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Posted by Sam Limbert on 05/07/2012

At 2.45pm on Saturday, it looked like we were going to be in desperate need of Tottenham suffering another lasagne induced bout of food poisoning, as in 2006. However at 4pm on Sunday, things weren’t looking quite as desperate. However given Arsenal’s remarkable ability to throw away our good work this season, we should probably start planning in the kitchen just to make sure we secure third place.

If Arsenal fail to finish in the top three, it will be our own fault. We’ve had the chances to secure that position, but have so far contrived to blow every one of them. To have one final chance is unexpected, but it must be utilised. On the basis of the season we do deserve to be where we are, you’re not third by accident after 37 games, because whilst we’ve had our failings, so have our closest challengers. The team should learn from the numerous mistakes we made against Norwich and give everything to take advantage of our final chance, as failure to do so could still result in Europa League football.

Our recent run is concerning ahead of the final game because we haven’t won for four matches now. After our win against Wolves, we’ve lost to Wigan, and drawn with Chelsea, Stoke and Norwich. A win in any of those games, and we’d virtually be safe in third place. It’s amazing that our fate is still in our hands, but the form ahead of a must-win match doesn’t fill me with confidence. At least in the draws with Chelsea and Stoke, we generally defended well. That wasn’t the case against Norwich.

It’s important to credit Norwich City. Like Wigan, they came to the Emirates to attack, and it made for an entertaining game. I much prefer seeing teams coming to our ground and doing that instead of putting ten men behind the ball. However we gave them a helping hand whenever they attacked.

After taking the lead early, we didn’t build momentum and kill the game off early. Then Wojciech Szczesny went all Almunia on us. Compared to our more recent goalkeepers, Szczesny makes less individual mistakes, but his one on Saturday was pretty spectacular. Only he will know how he let Wes Hoolahan’s shot through his hands. Szczesny will have to pick himself up from the mistake. Initially, his confidence did suffer during the match, and suddenly the defence in front of him looked shaky. Szczesny has had a good first full season, but we can’t afford daft mistakes at this stage of the season.

The shaky defence were horribly exposed for Norwich’s second goal. Thomas Vermaelen went on a charge up field, and no-one covered his position. Bacary Sagna was also attacking, so we were left with two at the back. At 1-1 against any team, that is daft. It’s hard to pin the blame on individuals for the goal as it the whole defensive unit that were all over the place. The space Norwich had to run into in front of our defence only highlighted how important Mikel Arteta has been to Arsenal this season. Had he been there, the chances are that he’d have been there to sweep up the danger, allowing the likes of Vermaelen and Song to gamble on going forward.

There were numerous occasions during the game that the likes of Hoolahan, Holt and Jackson were given the space to run towards our defence because Song wasn’t playing as a holding midfielder. He hasn’t adapted his game without Mikel Arteta, and Aaron Ramsey hasn’t done the same job Arteta had been doing. Arteta is able to read the game so well that he knows when to cover others and when to go forward, and that usually can’t be taught to players. Having an older, wiser, head in midfield this season has clearly benefitted us. It speaks volumes that we haven’t won in the league this season without Arteta.

The final Norwich goal also included a plethora of defensive errors. The team tried to push forward again having taken the lead, instead of keeping things simple and keeping possession. Alex Song needlessly gave the ball away, and then it shouldn’t have taken one pass over the top for Morison to be one-on-one. Kieran Gibbs was on the halfway line when he should have been more reserved after we’d taken the lead, Thomas Vermaelen tried to play offside, but Koscielny then dropped back to chase Morison. Having looked quite tight in the last few weeks, I couldn’t believe some of the defending I was watching. Maybe it was end of season nerves, maybe it was the confidence lost in Szczesny after his early mistake, I don’t know. The defence were open and fragile, and that shouldn’t be the case this late in the season.

Up front, when we actually put our mind to attacking, we were dangerous. All three of our goals were well taken, with Yossi Benayoun’s finish being excellent. Robin van Persie once again dragged us out of a bad situation, and whilst the draw was frustrating, we could have lost the game were it not for our Dutch leader. To reach 30 goals in the league is special. It goes without saying now how important it is that he stays. Hopefully the exciting signing of Lukas Podolski will be a nudge in the right direction for our captain.

We scored three, and had a lot of late chances to score more, but our attacking was still strange for a lot of the game. The first half was particularly frustrating as we didn’t stretch the Norwich defence enough. Along with Arteta, I think we’re badly missing Theo Walcott in the run-in. Even when he’s not playing well, he does offer width and helps make space for others. He gives the team a good balance. Both Benayoun and Gervinho cut inside too often and meant we were reliant on the full backs to come forward to offer width. That subsequently meant we were short at the back without Arteta instinctively filling the gaps. The movement from those higher up the pitch had a domino effect on the defensive side of the team.

There was a ten minute spell in the second half where Gervinho looked like a transformed player as he started trying to get to the by-line and looked dangerous again. With Oxlade-Chamberlain on, we also looked more balanced as he was happy to stay on the flank and run at his full back. If Walcott is fit enough for the West Brom game, I’d start him and Oxlade-Chamberlain. If not, then either Benayoun or Gervinho needs to be told to focus on the full back in front of them and not aimlessly drift inside.

Whilst I’ve been critical of the majority of our defending, it’s worth noting that Laurent Koscielny did have a good game. He was charging around often having to cover for others and made some crucial tackles and blocks. He stood up to some physical challenges with Holt and Wilbraham and didn’t let them affect him. If we had more players with his attitude, we’d be in better position as a team.

West Brom on Sunday will be difficult. Win and third is ours. Draw and then we’ll at least finish fourth, but will then be sweating on Bayern beating Chelsea. We want to finish above Tottenham, and a draw means we open the door for them to go past us again. A defeat, and Newcastle could still go past us and we’ll end up in the Europa League. The permutations get complicated if we don’t win, so let’s ignore those and just win.

We can expect West Brom to up their game as it’ll be the last one for them under Roy Hodgson. We have to win without Arteta, and need to win our first match in five. The team have to focus on tightening up at the back after the shambolic showing against Norwich. Over the season, we generally have learnt from our mistakes, so we have to do the same again. If we win, it puts us in the best position available to us to make sure we can eradicate the initial mistakes, which we then have to learn from, during next season.

It’s been a difficult season, and because of that it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re stumbling towards the finish line. Fortunately others are stumbling as well. If it looks like our stumble will be costly, we can always call for the lasagne to make sure our nearest, and not-so-dearest, stumble and fall before the season finishes. It worked in 2006, so it might be time to try and find that mystery chef if we want to guarantee our place at Europe’s top table next season.

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Posted by GonnerBear on 05/08/2012

This match was another roller coaster... Watching both matches yesterday in expectation was horrible... Now I am going to have to watch 3 games at once.

Coquelin is a better option at holding midfielder than Ramsey and much more defense minded. He should start ahead of Ramsey and have Jenkinson on the flank.

The Ox and Gervais should hold the flanks if Walcott cannot play.

I have a feeling that RvP will put the team on his shoulders and carry them to the finish line. Vermalean has the capability to be a game changer too - let's hope he does use that ability!

Arsenal has assured that I will be holding my breath until the end! It has been an entertaining season if nothing else! COYG

Posted by Dchow on 05/08/2012

It is so frustrating to see over the season that Arsenal loosing points to lesser teams despite some spectacular come back wins against the big teams. Sam: please do an analysis at the end of the season of what are the overall mistakes and reasons resulting in such consistent phenomenon.
Can somebody refresh me what happened in 2006?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. In 2006, we went into the final day in 5th, with Spurs in 4th. They tried to get their match with West Ham called off as they had food poisoning (supposedly from lasagne). We beat Wigan 4-2 in the last match at Highbury, and Spurs lost 2-1 against West Ham so we finished 4th and Spurs missed out on the Champions League.

Posted by Canberra Gooner on 05/08/2012

Sam, you are too gentle. We were poor, really poor. No doubt many other posts here will decry the refereeing and the penalty not given for the push on RVP. I am glad you didn't raise it because it is a poor excuse for the draw. So many gripes.

We don't pass anymore. I would love to see the stats on passes attempted from last season to this season. Many times we got into trouble because we delayed the pass and didn't trust our team mate to retain possession. When the pass was played the receiver was more closed down then when the first opportunity was there

All 3 Norwich goals were direct and long ball attacks and we looked lost. If we can't deal with that then what hope...

Sometimes I get the impression that TV5 believes attack is the best form of defence. When it works its a great thing, but there is a time and a place.

I hope we seal third with a strong performance but I have the fear. Major change is needed for next season mostly attitude and discipline.

Posted by Keith on 05/08/2012

Good analysis on the game, Sam. From the number of times you mentioned Arteta's name in this article, it just got to show how important he is and how much Song has faded from his game as a defensive midfielder.

In the past, AW always blamed on the no. of games the team had to play at the end of the season. But this time round, there's simply no excuses because we only have one aim to play for, that is to secure third in the league!! We can no longer blame it on fatigue and experience. How can we fight for the title next season if we are not able to hold our nerves to achieve that third spot?

It once again exposes AW's weakness in that he can't motivate the players and get them fired up! With the wealth of skillful and experienced players on the pitch, we shld never be a one-man team and rely on Arteta. Really, we only have ourselves to blame if we can't even secure top 4 after the last game this Sunday. The players really have to stand up and be counted for the sake of us, fans.

Posted by Kendahl on 05/08/2012

Great article Sam. Gunners for life.

What were your thoughts on Johnson's tackle of Bacary? Malicious, unnecessary, clumsy?

Also, any thoughts on goal-line technology?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. It was a poor tackle and it does look like Johnson knew what he was doing.
Goal line technology can't come soon enough as far as I'm concerned. It works in other sports.

Posted by teebone on 05/08/2012

Aha at last were on the same wavelength concerning Song i've been saying for months now that he's not a holding midfeilder not even close,at corners he's the furthest forward and freekicks and any other oppertunity,i like Song but the need for a Real defensive minded player is strong for our team.Sorry Sam but i don't agree with your statment"It’s important to credit Norwich City. Like Wigan, they came to the Emirates to attack"Rubbish,Arsenal as i've said many times, have the ability to make average teams like Norwich and Wigan look better than what they are We should be slaughtering teams like this,and what about the late penalty claim if the Norwich player had nudged RVP off the ball like that anywhere else on the pitch it would be a free kick a really poor decision from a really poor ref.Imagine not one penalty at home all season amazin.In general i think the refs have been below par this season the premier needs far better than the ones there trotting out now!

Posted by Hong Kong Gooner on 05/08/2012

Thanks Sam for a very polite and restrained article. Like you, all of us gooners have been very disappointed watching the last few matches. Arteta is the signing of the season, and just shows how important experience is. Ramsey is nowhere in sight helping the defence with the first 2 Norwich goals, and we definitely need to buy another holding midfielder to back up Arteta and Song.

Of course, the telling thing is that we haven't won when Arteta wasn't playing. Let's hope the last game will be the first time we can do that. My thinking is that, to win this game, we just need to score more than we concede, given current leakage problems, so let's start with the Ox and Gerv to support RVP. What do you think?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. If Walcott isn't fit, I'd go for pace on the flanks so would probably go with the Ox and Gervinho.

Posted by Hussam on 05/08/2012

Thanks sam for another post..
I said this last time(We are depending on other ppl's mistakes)..although we havnt been lucky in our own games, we have been elsewhere.. after the loss at QPR the performances have been subpar to say the least.. no bouncebackability in the team.. teams are coming to emirates & expecting 3 points, whereas regarding the manchester clubs they just want to avoid humiliation..
The team isnt ready to compete for the title next year, top 4 is a question mark.. I know u love Wenger but he forgot how to win titles.. class signings are a must in the summer.. we need a mature holding midfielder(other than arteta) & a proper defender.. vermealen is gr8 but he goes up too often & leaves an already poor defensive unit at risk..
Im sad to say if Wenger was able to keep our men(adebayour, nasri, fabregas, clichy, ashley cole, the toure brothers) we would be leading the league..
Sad times..

Posted by zebra on 05/08/2012

thanks Sam!

once again, so painful to watch in the end. and the final norwich goal! so so painful. how could we allow that to happen. and most of all, at the Emirates!

i was more than disappointed to be trailing after being ahead 1-0. that's unacceptable. and poor Sagna! Coquelin did a fine job, all things considered, but i do wish Sagna a healthy recovery after such a setback. so sad he'll miss the Euros now.

Benayoun seemed a bit tired and lacked his crispness. and Song, excluding his beautiful assist, did not playing well at all. nor Ramsey. Van Persie was brilliant again though and has shown so much strength and fight all season.

Sam, will Mertesacker at all be available for the final match? and if not, who fills in for Sagna? what did you think of the three penalties that went uncalled? and lastly, will you be writing for us again next season? we all hope so.

well, like you've said, there's just no excuse not to win and finish third. none. not even lasagna!

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Mertesacker won't be, so Jenkinson or Coquelin wil fill in. Last three penalties we should have been poor refereeing decisions.

Posted by Mohd Fauzi on 05/08/2012

Hi Sam. What a big relieved and final lifeline given by Villa & Spurs!
1. I have tired to see Ramsey on the pitch. He supposed to replace by Ox as early as halftime. I would punch AW's face for not do so. Ramsey's lazy and did not chase back that I have observed:
a- 2nd Norwich goal. b- open chance/ one-on-one for Jackson. Why AW still keep Ramsey plays??
2. There was no excuses for fatigue reason as we only played once a week. Why they can not perform well and win?
3. Horrible error by Szcz for 1st goal and he should have done something better to prevent 3rd goal. No effort at all! Make sense?
4. I would like to see Ox start for WBA, anywhere and kick Ramsey out on the bench! What is your thought?
5. 3rd place not only guarantee us the UCL group stage, but most important to keep RvP with new contract as well as attract an interest from any player to join in. Am I right?
5. We badly missing Walcott, any good chance for him to play next?
6. Any news for new player to join, Verthogen?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Ramsey wasn't the biggest problem on Saturday. I'd rather see the Ox on the wing against West Brom. I think finishing third will be important to keep RvP. Wenger said Walcott has a chance of being fit for Sunday. There are strong rumours that M'Vila will join, but I'm not sure about Vertonghen.

Posted by david fitch on 05/08/2012

For me the Norwich game was a reflection of the last six year's that Arsenal have been slowly sliding down.They have player of the year top goal scorer in the E.P.L and yet still stuggle to finish third with the gulf getting bigger from the top team's.As for the C.L they done little more than attend when you compare their record with United Liverpool Chelsea.Even in a year when the top team's have had some poor result's ARSENAL have not competed for me i can take not winning but to not even be in the running is hard to take even Chelsea with their ageing team have won F.A.Cup and in C.L final not bad for such a poor team and fourth place is still not beyond them.The question is what wrong at Arsenal i do not think one or two transfer's will change anything if they do not want to follow liverpool?As for W.B.A if they play like the have been then they will at best draw if they do win and gain third this will not solve their problem's only hide them.

Posted by Slappinjax on 05/08/2012

Provided we can manage to stumble over the line to third place, this slump we've had will hopefully encourage Wenger to strengthen the squad rather than the complacency we've seen in previous years.

Bring on St Totteringham's Day!

Posted by Rob on 05/08/2012

It's not the defence that's a problem. The back four are good and yes, Arsenal would need backup players to fill those slots, but they're working well enough.
IT'S the midfield that's an issue. Any back four working with the combination of Song and Ramsey in front of them would similarly be terribly exposed and would look worse than they are.
At the beginning of the season, Ramsey and Song played together and Arsenal had its poorest start to a season in a long time. Arteta gave stability, but now he's injured. It's frustrating to see Ramsey and Song playing together again.
Bottomline is that Song can make positive contributions going forward, but he gives up the ball in Arsenal's own half too easily. (This led to Norwich's third goal) Norwich's second goal wasn't so much Vermaelen or Sagna's fault but Song and Ramsey's as well. I could see it coming when I saw those two lagging behind in midfield instead of chasing back.
Ramsey ... I'm out of words. Not good enough.

Posted by curtis harris on 05/08/2012

Interesting what you said about gibbs. In all fairness he started out as a left winger. Should he be moved up to make room for a new left back?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Gibbs is a good player, but he was out of position for the third goal. I don't think we need to sign a new left back.

Posted by G on 05/08/2012

Nice article sam. How often must we be reliant on Arteta to be a sweeper of sorts? Wenger needs to tell his players to take that job that is so fervently needed in a midfield that should be the best in the PL. If we had Yann M'vila I dare say that wouldn't be a problem, but right now if's don't do it. We need the result, not a theoretical solution for how to do it next season. I personally voted for Arteta as the Player of the Season because without his influence, our GD would be a lot lower considering how well he did in picking out the odd man attacking. Song has moved up to a more advanced role, and without his constant pressuring on the strikers, we have a hole between midfield and defense. I suggest we put Coquelin in right back for now, and Gibbs stays on the left and Andre Santos in the Defensive Mid along with Song. Putting Walcott and AOC on the wings, Rosicky behind Van Persie. This is my ideal formation for West Brom. Or even AOC next to Song with Gervinho on the wing.

Posted by Anonymous on 05/08/2012

The Manager should be fired because he is now becoming an expert in defending failures. Giving one fire the manager he has been too used to failures and he cannot get stern message accross defenders. To let one goal in one goal can be attributed to defenders lapse of concentration but letting in three simple goals indicates a systematic failure and say many things about the management style. Why do asernal fans think that the manager is untouchable?

Posted by mawinma on 05/08/2012

very well written sam. I was always looking forward to your article, and this is my first comment as i'm deeply aggravated with our team's recent performances...

i didn't watch the game, but when i saw the score, i was crazily disappointed. i thought, "what the hell with this team? this is a game that could be easily won". jesus christ....

To be honest i'm really pessimistic for the last game. WBA is not an easy team to beat at home while our away form is shaky to say the least. I really can't imagine if we lose there...

So sam, as i'm still in grief and full of pessimism, i would like to ask a hopeless question. Will you feel more heartbroken if Arsenal finish fifth or if Arsenal finish fourth and Chelsea win the Champions League to become the first London team to do so? Either way, we finishes below Tottenham though...

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I'm trying not to think about either of those scenarios.

Posted by TopGooner on 05/08/2012

Great article Sam, as always. Yes, bring in the secret!

But on to more serious matters, our woeful defending. The midfield was non-existent defensively. I know you have held the stick back on Ramsey this season, and rightly so, he's still young and had suffered a horrible injury. But what I witnessed on Saturday, not only is he lacking the form but determination as well. The second goal, I can see him jogging lazily back as if thinking "It's ok, Gibbs with take care of it. I'll just wait here." Totally unacceptable for me. When you're lacking confidence and form, the best way to regain them is by working hard, bursting your guts out and he's not doing it at the moment.

Come Sunday, if we fail to win I might have to vote Arteta ahead of RVP for player of the season, seeing how we are winless without him.

Posted by Sejo on 05/08/2012

Sam thats a nyc 1.....this season has been full of ups n downs bt lets hope we end it well.......u always say ramsey is in for improvement didnt u see the game changed once he was subtituted????? Ox gives us pace,he is hardworking and as we hve learned he can play anywhere provided we win the game..ramsey doesnt allow change when he plays in the flanks he is terrible in mid field he is even worse i think its tym we learn our lesson n stop relying on plays out of form...wats ur say????

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We're having to rely on players that are out of form because of injuries. Ramsey didn't have a bad game on Saturday, he just doesn't have the experience of Arteta.

Posted by Moses Ukpong on 05/08/2012

This is a good write. Keep it up. I hope that ladyluck will help us on sunday.

Posted by Albert on 05/08/2012

Song and Ramsey are supposed to play as holding midfielder supporting Rosicky, but instead, both keep charging forward leaving our center backs horribly exposed all the time.

Song used to always charge back to help with defenses whenever Arsenal lost possession, but in this game, he is walking around and ball watching most of the time.

Ramsey seems to have a lot of understanding problems with his teammates. I have lost counts the number of mis-passes he had during the game.

Together with Gibbs who play like a winger than a full back, Arsenal is defending with 3 players most of the time, and some times only with 2 with Vermaelen charged forward and still backtracking.

I really missed Walcott and Arteta.

Ramsey and Song cannot play together, we need a proper defensive midfielder, Song needs to know his role and stick to it!

Sam, do you think Coquelin can be used as the holding midfielder to cover the hole always left behind by Song, with Carl Jenkinson at right back?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Jenkinson will be used at right back, and Coquelin will be on the bench.

Posted by Kenneth Lim on 05/08/2012

Once again, Song gave the ball away. And he did it many time in the game. What kind of holding midfielder is he? He cannot hold the ball and cannot control the tempo of the game. He cannot win the ball and worst, he keeping giving the ball away. Time to sell him and get a world class holding midfielder.

Posted by Zaron on 05/08/2012

Nice article Sam...! Have been reading your blogs for a while and they are always such pleasure to read. Didn't expect I would be the first to comment.

I was disappointed with both Szczesny and Vermaelen for our both goals and more so with Szczesny for reminding us about the Arsenal of the old.

I have a few Qs:
I feel losing Sagna is big blow but how big a blow that would be ? May be not that big as our season is almost over. How long do you think he is out (3months) ?

Why dont AW accept that the team is NOT full of strength and BUY/LOAN a full back in January as we lost so many WINNABLE points in jan, only for him to say in Feb that we could have done better with some Fit full backs. It wont cost Millions to laon .?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. Losing Sagna will be a blow, and his pre-season could be difficult. In hindsight, we should have signed a full back on loan, but there weren't many available.

Looking this season that the 2nd placed team could be 19 points more than the 3rd placed Arsenal. We all realize that Arsenal is still not CHAMPIONSHIP material and now we have Podolski. Can we get Vertonghen ?

I beleive we need an ACM do you think AW will sign ?

Posted by ola on 05/08/2012

our pro llies in both board nd wengers hand while we fans expect nothin bt cup to consolidate our pressure nd tension for watchin our dear team playin is it d ryt tym for wenger to learn lesson or maybe is wish is nt to lift cup for d club again den he shld pave way for smone else

Posted by Shad on 05/08/2012

Nice article Sam. As you rightly pointed out [along with the gazillion other Arsenal fans], the team isn't the same without Arteta. Song is a needle in a haystack without him. Koscielny, RvP and Rosicky have been immaculate since the new year. SCZC had a blip in confidence after the howler, I expect him to fully recover.
On to the big questions Sam:

1. Ramsey. While having potential, is he really good for a club of Arsenal's stature? We've had battle hard midfielders..Petit, Viera, Edu, Gilberto, Parlour etc. He can't lace their boots. To loan or sell him off - if rumours of getting M'vila are true?

2. Do you agree with me we need another CAM to rival Rosicky? He'll be turning 32 and while he's good, we need a world class midfielder to raise our game especially in UCL.

3. Of the loanees, who do you reckon we retain and who to cut off?

4. Isn't it about time AW let's go of Diaby? Quality is nothing if it can never be seen!

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment.
1. I think Ramsey will be good enough. The M'Vila rumours seem to be gathering pace.
2. We might need another midfielder, but we've got Wilshere to come back.
3. I think the majority of the young loanees will get pre-season to prove themselves. The likes of Bendtner will probably get moved on.
4. The Diaby situation is difficult as I think he's good, but his injury record is terrible. Keeping him means we'll still have the chance of him making a full recovery.

Posted by gooner138098 on 05/08/2012

Goo read Sam!but that's putting it rather lightly!compared to our performances against the top teams ,the ones against the likes of Wigan,Stoke & Norwich were abyssmal to say the least.just imagine-put in similar scenario,would any of the top teams(barring Spuds)faulter the way we did?to top it off our "brilliant" gk is doing a Almunia!this despite having our preffered back 4!so where do you think the problem lies,Sam?is it because of lack of a holding midfielder?if so,wouldn't Coquelin have done a better job with Yennaris at rb(in Sagna's place) cos clearly Ramsey's totally useless both in defense & offense and the games he started-we either drew or lost!!

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think the problem was we didn't have enough protection, and the defenders seemed to panic when being ran at. I think they were affected by Szczesny's earlier mistake.

Posted by arsenal fan on 05/08/2012

we are very good at attacking as a unit, but defending as a unit, we are very very poor. this is our biggest problem not only this season but since a few seasons before. can't we defend like chelsea against barcelona? for god sake, what are the coach doing at the training ground? are we only train to attack and just leave the defending for the back four? this problem has to be solve ASAP. if not, all the defensive coaches must be sacked, and replace them with someone who know how to DEFEND.

Posted by Peter on 05/08/2012

Silly perplexing performance,this team lack character and drive,they throw away greatness, shame on them,if they dont win the next game,then we deserve to be in the europa league,pull your socks up 'GUNNERS'

Posted by Uncle Bear on 05/08/2012

Couldn't agree more on the importance of Arteta to the team, Ramsey is just not in the same class. We are extremely lucky to be still at 3rd after getting three points out of twelve. I would rather play the Ox instead of Ramsey in the midfield against West Brom and Song must sit deeper to protect the back four.

By the way Sam, many sources have reported we are close to signing M'vila, have you seen him play and what do you think about him?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I've seen him play a couple of times this season, and he's not been fantastic, but he's attracted a lot of interest so hopefully the games I saw were just him having an off-day.

Posted by Ndubuisi Raphael on 05/08/2012

the entire game showed somethin: AFC dont have enough players wit d class dat can difficult games and thats exactly wat Man U hv(no apologies).
we lack obviously a leader in the defence line. Wilshere is d only other deep lying playmaker we have asides Arteta hence we r stuck for now.
Gervinho's natural game is drifting inside,d problem is his final ball and finishing which can often be awful.he works on that and next season we'll have a better version of Benayoun.
As for RVP, i think we r lucky to have him and dat he's stayed injury free dis season. if not our season should've ended long ago(AW always depends on chance and providence). Podolski is a very good palyer no doubt, but he's similar to RVP in style.i xpected AW to buy a more powerful striker wit a physical presence in d box.
Song obviously needs some competition as he's gettin complacent.
Sczesny is young and had a bad day.
Dispose of the likes of Squill, Denil,Bendt,Vela, Alumn and maybe Diaby n we'll b fine.

Posted by mustafa on 05/08/2012

Nice article Sam, like always. The mystery chef huh...hahaha! A combination of results kept us in 3rd, i'm confident that we can manage to lose and still be 3rd next sunday, lady lucky is still smiling on us. In 2006 i was not much worried about finishing 5th as i was sure the gunners were going to beat Uefalona in Paris (the same hope chelsea are having), but came to thank the mystery chef in the end. But this year it's in our hands, am sure we wont be intimidated by Roy masks and three lions outfits. ARSENAL FOR 3RD.

Posted by Mesh on 05/08/2012

Nice post Sam and spot on the weaknesses in the midfield, Realised that all three goals happened because of the lack of cover for our 2 CB's..Both Song and Ramsey looked too tired to fill the gaps left by the forward running TV

Playing with 4-2-3-1 means the 2 holding midfielders need to be very aware of the positions of the opponents. I think it is time to play yossi with song in the MF position for the final game and rosicky play the AMF. Do you think M'Villa would be a good buy to fill in to this void ? Also Chamkah put in a good shift for those 20 minutes..If walcott is not fit would be good to try him on the right maybe ? See the counter attacks from our corners happening time and again..What is wrong ?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think M'Vila could be a good signing as he should be a more orthodox holding player. Chamakh did ok when he came on, but he's not a winger.

Posted by Yusuf Sam on 05/08/2012

Execellent piece Sam!

Our players were awful especially that back four with the exception of Koscielny. Wenger should call his players to caution! Szczesny made some costly mistakes that cost us 2 point! I felt even the 2nd goal, he shouldn't have left his line since Gibbs had ran back into a central defensive position.

Sam, I think once we were 3-2 up, Arsene should have just closed the game, call the players to order. There was no need for those adventures that left us exposed leading to that equaliser with just some few minutes left. What do you think Sam?

Heard some rumours about M'Villa's deal being sealed. Do you have any information on that?


Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. We should have tried to close the game off and should have kept it tighter. The M'Vila rumours are strong but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Posted by Christch on 05/08/2012

Having no win in 5 matches consecutively but still remains 3rd place is unbelievable. We were lucky as those teams like Newcastle, Chealsea and Tottenham havent performs well enough to get pass us. Good point you quoted Sam, since Arteta has gone down the team looks like the same old team that does not know how to defend, leaving big gaps that really scares our fans hearts. Wenger really need to pick this team up and get them mentally prepared for the last match. Another fall will be calamitous and poise a threat of Rvp leaving.

Posted by Yang Stephen on 05/08/2012

For the past five years, Arsenal always stumble in the last few matches towards the end of the season. when they were presented an excellent chance to shake off the nearest rival, they flutted it away. I am surprised both manager, coach and team captain did not tell the midfielders and defenders to drop back to hold the half line when they had taken a lead during a match when the games left only 6 minutes to play. I do not think they have ever learnt. May be Arsenal is only fit to compete in Europa League.

Posted by ngoni on 05/08/2012

I really aplaud alex songa's work rate as defensive midfielder but can someone care to explain why he(alex) is so shy at tacking a shot on goal(except fo the backheel last saturday) .he sometimes gets into nice promising positions to take a good shot , but will always try to look for somebody to pass to instead, I hev noticed arteta always tries to go fo it and has provided us with some good goals! Only if Song could do the same,,when was the last time he had a real long range crack at goal?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. He's never really scored a belting long ranger.

Posted by Live Gunners on 05/08/2012

Let Sagna have a speedy recovery.
If Wenger CANNOT train the defenders properly, he must the GUTS have to ask the board to engage a DEFENSIVE COACH. (SUGGESTION: engage George Graham as a special defensive consultant - will be more than able to tighten up the shaky defenders provide he is allowed to select lineup for defenders, also be able to advise Wenger how to open up opponent defense).
I think the the team / squad have lost total confidence in Ramsey, as such they are unable to raise their game until Ramsey was substituted.
I wish to see the lineup for the final game as
Gibbs, TV, Kosc, Coq,
Ben, Song, Rosicky,
Ger, RvP, Ox
**Ramsey MUST NOT be on the bench.

Posted by Raza on 05/08/2012

I have a bad feeling for Sunday seeing how we haven't won without Arteta. We definitely need to play Coq at DM; he played quite well against Norwich, and trust Jenkinson to fill in at RB.

Sam, what do you think about Rosicky and Song playing in center with RVP and Chamakh up front? I'm asking coz I thought Chamakh looked a lot livelier when he came on, and we do desperately need to win this match.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Wenger will leave that as an option to have later in the game, and will start with our usual formation.

Posted by John Galt on 05/08/2012

"Then Wojciech Szczesny went all Almunia on us."


Posted by Tyler on 05/08/2012

When Arteta went down a while back I commented and said if we don't find a replacement for him we might be screwed. I don't want to toot my own horn here, but I was more right than I wanted to be. Someone on this team has to step up and fill his void in our next game. He seriously is player of the year runner up for our team.

Although next season looks bright with him and Wilshere in the midfield...provided Wilshere ever plays again...geeesh

Posted by Hari on 05/08/2012

Arteta has exposed exactly whats wrong with wenger..."you dont win anything with kids" was proved wrong long ago but you dont win anything with ONLY need continuity at the club...that's where the big difference between ferguson and wenger lies.... the ability to make a slow transition between generations infusing just enough fresh blood while keeping some of the old wise heads to pass on their experience to the youngsters and also come on and make a difference in keys situations....had arteta or someone simillar been in the side two seasons ago, what a difference it would have made!!!

Posted by Boom on 05/08/2012

Sam, do you think Tottenham will try to get their revenge on us by doing a lasagna to us instead?

I also realised that Arsenal signed Sagna after the la"sagna" incident. Coincidence much?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. They'll have to be crafty if they do as we'll be in the Midlands.

Posted by femtobs on 05/08/2012

Hmmmm...nice article.However,I observe that there always seem to be a kind of soft landing(defending) for Ramsey in the write-ups or in responses to questions that bother on his performance.

Objectively, I really cant blame Ramsey for his recent performances especially when he is playing Defensive midfielder role alongside Song- afterall, he (Ramsey) is being groomed to be an attacking midfielder. Maybe that is responsible for his poor performances in that position. His game is better when he plays in his prefered attacking role and not burdened with DM duties.So,

Question 1:I understand that Ramsey has the potential to be a great footballer for Arsenal but do you think Wenger is protecting him enough?

Question 2:Considering the performances of Ramsey in the Defensive/Holding Midfield position this season, whc of these 2 combinations should Arsene go for vs. WBA:

1. Song - Coq - Rosicky (with Jenkinson as right back) or,
2. Song - Ramsey - Rosicky (coq as right back)

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. I think Ramsey is playing because of the injuries to others, not because we are/aren't trying to protect him.
Against WBA, I think it;ll be Jenkinson at right back with Song, Ramsey and Rosicky in midfield.

Posted by Ed on 05/08/2012

Sam, great post again.

Since it seems most people have overlooked this, i just wanted to add that Rosicky was again outstanding as he has been for the past couple of months now.

Onto the defence, i just feel that too often in games, we lose our shape defensively and some players just seem unsure of their exact roles. What makes this more painful is that alot of this defensive nous and discipline can be coached (see our back four during the Graham era and the bedrock on which the successful Manure teams were built).

i do feel that Wenger needs to recognise this and look to employ a specialist defensive coach to work on this area in the offseason... all great teams are built on a strong defence...

Posted by Titansgunners12thman on 05/08/2012

I am sick of seeing the same movie for the past 6-7 years. When is Wenger going to learn? Meanwhile all the talent that Wenger could have had or has had is playing like the missing pieces we needed. Yaya Toure- rejected on trial-HOW?; Fabregas- starting at Barcelona; Nasri- playing at City, must we go on. Not only do we have a defending problem but we have a manager that either doesn't like top talent or can't identify top class talent, added tot he fact that if you don't play his system-even if it is against your best playing instincts- you will not play, or be played out of position. Does anyone understand why Wenger won't let Arshavin play CAM? Or Walcott in the Center forward role?
Wenger is the blame for all the failures and weaknesses this time has suffered or has had. I AM READY FOR HIM TO GO BACK TO FRANCE!

Posted by Elmir Delic on 05/08/2012

Sam I was wondering what you think our starting eleven might look like next season. I understand that szczesny(GK), Sagna(RB), Vermaelan(CB), Kos(CB), Gibbs (LB), and Van Persie (FW) are given. However, I don't see how to set up the other five positions because we will have Gervinho, OX, Podolski, Song, Rosicky, Wilshere, Arteta, Walcott, and M'Villa(allegedly). That's nine players for five spots. That's 4 wingers, 3 attacking mids, and 2 defensive mids

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. It's hard to know until we see who leaves and comes into the club.

Posted by zacky on 05/08/2012

we lost cuz of bad defending and slack midfield play. AW cannot manage past long ball with big strong striker opposition or a bad pitch that affects our passing game. and what is this love affair you have with Ramsey? D boi is not Arsenal quality, yes he's only 20 n blah blah but he is too casual. i say loan him out to a struggling side so he can run down ball all season n learn sum grit and aggression, his play is terribly lacking quality, he missed a tap in and trots back while TV amd Kos catching their backsides with tall strong quick counter attacks. Ramsey is an utter disgrace n i have said it all season. So whatever love affair u n AW have with this boi y'all both should be looking for new jobs come next season. maybe both of you can become Ramsey personal Physio n pamper him all season long like this one. Disgraceful!!!!

Posted by gooner4eva on 05/08/2012

Great post Sam! i think u've been far too lineant on the team!we were simply pathetic,pathetic,PATHETIC against norwich!the defence & gk were so poor that norwich looked like scoring whenever they moved forward!we were lucky to concede only 3!Ramsey may be a talent,but a pretty useless one--not good enough to play in BPL!now that Podolski has come & may be M'villa,who do u think will make way?if M'villa does arrive,do u think the DMs will be M'villa+Arteta with Song out?

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. If we signed M'Vila, I don't necessarily think we'll sell a midfielder, there will just be greater competition and players will be under more pressure to perform.

Posted by Gerard on 05/08/2012

While I never liked the idea of making Ramsey the scapegoat, it has become a common occurrence that blame falls on him. I'm not sure which parallel universe Wenger is looking at, but making comparisons between Ramsey and Fabregas is hilarious. The lad is average in pretty much every aspect of his game, so I guess as a utility midfielder he's ok. But to field him on the starting XI has become something of a suicide.

Since our defending is laughable, let's score a lot of goals against WBA then! We should throw an offensive-minded team, similar to the one that scored 3 times vs AC Milan. That should make them fear us!

Posted by Fabe on 05/08/2012

Sam, Have been an ardent and silent follower of ur blog. Pls I av 3 questions 4 u. (1) Whats d meanin of AKB? (2) Would u support a change of formation 2 accomodate chamakh upfront against West brom? (3) Wil u stil be bloggin 4 us during d pre season and next season? Hopin u would, cuz u almost always state my mind on issues concerning Arsenal.

Sam Limbert: Thanks for your comment. AKB is Arsene Knows Best. I think we'll stick to our usual formation for the WBA game, and Chamakh will be an option from the bench.

Posted by dazzwater on 05/08/2012

re the title, thanks for the offer. perhaps you'll get some lasagna in return, who knows? better set some bodyguards on RVP wherever he goes.

Posted by Dan on 05/08/2012

I cant believe you are still backing ramsey. He played with little effort tracking back and was pointed out by the espn commentators atleast 3 times having a chance to catch a norwich attacker and lazily jogged back and never made it into the defensive box. It was no surprise once ox came on for him we had our best chance of the 2nd half within 5 minutes. I know he is young but ramsey has been "out of form" for 5 months and his effort evens seems lacking now.

Posted by Lucas Weiss on 05/08/2012

Love the comment above me, ditto ditto (also love that it was left by John Galt which is usually the name I use)

Anyway, the defense was truly pathetic. No excuses, The entire back four was poor, you say Koscielny had a good game, but while he made some saving tackles, he was also out of position, gave away what shoulda been a penalty. Ramsey also, he's had a very poor end-of-season and will be coming off the bench next season behind Wilshere, Song, and Arteta.

We didn't create much until Benayoun came off for Ox. Ox was brilliant and continues to be brilliant and NEEDS to start.
Wenger has made some very poor team selections this year, hopefully we're ok in the finale next week

Posted by sam, Jakarta on 05/09/2012

My prediction is we will finish third. Not because we win, but because Spurs and New Castle draw or even lose.

I have to say this because more often than not our players seem to lack winning mentality, to be obsessed with attack albeit lack of ruthlessness, to make schoolboy mistakes at the back including by our confident stopper and, above all, to lack luck e.g as AW said we haven't won a penalty this season.

Yes, despite the fact that we are fantastic sometimes, we could be pathetic, very pathetic at times. Some of our players seem to be injury-prone. So, when quality players like Arteta or Wilshare are sidelined, we can be pathetic indeed.

Posted by Alec Beach on 05/09/2012

Seem to be forgetting 2 penalties at home vs villa in FA cup , also Arsenal got away with one in the first half so no complaining you one eyed gooners

Posted by blave on 05/09/2012

At this point the negatives and disappointments from last week have been well documented. Rather than dwell any further I will take a different approach.

Given the importance of this final match I urge all Gunners fans to banish any negative thoughts and energy and focus on positives. A little power of attraction if you will.

Locking up third place with a solid win against WBA and securing Champions League football once again. St Totteringhams Day. A speedy recovery for Sagna. A couple more signings to add to the quality and depth of the side and of course RVP signing an extension!

Positive momentum from a win/3rd spot leading right into improvement next year a better start and more consistency from the squad. What do you say Gunners?

I would also enjoy another season of your blogs Sam but it seems you are being as coy as RVP about your intentions. I hope you sign an extension as well.

Come on Gunners! Show your class and finish with a massive win!

Posted by Fabe on 05/09/2012

Sam, U've stil not answered my question, Pls will u stil be blogging 4 us during d pre season and next season?

Sam Limbert: Yes, I hopefully will be.

Posted by MSLM on 05/09/2012

Sam, I'm only commenting cos for some weird reason you seem to be over protecting Ramsey here. Fine, we get the point he's out of form and doesn't have the experience of Arteta but trust me he's playing so badly right now I wouldn't even mind playing wit only one holding midfielder. Theres no enthusiasm, no drive, no effort... jus silly school boy mistakes. And for that same weird reason you keep on protecting him on this blog AW is also playing him in every game. I'm not a coach and AW knows better but come on Ramsey is killing us out there. Its so so terrible.

Posted by Dipt on 05/09/2012

Hi Sam, nice article.
2 things.
1) No comment on Pat Rice? I thought you would mention him in your article or perhaps you are waiting for the season to be over?
2) I have heard some crazy statistic about us playing at the Emirates. Would you be able to provide us with our record when we play at home on Saturdays at the 3 PM (UK Time) kick-off. Stats for the last 18 months would be great.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 05/09/2012

Part 1 - My Comment
Huge Of Luck,Damn Stupid and Very Low Commitment...That is the most I should say.
If again next week by luck,we still stay at 3rd or 4th position,I still not happy because we don't deserve it with this type of performance.A Great Team don't need luck even thou luck does happen.
I remembered well this type of defending is just the same when we play against Swansea[lost 3-2].We are giving away cheap goals from simple through pass,counter attack & overhead loop pass.Please look again Swansea goals's.Where is TV?I didn't feel his existence on the pitch for 80 mins.Only the last 10 mins,he showed some tough play,Kolchieny is the only defender that really alive for 90 mins.He played very very well.
We are the team that more urgent to lock for 3rd spot and play at home compare to Norwich.From the last 4 games,we played at home 3 times and just manage to draw 2 & lost 1.We did not win at all out of 4.Definitely our mentality are far below than our great name as Gunners.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 05/09/2012

Part 2....
Our shot on goal 11 and Norwich 4 but both scored 3.What the heck are we if Norwich able to converted 3 out of 4 shots???Again,Song just show his killer overhead pass & he is really getting good of it.Just what we need.

Part 2 - Next week review

Remember this!We did not win against WBA last season and this season,we win at home without their Odemwinge.Now he is back.Just the same when we played against Chelsea w/out Drogba or M.City w/out Yaya Toure.Now it's really depend on how we play and not how they play.If our defenders still play like this week,the opponent don't have to be a great team to beat us.They just need to be discipline and smart as what Norwich did.
We MUST win.No draw-lost.
Tottenham sure win for at least 4th.Newcastle quit tough to play at Everton but look back how they played against Chelsea & M.City,the winning is possible.
We got lucky because Newcastle lost to the leader M.City and Tottenham with 10 mens play away game at Villa.

Posted by Arsenal Army on 05/09/2012

Part 3......
Look how they control the game with 10 mens?Just show how much they push for a win even they failed to get it.Do you think they will let go easily their only hope this week in front of their fans?No way!Newcastle just need win and hope we lost for 4th or at least for Europa League.Do we still need back up with another luck next week?Ha..ha!

With this kind of urgency,we really look trouble because of intensity and anxiety.Arsenal really not good with this situation and waste more ball than it should.Things can get worst if we have low mentality and most of the times we will not play as supposed we should play especially WBA don't have anything to lose.They will be more discipline and read the game better than us especially in front of their fans.They will go steady and no rush.They will wait until Arsenal make mistake and go for a good counter attack with Odemwinge.Many teams had done this on us and only Arsenal never learn. cont....

Posted by Arsenal Army on 05/09/2012

Part 4...
Believe me,Arsenal will lost their game play in this type of intensity because our past games already proved it.WBA got experienced with us with tight defending and it work well for them.Really,we are in trouble unless we can grab an earlier goal and later be disciplined the rest of the game.If we failed to get goal at least before 60 mins, I,m sure you will see Arsenal games will be teribble the next 30 mins.I've seen a lot of it from Arsenal.AW need to think how to get an earlier goal asap!That's it!Our own fault by putting ourselves in this situation which we don't need it and now we have to pay for it.Hopefully the team able to repay all the mistakes they had done once and for all.So,go on Gunners.This is our last chance.
Sorry,very long comment but I am just mad-boiled and cannot hold myself anymore longer.Must say it out or I explode.Chelsea now really target UCL Champ.Definitely must get 3rd.

Posted by Didi on 05/09/2012

Hello Sam,

This is my first post on here and I enjoy ur blogs. I just want to make a quick comment on how you view ramsey's role in the team and just see the positives with him. Dude smaller teams come to the emirates and completely dominate our midfield, that is only because ramsey isnt good enough. I dont wanna single him out but the position he plays at is really important. Notice everytime he is taking off, we begin to play better. IF we start ramsey against west brom, God we will probably be doomed. I'd much prefer it if he were brought on when we are 2/3 goals up. I like you would like to see him succeed but we cant be nurturing players who arent good enough.

Posted by Rob on 05/09/2012

Agreed, Koscielny was good against Norwich. I can't help but feel that Vermaelen is the weakest link in defence. He is constantly caught out of position, and is always diving into the challenge. As far as I'm concerned, he was largely responsible for the defeat at QPR, and to some extent against Norwich. However the error by Sczszesny did not help.

Posted by I.Nace on 05/09/2012

Bad start of the season,flat in the middle and weak finish of it.We've been doing it over for years and now we fight for 3rd spot as if we're a trophy.Again recruting in France or elsewhere,good players but low fighting & leadership attitudes,that a lot of english players have.I'm affraid we're developing a custom of OK next year or here we go again!I'm affraid RvP will say,can I continue to enjoy playing in this team and not to win anything?That's why we're bringing Podolski.We keep bringing players that want to improve and try their luck.I understand it's luck but they need to fight for the team and the supporters at their expense not our (fans) expense!

Posted by HRH on 05/10/2012

Hello Sam thanks for another lovely post, i do think you are sticking up for Ramsey too much, sure he had his injury nightmare and needs time to get back to been the talent we all believed he would be it's not everyday Wenger and Ferguson go head to head for a player but the thing is right now and basically all season he has been below average and his replacing Arteta is the problem the team has had past couple of weeks,i am all for Coquelin or AOC in that role on Sunday or we very well might need that chef, what do you think?

Posted by anthony on 05/10/2012

Good Post Sam.Here's my take,coming in the home stretch with enough rest(1 game per week)and the know that a win against Norwich gives us authomatic CL spot,one would think that the team would work their socks off,but be it far from the truth.Very disappointing work ethic on show last match day.What is happening? Thanks to Villa's fight Spurs is still in 4th. No doubt WBA will want to give their man er a good send off so we are up against it.Sure Arsenal can beat them but do you think the winning mentality will be at the park Sunday? It will be devasting for me a Jamaican fan to see us out of CL.Hope Wenger weild a magic wand for this vital match.
Possible RVP will remain if we qualify also big names will want to join us for next campaign. Having said that, do you trust Wenger to roll out the big bucks and really make a consorted effort to land a silver ware next. For some reason I think the powers that be dont think one bit about us the fans,much Wenger with his philosophy of youth.

Posted by VA Gooner on 05/10/2012

Sam, Love ur stuff! Quick Question, now that Rice is lvg, isn't this a great time to bring Henri for his "retirement" job? The situation seems tailored for him to come in like he says he wants to.Ramsey needs more time, Arteta nds repair. Benayoun needs to stay, and RVP needs a massive pay raise!! Sell Arshavin, and a cple others who don't nd mentioning and bring in M'vila, the Deuce, and a left/ctr back for bolstering/backup. Then we should be all set. If RVP lvs we'll be lucky to hit 7th next season!!

Posted by Ethan on 05/10/2012

Hi Sam, nice work on the lasagne stuff. It's a good way to defuse some of our anger and agony.
This is definitely not the defence of a trophy winning team. Like I say before, Szczesny is good. But he needs to be a understudy of a great keeper. His opposite number did a better job. And every time vermalen goes down needlessly, I can sense a goal coming. Defenders rushed back on time but became spectators. Coquelin was too nervous in the beginning to allow a damaging cross. Song, without his defensive mate, looked shocked when there is no cover for his lost possession.
Yes, Ramsey should take a break. He has done well for his 1st full season.Oxy should play WBA.
If not our offensive strength, we won't keep our 3rd place. It's a typical day when we play like boys.
Sad to see Rice go. I believe he would like a trophy before leaving. Bould have a chance to lead the 1st few matches in CL next season if boys realise they have to play a zero mistake game against WBA

Posted by uuro on 05/11/2012


Posted by follent on 05/12/2012

you cannot depend on only one striker get goals for the team.cant the manager get ashamed of taking all those years minus a trophy.

Posted by number one fan on 05/13/2012


Posted by Arif Azim on 05/13/2012

Congratulations to Manchester City. Now they will buy every footballer under the sun, including Alex Ferguson!

Manchester City though have a habit of fading away after winning the title, and they were even relegated in the season immediately following their championship season, if I am not wrong (happened in the thirties or forties, I think!)

First time in a three-team relegation season that three original founding fathers of the Football League have gone down together!

Crazy season and a crazier finale. Despite hating Liverpool, I feel sorry for them having such a bad season.

Well, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, you have a post-season break to figure out how you are getting back into the act. We've been waiting too long, and can wait longer, but shouldn't be made to wait.

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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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