No focus and disjointed all over the park: Arsene and Steve have a job to do!


We have all learned over the years that supporting Arsenal is a roller-coaster ride, but last night’s unexpected woeful performance against the Canaries was nevertheless a painful stab in our Gooner hearts.

Away games after long inter-lull periods are often tricky for the top teams, as they have many internationals who only return late mid-week – often tired and carrying knocks – whereas the smaller teams tend to have lots of time to prepare for their home game with more or less the entire squad.

But of course, this cannot be a valid excuse, as we should expect Wenger and Bould to both make the right call on who is fit enough to play and make sure the team will start the game with the right game plan, focus and motivation.

As a team Arsenal failed miserably last night: the whole was definitely less than the sum of its parts.

I would struggle, though, if I had to pick a player who did not work hard enough yesterday. Individual work rates did not seem to be the problem – but as a team, something was missing. We never looked focussed or cohesive throughout the game. In fact, we looked rusty, toothless and disjointed all over the pitch, and totally deserved to lose.

It is utterly disappointing that Arsenal were not better prepared mentally for this game, and I tend to blame Wenger and Bould for this.

Last night I started to sense we were not going to win this game, as early as five minutes after Arsenal conceded Holt’s goal. It was against the run of play, but, unfortunately, we have become vulnerable again to conceding this sort of goals (ManCity, Chelsea x2, West Ham, and now low-on-confidence Norwich).

Conceding that goal should have told the whole team they needed to fight once again to somehow take the three points back home to London – as we did so well against West Ham in our last PL game – but we never lifted our game enough to achieve it.

In a nutshell: Arsenal were never focussed and ‘together’ enough to win last night’s game.

Not only were our wings thrust-less, we also lacked panache and energy to find a way through the Norwich yellow and green hedges in the middle of the pitch. There was simply not enough movement with or without the ball to trouble the Norwich busses, which was very disappointing to watch.

A very disappointing performance and a very disappointing result, but most of all I am disappointed in Wenger and Bould. Sending out a team that lacks focus and is disjointed all over the park is simply not good enough.

Some perspective is needed, though. It is so easy to jump to big conclusions about how rubbish everything is at Arsenal right now. But a team that beat Liverpool and West Ham away and played fantastic football against ManCity only a few weeks ago, still has plenty of credit left. It is now about how we respond to that unacceptable performance at Carrow Road in the next few games.

The players have a role to play, but I have little doubt that most if not all the players in our first team squad are genuine hard workers who give their all. We also have plenty of very good footballers and there is good strength in depth.


The changes we need to see are mainly the responsibility of Wenger and Bould. We need better tactical and mental preparation for games, and we need to become a lot better at absorbing forced changes to our formation. Two and a half month into the season, we should not suffer so much from injuries to the likes of Szczesny, Diaby and Gibbs: good management is about making the right substitutions without the system of our football being adversely affected.

Arsene and Steve: over to you.

Total Arsenal.


26 thoughts on “No focus and disjointed all over the park: Arsene and Steve have a job to do!

  • Wenger has an opportunity to rotate and rest some players this week.

    Much has been said about our strength in depth this season so let’s use it. Schalke on Wednesday and QPR Saturday are hardly stern tests so use the squad Wenger and Bould, that’s what I say.

    I’m sorry to pick one player out, but Manone is not good enough, simples. We need to buy an experienced back up keeper for Szez. We keep letting in soft goals, this could become a major morale problem for our defenders if it is allowed to carry on. If any one has played the game of football there is nothing worse than you working your butt off, only to have your keeper let soft goals in, it’s a strength sapping experience, trust me. Arsenal seem to have mountains to climb with expensive mistakes being made by our GK.

    Bring on Schalke and QPR, let’s get back to winning ways.


  • Evening Victorious! 🙂

    I don’t think Mannone is a bad keeper – definitely not as our third GK at the moment. But I am with you on the need to have at least one PL-experienced GK in the squad: ideally as our nr2, behind Szczesny. You are spot on about the need for defenders to be able to trust their goalkeeper

    Where I don’t agree is in your assessment of Schalke 04. They are a good team and we will have to play our best team available to have a good chance to take three points from the game. Bring them on though, and let’s wash this nasty taste out of our mouths on Wednesday! 🙂

  • Thanks TA.

    First of all, i can assure that video was not porngraphic, it was educational. it would most certainly improve all our lives. hahaha.

    I agree that after a performance like that the buck has to stop with the management. as you say we were disjointed and tacticly clueless. (even though as you know, i dont believe in tactics hahaha). when we have injuries or disruptions to the set up, the players that come in should slot effortlesly into the system, there all internationals for heavens sake. The whole thing was very dissapointing and both management and players have to step up to the plate.

    VCC, see you in the Tavern at 1.00.

  • Hi Total,
    hope you had a good day at the in-laws, it’s an ideal way to switch off from football for a few hours.
    You’re right, I disagree with you. I attribute Mr Wenger’s early success to inheriting Dennis Bergkamp, and George Graham’s solid back-line. He prolonged the careers of that defence and deserves great credit for that, but in 16 years he has bought only one half-decent goalkeeper (Lehmann), and it has been one of a few major flaws.
    Most of his big-money signings have been major flops, with the exception of Marc Overmars (who left after two years), Thierry Henry and Robert Pires. The last time he managed to put a decent defence together was 2004-06, and in 2006, Martin Keown worked with them (which is why we had such a good CL campaign).
    He made us decent profits on Anelka, Overmars, Toure, Adebayor, Nasri, Fabregas, RVP, Song, but there-in lies the nub of the conflict dividing Arsenal fans who see profit being more important than on-field success.
    As I said in an earlier comment, we have no proper gauge with which to compare Mr Wenger, but if we win nothing this season, it’s eight years and counting.
    Part of me wishes he had gone to a major club to really test his mettle and coaching ability, because when you say he’s shown us great loyalty, he has been handsomely rewarded, more-so than he would probably get at any other club. And before Roberto Mancini signed his recent £7.5m a year contract at Manchester City, Mr Wenger was the highest paid manager in the Premier League. Not bad for a club who swears by financial prudence, and for a manager who has long since stopped delivering silver-ware.

  • Evening Terrance Trent Darby 🙂

    Did you ever watch the film Magnolia with Tom Cruise as the sex-Guru? Really reminds me of you hahaha 🙂

    Terry, as I sat near one of the corner flags, I was able to watch very closely the total lack of mutual understanding between Santos and Podolski, Giroud and Podolski, Gervinho and Podolski etc etc. It was as if the team had been put together for the first time ever. Unbelievable.

    Schalke have just beaten the German Champions in local derby / away game and they will be full of confidence on Wednesday. This will be a very stern test for us, and the management have their work cut out.

  • Herb, ime getting the feeling you dont like Mr Wenger very much. hahaha

    But come on. The 2004 team was his defence. And whu judge his transfers on the vaule of money spent? Lehman, Toure, Lauren cost peanuts. Cole was home grown, and Campbell came on a free.

    So basicly, he created a back line spending less than i do on a weekend to Amsterdams Red Light district (hahaha) and went on to not lose a game in the league.

    His credentials speak for themselves Herb. Of course he is there to be criticised, everybody is, but if you feel he is somehow untried and should go somewere else to prove himself, then i wonder what will satisfy you?

  • Evening Herb,

    It was a good way to switch off but with the dark skies above us all day – we did a lot of walking – the sombre mood did not evaporate (as reflected in this evening’s post).

    You are right, Arsene is handsomely rewarded: not just in money but also in freedom to manage the team and resources as he sees fit. I have no doubt, though, that without him we would have been a lot worse off now. He carried us through this difficult transitional period and we always have a chance to win something again under him. We cannot compete with the Oilers so we have to be smart and hope things fall into place for us.

  • hahaha, that film is like the Bible to me TA. “How to fake been nice and caring”. hahaha

  • I did mention that he last put a decent defence together in 2004-06, Terry. And before he discovered Silvinho’s dodgy passport he was prepared to sell Ashley Cole to Crystal Palace.
    His teams have been making the same basic errors for seven years, and when the beautiful football breaks down it looks lethargic, laboured and is painful to watch.
    How did he counter-act the threat of Drogba? He didn’t, he just sent his team out to do exactly the same every time with the same outcome.
    The 8-2 at OT last year was my line in the sand, never should any Arsenal side suffer such a humiliating hiding, and he had the whole summer to prepare.
    By the way, Terry, Football Focus was live from Anfield on Saturday, and Liverpool are re-developing their stadium to add 15,000 seats, so they don’t have to move.
    It’s not that we can’t compete with the ‘Oilers’ Total, we point-blank refuse because Silent Stan won’t invest, he’s only in it for profit. He’s not even a football man, so we are operating with a major handicap. We have meekly surrendered, and the fact that the management and BoD are complicit in their involvement is a shocking indictment on their cowardice regarding our football club. Abramovich wants to win major football prizes, Stan Kroenke wants to make money, which is why Chelsea are laughing at us.

  • Herb, are you saying we should also start living totally outside our means and buy – not WIN – titles?! Give me a normal business model for running our club any time. Nobody should be allowed to gamble with the future of our club. Maybe some Chavs are laughing at us – let them, they have no class. Buying titles is worthless Herb. We have a good squad and a good manager, so we have a chance. That + responsible management of our finances is all I am asking for.

  • You have been reading my comments long enough, Total, to know that I would never want the future of our club compromised, but we have two billionaires, one of them wealthier than Abramovich, so we’re not going to run short any time soon.
    And when those promises were made in 2006, Roman Abramovich was already in town.
    On one of your recent Posts, I stressed the importance of spending intelligently rather than recklessly. If you invest wisely enough it is possible to compete without having to match Chelsea or Manchester City’s expenditure, unfortunately we haven’t done that as well as we should have. As a prime example, would you have turned down the opportunity to buy Edwin van der Sar for £2m? No, me neither.

  • Herb,

    Investing intelligently is obviously a very difficult thing to do if you are up against the big spenders. I agree with you that Arsenal have not always got it right, but then neither have Liverpool, Spurs, Newcastle, etc etc. I don’t want to go into individual cases but there are many, many examples of Wenger getting it right.

    I am not saying Wenger and Kroenke are without faults. Far from it. But Arsenal is the club we love and when things don’t go our way, there are basically three ways of dealing with it.

    One is to see it the Terry way: looking for structural, long-term positives. The other way is looking for structural, historical negatives and vent your anger and disappointment on them. I reckon you are quite close to the latter way of looking at things. I am not far away from Terry, mainly because I want to enjoy life and live in hope.

    although I respect your point of view, we will always find it hard to agree on things when we have quite a different view on how we should look at our club, and how we should deal with a disappointing result. But of course there is nothing wrong with not being able to agree.

  • Of course I respect your views, Total, and maybe people’s lives have an overall bearing on the enjoyment gleaned from supporting our club. As far back as I can remember I’ve always been glass half-empty.
    By the same token, people should never be discouraged from constructive criticism without over-riding your fine efforts to entertain us, thus bringing down the tone of your site. I am conscious of not wanting to do that.
    Looking at the whole picture, I honestly think that from 1976-1986 the BoD had two seperate opportunities to take Arsenal up among the world’s elite, and they got it wrong both times. Had those opportunities been taken, we would be following a very different club today.
    I appreciate you allowing me space to comment, and I will do my best not to upset anyone.
    Cheers Totaal, goodnight sir.

  • Morning, TA, 🙂

    A really top notch Post examining the matters that have caused concern amongst Arsenal fans everywhere after a poor performance.

    Be back later.

  • Morning Herb 🙂

    Sorry to miss your last comment: I had gone to bed without saying so.

    You have been blogging in fine style over the last few days and through your disappointment I can always see the true passion for Arsenal. For that I have great respect.

    When we perform as badly as we did on Saturday it hurts us all, and through discussing our team’s performances, management structure, past and future, we somehow get over the disappointment together again. Thank god we did not have this performance at WH two weeks ago, because that would have been two difficult inter-lull weeks for all of us to cope with.

    Now we have Wednesday to look forward to and the boys will have to give everything to get the three points. I know Huub Stevens very well from his time at my home town club Roda JC and he is tactically very strong…. but that is stuff for a post tomorrow or so!! 🙂

    Cheers Herb. 🙂

  • Morning Total 🙂
    It`s Monday morning and hopefully Big Stevie is kicking their butts all around London Colney ! hahaha

  • Hi GLiC, I hoover all day – am addicted to it! 🙂

    He tried to get past two defenders with speed and he either did his hamstring or got a kick on his ankle. I still have to watch the recorded game, so what I am telling you is what I saw at the ground from a distance. We will miss him for a few weeks I reckon. 😦

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