November 19 links – ending the week on a quiet note


Buried at the bottom of When Saturday Comes’ round-up of the press reaction in France to the friendly win was this little gem.

“If you wondered where Blanc’s widely ridiculed predecessor was on the day of the game, L’Equipe provided the answer. They tracked down Raymond Domenech to a small town south-west of Paris, where he spent Wednesday afternoon coaching a local Under-11 side. “It’s not easy to go back to working with kids when you’ve been at the top,” said Jacques Migaud, president of the football division of Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt. “He’s here every Wednesday. He does it for free.” You might say he’s found his level.”

Well done to James Eastham.

Piers Edwards wonders why west Africa seems to dominate the rest of the continent when it comes to individual gongs as well as performances in international tournaments.

It’s a pretty strong field for African Player of the Year but Didier Drogba edges for me over Samuel Eto’o. Asamoah Gyan and Dede Ayew both had fine World Cups but are eclipsed at the club level by the big Chelsea frontman and pacy Inter hitman, both of whom have credible claims as the best striker in world football.

And finally Daniel Taylor wonders what kind of reception awaits Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford?


Despite the prescence of several new faces in the starting XI, the Three Lions performed with the same old comic ineptitude that marked their exit from South Africa.

Oh for the days of Sven-Goran Eriksson, with his stodgy tactics and reliable quarterfinal exits that masked the technical deficiencies of his players, eh? Rather than the glorious blood-splattered failures of Sir Bobby Robson’s sides, England have regressed to the Turnip Taylor “Do I not like that” era of hopeful, aimless punts up the park towards Carlton Palmer and serial bottling.

Fleet Street’s postmortems, as always, provided a good deal more entertainment than England’s brand of hoofball, sounding an awful lot like a post-traumatic stress support group, with a little primal scream therapy thrown in. Richard Williams’ bleak assessment of Capello’s tactics was echoed through the blogosphere and fishwraps.

As for France, James Horncastle cast the performance as a promising sign of the progress made under Laurent Blanc. With oppponents as incompetent as England, though, it’s hard to see Wednesday’s result as a reliable barometer any more seeing a tonking the Faroe Islands as an omen for future success.

As for the future, well, Phillip Cornwall — who paid to sit in the drizzle and watch that mess and thus merits a link — suggests the calls for Capello’s ouster are misplaced because he doesn’t have much to work with.

Some quick observations:

1. Many of the has-beens and never-weres in the press box slated the performance of Kieran Gibbs, who has made all of four appearances with his club this season (the last one being 19 minutes in a Carling Cup match before getting injured nearly a month ago). How about reserving judgment chaps? And while we are on the subject, who was offering that kid any protection from Bacary Sagna bombing down the pitch. (and — GASP — delivering decent balls into box — WTF!?!?!!?!) The slow-footed, slow-witted Gareth Barry? James Milner? Yes, the England midfield put in its usual gormless shift, wandering aimlessly around the pitch when they weren’t gifting possession back to the French.

2. If you are going to bring players into the team, why play them out of position? Jordan Henderson and Phil Jagielka were badly miscast so it’s impossible to make judgments about them.

3. There were as many Arsenal players starting for England as France. And Jack Wilshere would have been in the XI when healthy. So it’s now time to retire the notion that Arsene Wenger doesn’t like England players. He just needed to find them young enough to teach them proper technique. Oh and Emmanuel Frimpong might be a better holding option than anything currently available to Capello. Doing his ACL in the pre-season might have hurt England more than Arsenal.

4. The only club with more England players than Arsenal was Manchester City, who spent more than 60 pounds on the trio of James Milner, Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott. And based on last night’s performances, it’s hard to imagine that either the slow-footed, slow-witted Barry or Lescott (on whom Sparky Hughes spent 24 million quid — just stop and ponder that for one second) will ever represent England again.

5. Any club who needs a striker may find Karim Benzema quite useful.

6. While Liverpool will — quite justifiably — rage about Steven Gerrard picking up a needless injury in a pointless friendly that was already lost, they can take comfort in the performance of reported Comolli target Yann M’Vila. The 20-year-old Rennes midfielder was everything that his English counterparts weren’t: composed on the ball, disciplined in his positioning, polished technically and a sound distributor of the ball. With all of these qualities leaving Anfield this summer following the sale of Javier Mascherano sold and Alberto Aquilani’s loan deal with Juventus, M’Vila will be a welcome addition. Perhaps they can pick up Benzema on the cheap as well.

7. For those who bemoan the lack of top players in England, two of the most accomplished performers on Wednesday — Florent Malouda and Samir Nasri — play in England. That they can’t play FOR England says a good deal more about the problems at the youth level than the presence of foreign stars in the Premier League limiting the development of domestic players.

8. It shouldn’t be a stretch for this tactically witless group to adapt to ‘arry Redknapp’s no-whiteboard coaching style after the FA releases Capello from his misery.


A tip of the hat to blog regular EverWonTheTreble for the delightful link to Rafael Van Der Vaart’s interview about the tactical, erm, nuances of ‘arry Redknapp. After reading the piece three times, I’m still not sure whether VDV was trying to compliment or subtly critique his gaffer. It certainly reinforces some stereotypes about Fleet Street’s loose-lipped wheeler-dealer with the other notable one being (PARAGRAPH DELETED BY SOFABALL’S OVERLY SENSITIVE LEGAL DEPARTMENT) which is why Pompey supporters always called the striker Bung-ani.

But on a day where the tactical nous of England’s future manager (well subject to being cleared of those pesky allegations made by Her Majesty’s tax collectors in an open courtroom), much of the press attention was focused on the lame-duck manager, a Johnny Foreigner whose obsession with issues such as “lifestyle”, “tactics” and other Continental oddities have been roundly condemned for the Three Lions insipid display in South Africa. Having failed to coax any inspiration out of England’s golden (cough) generation, Fabio Capello has turned to the best and brightest produced by football’s mother country. And Andy Carroll. However, Isidore Lewis questions whether Capello’s newfound youth movement is the right approach to cure the malaise of the Three Lions.

Meanwhile, Paul Doyle suggests Capello’s French counterpart Laurent Blanc — also known as Larry White in the GMA — is well ahead of Capello in rehabilitating South Africa 2010′s other overhyped train wreck.

One of the new faces is 20-year-old Mamadou Sakho from Paris Saint-Germain, a club enjoying a revival of sorts this season. James Horncastle discusses the reasons behind it.

Not to belabour a point, but Paolo Bandini lauds Alberto Aquilani’s polished performance against his old club and his mixed feelings about it.

Tuesday links

After Gerard Houllier’s underwhelming start at Villa Park, I questioned whether he was the right man to oversee the necessary cost-cutting measures while blooding youth players into the team. Marc Albrightson’s progress was expected — he looked quite bright in his cameos last year but Barry Bannan’s assured performance against United suggests Houllier understands what he’s doing. I’d bracket Bobby Pires’ signing in this category. According to Arsene Wenger, Pires — who has been training with Arsenal’s first team — can still play Premier League football. He’s a clever veteran who lives right and should help on and off the pitch. It’s exactly the type of signing that Villa needed — an inexpensive graybeard who adds some experience and depth to a very thin, young squad. Well done, Gerard. Now for the sake of my boy, please don’t buy Michael Owen. Far better to give young Nathan Delfouneso some PT. And please don’t re-sign that greedy twat Nigel Reo-Coker for 40k per week. If he doesn’t accept 30k (still too much IMHO), sell him and turn to Fabian Delph. There’s far too many O’Neill signings on big wages who didn’t produce.

Enough free advice and let’s move to the links, where the ever-excellent Swiss Ramble chronicles the falling fortunes of Ajax Amsterdam off the pitch.

Zonal Marking’s Michael Cox documents how Sunderland turned over Chelsea.

Note the tackling stats — Chelsea clearly missed Michael Essien’s bite in midfield.

After watching the loss to Stoke, Ian Macintosh pities Liverpool supporters forced to watch Roy Hodgson’s hoofball. Macintosh’s call for change is backed by Paul Tomkins and Dan Kennett, whose statistical analysis of the first 13 games is almost as brutal as Macintosh’s prose. Almost.

Monday links

Tactics guru Michael Cox dissects the weekend’s action in the Premier League, focusing on Joe Hart’s longball distribution, Steven Pienaar’s failure to track back, Stewart Downing’s dangerous crosses and Kieran Richarson’s stifling of Ashley Cole.

Some general notes from the games I watched this weekend:

Aston Villa were the better side and a little unlucky to only draw but United’s comeback was impressive and a sure sign they will be around right to the bitter end. I was very surprised Vidic stayed on the pitch after his celebration after his goal, which should have earned a second yellow card but sometimes you need a little luck. David Pleat rightly highlights the potential of Marc Albrightson.

Rather than punishing myself by watching City’s draw with Brum, I should have simply read gorn’s analysis of their problems and cleaned the garage.

Arsenal’s win at Everton was deserved and a good omen, but there’s a few caveats. First, Fabregas continues to give away the ball. I’ll bet at least 10 passes wound up with blue shirts. Two, they completely took their foot off the gas for the last 20 minutes and it wound up nearly costing them dearly. Three, Fabianski and Djourou, two oft-maligned figures, were their MOTM. Four, it’s frustrating, no, it’s infuriating, to cast their gritty away performances this season against flaccid home form displayed against two promoted clubs. Perhaps clubs are more willing to play a little more openly against the Gunners at their home grounds but I saw a lot more bottle against Everton than some Arsenal players displayed against WBA or Newcastle. Let’s see how they respond against Spurs at the Emirates this weekend.

I’m going to spare the blog’s Liverpool contingent my analysis of the Stoke City match. The less said, the better. One curious thing, though. Roy Hodgson was apparently at the Stade Rennes match scouting Yann M’vila, a highly rated 15-million-pound central midfielder who is 19 or 20. Wouldn’t it make sense to look at getting some help up top for Torres or another winger rather than another central midfielder when you’ve got enough players already at that position and you are playing Raul Meireles out of position? The second point is given the respective performances of Alberto Aquilani, who is having a stormer with Juve, and Christian Poulsen, who can kindly be called wretched, is it fair to suggeset that shipping off the Italian and bringing in the Dane to Anfield can be called mistakes?

I also watched the Milan derby and was shocked by the results. So, too, was Paolo Bandini. Michael Cox also gives an interesting breakdown of this match. Inter look very jaded and highly reliant on Samuel Eto’o or Wesley Sneijder to conjure up something from nothing.

Finally, Gabriele Marcotti explains why Russia remains in the second-tier of European leagues despite spending a lot of money to bring in high-profile foreign stars.

Leave a comment »

  1. Relating to Liverpool’s plight in midfield, are the lengths of loan agreements generally fixed? I’m just wondering if Liverpool would be able to “recall” Aquilani in January? Maybe play him alongside Meireles in the heart of things and free up Gerrard to sit behind Torres with Kuyt taking up his customary right wing spot. Just idle speculation, nothing more.

  2. AG:
    “I should have simply read gorn’s analysis of their problems and cleaned the garage.”
    LOL. Thanks, I think…? I believe I gave Wilson credit for correcting my ignorance about ‘broken’(?) formations. So, I guess it’s true: “Even broken clocks are right twice a day”? I mean if an idiot like me sees sommut that Wilson doesnae… gosh, the Poles must be about to melt. (c; Sorry about the lost 90+minutes, tho.

    Depends on the loan deal. IIRC, Juve have first opportunity to buy, and at a set price. LFC, AFAICT, is basically hooped b/c the only way Juve won’t buy is if AA’s playing terribly, in which case he’d have no value to LFC. Juve is, to use a poker term, ‘freerolling’.

    Now, I could be wrong; I may have misread, or read mistaken reports on, the deal. Some loans *are* simply year-long like Joe Hart @ Brum last year, and Welbeck in Sunderland (IIRC). I just don’t think AA was one of those loans unfortunately.

    FYI, AA told a reporter that Woy only met him once, briefly, then heard a few days later from his agent that he’d been loaned out. So Woy never had any intention to keep AA around. Same story with Insua; LFC will get demonstrably less than they could have for him if Woy wasnae in such a hurry to get rid of him, nevermind the fact that Insua woulda qualified as a homegrown player in another year IIRC.

    Guess Woy wanted to make room for Konchesky, Meireles & Poulsen regardless of cost….

  3. Obviously AA was nearing fitness upon the loan to Juve, I’m a bit confused behind LFC’s logic in loaning him out, buying Poulsen and then recalling him in January. With Juve being a major pimp mac-daddy in the hustlin game, I would imagine Liverpool has virtually lost out on AA and the paisan will sign with Juve.

  4. Well that’s pretty depressing, oh well a small taste of what gorn’s been dealing with for a few seasons I suppose. Sorry buddy. ; )

  5. Loaning out Aquilani to Juventus seems both stupid and self-defeating. Why the hell would you do it unless you needed to get his wages off the books, pronto? If pressure from ownership is the case, that’s something that you cannot hold against Woy. But buying Poulsen, miscasting Meireles (easily his best buy) as a winger and alienating both Agger and Johnson are all on his head.

    There’s no way Juventus will let Aquilani leave but I’ll wager they’ll get him for less than the buyout clause in the terms of his loan, especially if Hodgson sticks around. Why the hell would Aquilani return to Anfield to resume life on the fringes by a manager that shipped him off without watching him play when he could stay in Turin in the starting XI with a Champions League side. They’ll take a bath on him and Rafa’s critics will mark it in his ledger, naturally.

  6. AG – So if AA leaves for Juve and proves a success in Italy, do you blame Rafa, Woy or NESV/Comolli? IMO, should AA shine at Juve, then he validates Rafa signing him all the while slowly integrating/convalescing him last season, no?

  7. Well correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t his loan deal brokered quite soon after Roy was hired but before Hicks and Gillett were ousted by NESV?

    Essentially from what I can tell, Rafa bet on AA’s fitness and health improving after some consistent treatment and time to integrate into the squad (which explains his playing time numbers from last season). His loan with a possible buyout to Juve was a product of the Hodgson+G&H era so whatever success AA has in Juve and whatever financial atrocities that are done to Liverpool when he pens his eventual permanent move there can and rightly should be blamed on a combination of those three yes? I don’t see how Rafa’s (luck or foresight, whatever the case may be) decision to pick him up can be linked with Liverpool’s decision to loan him out.

  8. So it’s settled then, Rico and his inventory of uncomfortable thigh-high leather boots are to blame!

  9. We are out of stock of thigh highs

  10. Thought this was rich…

  11. Some topical links:

    and a funny:

    Thanks, that was funny. Course, Redknapp admitted that RvdV caused him to abandon certain shapes & tactics because of vdV’s positional indiscipline, so it’s not like this is uncovered ground. But when you hear that they barely train, too? Just, wow.

  12. @gorn,

    Great minds think alike or you are also following Tomkins on Twitter! lol

  13. And now one of my other favourite bloggers gets in on the fun.

    Run of Play

  14. We can all take a lighthearted view on Arry’s laissez-faire training approach but reality is that should Tottenham finish outside the top 10 and not get out of the group stages in the CL, this story and his training methods takes a 180 degree turn and becomes the basis for their poor performanaces.

  15. BBC is going to air a program that implies that FIFA is corrupt.

    England bid chief is all up in arms about it, calling the Beeb unpatriotic. Thinks it will hurt his country’s chances.

    I wonder why?

  16. Hey guys just a note, I am experimenting with putting blog posts up for my club team. Not really sure how popular it will be, but I just ask you guys be mindful of what you post. Not that there is much said no here that is really bad, but just please keep that in mind. Also if you guys want to post on there, I have no problem with that, but i just figured I would give a heads up in case someone all of the sudden develops tourettes syndrome or something!

  17. Is Tomkins now subscription only?

    Loved the ZM article on Sunderland; the pics were awesomely instructive IMO. Interesting that most of the tackles Sunderland lost were aerial – they needed to play on the floor even more than they did.

  18. That isn’t surprising to me, you think about Sunderland I can’t think of really any strong headers on that team. Compared to Chelsea who have Ivanovic, Drogba, probably others I just can’t think of, but yeah not surprised.

  19. What’s gone slightly unnoticed in Sunderland’s play has been the defending of Onuha. He shackled Bale and had a very good game aagainst Chelsea. I’d say the lads developing.

  20. @gorn

    I think portions of Tomkins site remain free.

    Glad you enjoyed the Sunderland-Chelsea breakdown by ZM — one of the most interesting sites around.

  21. @ewtt

    “What’s gone slightly unnoticed in Sunderland’s play has been the defending of Onuha. He shackled Bale and had a very good game aagainst Chelsea. I’d say the lads developing.”

    Good point and I wonder why he hasn’t received any recognition in the press or a call-up to the Three Lions. Surely he would rate a look-in over Micah Richards or playing Phil Jagielka out of posiiton?

  22. AG:

    Big match this weekend mate. Care to share any past Norf London derbies that made you go mental? Good or bad. The 4-4 match in 08 stands out for me as one of the best…couldn’t believe what I was watching.

  23. @EWTT

    The two recent ones that stand out for me — for very different reasons — were two draws where Arsenal lost two-goal leads. Clinching the title at WHL in 2004 was sweeter than turning over United at Old Trafford to win the league in 2002. A couple years ago, though, I almost put my foot through the television when Arsenal gave away three points in the final minutes of the 4-4 draw. Talk about a pucker job.

    My brother was living in Finsbury Park when the Gunners lost 3-1 to Spurs in the FA Cup semifinal back in the early 1990s. That one probably hurt the most even though I didn’t get to watch the highlights until a week later. lol

  24. Rico:
    I guess I didn’t make my point clear. It wasn’t that Chelsea shouldnae be the more dominant aerial team, but that Sunderland’s advantage woulda been even GREATER had they not lobbed as many balls as they did.

    - re: Tomkins: yesterday I was getting the subscribe page, even on the main page. Thought mebbe sommut had changed. Seems normal now.

    - ZM: Well, I’ve read their charts & graphics for a while, but the photos with accompanying analysis is awesome for n00bz like me. I never feel like I’m looking at the right things, or seeing everything I should. Mebbe that’s partially TV’s fault, but it is one reason I d/l MotD every week; they may be clowns in their talent assessments & rule interpretations, but I learn about positioning/etc. every time I watch.

    Are you needling AG? That’s like him bringing up 1-4 vs. LFC @ Old Trafford, isnae? (c;

  25. Gorn:

    I supposed it could have been construed as such. It wasn’t my intention…I would have instead brought up the 4-2 United win at Highbury back in 05 among others. I’m sure he remembers that (c;

    I was reading this yesterday…

    What are your thoughts? I think it could be interesting and would like to see someone fully utilize it.

  26. @ewtt

    lol — there’s tons of painful memories against United at Highbury but the one that sticks out for me was probably the 2-2 draw in 2003, when Sol Campbell was sent off. I knew we’d bottled the league at that moment.


    I’ve been meaning to ask you this — how do you watch MOTD? Is it aired on BBC’s cable channel in Canada?

  27. @ewtt

    Thanks again for another great link to the Indy story with Dr. Bill Gerrard. Appreciate the links found by you, gorn and Rabid this week. Some really interesting stuff out there.

    To me, it’s just going to be another natural step. I remember the snorts of derision in the 1990s when Ferguson, Wenger and Houllier all began to stamp out the drinking culture at their respective clubs. There was widespread skepticism when Wenger and Houllier introduced Continental notions about diets. Ryan Giggs was dismissed as slightly kooky when he worked yoga into his training regimen. Now almost all clubs have adopted these kinds of restrictions on drinking, diet and exercise.

    To me, sabremetrics is just another tool that will help clubs make better informed decisions about transfers and contracts. I’ll bet more clubs have explored it than just Arsenal and Bolton.

  28. What up with Craig Bellamy? I just read that he’s on free loan at Cardiff City. My understanding is that he’s a hot-head, but he’s also a pretty darn good player. Sure, there’s the Welch connection but surely there are quite a few teams that would love to have his services? Or is he just too crazy?

  29. shmish:
    As I understand it, Citeh gave Bellamy a choice of playing anywhere but the PL (or, at least no team of consequence – Citeh wasnae gonnye let him haunt them or hurt them, whatever). Since MCFC is paying his wages, he decided to play for Cardiff which is either his boyhood or hometown club or sommut. So he stays in the Empire. That’s my understanding, tho I stand to be corrected. Dunno which rags to trust, but here’s the BBC article:

    I did mention “d/l”, which is short for download. (c; If you are interested, msg/pm/FB me. Got some sweet hookups for most every match too, in most leagues.

    Yer welcome for the links. Only just started to de-clutter a bit and found some extra time to do some footie reading. Not sure how common the latest explosion will last. (c;

  30. EWTT:

    [beware, spew to ensue; sabermetrics is subject that kinda fascinates me]

    Well, not much new in that article for me, except Gerrard’s system (what little was said). Kinda funny that he & the writer complain about his new ideas and how close-minded everyone else is, but say next to nothing to give the reader a reason to support their claims. Also instructive, the writer uses words like “key metrics” and “make a tangible difference to match preparation” – those are statements of fact, yet there’s no supporting evidence. Talk about leading a witness. Shabby, IMO.

    Anyhoo, what I think you were *really* asking me was what I think of the general approach via math, and if it’ll fly @ LFC. The answer to both is an *almost* unqualified ‘yes’. NESV has the will, the money, and the 1st-hand experience with this (Red Sox GM Epstein is a direct Beane disciple). However, at the risk of sounding all Ursus Arctos on you, metrics are only an aid – more supporting facts but not necessarily determiners. For instance, baseball sabermetricians are still trying to come to terms with the best way to rate defence; last count I read was 4 different systems. So it’s still boils down to seeing a guy, and picking types to suit, then getting data to confirm or deny what you think you see. Rafa’s scouting system will certainly aid that, as will Comolli’s connections.

    But, as all the anti-Comolli/LFC/new ideas ppl have gone to great lengths to trumpet, mistakes can still be made. My position? How the hell can it hurt, as long as yer not a slave to it (e.g.: like ‘buying British’ or avoiding Africans or never spending money on a goalkeeper, etc.)?

    I’d love to see/hear/read what Gerrard has to say, just not filtered through a convert, & actually seeing WTF he thinks he’s found via data/etc.. I s’pose if it’s good enough for Beane, it should be good enough for me, but I guess I’m just a skeptic/cynic at heart sometimes. (c: Plus, if Gerrard really is onto something, WTF wouldn’t you try to drum up support from the types of people who WOULD be likely to embrace that kinda stuff (ie: the people who actually read the fucking article)? Pretty retarded.

    Bottom line tho is I’m glad someone is grabbing this idea unabashedly and daring the press to ‘tell them so’. The fact that it’s LFC doesnae hurt my feelings, not gonna lie. Seems to me that telling everyone about this kinda queers yer own action – like, why tell yer competitors something they could use? – but being nearly first cannye be a bad thing, especially in an industry that moves like a glacier, as football does.

    Lastly, I’ve always found him quite a quandary, that Sam Allardyce. I mean, he really knows how to squeeze blood from a stone talent-wise, but then insists on shackling *all* his players. OTOneH, he brings in all kinds of cutting edge people for his training staff/methods; OTOH he plays the most rudimentary football. In some sense, there was an element of truth in what he said about his being able to run a big club; he appears to be an excellent organizer & HR guru. Problem is, tactically he’s never shown anything. Ever. And certainly not any PR nous, either. Imagine him at his press conference in front of the Madristas after losing 0-0 on penalties in the round of 16 in the CL. (c;

  31. Well that’s my weekend spoiled. Another derby, another two-goal lead blown largely through the schoolboy mistakes that have surfaced in the past. How do you let a 40-yard hoof bounce, Gael Clichy? Why do you insist on sticking up your arm in the wall, Cesc Fabregas? When are we going to figure out how to defend set pieces?

    The really infuriating thing wasn’t that we lost to an inferior team at home. Again. For the third time. No, it will be the justifications emanating from the Emirates over the coming days. And quite frankly, I don’t have the stomach for the same old excuses after watching the same old mistakes.

  32. Damn, I feel for you today AG I really do. I guess not going over tactics at all means that you can’t be held responsible for making silly tactical errors on the pitch? :o Maybe that’s why Tottenham were able to bounce back from being down 2-0? Maybe ‘Arry really IS as good/smart as he thinks? ; )

    Arsenal had their chances, they could legitimately have nabbed two goals back with Koscielny’s missed header and Walcott’s driven effort that he leaned back on and put up into row Beckham, not to mention Chamakh’s 2 chances through on goal. I do understand your resigned fury with the way they botched their 2 goal advantage though. I think Wenger was just as mad, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him smash a water bottle and yell “putain!” on the sidelines!

  33. gorn, thanks for the info CB. Makes sense.

    Can someone explain to me what happened to Arsenal this morning? Flat out, they need some serious change at that club. Too much talent that does too little with too many injury-prone people. AW needs to sell what he can, while he can. There is a culture problem with this club, they simply are not psyched to win. Unfortunately, all the training in the world won’t help that.

  34. From what I’ve seen of Arsenal this season they need a keeper and a powerful CB.

  35. True story:

    Watched the Arsenal game today and nodded off around the 44th minute. Had a dream that the score on the upper right hand side of the screen said 2-3 Tottenham… woke up and you know the rest!

    True story.. Call psychic hotline.

  36. Didn’t watch any of the games today but was shocked when I saw the results.

  37. “Damn, I feel for you today AG I really do. I guess not going over tactics at all means that you can’t be held responsible for making silly tactical errors on the pitch? Maybe that’s why Tottenham were able to bounce back from being down 2-0? Maybe ‘Arry really IS as good/smart as he thinks? ; )”

    No worries and don’t feel bad — just had to vent my spleen a little. But were Arsenal beaten because of tactical breakdowns or basic technical errors (letting the ball bounce and a 5’4″ striker beat you in the air, sticking your arm up in the wall, etc.)

    “Arsenal had their chances, they could legitimately have nabbed two goals back with Koscielny’s missed header and Walcott’s driven effort that he leaned back on and put up into row Beckham, not to mention Chamakh’s 2 chances through on goal. I do understand your resigned fury with the way they botched their 2 goal advantage though. I think Wenger was just as mad, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him smash a water bottle and yell “putain!” on the sidelines!”

    Wenger can rage all he wants on the sidelines as much as King Lear raged on the moors. He was the man who picked the team, trained them and set them out. after declaring this squad to be stronger than the Invincibles in the pre-match buildup. That’s three losses at home before Christmas against teams that — all due respect to West Brom, Newcastle and Spurs — should not beat a club with title aspirations. Colour me unimpressed. This team doesn’t have the mentality to be winners right now. That’s not something you could about Patrick Vieira or Sol Campbell or Thierry Henry or Dennis Bergkamp. They wouldn’t be losing to two promoted sides at Highbury.

    So Wenger needs to reserve his homilies for his squad, which has disgraced itself for a third time in front of supporters who have been more than paitent. Veterans such as Clichy, Arshavin and Fabregas that need to look themselves because they were key players in helping the club squander the lead to Spurs.

  38. @shmish

    Agree with your diagnosis of a cultural problem — I think it’s a problem with clubs that lose to inferior opponents at home have a weak mentality. As for the prescription, Fabregas will almost certainly go in the summer anyway.


    Partially agree. I’d like to see Szczesny be given a shot. And I think Vermaelen being injured hasn’t helped. Given how Djourou has performed recently, I was a little surprised that Wenger didn’t start him. At 6’4″, he’s easily the tallest of Arsenal’s CBs and has a decent spring. He would not have been beaten in the air by Kaboul, that’s for sure.

  39. @AG : “But were Arsenal beaten because of tactical breakdowns or basic technical errors”

    Too true, I just wanted to get in on the Harry Redknapp no tactics discussion bandwagon while it was still fresh. ; )

  40. Totally forgot about Vermaelen, wow I’m so out of it! Forgive me I just got back from NYC and have been working straight through. Don’t know anything about Szczesny. Is he of a bulkier build?

  41. AG:

    You’re welcom on the links. As Gorn said, I’ve had a bit of time this week.

    “lol — there’s tons of painful memories against United at Highbury but the one that sticks out for me was probably the 2-2 draw in 2003, when Sol Campbell was sent off. I knew we’d bottled the league at that moment.”

    Usually, Arsenal have gotten the better of United at home. But the few times United have won or drawn, as in 2003, they’ve been crackers.

    re: Arsenal v Spurs

    Whilst vdV praised his manager last week for his lack of tactical implementation (which was obviously hilarious), I happened to disagree with the lad. A closer look at Spurs results would show they have picked up a good number of results from a losing position. At least three that I can think of off the top. Someone is making the adjustments needed to pick of those points and look no further than ‘Arry. Sad, but true.

    In this particular match, ‘Arry began with something of a 4-4-1-1 and Spurs were just butchered in the opening half. It was something of a training session for Arsenal and they went in deservedly 2 goals up. In the second half, however, Harry gave his side a better outlet by taking Lennon (who was anonymous) off and putting on Defoe and switching vdV to the right. He positioned them a little more narrow and thus their passing seemed to improve.

    Still though, Spurs wouldn’t have scored if Arsenal hadn’t gifted them 3 goals. I’ve never associated Arsenal with unintelligence but along with the lack of a proper center half and a GK…add that in. It may be harsh given Arsenal’s injuries to that back line but there does need to be some sort of common sense through the squad and right now there doesn’t appear to be any.

    After the collapse at Wigan last season, Arsenal wilted for a few matches. Similar type of result with the same players…we’ll see how much they’ve grown in the coming weeks.


    Well said, ar’ kid. Thanks for taking the time to go in depth. Can it be used to evaluate better managers? (c;

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