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Posted by Sam Limbert on 02/19/2012

It’s been one of those weeks; one of those weeks that we’ve had too many times as Arsenal fans in recent seasons. In terms of winning a trophy, the season is over. As much as I like to dream that it might happen, it’s serious unlikely that we’ll win 5-0 at home to AC Milan. Even if we were 5-0 up at home to AC Milan, we’d probably find a way to concede a goal and go out on away goals.

Anyway, there can be no miracle in the FA Cup. With the other teams that had gone out, it looked to be a great chance to win some silverware. However once again we followed a bad defeat with another one. It has become a worrying trait of Arsenal in general, not just this in this season, that we lose two keys games in a row. Plus they haven’t just been tight games that we’ve narrowly lost, we haven’t really looked like winning either of them.

Now we’re out of the FA Cup and effectively out of the Champions League, all we have left is the league, and the fight for the top four. People laughed when Arsene Wenger said that finishing fourth is like a trophy. Obviously it isn’t the same, however given the way modern football is, financially it is as important, if not more so, to finish in the top four. I don’t particularly like that it is, but it’s the way the current game is, so we have to make sure we finish there. Even if we do make the Champions League, it will be hard for any Arsenal fan to justify this season as being a success. However it wouldn’t be a complete failure. Missing out on Champions League football would be.

The past week has raised a large number of questions from fans, mainly towards the manager, about the state of the club and about a change of policy. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and has an idea about what the club should do to move forward, as we’ve clearly been going backwards, but there’s not much we can do about it mid-season. Clearly the club have made mistakes in the last few transfer windows, but if we want to see the club move forward, we need to be in the Champions League next season. Without it, we won’t be able to attract better quality players and compete with others financially. There is money there from previous sales that we should use, but the extra Champions League windfall will help with wages, not just with transfer fees. Whoever is the manager in the summer will need to sort out the playing squad, because as much as those in the positions of power at Arsenal might want to say we’re in a good situation, without a successful team on the pitch, a football club is not successful. They’ll also need the lure of the Champions League to help with that revolution of the playing squad.

I will never call for Arsene Wenger to be sacked. It might just be me being sentimental as he’s the only Arsenal manager I’ve really experienced in charge of the club, or me being scared of what Arsenal might be like without him, but I can’t bring myself to join the growing numbers who want a different manager. However I do want our manager to change his ways. As far as I’m concerned, his youth project has failed. However he should be the first to be given the chance to turn our fortunes around and to overhaul the squad in the summer. Before that, he has to galvanize those in the squad at the moment to make the top four. If we don’t finish there in May, I think it might be time for a change.

When the day comes that Wenger leaves, and if that is soon, I’m beginning to think that the most tragic, but best, way for him to go will be for him to go of his own accord. It would be a sad if it reached the point that managing the club became too much for him to deal with, but with some of the animosity around from some, I wouldn’t blame him for walking away. I’m desperate for Wenger to turn it around as if any manager is going to improve this Arsenal team, I want it to be Arsene Wenger.

As with Wednesday’s mauling in Milan, the defeat at Sunderland wasn’t entirely Wenger’s fault. We have had some cruel luck in the last week, with three centre backs, one central midfielder and a midfielder/makeshift left back all getting injured. The pitches at the Stadium of Light and the San Siro were bad, but we should still have been able to deal with them. The first Sunderland goal was deflected, and the second was a horrible piece of luck for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who had at least show commitment to chase back when Sunderland counter attacked. However ultimately, the problem once again was that we couldn’t break down an organised defence and create chances.

It is all very well singling out individual players and saying they aren’t good enough, but collectively the team has not been good enough in the last two games. They fought well to win at Sunderland last week, but haven’t done so since then. Players have to take responsibility and not have to be relying on others.

Our recent failures are made more frustrating because we know the team are capable of playing well and showing character. That’s one of the key problems, we’ve only seen it in fleeting glances. Saturday’s defeat was horribly predictable, as we now don’t expect the players to be able to deal with tough situations. Those in the squad for the rest of the season have to mature quickly and fight for the club, and fight for their futures as Arsenal players.

The reality is that Arsenal aren’t a club in crisis; we’re a club that aren’t moving forward, aren’t keeping up with modern football, and are nowhere near as good as we used to be on the pitch. It is immensely painful that we won’t win a trophy this season, but we are currently in the top four. Finishing in that position, the one where we need to be to enable us to make the necessary changes in the summer, is in our hands.

After the week we’ve hand, we could do with the next match being one where three points could come more easily. However it’s the North London derby. It will be a really difficult match, because as much as it pains me to admit it, Spurs are playing very well this season and deserve to be where they are in the league. However if the Arsenal players can’t get themselves pumped up and be prepared to do everything to win this game, frankly they don’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt again. If we win, Wenger will be afforded time by some supporters as there is no greater pressure reliever for an Arsenal manager or team, than a win against Tottenham. If we lose, the howls against Wenger will only get louder, and we’ll also lose ground in the race for the top four.

We’re not in a crisis, however losing to Tottenham will make it feel like we are.

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Posted by abmev on 02/19/2012

While everyone have offered views on the current state of the club, this much is undisputed
1. Football at this level has changed and Arsenal needs to change the way it does business.It needs to accept that real quality players cost real money and that their wages are outside of the clubs antiquated wage structure.Do we really want to compete?

2. Personnel changes- just as contentious as point 1is the matter of non-performing players. Clearly chamakh, squillaci,djournu, arshavin,bendtner should be shown the exit door.Borderline cases like rosicky, Gibbs,Ramsey need to be assessing to see if there is any value in keeping them.To be fair AA has been pplaying out of his position - I maintain that this player is NOT a winged but a natural CAM. Rosicky looks very much the part when he plays centrally instead of Ramsey. In short acquisitions are needed at striker / CAM / CB- another ball playing centre-half as a backup to TV is a must.

Posted by GoonerBear on 02/19/2012

I am not sure who is more to blame: (1) the manager and the problem with tactical choice; (2) the player seemingly unable to execute.

They lost 3 in January, then drew and barely won in League, got crushed in 2 cups. The teams looks lost. Blame Wenger - I do blame him for some poor transfer decisions - but the players are NOT giving it their all for him. Once in the squad, the players should play their hearts out. Wearing the white and red is an honor! Some players just do not. Others look completely unfit to be playing right now. The rest look confused about what their role is. I play pick up games with more conviction and I am not paid millions for it.

Something needs to change and let's start with looking at the mirror, boys. Unit and fight!

I call for 2-1 Victory to the Arsenal next weekend! Gooners Keep the Faith!

Posted by j on 02/19/2012

Sam, we need to accept nothing is forever, we have been trophiless for 7 season and is time for a change.Wenger has been in charge more than 10 years and we been through up and down with him.We appreciate what he have done for the club.But we need something fresh not old folks thought that never aim at the champions league trophy.Every season, we are only aiming for top 4 and crossed finger for the other trophy will come.

As a fan,we all sick of his quote: the season is still long way to go...blah..blah from the players and managers mouth.This quote rather irresponsible from the club.If the club wish to do well, everyone need to straightaway focus to win,and take every game a do or die.Not an excuse of pitch condition, player traveling and so on.

Mouning and complaints will not help, we really need to move on. If a change is not happen next season, i think it will start losing fan attendance in every match and it will have a detrimental effect on the club financial balance sheet.

Posted by Matt Dawson on 02/19/2012

Good article Sam!

Immediately after the game yesterday,as my anger kicked in, I thought that it was time for a new manager. But with things that others have said including you, I take back my feelings of wanting Wenger out. Aswell it is the only manager I have experienced in charge of Arsenal and I feel if we are to continue under Wenger then he does have to change. He needs to start 'splashing' the cash (if you like) to bring in new players. I think we have to give Wenger a shot at attempting to improve this Arsenal squad as the current one is just simply not good enough. However Champions League football for next season is absolute MUST!

Posted by TopGooner on 02/19/2012

The only thing that can save us now is the mediocrity of our forth place contenders. At this state, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if by the end of the season its Newcastle who qualifies for the Champion's League.

Posted by Anonymous on 02/19/2012

good article sam. i still dont know why djourou is being played. he is pathetic and ramsey should play in the reserves until he finds his form again. we need to spend, get hazard, podolski, goetz. we need quality players to back up RVP and just increase his wage so he will stay with the team. if next season's team is not a championship winning one, arsenal are soon going to find themselves mid-table.its time to stop being so MISERLY!!!

Posted by sanju on 02/19/2012

Given that the club in question is arsenal,even if they sack wenger they will replace him with some cheap option like Alan curbishly or neil warnok

Posted by benjamin on 02/19/2012

In November 2011, I had wrote in this blog that I had envisaged and predicted that Arsenal will be in crisis and probably in mid table if the board and AW choose to ignore it. But some gooners hate me for saying this and thought I didnt know anything about football. I could even bet my last dollar to anyone out there. The point here is from this season starts, Arsenal board and Manager was stubborn not to bring in top class players probably every department if the club wants to win trophies. AW thinks that he can defy all odds with this present players which I think is only good to play for Championship and not Premier League with the exception of RVP & OX.
Arsenals fans has been cheated throughout for years !!! The club can only sink further or if lucky to stay in midtable. The Owners and AW was wrong to think to that the present team was good enough with quality to compete in Premier League which is rubbish !

Posted by DaveC on 02/19/2012

It is sad to see Arsenal lose against Sunderland in such a way, the way they play can be summed up as follows :-

- weak

- no clear game plan

- no communication and anticipation between players

- mid field got cut off with the forwards, only way to play is to pass the ball back to the defence

- no key player capable or creative enough of playing the deadly pass to cut through opposition defence, except when the OX cut through into the middle in two occasion to made such pass

- every time when we are pressed hard by opposition, we fail to deal with it. We get very nervous and loses possession easily. We need to have a game plan to deal with such situation in future

- we fail to press hard on our opposition when they have the ball

- our defence is giving too much room for the opposition attacker to turn when they are on counter attack. We should have a one on one marking with their front man and allow an extra sweeper to block the loose ball

All in all, I fear for the manager !

Posted by Odu on 02/19/2012

Good comments from all. I however doubt if Wenger cares about what people say. It is clear to everybody (except Wenger) that the team needs some reinenforements. If you cannot keep your team together for long for whatever reasons including wage cap, then you must be planning ahead always. In the last four years, the team lost Cesc, Nasir, Flamini, Clinchy, Kolo, Ashely cole etc. Imagine if these players have been together till now. The Arsenal business model is outdated and many years behind time. If nothing is done soon, the profits will start declining steeply, after all the good players would have been sold, no new stars as nobody will want to join when there are better options with higher pay out there. Then the board will realise they have a problem and at that stage it will take decades to resolve and get back to profitability. I see Arsenal getting to that stage if nothing is done now.

Posted by Ethan on 02/19/2012

It's too late now, Sam.I must Arsenal is run by fools and off field success is the most important. What's the point of asking AW to spend when he can't? This bunch of idiots deserved to be sacked first. After 7 years, then they realise they need to have star players to win trophy?
Roman or oil money sounds disgrace to the sport. But they do buy success. Clubs change owners from time to time, so what is the big deal of having great profits and gained seats in all competitions?
Someone in top management has to go this season in response to this state the club is in. Take away their bonuses or whatever entitlement because they don't deserve them!

Posted by Keith on 02/19/2012

Unfortunate schedule, bad pitch, poor referee decision... It's the same old excuses we have been too familiar with from AW. Sunderland played 120 min in FA cup prior to meeting us in the previous League match and they did not complain a bit!

I just read an article that mentioned the past 2 losses MAY prompt the club to spend. Seriously, it took us 7 seasons to realise this business model doesn't work. I thought the board just recently announced that they BELIEVE this current way of running the club is the way to go?? I hope that they get humiliated by Spurs in the coming derby to seriously rethink this business model.

Then again, failing to reach the top 4 this season may mean the change coming too late. Will Hazard, Gotze and Podolski want to join a club that is not playing CL next season? How are we going to offload dead weight we have signed, thinking it's cheap substitution in the mould of Squillaci, Chamakh, Djourou... the list just wouldn't end...

Posted by Snipes on 02/19/2012

Hey Sam, great article as always. But this time i have to disagree with one point. WENGER gots to go.Our failures over the past season has everything to do with the coach WENGER. I luv him, luv him luv him and respect him. he is the reason i am a gunner. He created the style, the belief and the invincibles. But Sam the time has come for him to assume a DIFFERENT ROLE. We refuse to accept the truth - his decisions in every aspect is hurting the team.
#1 - yes we are financially stable but economists will agree that we need tospend in order to get more. He needs to go out there and buy quality players although we all knnow that they cost more. During the summer prices for players will increase because Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U et al will all be in the market hunting.
He refuses to buy despite knowing that we need the players. We like to comfort ourselves by saying we are currently 4th but Chelsea is at our doorsteps - WAKE up people we going down

Posted by Snipes on 02/19/2012

#2 Why is he keeping players like Djourou, Squillaci, Rosicky, Chamak and Arshavin. These players will be great additions on other teams but have proven that they do not understand our styl of play. The OX had to chase down a player that Djourou failed to stop and as a result conceded an OG. Djourou makes the team look really bad and teams in the EPL/Serie A and Liga know this: thats why they attack from his side of the pitch. WENGER has failed to challenge them. Like a good father he comforts them when they need to be reprimanded. These players will not even make the second team in Man U/chelsea or Tot.
#3 - He is no longer inspiring. When you see a team play with no passion thats because there is no inspiration from above. We were outclassed and man handled in both games.
Buy wenger buy: Gotze/podolski/hazard/M'Villa/central defender. thats all we need: 5 players the most.

Posted by slingshot on 02/19/2012

"if the Arsenal players can’t get themselves pumped up and be prepared to do everything to win this game, frankly they don’t deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt again." Well said, Sam! And Djorou has got to go! This is no time to be investing in young fullbacks, or anyone young for that matter. AW, let's use this moment to FINALLY realise things are not the way they used to be in the league with teams like Chelsea, Man City, Spurs and Liverpool splashing the cash. Wenger has an opportunity now and the players do too! I want to see RVP yelling at his boys with more might, instilling in them the pride of what the Arsenal shirt means. Henry was an amazing player, but not a captain. RVP, the time has come now to be a real captain. If you really love Arsenal, u need to make everyone in the team LOVE IT TOO, step up and FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT. Times are desperate, whoever denies this is in dreamland. There is no better chance than Spurs. This is the biggest test of all this season.

Posted by Marcus on 02/19/2012

Please invested some money to get good quality player ...

Posted by Arsenal Army on 02/19/2012

Next week I'm gonna make a lot of money with BET365.Tottenham will beat us on our own ground 2-0 or 3-1.With this kind of performance,I don't think we will recover so soon.We are deeply wounded right now.It may takes 3-4 games to get back on our feet especially we have to fight against Tottenham + Liverpool next 2 games.
We can say anything to please ourselves but just take a look in the mirror and you can see without saying a word.We are in deep trouble and we can only hope our opponents somehow have the same problem like us and maybe then we were lucky enough to win.For the defenders,I just hope they still have some energy left by not doing any silly mistakes.At least they just worse and not worst.Our midfielders-our last chance to make our team look better by playing SMART!!!As I said before,they just running around,waste energy just to control more possession than the opponent and lastly couldn't deliver enough chance for the striker to score goal.We always more possession but lost.

Posted by david.fitch on 02/19/2012

The topic of the state of the club has to be left till the end of the season when the board will have to decide on the future of the club and who will take them there likewise the players will decide if their future is with Arsenal or somewhere else The fans will also have to choose if they are going to renew their ticket for the season or not.For now everyone who supports this club has to get behind this team why because there is nothing else they can do all the decision have been made good or bad.As for not winning a trophy well i went to my firet game when i was five had to wait till i was twenty for Arsenal to win anything in that time we had good player's bad managers it is all part of supporting a team remember the good time's prepare for the bad but always support the team.When they play Spurs they will need all the support they can get so if you want to boo do it from home because staying away will be protest enough.

Posted by Patrik on 02/19/2012

Hi Sam,

What a disappointing week. You were spot on in assessment of the season in august. To me it seems like a storm is coming and that the club may be in need of a major overhaul to reverse the southbound trend. That’s in every department from Medical to Boardroom

I agree with the opinion that since 2004 the superrich have entered EPL and for that reason Arsenal have been punching over their weight for this last seven years. It just hasn`t been possible to pay the wages that Chelsea and Man city are doing and therefore we have sold our best players; Adebayor, Toure, Nasri, Clichy, Cole and so on.

But the policy of working with wage structure and replacing your best players with young talents doesn`t go well with high ambitions. The gap between the European powerhouses and our club is quite wide and spreading apart.

Should we lower our ambitions until the Emirates is paid and have faith with Monsiegneur Wenger? The man has done miracles over the years but now?

Posted by Canberra Gooner on 02/20/2012

I'm with Sam that I want Wenger to change is his approach and 100% agree that his faith in youth has to be tempered. Whatever, happens in the summer I see two major challenges:

1. restoring belief amongst the player group. I'm talking about the culture of success and determination to succeed, not self confidence. Not a single player first team players remains from our last FA Cup win (Clichy was the last). Even a chunk of the youth players from that era have gone. The culture of success is handed down from senior players and we have NONE! This is the real failure of recent transfer activity.

2. building a quality first squad. You can't just buy good players and make a good team, look at City, look at Middlesborough in the 90s, look at Inter (perennially). Our playing stock is under-powered and while some are good enough, intergrating new players doesn't just happen. Even with better players, next year will be another battle for 3rd/4th.

Viva Le Goon!

Posted by titansgunners12thman on 02/20/2012

If you are a true Arsenal supporter- and you are-you have to understand that Wenger is no longer getting it done. We see the same patterns year after year. Why can't Wenger leave? He's not inspiring his players and his winning percentage has gone down each of the last few years.
My wanting him to leave does not diminish what he has done to, and for, the club. I will never doubt his commitment or passion for the club. But Wenger has run out of ideas. We a new manager.

Posted by goner on 02/20/2012

maybe we shd get miyaichi back? or how abt trying to sign Guodiola? we had been hold to ransom n dance to their tune of d richer n better clubs, n for tis once we pipped d best club in d world of their coach

Posted by Philip on 02/20/2012

I have problems with three players: Walcott, Djourou and Squillaci. Squillaci is just awful. Every time Djourou walks onto the pitch the defence just seems to fall apart, and he looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Walcott is not worth his wages. His pace is no use against a dogged, organised defence. He has shown poor finishing and decisions time and time again this season, and he needs to go. While he does show occasional ability, it is simply not good enough. Ox is much better.

I think that Chamakh and Arshavin and keepers. We are all aware of the quality Arshavin has; if he hits form again he can be a great asset again like he used to be in 09. Chamakh can perhaps go if we buy Podolski, but I still believe in him...

Posted by Meyer on 02/20/2012

At this point the team is at the worst I've ever seen. Even over the trophy-less years, at least the flamboyant attacking style of play was still evident and you'd love watching the team. When the defense was in shambles we could still (hopefully) outscore the opposition. This is totally gone now.
The players look scared to attack in fear of making mistakes that will give problems to our defense. This undoubtedly stems back four which are going through an almost unbelievable number of issues.
Certainly all the ideas on 'fixing' the team are valid, but how much difference will it make? I feel the current players do have what it takes to play good football (as shown against Blackburn). It's just that they looked so dispirited and clueless the last 2 games. They seemed unhappy and were not enjoying the game.
Right now we've to work with the players we've got. It's much easier said than done, but AW has to find some way to lift their game and have the team enjoy playing football again.

Posted by Canadian Gunner on 02/20/2012

Well, after seeing Wenger comment that 4th place will be out trophy this year, its time for him to go. Many managers in many sports have to go if they can't continue their success. The philosophy is what have you done for me lately, not what did you do 7-10 years ago. His comments about Wilshere, Diaby, Santos and now Mertesacker missing are wrong. He knew injuries are a big part of what happens at Arsenal. The first three he listed were know absences during the January window and we did nothing. I am tired of Wenger blowing smoke and not producing. If we are a farm team, lower the prices because we obviously aren't going to use the money. Lets kiss RVP good bye now, I wouldn't stick around if I was him, we aren't going any where.

Sam - given the current status of Wenger's comments, do you think we have a shot at keeping RVP this summer? I am thinking he wants to see some of the 51m+ spent on some quality players.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think that keeping RvP is down to if we finish in the top four.

Posted by Kenneth on 02/20/2012

I believe that Arsene youth system is not a failure. it is a success as we manage to promote many good players from the youth system. But the problem is that we cannot rely on just one system to run the football club. We should have a mixture of mature players (in their mid to late 20's) and those from the youth squad. This is what Man U have done and bring them so much success. As an english club, we should also try to bring in more English players and not just French players. We can invest in young players for 20million pound because over 10 years.....they just cost us 2 million pound per year!!

But to do all these, we should first change the Manager. Why we are still hoping he will change his way of doing thing and hope for mircales? He got 7 years to do so but he did not. He is just to self centred to listen to others. 70% of the current squad should be cleared out and allow new players to come in. But we must start with clearing out the Manager before we can move forward.

Posted by Albert Lee on 02/20/2012

I really do not how to keep the faith. If Wenger said he accepts there are problems with his youth policy and wage structure and required a change, I will be more than happy to have him to make such changes in summer than any other manager.

But he is still stubbornly refusing to accept there is something wrong with his squad. He is still arguing that his squad is good enough with all his main players fit. But which team can have all their main players fit throughout a season? Isn't this means that Arsenal will never be good enough by his theory?

The wage restructure report must come from some inside sources, but it is obviously not from Wenger, and from his responds to the media, it looks like he is against it!!

If he is still stubbornly refusing a change, refusing to adjust his plans and policy when it has been proven not workable after 7 years, then I think it will be best for Arsenal to see the back of Wenger.

Posted by Andes on 02/20/2012

I don't think AW's "youth policy" is a failure. It's a right approach giving the circumstance of the club and the current climate of world football, we simply could not out-bought clubs like Man City, Chelsea. What we failed was - our inability to keep hold of our best players. There seem to be pointless when developing talents like Cesc, Adebayor, Nasri, Clichy, Toure, Flamini the likes and only saw them leaving. Imagine how our team would be had we be able to keep hold all of them? Arsenal have always had a strict WAGE structure, and we need to break it, if we want to serious challenging for titles. Plain and simple.

Posted by Ajay Singh on 02/20/2012

Wenger for England or anywhere else!

Posted by benjamin on 02/20/2012

Sam, I hate to hear this over and over what AW repeatly mentioned that he believes his squad will be able come back, unite and overcome setbacks. Please dont always believe, dream and hope ! Fans and followers who pays money and to support want guarantee success. I guess the players themselves are just sick and tired of AW explanation and the board decisions. Anyhow AW is not a good motivator as compared to Mourinho or SAF to be honest. Anyhow, IT IS ALL TOO LATE NOW FOR ARSENAL THIS SEASON AND CERTAINLY I MUST SAY 4TH SPOT IS JUST ONLY GOONERS DREAM AND MAKE BELIEVE. Even next season, I bet top players will comtemplate coming to Arsenal and I agree that even if it does happen, top players takes time to adjust and click. After 7 long years trophyless and now sinking in crisis, I still believe AW and the owners will not spend more money to bring top players and continue to bring in the unproven cheap ones. THIS IS AW PHILOSOPHY AND THE FANS JUST HAVE TO BELIEVE AND TRUST HIM.

Posted by Ed on 02/20/2012

What many of we gunners fans do not know is that, shareholders at Arsenal ar eonly driven with makign profits, and this is what they have managed to get Wenger think of, really i am tired of calling this team as selling club, and while it is true for last three seasons we have let bg players leave, and to buy the same in the market is not possible, how in earth let Fabregas leave for 24 million pounds? same player cost around 50 million pounds today in the market, same to Nasri, Ade and Clichy. We have left with second tier/mediocre players (all are acheap and burn out). Really apart from RVP the rest in the team are not that good enough at Arsenal level.

Posted by rees :) on 02/20/2012

Another good blog. but seriously. if all these rumours about "silent stan" allowing wenger to pay vp what he needs and footing the bill for gotze and hazard then i think our lineup would be VERY threatening.
i hate to say it. but walcott just isnt good enough. it sucks because he is my favourite player but he just cant improve. did you see ryo's goal against bolton. that is the kind of goal that walcott cant score. its a shame but i think its needed.

sczezny sagna tv kos gibbs song gotze wilshire hazard vp ox

that is a lineup that could challenge for the title. not many players in the world can match that lineup man for man. i think if the rumours of getting gotze and hazard are true. then arsenal may just be saved and wenger may earn himself another few seasons :) and i agree, i would love for him to win the cl or prem league and then leave. it would be a shame for him to go now

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 02/20/2012

We will lose to Spurs or finish the top four unless...unless we are very very lucky.

Posted by Sam, Jakarta on 02/20/2012

We will lose to Spurs UNLESS we are very very very lucky or we will finish the top four IF we are very very very lucky

Posted by jogu on 02/20/2012

Well said as usual, Sam. That's why there's little left to say except ask; why does AW play Ramsey at all when we have Rosiscky playing better there? I would rather Benayoun any day, he works hard. As for Djourou, no words.And have we ever won a game when Squillaci as much as steps on the pitch? I'm mad at the whole crowd, mediocre!

Posted by ifeanyi udemezue on 02/20/2012

The season is effectively over as it has been for the past 7 years. As i wrote on this blog last week, it is time for Arsene to move on. He has been good, no question about it. But things have stagnated and he presided over this stagnation. He has stubbornly refused to inject quality into his squad. No spine in the squad and no player to come off the bench and turn around a bad situation. Some of the players are over paid and that is why he has found it difficult to sell fringe players - read Bendtner, Almunia etc. It seems to me that the solution will be to freshen things up under a new manager.

Posted by Nepali Gunner on 02/20/2012

Canberra Gooner is spot on! Building a team takes time, so it's not just about buying quality. But our team does lack quality in some areas.

Crisis is a word easily thrown around, but not getting 4th will be a crisis for Arsenal. And now with the confidence level of the team, it is going to be very difficult. The belief is not there anymore, and it shows.

We have quality, but not enough of it. I look at Walcott, Ramsey/Rosicky, Gervinho and Gibbs/Santos as the really weak spots in the first team. Gervinho is consistent, but lacks the final ball. I think he will get better, but obviously that will be after some time. Ramsey is inconsistent, but I have high hopes for him still. Rosicky has lost the scoring, which was why he was so lethal and good initially. And Gibbs needs more time and longevity, while Santos is not the defensive player we need.

We need to look at players in these positions. In other positions, we have a decent team. Then it really comes down to playing together!

Posted by Sean on 02/20/2012

I'm as disappointed as any other Arsenal fan at what has become our annual "fall from multiple competitions in the same week" habit. We definitely need to pay RVP and buy some talent (Hazard, Goetze, etc.), and we need to stop being so stubborn and inept in the transfer market (we knew Cesc and Nasri were leaving but still waited until the last minute to find replacements), but I don't think the sky is falling (yet).

Think about it, we lost our 3 best players (Cesc and Nasri gone and Wilshere injured) and played with a patchwork defense for months and we're still in 4th place in the best league in the world. Our depth has allowed for that, with kids like Ox and Coquelin stepping up, and Frimpong before his loan.

If we can sign some playmakers and another experienced centre back, and have RVP, Wilshere, Ox (replacing Theo) and Vermaelen inspire all the lads with their heart, hunger and some bite then we might not be far off from finally hoisting another trophy next year.

Posted by blave on 02/20/2012

Top 4 is well and good to maintain a semblance of relevance as a more elite club.

But without a very clear and strong $ commitment moving forward it's questionable at best to think that top 4 will be sufficient to keep RVP and bring in the talent we need to regain our glory.

Top talent will not come cheap but finally it seems the club can see failure to spend has a very high cost as well and they are ready to open the purse strings.

While no doubt some criticism of the manager is warranted, I still find it hard to envision who we replace him with that would guarantee improvement.

Furthermore let's see what AW can do when finally allowed to spend more freely and bring some truly world class additions/depth to the squad.

My wish list includes a target forward who can complement and spell RVP, creative mid who can help bring back the silky, sublime Arsenal style and a dominant center half to partner TV and shore up the leaky d.

For now please let us beat Spurs!

Posted by Sammi Syd on 02/21/2012

The problem isnt new transfers, its BALLS!!! The current players dont have BALLS. Man U only have Rooney at the moment who is world class (I mean real world class) but guys like Nani, Hanandez, Valencia, Park, Fletcher, Evra, all put up a fight and get the team going bcoz they have BALLS!!. Their coach AF doesnt entertain bullshit or loosers. Unfortunately wenger does. If AF coached Arsenal, i guarantee have of the squad would have been sold or transfered away for free. To improve Arsenal Wenger must adopt a winning mentality and improve their defending, maybe get a defending coach.

Am sorry guys but even if we had money thrown for transfer, which world class player would join Arsenal after realising that Cesc has left, RVP will surely be leaving, TV5 is thinking about leaving. Arsenal have ONLY one world class player.

Sam, if you were a quality player playing in la liga, would you ever consider playing for Arsenal knowing that all their stars wanna leave??

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. That's quite a hard one to answer. Depends if they wanted to play in the Premier League. On the face of it, Arsenal aren't that attractive at the moment, but we still try and play good football and not all the players want to leave.

Posted by Samuel Angol on 02/21/2012

This is from a Gunner fan living in the US. Even after we lost Fabregas and Nasri last summer, I never thought we would sink to such depressing depths. Then again, considering that we have lost eight league games, sitting in fourth place is something of a miracle -- let's hope we can stay there. Great clubs can have bad spells, but until we get a serious injection of cash like Man City and Chelsea have experienced, I'm afraid that the Champions League qualifiers will be the limit of our ambitions. People have pointed to our lack of truly world class players as a reason for our decline, but injuries have certainly taken their toll. I'm willing to bet that we'd be a little bit closer in the standings to the Manchester clubs had the likes of Sagna, Vermaelen, Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, and Abou Diaby managed to stay fit all season. My transfer wish list is Adil Rami, Yann M'Vila, Eden Hazard, and Lukas Podolski.

Posted by Sammi Syd on 02/21/2012

Just to show that wengers ideas are ancient lets look at the two most successful clubs in EPL Man U and Liverpool.....
Man U - The y evolve every year, they spend whenever they can and bring in atleast a new brilliant player every year and thats why they are champions.
Liverpool - They have always been a championship team until they sold Xabi alosnso and didnt replace him. In the summer they brough in about 5 new players including SUAREZ and are on the verge of winning two trophys (FA and Carling cup).

Now look at Arsenal.....need i say more??

Posted by Groundsman on 02/21/2012

I hear a whole lot being said about the players and their lack of willingness to perform.
Much has also been said about the bad luck the team has been facing in the past few games as well as the injuries.
This to me all sounds like every other of the past 7 trophyless seasons for Arsenal.
There has been one common denominator in all this, Wenger!
No other manager in the top leagues has been afforded such amnesty despite their teams horrible performance.
It is time for us all to realize that this club is greater than just one man and that he does not define us.
Btw: A top four finish is not an achievement.

Posted by Raymond on 02/21/2012

I agree with Sam, Wenger still the best manager arround for us. But he need to change his philosophy about spending big.

Once I read an article the way Usmanov/Dein will run the club. There are many way to make profit.
Sign great players, have great squad, score some success on the field then the brand off the field will have better value. Better value means better bussiness, means better profit. Growing fan base means growing market for selling merchandise, means better TV contract, ...

This time the club make profit like traditional traders. Buy player, make him star then sell with higher price. Increasing ticket price, lower salary caps compare to other team with the same size and class (don't compare this to Wigan or Blackburn or etc)

About this bussiness model, AW responsible ??? or the board ???

Talking about Salary Caps, well we always can off load some player (not good enough / no passion) then use it to keep RVP.

Posted by Black Hei on 02/21/2012

Here is the answer to why Arsene did not spend and it is a logical one. He had only 50m to spend, and that is not quite enough to turn this club around. I got this amount from the AST.

I reckon he needs around 70 milion instead to land around 4 players, including Hazard which he has stated his interest. This means the shortfall needs to be met by player sales and costs savings on their salaries.

1. Arshavin
2. Rosicky
3. Chamakh
4. Walcott

These 4 are the only realistic sales we can get in order to raise funds and we can easily generate the 20m from their sales.

The 4 players I will propose to take bring in, and their estimated costs are:-
1) Hazard (35M)to replace Walcott in the starting line up
2) Kaka (15M)the orignal replacement for Fabregas
3) Berbatov (10M)to replace Chamakh
4) Chris Samba (10M) to cover Mertesacker

Posted by i'm right on 02/21/2012

A few things fast,

Wenger can and will stay.
Why play in the champions league if we play like that?
With the world economy like it is, we can win financially in the long run
Sadly, we are owned by Walmart.
Wilshere is the only thing that can save the season.
Van Persie will stay!
We will finish the season 4th!
But we will lose the next match

Posted by skydog on 02/21/2012

I feel that Wenger didn't prepare well for this game. He don't have an alternative plan when our usual style of play don't work. I feel that all the players tried their best. They tried to move the ball around faster in this game. The pitch is very poor and not suitable to play short passes. Players like Gervinho, chamberlain and walcott tried to dribble pass opponent but it didn't work because the pitch slow them down. Sunderland work very hard and close down Arsenal players promptly. Their tactic worked because the pitch is poor. But Wenger need to be responsible for defeat in using wrong tactic. Since short passes don't work, bring in tall striker like chamakh which is strong in the air. Get wingers to cross to the penalty area in order to try for header. Position good long range shooter players at the outer penalty area for long range shots. Since Arsenal just played Sunderland 2 weeks ago, I don't understand why Wenger don't have a alternative plan.

Posted by Anonymous on 02/21/2012


Posted by shad on 02/21/2012

I admire all ye eternal optimists but the rules of managing a club changed while Wenger's button was stuck on pause. He still manages the club as if he expected finishing to be top 4 as automatic. As proven clubs have indeed strengthened while Arsenal's quality has been dipping significantly.
Even for the diehard "In Wenger We Trust" brigade, surely patience has run out. No plan B, mediocre players with no heart or balls and players who think they can just turn up and win.

I'm one of the few actually hoping for a new manager a la O'neill, Guardiola, Hiddink, Mourinho or Rjikaard. Someone who can inject belief and hunger into the team. Wenger has the team stuck like a hamster on a wheel.

Posted by Dan on 02/21/2012


Do you think that keeping RVP will be likely if we DO successfully claim fourth place? As in, so long as we finish in the top four, we can have some ease of mind that we will likely be able to retain our captain? Even if we do finish fourth in the league, do you think the likes of Podolski, Gotze, Hazard, et. al. will still want to join us in the end?

I know you mean that we at least boost our chances greatly if we do achieve that objective (compared to the unthinkable fifth or worse, which, naturally, would all but guarantee an inability to attract talent). But even with that objective secure, is it ever "safe" to assume that we will be able to turn things around come the summer? I would suppose more it would take us SEVERAL years. And (perhaps this is more to prepare for the worst than anything else) teams like Liverpool did not necessarily go off the deep end despite being condemned to mediocrity this past half decade. They can still attracttalent...

Thanks, Sam.


Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think if we finish in the top four, obviously we have a better chance of persuading RvP to stay and sign a new contract. It doesn't guarentee anything about signing other players, but financially and in terms of playing at the highest level, it would definitely help. We definitely can't assume that things will turn around in the summer, but for the moment we just have to hope we make the top four and that'll give us the best chance of turning things.

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/22/2012

I am used to be a Arsenal Die hard Fan till last 2 years. I feel that i have been foully around by this club Director board and AW.
This club more commercial organization than a pure football club. Principally, they more play a role similar like circus.Technically, They are more concern ball position than winning Game. whenever after some games defeat and having A game winner, AW will sky high proud and talk about potential and bla... bla.However,when the thing goes wrong, he will blame earth and sky.
Obviously,between February and March (every single years) which must be ended winning trophy hope period,AW will talk again potential and prospect that he need time for maturity. But since 7 years back till today, the team player seems that be naif and always young like PETER PAN.
Mr AW, YOU can cheat A person at ONE time; YOU can cheat A world at ONE time; YOU can cheat A person at ALL time; AW is a Dollar machine for those Arsenal Director, Do you think they will fire Him as u wish...

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/22/2012

Dear Arsenal Fan, AW and Arsenal Director Board doesn't mind for losses, They are more concern for just win A GAME.Whichever the number games that they loss, all must be a professional evil excuses.Whenever win A game,AW just talk about this game and asking to forget the previous losing games.They just losing 4-0 in CL, you will see if they win 1-0 or even 2-0 in return leg although they eliminate from quarter Final,AW still talk about right attitude and right character about his strategies and management and those excuses as long as no expenses for new player for next season.
However, I really HOPE and WISH that they loss always and as low as possible in the EPL table, the reason is I LOVE ARSENAL. Fabregas and Nasri case, I believe that commercial wise, partly was a wish or strategy for Arsenal club to sell off in order for their director board or even AW self interest.It make sense since their core line is bleed and sell player.
Just Idiot for "In Wenger We Trust".

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/22/2012


Posted by Uuro on 02/22/2012

There are millions of arsenal fans around the world. Don't let them be demoralized by a defeat to spurs. In many of our eyes, it's a forgone conclusion this Sunday. Pls wenger, pls listen ..

Posted by Max on 02/22/2012

Sam, I'm always been a fan of your work on the Soccernet Arsenal blog, but you're way off base here. I can't bring myself to call for Wenger's sacking either, but he is wholly to blame for the state of the squad and their results. He continues to buy sub-par players, not strengthen the depth of the squad, and then put out attacking-minded 4-3-3 formations when we don't have the players capable of playing those positions. Against Manchester United in the 8-2 defeat, he came out in a 4-3-3 when we had NOBODY available. Would anyone have complained if we'd parked the bus and played for 0-0 just days after losing 2 key players and have others suspended? Sure we got 2 goals, but a 1-0 loss would have been justified away from home against a good team while starting Jenkinson, Traore, Djourou, and Coquelin. He built a squad full of deadwood like Almunia, Squillaci, Djourou, etc. Don't blame injuries, the pitch etc. It's a cop-out.

Posted by Qasim Hassan on 02/22/2012

Yet again...we lost disappointingly. I think it was no doubt a better performance, but we never did really threaten the Sunderland goal and we were made to pay, unfortunately. First, I'll say this: Djorou is just not Premier League level anymore. He's a poor defender who is in awful form these days, and honestly, these injuries are a massive blow. Anyways, we must go out and try to get quality players like Hazard, Gotze, and Podolski. If we don't finish in top 4, it's a crisis. Losing to Tottenham would also be hugely demoralizing after all these years of North London derby dominance. I confess this, and quite painfully, but Spurs have been better this year, and they deserve to be where they are. Speaking of this, I have a question. Sam, do you fancy our chances on Sunday, and, if not, what would you predict the scoreline to be? Thanks.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Honestly, I'm nowhere near as confident for the NLD as I have been in previous years. I still think we can win though, but it's going to be close. Realistically, I think it'll be 1-1 or 2-2, but I'm hoping for 2-1 Arsenal win.

Posted by GL on 02/23/2012

We need a new medical staff and weight room staff in addition to new players. How many other sides have so many broken players on the sidelines?

To that end, we should not get Kaka. He hasn't been the same since his injury, and has never played rough EPL-style football. Perhaps we can swipe Angel Di Maria from RM instead, if everyone is so keen to replace Walcott and Gervino? Jose doesn't seem to be using Di Maria at the moment.

Sam - in America pro teams can simply cancel the contracts of players who aren't making the grade. Can that be done in the EPL? If no one will pay to pick up Djourou and Squillaci, can't Arsenal just release them? We may not get a transfer fee, but their wages would be off the books. The same goes for all the un-sellable loanees too, like Bendtner.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. In theory, we probably could just cancel their contracts, but with that we'd have to pay off a lot of their contract anyway as compensation. We'd also be short of players at this stage of the season so realistically it's better to let the contracts run down.

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/23/2012


Posted by Anonymous on 02/23/2012

Wat is djourou doing in the team let alone the arsenal squad? He keeps mentioning that he will now be able to prove himself when he gets his chance but he just looks like a clown running cluelessly around the pitch. Possibly the worst player in arsenal's history!

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/24/2012

PLS STOP SHOUTING TO Traore, Djourou,Coquelin, Squillaci......... Even AW more aware their quality then you all. The reason, All those sucker still use by AW, IS becos they are CHEAP and still can Run around with ball instead of playing.
Arsenal always try to attract the fan just with few accidentally bleed Good player. The buy 100 cheap players and just expecting 1 or 2 quality.Just looking for gold bar in tray's field. ! wake up man, AW just concern about their bank account then trophy.Don too naif and expecting or hope for success under this cunning France man.How you can imagine ARSENAL MANAGER said that top 4 is like winning a trophy.. May be next year, He will said that sustain in EPL and avoid relegation is like a winning trophy.

Posted by TassieGunner on 02/24/2012

Bust it is

Posted by msmith on 02/24/2012

I have said previously that one of the biggest issues with the club is the lack of quality, experienced players and a manger who appears to be unwilling to adapt his style of play to his current talent. It is wonderful to play a style similar to Barca- but Barca have a World Class Academy, pay for players from outside the system when necessary to add skill, depth, and experience. You can't allow players like Nasri and Fabregas to leave and go unreplaced. I do value being financially repsonsible, but if the goal is to compete for EPL titles and the Champions League, then changes have to be made to the way Arsenal function. These young talented guys with "potential" need some leadership and quite frankly, some more depth and skill around them. I think those who are on Ramsey's back should hop off- this is his first full season back and I think he will make some major strides next season. He started strong and appears to have fatigued a bit. I think he will be a quality player.

Posted by Sainty on 02/24/2012

The horrible feeling in the gut that I had at this time last year has returned. Since this is a yearly feeling, it cannot be an abberation. The team needs to change its policies. It would a massive blow to not make the top 4 and ruin the one thing long suffering fans have to be proud of, but I am becoming convinced that it may be the only thing that will bring about the needed change to this team. Very clearly, since Emirates was built the bosses have made the priority to pay off the stadium, with winning much farther down the list. This year may be the reckoning, as over half this team is average and they will have to work a miracle to avoid a finacial and talent death spiral in the summer. The EPL is just too good this year to fake half a roster, and I fear that the efforts of the brass to pay bills rather than talent will backfire on both the fans and themselves. I would be upset to see us turn into man city, but I don't believe we have time to field a team of 20 year olds.

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/25/2012

Prior spurs match,
"Wenger demands response from Arsenal" , Please read these artical ...... You would know that why AW should leave this club immediately.

Posted by SAM YEOH on 02/26/2012

If you all want to see a much better of Arsenal, you all have to hope that Arsenal fail for EC merely CL for next year.Otherwise you will hear
"Last year we were very close to the top and there was a rupture in the building of our team with losing Fabregas, Nasri and Wilshere," "We could compete with anybody in Europe with our midfield. we are genuine champion contender".... those are article that we been slap by AW since 7 years back till TODAY.
AW comment make it very obvious that he just looking for profit from those die hard fan, he never care and concern the feeling of those fan. common AW, We pay for winner and satisfaction not just about your professor business philosophy,As msmith said, we indeed do value financially sound concern but still the fan need some celebration moment instead just pay for stress every year Feb or March period which must be end of trophy challenge.And again, those empty future promise and failure Arsenal post modem report.

Posted by Emmanuel on 03/06/2012

Sam, I share in your thinking that Wenger should continue as manager. However, what I think should change are the transfer policies, and a number of players leave the club. Ashavin, Bendtner, Diaby, Squilaci, Johan, Denilson, Chamakh, even Vela are not fit to wear the Arsenal shirt. The money from their sale should be able to facilitate paying of wages for more worthy players like VP, TV,and the new recruits (Atleast 3 new faces, Podolski, Gotze, Verteghan). All we need is more quality.
I honestly dont think there are many better managers in the world than Wenger. If you look around he is in the top 4 in the world. He has not been lucky enough to win the Champions League but I think he is better than some of those who have won it before. Believe me Wenger is only second to Fergie in England and third in Spain. After that I dont see any one better than him.I still have my doubts on Mourinho though. (Give him the current Ars and he will not make top 4). He thrives with money.

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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.

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