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Wenger rebuilds with substance over style

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Phil McNulty | 22:36 UK time, Saturday, 10 September 2011

Emirates Stadium

Arsene Wenger puts all his stock in style - but only the substance of this desperately needed victory would do for Arsenal against Swansea.

Wenger says he could write a book about a summer he jokingly claims prepared him for a journey to Hell. At least he had a happy, not to mention lucky, tale to tell as Arsenal got their first win of the season.

This was hardly heavenly, indeed for long periods in the second half it was ugly, but it was sweet relief from the football firestorm that engulfed the Gunners in the 8-2 defeat at Manchester United.

Arsenal's manager has spent much of the early weeks of a traumatic season cursing his ill-fortune, so he grasped gratefully at the break offered when Swansea's excellent goalkeeper Michel Vorm inexplicably hurled a clearance against Angel Rangel just before half-time.

The rebound fell invitingly for Andrey Arshavin, and on such narrow margins games are won and emotions around a club can change.

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Wenger complained that nerves brought on by an awful start and abject humiliation made Arsenal's performance "handbrake-ish", although even that was an improvement on the emergency stop at Old Trafford.

Events have moved frenetically since then, with Wenger raiding markets at home and abroad to sign Per Mertesacker, Mikel Arteta, Yossi Benayoun, Andre Santos and Chu Young Park.

Mertesacker and Arteta got the full 90 minutes, while Benayoun played 28 minutes as a substitute. Clearly, these are early days for definitive judgements, so what were the early impressions?

Arteta, the 29-year-old Cesc Fabregas-lite, started his Arsenal career with a slalom run and a threaded pass which should have brought a goal for Aaron Ramsey. He faded as Arsenal retreated, but showed enough intelligence and quality in possession to suggest he will be a neat fit.

The Spaniard still has to prove he can pull himself out of something of a decline since a serious knee injury suffered playing for Everton at Newcastle in 2009, but there is real quality in his play.

Mertesacker was calm and composed and, at 6 ft 6 ins, adds presence and, self-evidently, aerial threat in both penalty areas. He got caught on his heels once when Danny Graham brought a brilliant early save from Wojciech Szczesny, but had an otherwise pleasingly uneventful debut.

The German, however, will need help against the quick darting movers of the Premier League in the mould of Sergio Aguero, Luis Suarez and Javier Hernandez. This type of player may present problems but a performer of such extensive international experience should not be underestimated and Wenger has time to find a solution to that.

Benayoun's performance was brief and breezy. The suspicion is that this is the role he will fulfil, the experienced impact substitute rather than a regular starter.

Arsene Wenger

Wenger added five players to his sqaud following the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford Photo: Getty

Wenger, who at last had the smile of the victor back on his face, drove right at the problem he needs to solve at Arsenal and which was not cured by this victory.

"Confidence goes quickly and comes back slowly," said the Frenchman. "We are not used to being in this situation.

"When you don't win you have a deep problem, but the longer it lasts the deeper the problem is."

It is only through wins that this self-belief, that started to fracture in the Carling Cup final loss to Birmingham City, can be pieced back together.

Victories, and of course the return of a raft of the injured such as Jack Wilshire, Thomas Vermaelen and Abou Diaby, as well as the suspended in the shape of Gervinho and Alex Song, will assist the process.

On the evidence of the early weeks of the season, and the rampage from Manchester United and Manchester City, Wenger may have to settle for a season of relative transition and a crack at a cup competition because his new signings will not make this Arsenal into a title-winning side.

The realistic target for Arsenal this season is already a top-four place. The title will be beyond them and even new additions and the return of absentees will not alter that.

But at least the recovery process has begun and the sense of unease that had started to surround the Emirates has partially lifted.

And what of Swansea? Manager Brendan Rodgers was absent following the death of his father but he will receive reports about much that will please him. A major problem has arisen already, however, and that is the ominous zero in the "goals for" column.

Swansea are organised, they competed for long periods and play a game that is pleasing on the eye - but when the big moments and chances came along they were not seized upon. Graham was unlucky to see Szczesny save in the first half but he simply had to take the opportunity he missed in front of goal in injury time.

Rodgers is astute enough to be working on this problem because the time-honoured "we'd be more worried if we were not creating chances" mantra uttered by right-hand man Colin Pascoe after the game will soon wear thin with no points on the board.

And the frustration for Swansea is that they have real possibilities if only a solution can be found.

Sometimes style needs to be forsaken in exchange for grabbing that single chance that might just get your season going. Ask Arsene Wenger and Arsenal.


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  • Comment number 1.

    It was definitely a good win for Arsenal no matter how, or who it was against. Wenger needed to change the mentality at The emirates and I think he achieved that.

    Arteta is a smart player who doesn't cave in easily and will enhance that Arsenal midfield. Wenger's challenge now is to blend the new players in with his philosophy whilst trying to add some substance to their cause.

    I doubt that they will finish in the top 4 this year as I don't think the squad has enough depth in quality, and they lack the power of either United, City and Chelsea.

    All in all, a decent outing for the Gunners and midweek will be another test for the new squad.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another Arsenal blog, surprise surprise. There are other clubs in crisis at the moment. Everton are suffering from not spending, Sunderland from too much.

    Both Arsenal and Spurs got much needed wins today, even if Arsenals wasn't in the best style.

    It's a slow start from Swansea but once they start scoring I think they'll be difficult to stop.

  • Comment number 3.

    Arsenal were lucky with the goal. I still think they won't make it to the Champions League next season

  • Comment number 4.

    This blog doesn't let me post. Wind up!

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Have to agree! - Arsenal are at risk of falling behind but I think we need to switch to a 4-3-1-2 and commit to attacking teams. Poor to struggle past Swansea, as good as they were.

    Arsenal's demise last season wasn't helped by referee's ( but I believe Wenger's lack of 'plan B' meant that they were unable to bounce back in a fashion that Manchester United would.

    City > United > Arsenal > Liverpool. - Top 4.

  • Comment number 7.

    Wait United win 5-0 Rooney Hat Trick, City win 3-0 Aguero Hat Trick, Torres benched Sturridge scores the goal of the week. And yhuu write about Arsenal? Why Phil? Why? a win agains Swansea and you write a Blog? Stoke defeated your almighty Liverpool and no blog so why Arsenal? Why Phil? Boring boring boring

  • Comment number 8.

    This substance is a bit cliché in my opinion. Arsenal did fine playing with style up to 2008 or so when they started selling one star player after another. They were extremely unlucky on some occassions..simple as that.

    Ramsey was very poor today..hope Song is back soon. Arteta looked very good, surprised me.

    Mertesacker still looks doubtfull..he was so poor on the ball. I know a defender has to defend but when someone ruins build-up play it gives the opponent more chances to score and it doesn't inspire confidence in the team. Vermaelen would probably solve that problem..if he is ever gets fit again.

    Top 4 looks too far-stretched and that is very,very dissapointing. The team has gone backwards every year in the past 3-4 years and it doesnt look like it's gonna change this season.

  • Comment number 9.

    Welcome to the real world, Arsene. Hopefully he has finally realised that it's points that matter, even if that means to exchange substance over style occasionally. I'm a big fan of the way Arsenal play, but in the Premier League sometimes flair just isn't enough. The club's 6 season trophy-less spell is evidence enough of that. The teams that win are the teams which are adaptable, tailoring their line-ups and tactics on a game-by-game basis. Clearly this had been a very tough lesson to learn for such a football puritan. The last year has been an important reality check for both club and manager. It's sad to say but sometimes you have to betray your ideals in order to remain successful.

  • Comment number 10.

    Not impressed with Arsenal's panic buys.Arteta is passed it, Mertesacker is poor and Santos is defensively suspect.Wenger has shown very bad management,especially with the lack of planning in the transfer market.This is going to the a terrible season for arsenal, they will finish 5th or 6th, which is just not good enough!

  • Comment number 11.

    Good to see Arsenal scraping a result; something that people claim was not within them.

    Always hard to judge how well the new recruits fitted in when going by MOTD limited highlights but the big German must have some qualities judging by caps.

    It would be good to see Arsenal get back on track, and they may surprise a few folk when their injuries (hopefully) decrease, as the EPL looks like it is descending into a good old fashioned two horse shoot out. This causes boredom, it does in Scotland anyway.

    Good blog Phil, keep it up and ignore the haters (talk about a mediocre team Phil): Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    Maybe it is time to lay off Wenger, we can clearly see across both La Liga & The Premier League that there are about 5 clubs (Barca, Real, Utd, City & Chelsea) who are now operating on a different level to the rest of the sides in their leagues.

    We have often criticised La Liga for allowing Real & Barcelona to dominate but after witnessing the one-sidedness of City & Utd's opening 4 games & Chelsea's ability to spend big to compete that the competition in the league is deterioating quickly.

    Good news if you follow any of those sides but for the long term health of both leagues it is becoming a sad state of affairs.

    How can any fan expect Arsene to compete against the kind of spending Utd can do legitimately & what City & Chelsea can do through their owners limitless pockets. He is the only manager at a top side trying to operate in a sensible way, he will not risk the long term future of his club just to possibly challenge for a title. The spending required would not add up to the extra money winning the title would bring.

    I feel a little disallusioned with the way it is all heading, there seems to be 3 leagues within the Premiership, the top 3 will battle it out simply as there first & second strings would finish top 6-7 so just by turning up and playing will be enough to beat the majority of the other sides.

    Attendances are down across the sides outside the big 6 & even the Emirates seems a little less full than usual. Spain has 2 mega clubs that compete in their own league & if you were to remove the billionaire's from ours then only Utd would be in contention to win ours.

    I dont see it changing so Wenger will continue to get stick but no other manager could do more with what he has so maybe it is time to look at his resources and admit he is doing the best he can i.e. finish 4th behind the big 3, underachieving would surely be 6th or less & then maybe fans could call for his head.

  • Comment number 13.

    Wenger rebuilds with substance over style

    And if Graham had scored late on for Swansea, what would the title of the article been then? Arsenal were playing at home against a newly promoted team who've yet to score in the league. Arsenal's only goal coming from a freak incident. Now they suddenly have substance because they've won 1 nil. Let them prove they've some substance over the course of 10 games or a season. Daft article. How about any article on Gyan or the Manchester clubs?

  • Comment number 14.

    Not quite sure how one can write off a team for the title with only 4 games in.

    If we remember two seasons back, the BBC and other pundits had Liverpool to win it because they came so close the season before. Insyead, Chelea took in on a canter. Last season, the general consensus was Chelsea would win it on a canter. In stead, United found gear and won in healthy measure.

    Arsenal have several issues to sort out not least bedding in the raft of new signings.

    On evidence and considering the fact that both Metersecker and Arteta are still barely getting use to the squad, I thought they did reasonably well.

    In fact, it seems particularly telling that the clamour for experience has finally been answered by Wenger when we are able to grind out a gritty win despite not being as yet (and understandably) at our best.

    That being said, there is reason then to believe that we will continue to improve. That being the case, I see no reason to believe why Arsenal will not be challenging for the title this season, let alone 'struggling for 4th.

    Afterall, isn't current general consensus that Liverpool will take the fourth spot and didn't they just slip to Stoke?

    The season is never as clear cut and the sooner football writers stop making these lame predictions, the better IMO.;)

  • Comment number 15.

    Rebuilds?! really? Not sure that i have seen anything to suggest that arsenal suddenly have any substance.

    I think Mertesacker was bought 2 seasons too late. would have helped you continue on pushing forward a couple of years ago. arteta the same. These are players that arsenal have been linked wioth over the last 2-3 seasons and now wenger buys them when they are on a downward slope? Mertesacker will get ripped apart by any striker with decent movement. He is not quick enough. Arteta is a decent player but with his injury problems you will be lucky to keep him fit all season. Benayoun is the same, good player and was disappointed when he left Liverpool but after his previous season with chelsea and the form he has shown recently i am delighted that we got rid of him!

    @ 13

    why would we want ANOTHER blog about the Manchester clubs? out of the last 10 blogs that Phil has done 3 have been about United, 3 about arsenal, 3 about england and 1 about Everton. And the one's before that were all about Man city.

    i do agree though that an article on Gyan, or the troubles that seem to be appearing at sunderland, would have been much better!

    @ 14

    I think you are kidding yourself that Arsenal are going to challenge for the title. I personally think they will struggle to get 5th. i don't ever remember a team being thrashed 8-2 and then going on to win, or challenge for, the title!

    And yes Liverpool may have slipped to stoke, with some poor refereeing decisions and a lot of bad luck. On another day we would have beaten them about 5-0! but that is the nature of the Premiership. Thats why it is the best League in the world. Because any team can beat anyone else!

  • Comment number 16.

    @14 arsonwenger

    "Afterall, isn't current general consensus that Liverpool will take the fourth spot and didn't they just slip to Stoke?"


    I saw this and thought I had better just mention that Arsenal are yet to play Stoke at the Britannia, which we all know is Arsenal's favourite fixture!!

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 16

    Good thought!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I don't see the big deal in Fabregas leaving Arsenal. It has seemed inevitable for a while now, during that time the new rising star of England has lit the team in Wilshire. As far as I am concerned Barcelona splashed out on the wrong star midfielder and Arsenal have the better prospect. Without doubt Fabregas was a big loss, but it's not the end of Arsenal's regular CPL place.

    Once Arsenal get a few decent results on the board they will be fine and the turbulence of the summer will be forgotten.

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 18

    i don't think anyone is saying that just because Fabregas has gone thats the reason they won't be in the champions League next year.

    The reason they won't be in the CL next year is because they are not good enough. With or without Fab this year i don't think they would have got in to the CL spots. The other teams around them have strengthened so much more. Man city will challeng for the title, Man utd will probably win the title, Chelsea with be there or thereabouts and Liverpool look like a much better side than the last 2 years, still not in the same class as Man Utd or City but they are getting much closer to chelsea!

  • Comment number 20.

    15. At 02:21 11th Sep 2011, Liverpaul85 wrote:

    Thats why it is the best League in the world. Because any team can beat anyone else!

    Er... that's what happens in every single other league in the world. By your comment I'm guessing you don't even follow the Championship, League 1 or League 2, let alone any other league outside England.

    Stoke beating Liverpool was last season's 13th-place finishers beat last season's 6th-placed finishers. Hardly particularly shocking, is it?

    When I read these blogs I seriously think that many of the contributors have just been watching their first football match.

  • Comment number 21.

    Does make me laugh, Phil being criticised for doing an Arsenal blog, he was sent to that game! What do you expect him to report on? A game he never saw and was miles away from? :S

    C'mon on people, criticise constructively but having a go for which match he was sent to isn't good enough.

  • Comment number 22.

    This blog continues to baffle me.

    How can the BBC's "chief football writer" continue to get away with saying nothing in particular on these blogs? I keep searching for value in these pieces but I just don't find any. They're not journalism; I don't learn anything new by reading them - it's not like you have any inside info that the average football fan does not. They're not football analysis either. What are they? What is the purpose of this blog?

    Who is Phil McNulty anyway? I looked you up on Wikipedia - nothing. What are your credentials? Are you an ex-player? Do you have coaching badges? Were you ever involved in any strategic planning for a football club? Or are you just a journalist? If so, then you should probably stick to journalism instead of writing opinionated pieces about what top-notch coaches with years of experience should or should not do, irrespective of whether or not your opinions happen to be correct. I guess you could earn that right with investigative journalism. For example, you could try and find solid data on why Arsenal haven't bought this season instead of speculating or, worse yet, simply stating that fact. But you don't even do that. Just shabby work all over.

    What is with this strategy of appointing nobodies to write blogs that ideally should be bursting with expert opinion and knowledge? Ben Dirs blogs on the Rugby World Cup, and he has probably never played it in his life, not even for fun. Tom Fordyce's athletics blogs cannot be recommended to even a novice. The average 606 Liga regular, when 606 was still around, knew more about the Spanish Liga than Phil Minshull. I don't get it.....

  • Comment number 23.

    There are some huge plonkers who comment about arsenal. Wenger doesnt spend enough, wenger needs leaders etc etc and he goes and buys them, Arsenal win and some still complain. They were not pretty in parts in the second half, but they gotthe 3 points. They were affected by the utd defeat, and i think all that any arsenal fan could hope for is the win. When we have a full squad playing i think we will be fine. Remember arsenal flew to a great start last year and faded terrribly. It is too early to write them off, and i for one am happy with todays win. And for the plonkers who say Santos was dodgy, ah he didnt play!

  • Comment number 24.

    @ 23 Bobbyrouge

    Not sure that Arsene has bought leaders. Mertesacker isn't much of a leader from what i could gather Koscielny was dictating the back 4, santos isn't a leader, Arteta isn't....where exactly are all these leaders?

    I really don't think arsenal will do well this season, i think they are going to have a similar season to Liverpool did last year but without the really strong finish (bar the 2 final games)

    I just don't think that Wenger has bought particuarly well. I think he has panic bought, much like a few other teams (Andy Carroll springs to mind!! lol).

    I would prefer Arsenal to keep playing the way they did last year because it was excellent to watch. I know most people will say that they would prefer substance, and i would agree if it was my team, but as i'm not an arsenal fan i would rather see the passing game come back!!

  • Comment number 25.

    12.At 01:12 11th Sep 2011, sirHellsBells wrote:
    Maybe it is time to lay off Wenger, we can clearly see across both La Liga & The Premier League that there are about 5 clubs (Barca, Real, Utd, City & Chelsea) who are now operating on a different level to the rest of the sides in their leagues.

    We have often criticised La Liga for allowing Real & Barcelona to dominate but after witnessing the one-sidedness of City & Utd's opening 4 games & Chelsea's ability to spend big to compete that the competition in the league is deterioating quickly.


    So im gathering from your piece you think it's a bad thing for football that these "super" clubs are dominating football nowadays - and i do share your view to an extent.

    What i'd like to point out though is that when Sir Alex Ferguson took over the reigns at Old Trafford, Man United were light years away from being a "super club."

    For a football manager, you take over a club and your ultimate goal would be to dominate your division/europe/world etc. Sir Alex took over a team who hardly found themselves in the top half of englands top tier,had an OK ground with a decent enough history (euro champions in 68 plus a few league titles) , and turned them into (arguably) the biggest club in the world with quite possibly the greatest club ground in the world.

    The point im trying to make is, we shouldnt be blaming Man utd for "ruining" english football, we should simply be sitting back and applauding the fact Manchester United went from not much to world dominate due to one mans genius.Sir Alex Ferguson.

    However Other clubs like Man City,chelsea,barcelona,real madrid (the last 2 funded from their own governments) who buy their way to the top, it could be argued they are ruining football.

  • Comment number 26.

    Criticizing the "new Arsenal" after one game? Nice move. Floks, let's criticize in January, if need be. Not after one game. C'mon, as football aficionados we all know a team is not build in one game.

  • Comment number 27.

    What is the point of playing the 38 games when apparently it's so clear what the outcome is in May after 4 games in August/Sept?

    Or are you not considered a proper reporter if you can't offer a prophecy?

  • Comment number 28.

    bit disrespectful to swansea to start critisisin arsenals 1-0 win.

  • Comment number 29.

    Time for Wenger and all Arsenal fans to take a deep breath. The season is long and can take many twists and turns. Not going to get my hopes up that Gooners can lift any trophies but should be able to stay out of the bottom third.
    Wenger's youth project had more to with doing things on the cheap than anything else. Why quibble last year over a couple of mil when Arsenal had a chance to get Swartzer?
    Hoping Wenger has seen the error of his ways, or at least the board has put him on notice.

  • Comment number 30.

    GuusMourEss wrote:
    Arsenal were lucky with the goal. I still think they won't make it to the Champions League next season

    Arsenal is a football club whose style of play is admired by many. The game of football, it should be said, is very unpredictable. I agree with the contributor who I have cited above. It will be a miracle should Arsenal make it to the Champions' League spot next season for the following reasons:
    1. It is a club that has hardly shown maturity and experience. Let us take the former in to account. I am yet to know of a side that gets three red cards in three games. What does that mean? Maturity?
    2. You have to spend should you wish to win. I must add, spend wisely like Sir Alex Ferguson. Arsenal may be spending but not too wisely by the quality of players they get each season.

    I must say this in conclusion, being an Arsenal fan may be dangerous because you never know which team may turn up for a game: it could be a stylish and winning team (like the one which defeated Chelsea and ManUnited at the Emirates respectively last season. One may be in to watching a disappointing team. Ask the fans who went to Old Trafford just a fortnight ago.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think it's a little disrespectful to refer to Mikel Arteta as a Cesc Fabregas lite. The man is a quality player in his own right who may not be at Fabregas' skill level, but he is more experienced and might -will- be exactly what Arsenal need as time will tell.

  • Comment number 32.

    The game wasn't our best, and Swansea are newly promoted so I think that any criticisms and compliments about the new team are a bit premature. That said, I think that Arsenal are heading in the right direction. I'm not so optimistic to expect any type of sliverware besides from the Carling and FA Cups. But I feel like Arsenal should manage a top four finish...hopefully.

    As for Man Utd, they certainly look strong but I hope we all remember what Chelsea was doing to teams at the beginning of last season. This season might be the most unpredictable in terms of top four places. But I'm guessing United or City for first or second and Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal to go for the last 2 spots.

  • Comment number 33.

    Arsenal won ugly. If they had done that during the last few years they could have achieved more. What is the point of fantastic football without the results?

  • Comment number 34.

    Judgements passed after only 4 games! Oh Arsenal cant win the title,oh Arsenal cant make top 4...blah blah blah. So who will make top 4? Liverpool? Liverpool without Suarez is average imo.

  • Comment number 35.

    Arsenal can definately not win the title, but Liverpool are Overated, because they bought British every pundit is hyping them. They wont win any away match, except Swansea or Wigan. spurs for Fifth, Liverpool for 6th again. And those saying Chelsea started well last year have failed to compare the Manchester Clubs Bench with that of last year's chelsea's bench dat was useless before January. Man United still await Vidic, Fletcher, Rafael, Welbeck, Cleverley is injured, Owen injured berbatov on the bench, not to mention Giggs, Park even Podga. Fabio too on the bench so i only see City stopping United, the rest dont have Squad dept. Torres will still injure, also Lampard, Terry and as seen last season dey cant cope without injuries. Arsenal just edges Liverpool though

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 Liverpool with Suarez and Gerrard are average. Cara bad defender, Charley adam is a joke, Henderson is worse, Bellamy?lmao. Downing can never be top class, Lucas is Lucas, Johnson cant defend, Enrique cant defend, Agger? lmao. Reina is just slighly ok. Only Suarez will get into the top Six bench

  • Comment number 37.

    This was a win Arsenal needed, the scoreline was always going to be irrelevant but after the beating at Old Trafford and the massive squad changes (by Arsene Wenger standards anyway), they just need the win.

    Disappointed at the Arsenal "fans" who left early at a time when their team needed the fans the most.

  • Comment number 38.

    OK, so Man U and Man City are racing out the gates (if you ask Chelsea they would say that means nothing) but, they do look impressive.

    As for Chelsea, REALLY? apart from Mata, who is outperforming? a 2-1 over Sunderland is just about as scary as a 1-0 for Arsenal over Swansea!

    Liverpool have Suarez. Anything else comes to mind?

    Tottenham....forget it.

    So Arsenal should be OK for a CL spot and maybe a good surge for the title. This is based on the absent players such as Ghervino, Song, Wilshere, ..... To underestimate their contribution when playing is nonsense, and 2 of these guys are not injured just unlucky to be harshly carded.

  • Comment number 39.

    @35 Yeah really inciteful, impartial comment.

    So much talk on these blogs of club loyalty clouding judgment and here is a prime example! Please don't comment on teams you obviously have no ideas about!

    I will agree that without Suarez the attacking threat does look average but the funny thing about it is....WE DO HAVE SUAREZ!!! so therefore its better than average! Far better!!

    To say that Carra is a bad defender after he's played over 700 times for a team that has won pretty much everything it can except for the PL, is just a mindless idiotic comment! Get over your club loyalty and take a proper look!

    And what kind of argument is "Lucas is Lucas"?? Reina is just slightly ok? Agger can't defend? so how have Liverpool kept the most clean sheets in like 2 out of the last 4 seasons?!

    Agree that Downing isn't top class, but he is a decent player and he fits into the system we want to play. Enrique is quality and will be spain's left back by the end of this season, mark my words! Johnson isn't even our 1st choice right back at the moment and hasn't played this season so why have you mentioned him? Bellamy is a squad player. Henderson was regarded by many as the next big thing at the start of last season until he had a dip in form.

    Keep coming with the Liverpool Jibes if you want....we can defend our club....and we'll defend it together because we know you'll never walk alone!!!!!

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 38

    Harshly carded?! i think you'll find that Gervinho completely deserved his red card, even Arsene "i didn't see anything" Wenger said hasn't complained about his red card, only that Joey barton should have been sent off as well.

  • Comment number 41.

    24. At 04:28 11th Sep 2011, Liverpaul85 wrote:

    Not sure that Arsene has bought leaders. Mertesacker isn't much of a leader from what i could gather Koscielny was dictating the back 4, santos isn't a leader, Arteta isn't....where exactly are all these leaders? I just don't think that Wenger has bought particuarly well. I think he has panic bought, much like a few other teams (Andy Carroll springs to mind!! lol).

    Seriously mate? Just because people don't play in England does not make them rubbish!! I bet you never heard of Suarez before he joined Liverpool. Or Chicharito before he joined Man United. Or Aguero before he joined Man City. So give all of us a break mate.

    You have the nerve to slate the 26 year old 75 capped German defender? Last I checked, Per handled Suarez, Rooney, Forlan, Messi, Aguero, etc etc. without any problem in South Africa 2010. He constantly handled the german strikers who put a trouncing on us as well as on Argentina. So please, do not dare slate Mertesacker...and I don't say this because I am an Arsenal fan. If you are a real football fan, have some respect!

    And Arsenal has no leaders? last time I checked they have the Welsh Captain (Ramsey), the Russian Captain (Arshavin), the German vice captain (Mertesacker), the Isreali Captain (Benayoun), the South Korean Captain (Chu-Young). So obviously you know leaders better than all these countries' players or coaches selecting these Arsenal players as their captains. Again, I suggest, please reflect before you post. Please.

  • Comment number 42.


    I enjoy reading your blogs, keep up the good work.

    It must be difficult maintaining your enthusiasm when your blogs are read and commented upon by vitriolic imbecils!

  • Comment number 43.

    There's just no pleasing some people, Arsenal missing half their first team(Vermalean,Song,Diaby,Gervinho & Wilshere) beat a competitive Swansea and the doubters are quick to find negatives. As for all the deluded predictions of where teams will finish come end of season, this has become a perennial problem in England. Last season after 4 games united had clearly struggled but see who won the title in the end? Chelsea were destroying all opposition talk was who would stay with them for second place. But the most deluded of views have got to be about Liverpool. Over the past 3 or 4 seasons they are talked of as genuine title contenders, fail dismally only to be labelled title winners next season after one or two buys. Meanwhile, Arsenal are always said to struggle to qualify for champions league but always seem to manage that, 14yrs in a row.

    Surely if the above has taught us anything, its never to write blogs writing-off Wenger, and don't put your money on Liverpool. The results of past 5 or 6 seasons back that up. Even if Arsenal were playing well in their first few games with united struggling, that wouldn't make me rush to make stupid predictions about who would finish in top four. Having said that, I don't personally think Arsenal have done too badly; you just have to look at the first 3 teams they played, and all games they played with 10men. I have seen Liverpool fans/manager trying to blame refs because of that one penalty at Stoke, they must be kidding.
    I suspect there is a perverse desire in England to see Wenger fail, hence the media going into overdrive at the slightest hint of a problem. It's so bad that there are hardly any positive reviews about Arsenal even when they are playing foreign opposition(Udinese recently, & sure it'll he same against Dortmund this week). I'm willing to bet my last penny we will see articles talking about how far Dortmund have come and the obstacles they have had to overcome to get here, and nothing positive about Arsenal. But the truth is the man has performed miracles with the budget he has and given who the competition is. That Arteta had to take a pay cut to join Arsenal tells you all you need to know.

  • Comment number 44.


    You are right,

    I meant that if the ref had seen Barton drag him of the field by the scruff of the neck then maybe it would have ended there with only Barton sent off. Unfortunately the ref had turned already because Barton played on. Basically Ghervino got an education, still harsh.

  • Comment number 45.

    The new signings did relatively well, several top players missing, you don't win 75 caps for Germany if your rubbish, their team has out performed ours for the last seems like a million years. Please stop talking rubbish.

  • Comment number 46.

    What substance? Swansea play well, and are the only side in Britain to match possession figures upwards of 60% apart from Arsenal, see this;

    They are the new and better blackpool. Liverpool fans make me laugh though, I can understand utd fans crowing, but you lot? Glories from 20 yrs ago? Even us goons dont crow about going whole season unbeaten even though the players that achieved that are still alive and still playing.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    Thanks for all the early comments.

    As I said in the blog, this was just a game Arsenal had to win without caring how they did it. Something which was achieved.

    Arsenal fans, how did you think your new boys shaped up yesterday? Arteta showed promise. How do you think he will link with Wilshere and how about a central defensive partnership of Mertesacker and Vermaelen (eventually!)? Does that work for you?

    Some positives but, and I know many Arsenal fans will not like this, I think your aim now is just eating Liverpool and Spurs to the top four and trying to win a cup. Manchester United and Manchester City look so far ahead in terms of squad strength. Feel free to come back at me if you think I'm wrong.

    I also agreed with Wenger about confidence. No matter what the strength of the side, an 8-2 beating does serious damage.

    And Swansea supporters. Another good performance without a goal. How concerned are you by that or is it something that Brendan Rodgers can correct? Liked the look of so much of your play yesterday.

  • Comment number 49.

    Highs & lows ...tension, drama ...isn't that what being a Gooner is all about? The post-mortem can occur in May - until then, buckle up!!

  • Comment number 50.

    Comment #22 is bang on.

    These blogs never reveal anything, say anything, or analyse anything. Arsenal won a slightly scrappy game. They did some transfer deadline deals. Wenger is under a bit of pressure. That's literally it, greatly embellished to hide the lack of substance.

  • Comment number 51.

    38 games minus 4 = 34 games remaining and yet some people can tell that only Man U & Man City can win the league. Feels good to know there are lots of people who consider themselves prophets nowadays.

  • Comment number 52.

    You can talk about good for confidence, but now they go to the German champions followed by a trip to Ewood, which perhaps wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't an early Saturday game after an away game in Europe. If the win in Udine wasn't the turning point, yesterday certainly wasn't either. Work to be done there, especially if they want to compete with us for 4th.

    We may have lost yesterday, but our performance are well above Arsenal's, Tottenham's, and arguably Chelsea's, at the moment. Plus we have no Europe to worry about and a recently put together squad that can only improve as they get more game time together. You talk about Arsenal being in a race for 4th, they've got to show they are good enough for that first.

  • Comment number 53.

    about time wenger started rebuilding!

  • Comment number 54.

    comment 38

    How you can compare beating an established premier league team away from home (chelsea sunderland) to struggling at home against a newly promoted side (arsenal- swansea) baffles me.

    If youd watch the game youd have seen that Chelsea had a much more assured display than previous games this season, great movement, loads of chances and barely a chance for sunderland the whole game, until the 93rd minute

    so i wouldnt write off Chelsea's challenge on that basis

  • Comment number 55.



  • Comment number 56.

    Is it just me who is wondering what this article is all about? arsenal were gifted a goal, posed little threat outside of that and were pushed by back a swansea who haven't scored a goal! if swansea had any sort of finishing they would have left with a point. arsenal still looked extremely fragile and lacked a great deal of spark and better teams will hurt them badly. it wasn't a blood and guts performance, more being let off the hook by a team who really are bereft of confidence

  • Comment number 57.

    Liverpool fans and Phil are big jokes. anyone who thinks Liverpool has a better squad than Arsenal or Spurs are totally Deluded. Liverpool suck away from home and thier British Players that contribute Nothing to thier respective Country are Overated because they are british. For God sakes they even think they are better than Chelsea? its still 6th for Liverpool, dats if stoke doesnt finish 6th. Man United Won the league and got to the Champions League final, so your Idea that not playing Europe will help is just a Myth. All the teams playing Europe bar Arsenal has a stronger second Eleven than Liverpool's First

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry is this the Arsenal website?? What with constant Arsenal-related blogs plus the BBC's current obsession with any inconsequential nonsense that Jack Wilshere 'tweets' I'm starting to wonder.

  • Comment number 59.

    In reply to post 25, yes I do think having a huge advantage over you rivals in sport damaging in the long term.

    Ferguson has indeed built up Utd to be by far & away the most profitable (Real's income may be higher but they never turn a profit) football club & would blow away every other side if it were not for the La Liga tv deal and the two billionaire teams in our own league.

    However where Alex has been fortunate is that the recent influx of huge sums of money & the cartel that is the Champions league has meant that no one else is able to compete financially with a few top sides & when FFP kicks in this will become even harder to level out the playing field.

    Do we really want to see a sport that umcompetitive over the long term? Maybe a Europe wide salary cap would be good.

    I still think Arsene gets a hard time by being judged on his pre Roman Abramovish/Man city days when through shrewd signings & a inherited back 5 he was able to compete with Utd. Those days have gone & unless Arsenal went on a suicidal spending spree they wont return until sanity returns to footballs finances.

    My clubs owner Ashley get (some deserved at times) stick for nit pumping even more money into a blackhole by throwing millions on a player who may move you from 10th to 8th if you are lucky, realism needs to come back in to see that most sides have zero chance of winning the league no matter how good their manager is.

  • Comment number 60.

    As an outsider looking in, it's not difficult to see that there is something missing from the Arsenal side. Much as I admire Wenger, in my ignorance I suspect he's missing a good no.2 who can ask questions of him without undermining him, and the boardroom loss of David Dein and his challenge and support? Don't want to see him go, but he has to freshen up, not be so dogmatic, and challenge himself about the changes he can make while sticking to his admirable principles. If you stand still, effectively you go backwards in a competitive world.

    As to Swansea, there is the basis of a good Premiership side there. Unfortunately if they can't score goals, we'll never know. I doubt they'll get things out of perspective and do silly things, but they will come under pressure to do just that. It's a test of Brendan Rodgers coaching skills to see whether he can manufacture goals from the material available, and I sincerely hope they can, as their type of football could be an asset to this league.

  • Comment number 61.

    Not a vintage performance from us by any stretch of the imagination but the points were very welcome. You could be excused for over-reacting when you add this performance to a poor one against Liverpool and a disasterous one against United but what they all have in common is the absence of a large proportion of our first choice eleven. The damage done by the United result mostly falls on a bunch of C list players and therefore will do less harm than might initially be assumed.

    Huge step up in performance needed for Tuesday night or we will be on the wrong end of another thrashing but we have key players coming back for that game. We will not win the league this year but for those writing us off for challenging for fourth place take a look again at our second half performance in Udine, we are still a really good team when we have our first choice players available (and we didn't have young Jack that night) the problem remains the same we don't have the depth of the top teams or even some of the also rans. Our first eleven can still beat United, City or Chelsea but take a few of our key players out and they can destroy us.

  • Comment number 62.

    If you are one of those people (plenty such contributors in this blog) who think it is too early to label Manchester United and City as clear title favourites, have a look at their substitutes, and your preferred team's respective starting XI. How do you think your current starting XI will match up against Manchester United or Manchester City's current substitutes? It's a rhethorical question.

    As far as the argument of age and caps in an international side, clearly those Arsenal fans know next to nothing about German football. The position of centre back has been painful for them ever since the early 1990's. Someone like Per Mertesacker has simply filled in, because nobody else has been available. He is quite pathetic in 1 on 1 situations due to his lack of pace and technical ability. The pace of the English game will make all this apparent sooner than some would like.

    This summer was a perfect time for a revamp at the Emirates, a new start without the burnt out Wenger. But I guess the balance sheet is more important than pride.

  • Comment number 63.

    Why are people talking about Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City? This is about Arsenal and Swansea, it would be nice if some fans could just stay on topic for once instead of going off in a rant if their team doesn't get all the limelight all the time.

    Personally, I think Arsenal looked edgy and yes the previous games will have played on their mind but also they knew they were up against a team that that can play very good football. That german bloke in defence for arsenal was not as bad as some people may have suggested and it appeared that Swansea found their feet and that resulted in Arteta being played out of the game, this is what that welsh does... they play your boys out of the game and they are frighteningly efficient at doing it, alarmingly efficient in fact. Most teams in the Premier League are right now worrying about the game that see's them score their goal... it may spur on Swansea to commit more players to run into the box when the crosses are being put in and that could spell big danger.

    I cannot help but feel that this Swansea side are only missing that first goal, and when it comes the floodgates might come crashing open. Although they might want to see what Leroy Lita can do with a full game under his belt, their new player Graham does a job of getting in to the right spaces but his finishing has been off the mark of what he was capable of last season, lower division or not... this guy appeared to be putting away those chances last year.

    I think Swansea will survive the season.

  • Comment number 64.

    Blue sky thinking again!
    If yesterday's Arsenal team had been up against Manu they would have shipped eight just like last time.
    Of the new signings who saw action, Arteta is the only one where the jury is still out.
    Benayoun does what he does and is not good enough.
    Mertesacker is slow and ponderous and that's not going to change.
    The comment about his needing help against the ferrets of the PL is absolutely ludicrous.
    None of the top centre-backs need help, so why should we make do with one who does?
    Especially one who cost £10m.
    Let's face it, yesterday's performance and look of the team bode ill for the rest of the season.
    The same old slow build-ups, lateral and backward passing, fruitless attempts at running at players by the likes of Walcott and Arshavin and woeful presensce in the opponents' area.
    I've said it before and I'll repeat it: unless there is a big shake-up at Arsenal we're going to be looking at mid-table postions for a long time.
    We missed the opportunity for a new start in the Summer and we'll now have to wait until January, which means another season with no silverware and more of our top players wanting out!

  • Comment number 65.

    1-0 against a team just being promoted, yes fighting hard to get something out of the game, but the good days are gone.

    We can be lucky if we manage to beat Spurs for 5th spot and the Europa League. The days of automatic Champions League qualification and playing with the elite of European Football are over. Man U, Man C, Chelsea and Liverpool moved one, while we have a manager suffering while the transfer window is open and he doesn`t want to spend money on quality players.

    Well, Wenger will suffer even more in what seems to be a very long and hard season. Definately a good thing for someone who doesn`t do his homework and is supported by an aged board of directors stuck in the past.

    By the look of things the Champions League campaign might come to an early end as well.

    Talking up our chances of winning the league or CL in recent years kept Wenger occupied, nowadays it`s the suffering. Sorry, le Professeur no sympathy form us suffering supporters. Your teaching and preaching is outdated, so better never write that book as it could be another big bore.

  • Comment number 66.

    Do not understand the substance over style comment. Arsenal have won a lot of games comfortably in style in the past, how is scrapping a one nil victory over Swansea substance ?

  • Comment number 67.

    Whether the game was dull or lacked style, Arsenal won the game and that is good for Wenger and the squad. We have Dortmund in CL and a win at Emirates was good for morale.

    Patiences guys, there are more games to come and the squad needs to integrate the new signings. i know Wenger was wrong to buy at such a panic, losing out in Hazard, M'Villa and other experienced signings who could have featured during the preseason!

    Anyway, water under the bridge, let us move. about who will be in the top four, let us wait and see how teams will play and get points. as for you predictors, that is you bread and butter, do not stop that!

  • Comment number 68.

    The old arguement that you can only beat the team in front of you does'nt seem to apply here.
    Ok, the winning goal was a wee bit fortunate,but considering my beloved Utd put Arsenal to the sword in the previous game,any win,no matter who against or how it was achieved,is a good result.
    My only concern for my friends from Arsenal is the bedding in of so many new players at the same time,but minutes on the pitch will solve that.
    There seems to be too much anylising about Arsenals games. The unfortunate loss to Liverpool, coupled with players leaving has left Arsenal a few points adrift for the moment..but you know that they will play most teams off the park with their football,and because of that,whilst they may not challenge for the title..dismiss them at your peril.
    They will be fine.
    I leave it to others to compare Utd and citeh.
    But while the noisy neighbours are earning plaudits from people on here,the record tells me they have played Spurs...but also,Wigan,Bolton and Swansea. With due respect to the latter three teams..they will not feature in the hardest games of the season competition.

  • Comment number 69.

    As a Swans Fan, I thought we were very good yesterday and we thoroughly deserved a point. It shows he far we have come to go to Arsenal and lose 1-0 and be disappointed. We have improved every game and mentioned above creating chances, after 4 games, we have gone away to Man City and Arsenal. We have had 2 home draws v Wigan and Sunderland.

    Next up is West Brom and Chelsea, but after that we play Stoke, Norwich, Wolves and Bolton. Certainly would like to see the points rolling into double figures after those games, and the goals closing in on that as well.

  • Comment number 70.

    @ 57
    Spot on

  • Comment number 71.

    The issue will be for Swansea is getting players away from the top-4 or 5 big-spenders in the Championship as not many players will, I think, sign on for a rough 6 months in West Wales when they can have a pretty comfy 6 months in London or the South coast - it's the same for Toon and the other NE clubs - high wages to get players in reasonably uncomfy places. Arsenal thought might just get 4th but I think they are more likely to finish 6th.

  • Comment number 72.

    The fact that a 1-0 home win over Swansea is seen as a big result is all you need to know about the decline of Arsenal over the summer.

    Fourth with be a major achievement for them.

  • Comment number 73.

    #62&64 spot on
    Problem is not the players, but the playing style, tactics and formation. Wenger, turns world class players into average lazy players. The only thing we do well is dropping into boxes and receive passes, when what we should be doing is attacking with pace and lines of running to drag average defenders out of the comfort zone. Guess what type of attack our defenders train against every training session , and we wonder why we can not handle the direct, pacey and purposeful counter attacks from teams like manu, chelsea and Barca. Matter of time before we turn the workhorse Gervinho and Park into another v persie, shamakh, vela or arshavin, basically an extension of the midfield in order to keep the ball, WITHOUT ANY SUBSTANCE. The press will rave over our playing style, but Fergie will laugh his ass off. Wenger and his refusal to let go of the past is our problem. He knows his time with the supporters is up, hence the panick buying, making him no better than an ordinary African dictator, refusing to let go of power, even with the knowledge that he is no longer the best way forward for our club/country. The project failed, and we have been patient long enough.

  • Comment number 74.

    I know Gunners fans will disagree but Wenger has not been the success at Arsenal people think. In 15 years, with one of the best teams in Europe at any one time, he has won just 3 league titles, 4 FA Cups & not one Champions League title. For most other clubs this would be a great record but not at Arsenal, not with the players they have had under Wenger. And I can't see any trophies coming this year either although I do think they'll get a top 4 league place again.

  • Comment number 75.

    Plus Vermaelen (Belgium captain and former Ajax captain) and Rosicky (Czech Republic captain)!!

  • Comment number 76.

    I'm Phil McNulty and I'm BBC Sport's chief Arsenal writer.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm an Arsenal fan and I have to agree with most of the people commenting on how much you are writing about Arsenal at the moment Phil, give it a rest and just allow the team time to recover and gel.

    In the meantime you would do well to focus more on Man Utd and Man City, who to be fair have started the season in unbelievable fashion...

  • Comment number 78.


    Phil, I'm an Arsenal fan and I'm going to answer your questions, rather than just disrespect you like some people on here...

    "Arsenal fans, how did you think your new boys shaped up yesterday? Arteta showed promise. How do you think he will link with Wilshere and how about a central defensive partnership of Mertesacker and Vermaelen (eventually!)? Does that work for you?"

    I think Arteta was good yesterday and he seems to have settled in quickly, which was expected as he is an experienced PL player. He seems a good replacement for Fabregas in that he is a similar sort of player. However, I'm not sure playing Arteta with Ramsey will be massively successful, I think they might be too similar. Wilshere will obviously play when he is fit and I think it will be either Arteta or Ramsey who should play with him, not both. I think Ramsey will link better with Wilshere than Arteta will, at least until Arteta and Wilshere are given some playing time together.

    As for the defence, I like the signing of Mertesacker, but from yesterday's evidence I don't think he's fully settled yet. I think Vermaelen should always play when fit because he is a class act, and then pair him with whoever is best suited for the match at hand, ie. Mertesacker should play against Stoke for example, as Koscienly is smaller and much quicker than Mertesacker. Knowing Arsenal, however, I doubt Wenger will get the luxury of such selection dilemmas very often this season due to the injuries which seem to follow Arsenal players.

    "Some positives but, and I know many Arsenal fans will not like this, I think your aim now is just eating Liverpool and Spurs to the top four and trying to win a cup. Manchester United and Manchester City look so far ahead in terms of squad strength. Feel free to come back at me if you think I'm wrong."

    I agree with your statement that United and City look so far ahead in terms of squad strength; it's what they can get with their reputation and money. However, I think your statement that it's our 'aim' to finish fourth is just ridiculous. The fans may expect only a fourth place finish, but a club of Arsenal's calibre and quality will go out to win every match and so will 'aim', however unlikely, to win all four competitions. Do you think Wenger will tell his team not to worry about certain matches because they're only aiming for fourth? Of course not.

    Feedback is welcome :)

  • Comment number 79.

    Arsenal shouldn't be having to scrap a result at Home to Swansea. Scrapping a result is going to Stoke away and winning 1-0, which not many teams will do this season.

    Wenger is a great manager but the board being tight with money (no matter what they say) and his stubborness to think that he could make any young talent the best player in the world.

    Arsenal need a leader in CM, regardless whether 6 players wore international armbands last week, not a single one is vocal. RVP has been given it to make his stay. Arsenal just lack class as well. Why do some Arsenal fans think that Arteta is a good purchase? He is old, slow, injury prone. Yet a player like Elia who recently went Juventus is young, quick and has a good cross/comes inside and scores. He would of fit straight into the Arsenal team instead of Arshavin or Walcott. Even Wright-Phillips would of been a better signing. Mertesacker I think is a good signing even if he is a bit slow. They needed someone like Van Der Wiel for RB. I also think although he young once Wilshere comes back he will become a leader for Arsenal, someone who is a bit cocky and not afraid to square up to players.

    All is not lost for Arsenal yet, maybe for this season it will be a struggle. BTW I am a United fan, great result yesterday - and anyone who says Kevin Davies is 'clumsy' what a load of rubbish, he slammed his studs into Cleverly's leg, and then tried to do the same to Evra. If he has done that to an Arsenal player this blog would be about that!

  • Comment number 80.

    Gooner here

    i suspect Phil is a lil miffed that he could not blog another down beat opinion on everything connected with Arsenal if its any comfort, I'm sure you will have another opportunity soon.

    as for the game it was a win! and as such 3 points. Well done to Swansea and i think its dis-repectfull to not give praise for their part in the game and also to assume just because they are new to the PL they would automatically be a walk over. So well done to them for playing Football!

    as for the new boys etc, i also am a lil concerned at what does appear to be panic buying but at least we have some experience heads and as such " options " thats assuming they all remain fit! ( big question mark ) for sure.

    as for who is going to win the PL all this bunny about manchester is just that and as for the liverpool airhead bragging on here may i remind him and any others of his kind

    the seasons only just started !!!!!!!

  • Comment number 81.

    1. Worst Clearance ever!!!

    2. TOP 4 here we come! People can't handle the fact we'll beat Liverpool for 4th. I say relax, its not like its a trophy is it!

  • Comment number 82.

    is it just me or did Arsenal just 'grind-out-a-result'???????

    How often are we told that they don't have the ability to do so, i think Wenger's made some good signings and Arsenal could once again have a realistic chance of a domestic cup and a good run in the CL. However i'm going to be realistic... the title is out of the question.

  • Comment number 83.

    "Some positives but, and I know many Arsenal fans will not like this, I think your aim now is just eating Liverpool and Spurs to the top four and trying to win a cup.


    i am an arsenal fan and i think you're spot on, the title is not ours to even think of - maybe i can rethink that statement in 3 months time but otherwise...
    and i think the signings are going to really help Arsenal achieve a cup as thye have experience

  • Comment number 84.

    Here we go again with the doomsday pundits about Arsenal not going to make the top four. Six years in a row they have said this and yet Arsenal has made the top four comfortably. Stop playing this broken record for we are sick and tired of it.
    They got the three points on Saturday and that's all that matters. I would have been happy with a draw considering the fact that they only had a day to train together for this game due to international commitments. Swansea had very little internationals and therefore had almost two weeks to prepare for the game.
    When all the new signings have the chance to play together ,then you judge them.
    With the players that have come in, winning the Premier league cannot be ruled out because we've only played 4 games. Let's reserve our judgement till later in the season.
    Man Utd are steam rolling teams just like Chelsea did last season before it came to a sudden halt.We have a long way to go yet.

  • Comment number 85.

    84. At 15:09 11th Sep 2011, A_FORCE_ONE wrote:


    spot on!

  • Comment number 86.

    Phil - "A win and clean sheet" Mr Hansen said on MOTD last night, is the best that Arsene Wenger could have hoped for following the thrashing his team got at the Theatre of Dreams (nightmares in Arsenal's case!!) last week. However the season is only 4 games old and as has been noted by Wenger confidence is quickly lost and slowly regained, so no one should get carried away, at Arsenal, or anywhere else for that matter.

    Whilst both Manchester clubs have set off at a tremendous rate, the Red Devils, seemingly being able to 'better' what their 'noisey neighbours' can achieve; however despite having strength in depth, both have things looming that can temper expectations. City are entering a new era (for them) by competing in the Champions league and whilst many of their players have had some personal experience of Europe (CL or UEFA cup) collectively it's a new venture for the club and its supporters. Whilst skill factors are not an issue, since City can field a team as 'high on talent' as any in Europe, however 'getting their collective heads' around the nuances of the competition, may well prove difficult. United's new batch of young talent looks great and remarkably mature, but already two of the 'young guns' Welbeck and Cleverley have suffered serious injury very early in the season and that could impact on the 'sweeping all before them' momentum they have been building in these early games.

    Chelsea seem to be 'feeling their way' forward to perhaps a new style under 'Jose M markII' and Liverpool are in better shape than they have been for years. But all managers, especially the old hands like SAF, AW and KD know there is a long way to go and things can change dramatically.

    Its not been a good start to the season for Arsenal, thats a fact, however their supporters can take some consolation from the knowledge that unlike previous years, when winning some silverware was almost a pre-requisite, this year no-ones waiting for the 'other shoe to drop' at the Emirates this season!

  • Comment number 87.

    Hi Phil,

    Did you get my comment. Was there some thing wrong with it?


  • Comment number 88.

    Well a big defender will help no end against some of the more physical opponents, Arteta, if he rediscovers his old form, could be very valuable. Arsenal still have some injuries and suspensions, and that will help strengthen the squad.
    I can still see Arsenal challenging Liverpool and perhaps Spurs for 4th.
    Looks as though the top three are United, City, Chelsea (that's not a prediction though), with Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs going for the remaining places. The season is by no means over, let alone in full swing, so let's see how everything settles, and by Christmas, things might be a little clearer. At that time we can also see the strength in depth at some of the clubs.

  • Comment number 89.

    Phil just in case you didn't know it's JACK WILSHERE!!

    Frimpong again looked very good in the game and alongside Wilshere and Ramsey Arsenal will have a very talented midfield. The problem is Arsenal don't really have wide men and also don't have a proper target man to aim for with crosses, so maybe a diamond formation in midfield with 2 strikers would be a better fit.

    -------Van Persie-----Walcott----------

    That's probably a more complete side than the side with the current formation.

  • Comment number 90.

    ......8-2 score would not have changed even if Gary Cahill played in that game for Arsenal.

    Keep the Arsenal blogs coming, Phil..I expect another when we are comfortably ahead of Liverpool. The difference is just 3 points...

  • Comment number 91.

    It was most important to get the win yesterday, although obviously a few more goals wouldn't have gone amiss. Worryingly, it seemed like a case of different players, same story, as once again Arsenal laboured at home and struggled to create chances. This 4-5-1 system is stale, and leaves van Persie isolated up top in the same way that Rooney was for England in the week.

    Watching United or City on match of the day, the amount of runners they get attacking balls into the box is astounding, especially compared with the one or two Arsenal get, and United in particular reaped their rewards with 4 goals from close range yesterday.

    Arteta started very well and displayed a very good range of passing. He tired yesterday but I think it's understandable that a player that's suffered from injuries isn't quite there fitness-wise yet. I think he'll be an important player for the club, keeping him off the treatment table is the priority.

    Mertesacker did generally pretty well, although he did get caught sleeping for Graham's chance (in the same way that Cahill did twice yesterday). He is slow, but his reading of the game can more than make up for that and the more he plays, particularly with Vermaelen rather than Koscielny, the better he'll get I think.

    Benayoun came on at a time when Arsenal were playing terribly, but I thought he looked quite lively and refreshing, without setting the game alight. Not enough to judge him on but people at Chelsea speak very highly of him.

    The worrying thing for me was the shape of the team yesterday: Swansea pressed very well when Arsenal were in possession, but were afforded far too much time in return. Frimpong was a bit ill-disciplined, particularly in the first half, but is only young and will learn in time. For me Gibbs was awful, caught out of position and behind his centre backs playing strikers onside time and time again - thankfully it wasn't exploited. Arshavin struggles to beat his man and offers nothing defensively, and Walcott was shut out after the first half hour.

    There are players to come back (Wilshere, Song, Gervinho, Vermaelen, Santos) and I'm sure that, even against tricky opposition, this week's trip to Dortmund will be a more open game which will suit Arsenal. However, I think it's vital that Wenger seriously rethinks this current system which is frankly far too defensive to play at home to a team like Swansea, and resulted in us scoring far too few goals at home last year, or else risk getting frustrated on a weekly basis like the tail end of last season.

  • Comment number 92.

    To talk about Swansea briefly, they are defensively very solid for a team towards the bottom of the table. Ashley Williams looks to be carrying an excess stone or so but I was really impressed with Neil Taylor. He's not the first player to have Walcott in his pocket, but the manner he did it in was highly impressive, and I watched him have two very good games for Wales last week.

    They have a lot of dynamic players like Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair, and it's difficult to see why they haven't scored yet (with the possible exception of a better striker). They should create plenty of chances, but while they could easily have taken a point yesterday, they created nowhere near as much as they should have considering the positions they had the ball in.

  • Comment number 93.

    Why doesn't Phil McNulty write anything of real substance?

    "And the frustration for Swansea is that they have real possibilities if only a solution can be found."

    Phil McNulty knows the solution. Get a rich Oil Sheikh to finance the club. That's the way football is going, but McNulty and his fellow journalists don't want to acknowledge the fact.

    I have more respect for Wenger than 10 Phil McNulty's. Wenger and others have to operate in an environment where fair competition no longer exists. I have yet to see a journalist who acknowledges this fact.

    Why not have a really intelligent article about the state of the game at top level? Go on McNulty, rise to the challenge!

  • Comment number 94.

    Wow, I read alot of the news about Arsenal this summer and really felt that the media dumped on them and completely made a mockery of the gunners. While I feel the only real crime committed by Wenger was leaving his transfer business way to late. Getting the new players into his system will take a few games and quite frankly they new that Fabregas and Nasri would both leave. The real shame is that we still have alot of talent, but we cant stay healthy. As for the big cry over Fabregas leaving, who cares, he did not lead us to anything and while you can say he never had the players around him, I would say that is not the case. Lots of talent, but no spine is really the Arsenal problem. As for the signings, this is really stop gap until they get Wilshire back and get their hands on a young and talented and upcoming mid field player in January or next year. My expectations for this year are high, but I will bot be surprised if we struggle until Christmas and then finish strong. As for the future of Arsenal, until that stadium is paid off, we will not be paying huge transfer fees, we simply cant or wont pay those fees. I predict we will finish in the top six, not sure where, but I am pretty confident it will not be 1st or 2nd. Go gunners. Oh and one last thing, Nasri will never be regarded in the same light as Fabregas or any other Arsenal great, he is simply a journey player who abandoned his team when they needed him most. Fabregas will be remembered fondly, but not the way we remember Henry and other Arsenal greats.

  • Comment number 95.

    I'm an Arsenal fan and am fed up reading about them. Would be far happier reading about someone else.

    However... Those of you who are criticising the writer forget that Arsenal's 'perilous' position has been probably the biggest story of the season so far. If Stoke, Fulham or Newcastle had been taken apart 8-2 by Man U, would it have been such a big deal? Nope, of course not.

    As for telling the writer to go and write journalism, wake up. Adding analysis and commentary to the basic game reports is what it's all about nowadays. Personally, I'd far rather have McNulty's thoughts than those of Alan Shearer or Mark Lawrenson - neither of whom have been managers. A good player does not make you a good reader of the game from the sidelines.

    By all means comnent, but if you don't like what he writes, go and put your thoughts on your own blog as often as he does and see if you can sustain it.

  • Comment number 96.

    Arsenal are not in Crisis, they drew Away, Lost at home due to the Red card and refree, Lost at Old Traford which everybody did last season. Won at home plus thier next 2 fixtures are Winable games, in 2 weeks time the table will settle

  • Comment number 97.

    phil phil phil a regular reporter but wonder why you did write anything about your team loosing to stoke after spending almost 200m since january. please we know we have problems but u need to stop talking about it like arsenal is the only team that has issues.

  • Comment number 98.

    @97 Spot on i'v Never Read a blog about how bad Liverpool are or how Overated the so called Dalglish factor is

  • Comment number 99.

    I heard a very good comment about Arsenals latest signings on the radio last week.
    Arsene Wenger was compared to a wealthy man leaving his Christmas shopping too late, and having to go into a service station just before midnight on Christmas Eve.

  • Comment number 100.

    To Mr Bertieronbob post 95, Shearer and Lawrenson have both been managers, not very good ones admittedly, but managers nontheless.


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