So why did Arsenal fail?

by Teflon

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

The negatives and the positives

Just a few months ago Arsenal were on fire, they were favorites for the Premier league with a 5 Point lead over Man Utd, in the Semi finals of the Carling cup, passing through the early rounds in the FA cup and doing very well in Europe.

Winning ways

Fast-forward to today and look where they are now, it all smells of Déjà vu to me. Currently sitting 3rd in the league, out of all competitions and are in the worst run of form since Wenger took over. So what exactly went wrong?

Looking back over the season I think I have found where Arsenal started to falter. Think way back to January 6th, Burnley vs Arsenal in the FA cup. Watching the game I thought it was the worst they had played all year, in fact, it was a total embarrassment. I remember the BBC showing a guy texting someone at half time, his text said ‘we are 1-0 down, but are the better side. Arsenal who?’ They were lucky to win that game. 3 days later they faced Spurs in the Carling Cup and were held to a very fortuitous 1-1 draw at the Emirates. I was in the crowd that night and yet again it was a terrible performance. Theo Walcott was very lucky to get away with a Handball to give them an equalizer. So don’t go moaning about Arsenal being hard done by Mr. Wenger, what goes around, comes around.

So next up it was Birmingham’s turn, they managed to scrape a 1-1 draw at the Emirates. Now here is a fact that will surprise most people, since their 2-0 win at Burnley, Arsenal have only won 6 out of 18 Games against English opposition. Many people think they know why but let’s go and dig deep for the real reasons. Firstly, the African Nations Cup took Kolo Toure away from the Gunners and left Phillip Senderos accompanying Gallas at the back. Don’t get me wrong I think Senderos is a good player for 45 minutes, for the other 45 he ball watches and loses his concentration. Secondly Emmanuel Eboue, now there is a lot I can say about this player, most of it cannot write here for legal reasons. I think the best way to sum my feelings about him is in 2 words, ‘A liability’. Arsenal fans hate him, Chelsea fans hate him, and John Terry hates him. Hell even Arsene Wenger should be thinking the same sometime soon.

So the first reason is poor player choice and lack of depth in our squad, we already know that, it’s obvious for everyone to see. We had the chance to sign Jonathon Woodgate in January but we didn’t, we had the chance to sign Jermane Defoe from Spurs but we didn’t. We shouldn’t of let a player of Diarra’s quality go so easily too, but we did. We cannot do things on the cheap forever and expect success.

My second reason is Arsene Wenger needs to realize his Kids are not the invisibles of a few seasons before. Playing his junior side vs Spurs in the Carling Cup was a mistake. He should have realized how important that game was to the fans, instead he played the youth team, which took an unhealthy beating. Wengers arrogance made him victim of some pretty hefty criticism, from his own fans too.

They then went on to win 4 games in a row scoring 11 goals. A few good results made the gunners fans keep some hope, all be it false hope at that. But then disaster struck when we were thrashed 4-0 at Old Trafford. Now in my opinion Arsenal threw this game. We didn’t turn up; there was no passion, no fight and no desire. I knew this result would have repercussions, how right I was.

I have loads of Excuses for why Arsenal have lost their way. Jens Lehmann and Gilberto Silva’s bitching about lack of football to the press. Robin Van Persie’s and Thomas Rosicky’s huge injury problems, Eboue’s, Senderos’s & Bentdner’s very poor form. Hlebs inability to shoot, Adebayor cutting his hair while he was on a goal-scoring role. Wengers arrogance is what I think people need to look at. He is way to stubborn and will have to change if we are going to progress.

Arsenals average age of first team players this season is around 22, players such as Fabregas, Flamini, Clichy, Adebayor are all still very young. Inexperience is a key fact here.

Wenger not spending in the right areas. He bought Fabianski in the summer when he had Almunia and Lehmann. He also got Eduardo who proved to be a huge disappointment. Theo never got a regular place even though he has been fantastic these last few weeks. If you go back to the start of the season, on day 1 if someone said this season, Arsenal will win the Premiership everyone would have shot this statement down and did shoot it down.

Arsenal’s failings to win trophies this season have in fact had a positive effect. They have been true to them selves, playing beautiful football throughout. The victory in Milan, the 7-0 thumping of Slavia Prague, the 3-2 win at Bolton, the 3-1 win at Reading, Walcott’s amazing dribble. Arsenal have entertained everyone. They have dug deeper than last season; they now have a plan B. The squad is young, but it’s nothing a few big signings can’t sort out. Lets not forget, Arsenal are very much a work in progress, a team in transition. Next season they will be closer to Man United, and who knows we might even win a trophy.


Arsenal’s style of play has created new debates all over the country, and none more then so in this blog. Both Chelsea and Liverpool with their long ball anti football have indeed angered lots of people in the game. I would even go as far to say, if Barcelona don’t win the Champions League, I really hope Man United do, and that hurts being an Arsenal season ticket holder.

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  • Darren

    I seem to change my mind with article I read, I love the way we play, yet playing this way and ending up trophy less again is simply not good enough. I understand we are in transition, but we could of at least won the Micky Cup, at least that would shut the Spuds up.

    Man Utd can play beautiful, yet can mix it up when they have to. They take the lead in games, and close them out. That’s something we can not do.

    Toure has been poor this season, as has Gallas, there lies the main reason why we have been conceding so many goals. Saga and Clichy have been superb, ok, so Clichy made a terrible error at Birmingham, but from that he will learn. Where as Gallas, should know better. I like him as a player, but as a person, he’s a total 2 faced twat. I wouldn’t be surprised he walked out after this season.

    I actually rate Edurdo, he reminds of a Wayne Rooney, he’s, sorry was, clever, scored great goals and was constantly buzzing around, dropping deep and making things happen, it was his first season after all. He at least gave Samson some competition.

    If you look at the other teams worth mentioning in the league, they have 2 players for every position, we have 1. You can’t expect to play the same team for a whole season. Look at Utd, they have 18m pound players on the bench, we have championship players.

    I do think next season will be our time, however, if Wenger fails to sign at least 2 world class players with experience then people may well start to question his motives, and dare I say it, he will be past his sell by date!

  • Darren

    I read this morning that Pleb has had 11 shots on target all season, and 7 off, so that’s 18 shots in over 40 games, he has only scored twice. So combine that with Eboue’s grand total of 0 goals and there lies another problem. Our wingers have scored a grand total of 2 goals. I’m not including Rosicky of course, although I doubt he is in double figures.

    We are still to replace Pires, who would would bang in 15 goals a season.

    The message is clear, we need to be more ruthless! Simple as that

  • dexylongshot

    Be ruthless and get Walcott a regular place, at least he’s more direct. I bet his stats, goals and assists per minutes on pitch is better than most of the other wingers this season.

  • James Webb

    The main differences between Arsenal and Man Utd are firstly the lack of quality and experience on the bench and in the squad. All credit to Wenger he has the knack of getting unheard of players and getting them to perform to a high standard as a team. But to be fair, player for player the majority of the squad individually are not as good as United’s or Chelsea and probably to a certain extent Liverpool. Fabregas apart I doubt many would make the United bench.
    You have only got to look at players that leave arsenal and go on to do very little.

    The second problem is the lack of an English spine. I just feel that despite the fact that technically some top England players are not as good as there foreign counterparts they bring something to the side which no foreigner can and that is an understanding or the English game, a camaraderie and more important someone for the fans to feel connected to. Chelsea with Terry, Lampard and Cole. Liverpool with Carragher and Gerrard and Man Utd with Ferdinand, Scholes, Rooney etc etc.

    Having these types of players also gives the foreigners in the side an English perspective on things. You see the English mentality rub off on there foreign team mates. Arsenal sometimes seem to be a foreign club playing in England. They lack the English never say die attitude which was never in question when the likes of Tony Adams and Ian Wright where in the team. Until Arsenal address this balance when the going gets tough they just wont step up to the challenge.

    A question: Would Arsenal be a better side had they kept the likes of Upson and Bentley ?

  • Darren

    very good points raised James, especially from a Spurs fan too!

    You are totally right on all accounts. When the going gets tough, Arsenal’s current captain goes boo hoo and sits in the center circle for an hour.

    Upson is a decent defender, a little slow but never the less a much better option than Sendedros. We all know Bentley is class. However, Wenger has been signed some very bad English players in Richard Wright and Franny Jeffers.

    Wengers argument for not signing English is they are not technical enough, true but as you have rightly pointed out they have other qualities which Foreign players don’t have. Which is where your point of an English spine comes in to play. We need to mix it up like United, even Wenger as stubborn as he is wishes he had a squad as good as theirs. Imagine an Arsenal team with a Tony Adams, and Ian Wright?

    As an Arsenal fan it’s very frustrating, as no doubt come June/July all the talk will be who is leaving the club and not who will be coming in. Wenger will sign a few more unknowns and say we are building for the future, I believe in my team, something special is round the corner. He is right is saying this, unfortunately something very special is happening but not at Arsenal but at Old Trafford. Sorry Arsenal, I love you but it’s time for Wenger to stop doing things on the cheap and spend some of that money!

  • James Webb

    Do Englishmen fail at Arsenal because they find it hard to adapt ? Maybe joining arsenal from a club like Everton is the equivalent of signing for a French club. Do you know whether Wenger allows players to speak in their foreign tongue in the dressing room. I know its one thing Liverpool and definitely Spurs do. Despite a Spanish coach the team talks are always in one language.

    Like you said previously Wenger could of made more effort signing Woodgate and there are a number of players in England that potentially be Arsenal type players. Agbonlahor and Young from Villa to name but two. Wenger won trophies with plenty of English players when he first arrived. Nobody would say that Ray Parlour was technically a great player but he was solid and got stuck in. Wenger has to realise he is in England and stop moaning about tough tackles thats just the way things are.

    As a spurs fan i’m glad you let your englishmen go. Look at young Jamie O’Hara. Wenger didnt want him and although he will never be a world beater the spurs fans love him. He is English for starters, he gets stuck and he works his bollocks off. Most english fans even the top 4 clubs would prefer to see that than a sulking foreigner crying because they lost a game !!!

  • Darren

    at a guess I would probably say yes they do speak in one language, French!

    Joe Cole would fit perfectly into the Arsenal team, he is unhappy at Chelsea, who isn’t to be honest. But somehow I can’t see Wenger doing everything in his power to sign him. Although I was amazed when we got Gallas, so you never know.

    Agbonlahor and Ashley Young are two very good players, but Wenger would only say we have Walcott & Rosicky. I like Matt Derbyshire, at a bigger club he would score bags of goals. But saying that, all these players are young, we need players in their late 20’s. Gareth Barry would do nicely actually.

    Hopefully this season will be a kick up the Arsene, who knows?

  • James Webb

    I was gonna say Barry but being a Spurs fan he might take some persuading !!!

  • Darren

    lets make a deal, you have Barry and we’ll have Woodgate. He wanted to come to us anyway.

  • Tef1on

    I think Walcott has come on so much these last few games, Since Milan when he has played he reminded me of Christiano Ronaldo (just a younger version). I’m not saying he is as good as Ronaldo but give him a few years and he will be. Even Capello has come out this week and said he was Fantastic, and Capello doesnt do that much! He is a real talent!

  • Darren

    Another brilliant game, another defeat. We had 16 shots, played superb again, but once again we couldn’t hold onto a lead. The end of the end season can not come any quicker to be honest.

    Theo did more in 20 minutes then that twat Eboue has all season.

    How good was Clichy? He never stopped running.

    I do think we will be closer next season, however, according to Sky Wenger reckons we only need to sign 1 player, I think we need at least 3.

  • mikie

    Arsenal claim they were unlucky, yet again, everyone could see their goal was handball.

    After all Gallas moaning and whinging he actually makes the biggest boo boo of the season, the irony of it!

  • Tef1on

    Yes it was Handball but how lucky were United with both the “Nearly” Own goals… So united were lucky which makes Arsenal Unlucky.

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