ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Arsenal
soccernet blog
Posted by Sam Limbert on 05/20/2011

Being a football fan is often compared to following a religion, and right now Arsenal fans need to renew their faith in the club as much as in the individual players and the manager.

Whilst many just want the last game of the season on Sunday to be over and done with, the match against Fulham represents a good chance for the players to lift some of the doom and gloom hanging over the club.

Another abject performance will see Arsenal fans spend the summer struggling to find positives about the club. However, should all the players actually show some fighting spirit and win the game, the negative feeling around the club will potentially improve.

Craven Cottage is more a chapel than a cathedral of football, but it’s a traditional ground that, forgetting the Michael Jackson statue, represents what Arsenal need to do on Sunday; go back to basics. It’s also on the banks of a river, but that’s a coincidence in the religious/biblical metaphor.

The Gunners need to revert to playing the football that raised fans’ hopes in January and February this season. Clearly the attitude hasn’t been right in recent games, and due to the poor run of form it seems the players are thinking too much about what they’re doing. Their natural instinct is being curbed by a negative mentality. Up until the Carling Cup final, Arsenal were playing great football and getting results, and should that return, a win at Fulham would inevitably follow.

Just reverting to playing well again isn’t as simple as flicking a switch on and off, but with little or no pressure on the team, they have the chance to give the fans something to cheer. Obviously winning this one game wouldn’t hide the failings of the season, and in many ways a thumping victory would increase frustration at what might have been, but something has to be done to make fans remember why they put so much time and effort into following the club. The players need to restore some pride for themselves and for the fans, as Arsenal are currently at the end of jokes from most opposing fans.

Playing away from the Emirates could help as the atmosphere last week against Aston Villa wasn’t pleasant. The away fans at Craven Cottage will undoubtedly be in good voice, as they are whatever stadium or situation the team are in, and this will be needed more than ever to raise the spirits of this side.

On the pitch, there won’t be much pressure on Arsenal as the expectation level of the team is so low at the moment. With third place now unlikely, the players should relax and give everything to win the game and just see if Bolton do them a favour against Manchester City. Without suggesting they won’t give 100%, I’d be surprised if Fulham take a physical approach to the game with a Europa League fair play place up for grabs, so there’s a possibility Arsenal will be afforded more space to play their normal attacking game.

However, should Arsenal fail to turn up with the right attitude and level of commitment, they’ll leave the fans still questioning all areas of the club. No-one wants this negative feeling to linger amongst supporters, so this is the last chance for a few months for the players to make loyal fans feel good about Arsenal again. The fans’ faith in the players, the manager and the club as a whole is probably at its lowest under Arsene Wenger, and a rousing away day win could be what is needed to remind fans why they bother following the club.

A win will not solve any of the bigger issues at the club in terms of the playing squad, ownership and ticket prices, but it would serve as a reminder that being an Arsenal fan at the moment isn’t as depressing as some are making out, and that it is worth keeping the faith.

However, not everyone connected with the club has faith or is ready to renew it. There were quotes from Denilson across the newspapers on Friday morning, saying that he is ready to leave the club. It is always a shame to hear that any member of the squad is unhappy at Arsenal, however I doubt there will be many supporters who will mourn his departure.

The Brazilian midfielder could have been a good player for Arsenal, however he never seemed to apply his talent properly on the pitch. He was capable of playing a great pass or scoring from long range, but those moments were too rare alongside sideways passes, a poor work rate and needless fouls. Good luck to Denilson wherever he goes, but I sense that he’s wasted the best opportunity of his career to play at the highest level.

Follow ESPNsoccernet's Football Correspondents on Twitter


Posted by Red Army on 05/20/2011

I was the Man Utd supporters. I want to make a few comments here about the arsenal players who act, not responsible and most importantly for me, they felt it was doing everything for the club and now they are pointing fingers to Arsene Wenger is at fault. As a statement recently by Denilson "I am so upset.I am a winner and I came here to win trophies but I've been here for five years and won nothing n "There's something missing at Arsenal but no one knows what it is" What r u talking about? how many opportunities you're given by AW,but how your performance during the game? very5 bad. you should admit that you play very5 bad and always make stupid mistake! I like RVP as always think positive.Now AW admit his mistake too but how about ARSENAL PLAYERS??? the answers is Arsenal players,JUST MAKE DONT KNOW. *~Thanks sam~ n im sorry guys,Im just want to express my dissatisfaction here on some arsenal players like Denilson act (shame on u guys)* -Eden-

Posted by Peterz on 05/20/2011

Y u right man arsenal must win dere last game of d season. My main problem with dis team is dere player cause it seems they forcing dem 2 play arsenal, wenger must buy expensive players if he rlly lyk arsenal and wnt gud 4 dem. V e c t o r

Posted by Mickeyk on 05/20/2011

I think your missing the point and that is the players don't care .as for denilson at least it's a bit of good news he's going the worst midfielder arsenal have ever had.

Posted by Chris on 05/20/2011

the problem with denilson IMO is that he was brought up through the youth ranks in sao paulo as an attacking midfielder and used by Wenger as a holding midfielder ala Gilberto Silva.

the problem is - denilson is not a ball-winning DM but a distributor. denilson's "worst" games were when he was put in as a the ball-winning DM.

you put denilson on a team where his role is to attack more and he'll be dangerous.

denilson's best games were when he was able to take shots on goal and be integral to the attack. i saw him many times take shots outside the 18 and be integral for a goal, but as time went on, it seemed for whatever reason behind the scenes, his job was to play deeper.

good job!

Posted by Steve on 05/21/2011

Wenger has been hiding behind the youth project long enough, and he is now totally exposed. If he continues with his youth programme(selling experienced players/promoting youth), the quality players that have kept us in the cl places will leave or once again exhibit more disinterested displays.

Even if he wanted to change, his philosophy has tainted the club so much that it won't work. It's a sad and pitiful ending. Parker would help, but he would be undone, like cesc, by the manager and too many of the players around him. It's over.

Posted by David Fitch on 05/21/2011

I have been an arsenal supporter for many years to me this year has been disappointing but not the worst i have known,to support a team you do have to have faith that they will come right then all is forgotten till the next time. i can remember when spurs were the best team in england and going to white hart lane was a nightmare winning league and cups is nice but all the better when you have earned them by waiting and hoping Man U at this time are the best team and deserve to be so but it will not last forever.As for the players if you put an Arsenal shirt on you have my support but they have to take some responsibility for there own performance over a season and not moan about not winning anything,blame should be shared by everyone at the club and not on individual but the whole squad. Denilson leaving i wish him well sport is the one job where you cannot fit into one team and be a star in other.

Posted by Red Army on 05/21/2011

Im MUFC Fans~~ I thinks Arsenal need Hit Man type in defence n need a master mind+creative type in midfield n the most important that arsenal must change is Arsenal No 1 goalkeepers..! That is my opinions,sorry & TQ~~ -Eden-

Posted by Anonymous on 05/21/2011

i can bet all arsenal fans that wenger has already masterminded his excuses ahead of this summers transfere window. players overpriced, the right player at the right price wasnt available or words to that effect will be what we read or hearin the papers. its all part of his and the baords plans to scam another expensive season out of the fans. why do arsenal need to make so much money if they aint gonner spend it. a youth system doesnt need to be funded by costing the fans overpriced tickets. thats what sponsers are for. if you ask me there is something dodgy going on at the emirates and its making all the wrong people rich and everyone else poor.

Posted by Anonymous on 05/21/2011

they need to shoot on goal rather than over passing their play.period.

Posted by ACBarcarsenal on 05/21/2011

Arsene Wenger has indeed BEEN exposed!! Arsenal has a wonderful youth system - the most important ingredient for building depth - which is committed to playing the "beautiful game" yet the Gunners keep firing BLANKS. If Wenger insists on playing the"youngsters" ( who aren't so young anymore) at the expense of bringing in 2 or 3 seasoned and proven pros to sure up the Central D, holding Mid and a predatory finisher up front, then he should be held accountable for barely eking out a spot in UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal's main problem is the coaching staff's inability to plan and maintain a concrete game strategy. When a quality team like Arsenal gets caught so often after leading by 2 and 3 goals it reflects on the coaching staff failing to make the necessary adjustment or substitute to "kill off" the game or "park the bus." I think it's time for a changing of the guards at The Emerates. A new Leader to shake up the squad who owes no one any favors or obligations. Clean hands!!

Posted by Anonymous on 05/21/2011

Disappointing though, but GUNNER 4 THIS LYF AND THE NEXT!

Posted by Reality Check on 05/21/2011

When is anyone going to ask the right question "When is Wenger leaving?" He has had his chance and he has basically proven he is incapable of delivering the goods.
Back in January everyone knew the team needed a goalkeeper and at least one good defensive player if not two - the team had a chance at four different cups. What did he do, stick to the old "unproductive" formula.
It is so blatantly obvious that even the late Ray Charles, who by the way was blind, could have seen that Wenger does not have control over the team. I don't believe he can lead them.
He will come up with a myriad of excuses that will all relate to players but never coaching.
It is time for all of us Arsenal fans to realize that if we want to get back to the winning ways of the past, we need a new leader.
I'll grant to Wenger supporters that the big question would be "Who?" and I would say at this moment in time it seems that anyone should do better that Wenger.

Posted by ADIBOR FREEBORN on 05/22/2011

I always feel bad when what is supposed to be ours is foolishly and ignorantly conceded to the underdog. The coaching patern needs over-hauling if not, doom awaits us, but God forbid. It's better to address this ugly trend before we land into troubled water, before many of us begin to develop high blood pressure, before we get cardaic arrest, before we summersault into a sate of comatose. We are tired of excuses, we are tired of not doing this or that. If we must move forward, then certain things have to be done at the right time. We are no longer babes, we must rise from this our slumber and follow the trend of events, we should not be left behind. Anyone not doing well should be told outrightly. No more time for sentiment. Arsene Wenger should be told the gospel truth and not shy away from the matter. He must seat tight or quit the stage before it's too late. I want to thank nemerous fans all over the world like me who despite the failure encountered so far still keep faith in d club

Posted by padin on 05/22/2011

plz dont blame mr wenger.....its alll player mistake...wenger & rice just plan..but the player need to ensure they will elivered good result..thanks

Posted by Deepak on 05/22/2011

why should the manager be blamed if the players forget their basics on the field?

Posted by Anonymous on 05/22/2011

stop going to matches and watch arsenal on television. by doing that mr wengers financial making powers will end and he will start to think he isnt untouchable anymore. an buisness man is only as good as the money he makes. the money wont hurt arsenal as they dont like to buy players anyway and they can always rely on there worldbeating youth system. im not good at maths but barcelona are better at doing what arsenal do and their ickets are cheaper, or mabey its time to start supporting and helping out some of the lower local lower league teams who would benefit more from the cash flow. either way arsenal are rip off merchants who make promises in order to rob the fans blind. at the end of the day you dont support a football team just to read in the papers how good they are at making lots of money.

Posted by titansgunner12thman on 05/22/2011

What the hell is with the Wenger apologist? His team has quit with something yet to play for. Just that alone says that he has lost his edge. That's without mentioning the pass few seasons in which they have fallen the same way with metronome like timing. We know what's going to happen and Wenger has yet to change his philosophy- a real indictment of him and his failure as a manager of late. Not to discredit his past achievements, but that has nothing to do with the present. Presently Wenger presides over a team that has reached its maximum potential without winning.
The sad part is all it would take is adding a few defensive minded players, which is not a secret and has not been for years. Yet he brings in more young, inexperienced, and technical midfielders, disregarding the toughness required to win the titles. I'm ready to move on from him.

Posted by Ken on 05/22/2011

Since following Arsenal requires faith, what are management going to do when the atheists outnumber the faithful in north London?

Like religion, I don't believe in fairy tales.

Until Wenger gives up his "kids first" philosophy, and signs some real men, there's no reason to means enjoying fewer and fewer displays of entertaining football.

Posted by R on 05/23/2011

why mr.wenger don't want to make a bid for Jan Vertonghen??????????????now Jan Vertonghen will wear man city's shirt for next season!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!pls wenger sign him on last mins!!!!!!!come on man~....why man city always like to snatch our target player????????

Posted by Satish on 05/23/2011

Again the same story from Mr Wenger.He'll be careful,he'll be reasonable and don't know what else! R U saying that we need to have faith in Djourou? or Denilson? Fans are fed up. I believe that its time for Mr Wenger to go. We cannot just please ourselves only with what he has done. We need to look forward and get out of this barren period for trophies.I feel that the guy must go!

Posted by eric on 05/23/2011

everyone is at fault; both AW and players. i'm not sure how much responsibility AW should shoulder however! no buy-in from me in their youth-policy rubbish. these trophy-less years started when they moved from highbury. it's time to forget P&L and spend some $$$$$ on Dx2, DMx1, Sx1.

Posted by Ekpo Bassey-Duke on 05/23/2011

Arsenal Fans, at the start of the new season, just resign youselves to another trophyless campaign, when you still have players like Almunia, Diaby, Clichy, Ebuoe, Sqiullachi, Denilson, Roscinsky, Bendtner, Chamack, Kolscieny and of course with WENGER as the Manager.
For Arsenal Board and Management, there is nothing as good as the present state of things as long as the club buys players at rock-bottom, polishes them up, then quickly sells at cut throat fees... good money is made for them, and the fans can go to hell for all they care. That is Wenger's Youth Policy for you! He came to meet Arsenal, one day he will GO, and Arsenal will remain. Let's all FANS fervently pray for that wonderful DAY to come soonest.Keep on smilling guys/gals!!!

Posted by Larry on 05/23/2011

One of the biggest - if not the biggest - changes needed at Arsenal over the summer is to bring in someone (i.e. Steve Bould, Tony Adams)with the knowledge, experience and passion to organize Arsenal's defence. It doesn't matter who's at the back as we saw again at Fulham the organization and positioning is terrible. (1) They can't defend in dead ball situations (2) Time and again they play too high a line / too flat and are carved open with a simple through ball. Wenger curiously points to their defensive strengths...really Arsene it's simple. For the 65-70% of the time Arsenal has the ball the other team can't score. But all they need is 35% possession and they can score a goal or two. Time and again I've heard the likes of Nutty or Lee Dixon talk about how much time & effort George Graham devoted to working on defending. So Arsene as the supporters said at the Cottage - spend some money. Then work their backsides off so they know what to do when we don't have the ball.

Posted by cescderick on 05/24/2011

i has been an arsenal fan since my life but am disappointed on the manager atitude, we the arsenal fan have bare the shame.other club fans are making mokery of us, they call arsenal womens club nd also i want arsenal to spend money like other club eg man city is nt earning more than them. We need trophy PROF WENGER

  Post your comment
Email Address:
characters left
David Young Sam Limbert: My retirement as a football player came at the age of 14 due to being rubbish, it's fair to say I was more Kaba Diawara than Thierry Henry, so I turned my focus to writing about the game. I'm a lifelong Arsenal fan and have been lucky enough to watch the team across England and Europe. My favourite Gunner of all time is Dennis Bergkamp, and the 2004 Invincibles is the greatest side I've ever seen in English football. I try to be positive about the Arsenal as it's the hope that keeps us going! Follow me on twitter @SamsMatchReport.

RSS feed

Recent Posts