excellent seasons as well as already being internationals and still very young.

    We should also raid Ajax. Taking Van de Wiel and Vertonghan who again whilst still young are good players with international experience under their belts.

  • Comment number 77.

    What on earth is all of this criticism aimed at? Arsenal started beautifully, with real attacking flair, and got an early goal with great finishing. Lets see, previous criticisms disputed:
    Walcott having a useless finish
    Arsenal not being ruthless
    Then Arsenal managed to hold onto that lead for the entire game. Which is another criticism disputed.

    I really enjoyed last night. It was a fun, open and attacking game where the other side actually wanted to play football. I think Udinese deserves a lot of praise for that and, if it wasn't at Arsenal's expense, I'd say they deserve a place in the Champions League also.

    Gibbs was covered for by Vermaelen a lot and he needs to learn to defend. But what an attacker he is! While he was on he was fantastic.

    Jenkinson was even better. He defended very well and what I like about him is his ability to play the ball. He has good technique in passing, crossing and also in the air. Although he is our future right back, I'd like to see him on the left this season as he's already looking a better player than Gibbs or Traore.

    Frimpong was naive at first. He gave away two free kicks where the opposition took advantage of said naivety. However, his introduction saw the amount of Udinese attacks diminish considerably. That's because he was able to win the midfield battle where Rosicky couldn't. I hope Wenger plays him and Song against Liverpool as that would give us the grit we need. After all, remember the days of Vieira and Gilberto? They weren't a bad pairing were they.

    Gervinho is just lacking a little bit in his final ball. But he will get there. And when he does, oh boy will he be good. Determined player, which is nice to see.

    Ramsey has Fabregas' eye for a pass and that was on display yesterday. Didn't have his best game ever, but you can see an improvement over Newcastle already. He will continue to grow very quickly and he improved when Rosicky came off.

    Szczesny has shown why he is arguably the world's best young prospect in goalkeeping. The best goalkeepers are nutters, they just don't think in the same way as normal people. His confidence is well placed.

    The Vermaelen Koscielny combo looked good yet again. They could certainly be a force to be reckoned with.

    Rosicky wasn't a good player. The formation doesn't suit him and neither does the position. If that isn't clear by now then I don't know what is.

    Chamakh wasn't bad. But he wasn't playing as a striker. We played a 4-6 with him sitting far too deep.

    Song attacked a little too much but didn't have an awful game either. If Frimpong starts alongside him, his attacking desire won't be so frowned upon.

    Walcott needs to be played in the middle, he really does. If we can get Mata or Hazard or whoever, play Walcott in the middle. Shades of Henry about his play.

    As an Arsenal fan, I enjoyed the game. Was a great game of football. We scored early and showed a strong defense against a very underrated Udinese side. With Wilshere, RVP, Wenger and new signings, I can see us thumping them in Italy.

  • Comment number 78.

    Not an arsenal fan but a fan of the game of football. Think people need to remember the difference between football (the game) and football (the business). Spending hundreds of millions of pounds might buy you silverware but it does not buy you the sound running of a club. when financial fair play rules come in next season who would you say is in the best position in the premier league?
    Man city are rich but have at least 6 players they dont want but cant sell as the wages are too high. By next season how many will it be?
    Man u are having to find investment in asia before next year.
    And for chelsea, another year without title or champions league and abramovich will drop them like a stone.
    Arsenal have never bought sucsess with hugh transfer fees, but with a plan of buying young, developing and then becoming great players arsenal will stand in good sted next year if they can survive a tricky season.
    Money grabbers (nasri) can go and leave the players that want to play for the club to play.
    how many players would you say have gone onto better things after leaving arsenal? A few, but more that regret the decision i bet. (I should have stayed at arsenal) Hleb after His "dream move" to barca.
    And how many player would you say have improved there careers after joining a club like man city? Milner? Johnson? Adabeyor? to name a few. Good luck samir!

  • Comment number 79.

    My grandfather, my father and me (I'm now 66 years old) have been fans of Arsenal all these years and I'm sorry but Arsene Wenger has BEEN a great manager up to two seasons ago and now I think it is time he went back to France and perhaps wrote a book about perhaps seagulls following the trawler. He's lost it I'm afraid in my opinion.

  • Comment number 80.

    Everyone knew Fabregas would leave, everyone knew that they needed defensive reinforcements and more dominance in the middle of the park. And yet, the season has started and nothing has been done to rectify those deficiencies, which seems a bit incompetent really. Who is responsible for transfers at Arsenal anyway, did the decline start when David Dein left?
    As for Jenkinson, as a Charlton fan, he seemed a reasonable prospect during the few games he played for us before 'his head was turned', but I imagined his debut for Arsenal would be in the League Cup with the other talented youngsters, not playing LB in a crucial Champions League qualifier!

  • Comment number 81.

    watching bits of the game last night, I noticed a strange mood around the emirates from the crowds reaction to the way some of the players played their football. It was almost like for the first time for ages, fans and players and a fear of being beaten or conceding a goal. Having said that Wenger is a class manager and I wouldn't write him off just yet.

  • Comment number 82.

    i see everyone going on at wenger about transfers, but surely at the end of the day transfers are vetted by the board, they have the final say in the money being spent ? , more of a concern is the fact they allow him to buy the youngsters when its plain and obvious (even he admitted they need to strengthen defensivly) that they need players to fit into the team now.

    i hope he manages to pull things around, as i like the way he's had arsenal playing football.

    and got my fingers crossed theres not things going on in the boardroom that are stopping him doing what he needs to do.

  • Comment number 83.


    I think you are being very harsh criticising Wenger for lack of replacements. Let's take a look at the list
    Clichy - They have a ready built replacement in Gibbs who if I recall was playing well last season.
    Fabregas/Nasri - Fabregas only left yesterday and until recently Wenger probably hoped to keep him for one more year. Nasri hasn't left yet so until they have a deal to sell him then they won't bring on replacements (this does not mean he hasn't formulated a plan but that maybe he is waiting to implement it). If these two had stayed (maybe even just one) then I don't believe that Arsenal needed much strengthening in midfield (defence and strikers would be more of a priority). If they fail to bring in replacements by the end of the transfer window then Arsenal can be criticised for not replacing but only then.
    Eboue - been a fairly inconsistent player for Arsenal so probably not a bad idea to move him on and then buy replacement
    Bendtner - not been brilliant for Arsenal. Cut losses and sell him and then replace him (sound financial management is to get him of the wage bill before replacing him)

    Just because they have not made signings to replace these players does not mean they are not preparing to do so. It is only fair to criticise when the window has closed. The £35M for Fabregas (plus the fee for Nasri should he leave) should allow
    some good replacements to be purchased.

    Mr Blueburns (#7),

    For me, Fabregas and Nasri were much further along 2 years ago than the current Wilshere and Ramsey. The comparison there would be a Fabregas of 5 or 6 years ago

    BlueRedandWhite88 (#10),

    The comparison is a little unfair. You list the central defenders for the other big clubs then talk about Arsenal's left back.
    Look at Manchester United at the weekend. We had a central defender playing right-back and currently I think we have 3 specialist 1st team fullbacks (Evra, Fabio and Rafael).
    However I would agree that Arsenal do need some defensive reinforcements.

  • Comment number 84.

    Udinese had 3 shots on target all game and the truth is arsenal came closer to scoring a second than udinese came to scoring at all, but that wouldn't make a good story.

    username says it all, despite udinese hitting the bar and sqaudering 2 one on ones arsenal were still lucky to get out with a win, you were outplayed for most parts of the 2nd half which should be extremley worrying especially since udinese dnt evan start their season untill the 28th and are in pre season mode yet they were the ones who gt stronger as the game went on

  • Comment number 85.

    @ #76

    Because they're foreign fairies that's why. The still very young comment isn't a good thing in terms of Arsenal, it's exactly what they don't need. Just because Cahill is English and playing for Bolton you are assuming that perhaps he isn't that good, let me tell you he's a quality player. Jagielka is a very gifted footballer and a solid defender. Cahill and Jagielka are better than what Arsenal currently have and are both very under rated, they are exceptional talents.

    @ # 74

    Denilson = not good enough
    Rosicky = was good enough but injuries have stopped him from being the player he is
    Eduardo = was good enough but a horror tackle ended his career
    Fabianski = not good enough
    Silvestre = not good enough
    Bischoff = not good enough
    Arshavin = quality player
    Chamakh = no idea on this guy. Seemed good but not now
    Koscielny = good enough
    Squillaci = not good enough

    I fear that poor Ramsey may have the same fate as Eduardo

  • Comment number 86.

    # 68 - I don't think anyone is suggesting a Man City approach to achieving goals. For any side without the financial back up of an oil rich billionaire, following the Man City model is tantamount to enconomic suicide.

    What Arsenal could do however is spend about £30-40m on a handful of players that are ready for first team action straight away. As somebody mentioned earlier, what's wrong with spending money on proven Premiership players? Jagielka, Cahill or Chris Samba would provide the extra steel needed in defence. A Scott Parker type player with a drive to win games at all costs would also help immeasurably.

    He doesn't need to abandon his footballing philosophy, just augment it slightly.

  • Comment number 87.

    Now i am not Arsene Wenger's biggest fan but all these blogs BBC create about Wenger losing it is unfair. Stop pulling a good manager down.

    He is someone who has built teams that play very good footballl by not spending millions and leaving the club in debt.

    This man deserves respect for what he has done in English football. It will take time for him to replace 2 of his best players and he will do as he has shown in the past.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why would anyone complain of high ticket prices if watching Arsenal is agonizing? The truth of the matter is, Arsenal play very very entertaining football with trophies being the jewel lucking in the crown. Other teams win trophies with the only blemish being the medieval football they play. If you want trophies, support Manchester United, Chelsea or Birmingham(they won the curling cup last season) but if you are for entertaining "edge of your seat" stuff, then welcome to the Emirates!!

  • Comment number 89.

    I was at the game yesterday Phil and I can't agree with all of your comments. The BBC match report online was a very good summation of the game. Yes, it was nervy (and entertaining actually) and although there was far too much last-ditch defending I was glad to see very little panic and an extremely good game from Sczezny. You don't know what you have unless it is tested and he passed with fyling colours.

    Sagna was unbeatable all night and I had big doubts about Jenkinson's forced inclusion into the match but he did very well indeed. Not ideal and I would still put my money into the likes of Samba or Cahill, no doubt but nonetheless a positive.

    Song remains one of the best in his position, I knew Walcott would be the most direct and in the end the low point in the match for the fans was the middle of the second half when we lost our inventiveness.

    Pressure came and went and I felt a lot of the little niggles (too many balls played too long for forwards, or misunderstandings between players) were a result of new introductions (Gervinho) and the need to get a few early-season games under the belt to improve communications and expectations. Bring back RVP and Wilshere into the side and you will absolutely see an improvement.

    That said, Chamakh was terrible. You could almost see his brain working, he was painfully slow which I find very sad but I'm not sure what can be done about it as I am too far away from the issues.

    We went to the Champion's League final with a makeshift defence and my feeling from yesterday's fans was that we are not going to open our season by booing our team. The boos have been for Wenger anyway, not our beloved players!

    Finally though, we really ought to invest in a solid central defender, a creative-attacking midfielder and possibly even a striker to supplement the inevitable RVP injuries.

    Liverpool will be a much bigger test on Saturday, but Udinese are still very much in it and should have earned themselves a goal but for a lack of final sharpness on their side.

  • Comment number 90.

    Phil Mcnulty, why don't you write a blog about the recent flop: David De Gea, instead winding up arsenal fans.

  • Comment number 91.

    One more comment, sorry - we have invested in a brand new stadium in the last few years. Please remember the long-term. Who of our rivals in England have had to do that? No one. That's a hell of a lot of money, which has probably restricted our outlook for a few years but we will be glad in the end.

  • Comment number 92.

    Chamakh get his chance to play, and in the champions league no less, and what does he do; acts in the most disinterested and lazy way all match. As for Rosicky, he has taken over from Denilson in giving the ball away. At least we have a proper goalkeeper now!

  • Comment number 93.

    Phil- ..."How has Wenger allowed his squad to thin out to such an extent without securing replacements and reinforcements? Fabregas, Clichy, Emmanuel Eboue are gone and Nasri is going, almost certainly to be followed by Nicklas Bendtner and others......."

    Maybe Wenger is waiting to see how many more want to leave 'the sinking ship' before starting to recruit new players?

    Clearly the Arsenal players of recent years have lacked the unity of purpose evident at their main rivals Man United. Wenger has perhaps never been too sure who he could depend on, therefore maybe that in letting the 'Fabregas saga' drag on so long, he has allowed other malcontents the 'wiggle room' they needed to surface, until finally he now knows how much of the dressing room is still his?

    Wenger now knows the players he can count on and with the income from Fabregas and others he can go out and recruit those who would wish to become loyal Gunners!!

    At least thats what most Gooners must hope for!!

  • Comment number 94.

    Things aren't great for the Gunners right now and the mediocre performance against Newcastle at the weekend was a shakey start.

    For me they don't look like solid contenders for any trophy yet this season.

    Then again it could be worse - there are many clubs in a terrible state but as Arsenal are so high profile its harder to swallow.

  • Comment number 95.

    Wenger's big issue is one of planned succession. If you do a quick comparison with Man Utd and Alex Ferguson you can see a very different strategy with bringing through replacements.

    It has been said many times that SAF is a master at building teams. I for one don't agree that he has built many teams. What he has done is to slowly introduce young talent into the team, give them experience of winning games and playing with experienced guys. When utd play against teams in the bottom half (or are considered weaker) there is always a youngster or 2 on the bench. If Utd go 2 or 3 goals up, they are brought on. In the Carling Cup they are played alongside experienced players. Gradually these guys play more and more games and ultimately replace the experienced guys completely. This is augmented by big signings once in a while.

    At Arsenal, they had a great team with Bergkamp, Henry etc but at no point during this time did Wenger have a plan to replace that team. He didn't blood new players apart from putting them all out in the Carling Cup. Sure they had a few wins, but ultimately they will get beaten. Wenger is now struggling because players are not staying at Arsenal because they want success on their CV. They leave at the age of 26-27 meaning that Wenger has no way of developing a succession plan - he is now just chasing his tail. Wenger cannot bring youngsters into the side in the way Utd do as they are either playing already and under pressure or there is never an opportunity to do so when you have a suspect defence and a suspect mentality (see last year's end of season collapse for evidence).

    Wenger needs to build a plan around 6 or 7 players who will be there for the long term and then start planning their replacement.

    One final thing..SAF did "win things with kids". This was however a successful team that was brought in together - they knew each other and had grown up winning together. Wenger is not bringing through a team to the first team, he is still buying young or promising players, and still mostly from the French league. He is in trouble because unless he stems the tide, he will never be in control of the club's destiny.

  • Comment number 96.

    REF 70 - nibs

    I look at the Premiership and I remember Rodney Marsh and co on Soccer Saturday years ago bemoaning the fact that the gap between the Premiership and the rest was so big that it was almost a guarantee that once relegated you'd jump straight back in...well we've had Hull, Burnley, Swansea, Norwich, Fulham, Stoke, Wigan etc gracing what has been described as the best league in the world....absolute nonsense...

    With the notable exception of Man Utd.I (I am not a supporter) the Premiership has attracted nothing but mercenaries to those clubs that have more money than sense to get B-listed talent to play in a league congested over the Christmas period in wind, rain and snow...the Premiership will go bust, or certain clubs owned by arabs or oligarchs that have no time for sentiment to rip out the soul of a club and turn it into a Harlem globetrotting money-spinning plc. ...

    For a Gareth Barry at Man City there's a Messi in Barcelona...

    The very top talent want to play in either Spain or Italy (or you have a very competitive and well-run Bundesliga that has far more competition within its league), unless of course they're on the wrong side of 30 and a Blackburn Rovers type club want to fork out a fortune for nostalgia...

    Yeah, Man City might have a fair crack at the CL, but similarly like Leeds before them will I see this club totally bankrupt with the owners bored of it all and realising it's the RED team they should have bought, ending up playing Scunthorpe on a cold,wet Boxing Day fixture...let's ask Rodney...

    Oh, by the way - I don't think English clubs will do particularly well in Europe this season...

  • Comment number 97.

    Gooner here: for those that were not already aware ( smiles )

    My concern was all those empty seats at the Emirates ?

    Worrying times indeed.

    as for " spending " its becoming very apparent to me AW is not in control and as such cannot be blamed for the situation.

    Worrying also was the debut of the new boy! did he not receive any advice about reacting now he's suspended for three games! brilliant! just what was needed, Song also could face punishment, the mind boggles as to how Arsenal kick of the new Campaign the same way they left the old one.

    I am glad CF has finally gone and i wish him well at Barca but i don't think the situation was handled correctly by ALL!! those involved.

    I am not to despondent yet but its as they say a " fluid situation " so my opinions might change its time this squad showed what they can do and playing both Liverpool and man u in quick succession is an ideal start! It really is time for these players that AW has/had so much faith in stepped up! and were counted.

    to the Team an AW i say I am interesting in what you actually do not what you actually say so stop the bunny and get on and do!!!

  • Comment number 98.

    Why does everyone keep bearting on about Samba? The need a class, tough tackling, organising, goal scoring centre back like Cahill.

    Also Arsenal are desperately short on goal scoring strikers when RVP inevitably rules himself out for the season. I'd suggest a proven goal scorer - maybe capitalise on Chelsea's delay in signing Romelu Lukaku. Thoughts?



  • Comment number 99.

    Joan_Burton, even though Lukaku would be a great player to have at Arsenal, I'd feel we were cheating him. He's a Chelsea fan. I saw this video from a school trip at Stamford Bridge saying that if you ever saw him cry, it would in a Chelsea shirt on that pitch.
    God knows they could use some players who feel that way about the club.

  • Comment number 100.

    Phil- Is this the weakest squad Wenger has started a season with since Bruce Rioch?
    Would Fabregas(the best player in the world in his age bracket) have thought of the players last night "I can win the CL with these players around me". No me neither.
    Phil Name a player as good as Fabregas that Wenger could buy right now - No I couldn't either.
    Gallas was right about Nasri all along and it cost him his place at Arsenal.
    Eden Hazard is as good as Nasri right now + he'll give you a full season + he's not French or Spanish. He meets both of Wenger's criteria by being better than what he's got AND would improve the squad. By the time he makes a bid it will be too late, just like the other players he missed out on through dithering about £1m or two above the price he was prepared to pay which ultimately has cost far far more by failing to step up a level.
    Future historians will put the failure to win the Carling Cup as a pivotal moment in Wenger's Arsenal career. Everyone from the Board(already decided on 6% rise in ticket prices), managment & players at the Emirates were so so sure the cup was in the bag (even though history shows that nothing in football is a given, which is why we watch) & when they cocked up, the catastrofic collapse was the result for eveyone to see.
    As is constantly said, reputations count for nothing, that's history - what's important is the next game. So let the great soap opera called "Emirates Stadium Mystery" with Inspector Wenger searching for the missing cups continue


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