Did Wilshere set the team an example last Saturday?

Many have argued over the last few days that Wilshere’s red card, last Saturday, was a result of fatigue/ lacking match fitness, and/or that Wenger was to blame for not substituting him earlier. No doubt, he was suffering from rustiness, and Evra overreacted of course for Jack’s second yellow card, but I fully understand why Arsene did not want to substitute one of his very few extroverted warriors on the pitch at Old Toilet.

I have stated on more than one occasion that I reckon our current players do not suffer from a lack of attitude or hunger to win. We have a good bunch of players who work hard and want to succeed, but confidence is low at the moment, as a result of our system not working properly and a few players lacking top form.

Everybody is trying hard to get better, and although this is vitally important; it is not enough. I feel at times we are being too introverted, too quiet, and too nice to our opponents on the pitch.

Without doubt there are new language barriers to be overcome, and as Arsenal are fitting in new players, it takes time for them to gain the confidence again to shout at each other, to openly motivate each other, to come out of their individual shells and command their area of the pitch. A lack of success currently does not help either.

Surely, we will improve in these areas, but we also need a bit more healthy aggression and extravert leadership on the pitch.

At the moment, we have too many players who are just focussing on their own performance; on their own role and responsibilities, and however understandable this is, we need more open leadership all over the pitch.

Arteta, Mertesacker, Jenkinson, Gibbs, and to a certain extent Ramsey and Sagna are by nature more extravert, and therefore communicate more loudly with their fellow players. Szczesny has this too and Mannone is growing in confidence and is becoming clearly more vociferous. Vermaelen, as a player, was good at this too, but as a captain he is struggling both in leading the team and performing his own CB duties to the required levels at the moment.

Against MU we really lacked extravert leadership and more than just a bit of healthy aggression.

Prior to the game on Saturday, Arsenal had collected a meagre six yellow cards and no red cards in nine PL games. I don’t want us to become a nasty team, but getting less than one yellow card per game is telling us something about our levels of aggression at the moment.

As it stands, MU have collected 100% more yellow cards than Arsenal: 18 to 9. We have the one red card now and the Mancs have not collected a red card yet, but that should not come as a surprise… Chelsea have collected 14 yellow cards and two red cards, the Spuds 13Y/1R, Everton 19Y/1R and Liverpool 14Y/2R, and only Fulham, Man City and a few bottom of the league clubs have shown similar levels of disciplinary prowess; or should that be lack of aggression?! For me, it is the latter: we need more bite in this team. Only Arteta has collected more than one yellow card in the PL this season!!

Wilshere sensed this on Saturday and was determined to change it, and just for that I love him.

He will become 21 in January ‘13, but having missed out well over a year through injury, he is effectively only 19; in terms of football experience. Yet, he is simply born with extravert leadership skills and with a hunger to fight and win every time. And he is a definite Arsenal and England captain for the future for me.

He showed the others that sometimes you have to put your foot in, to do more than just your tactical/technical job, and to fight for the pride of the shirt and your own, personal honour. He is clearly also a very good footballer and as a result he will quickly gain the respect of the senior players in the squad again.

With a bit of luck they will follow his lead more and more, and the team will find a healthier balance between good tactical and technical football – which in itself needs further improvement – and playing with the right level of aggression and leadership on the pitch.

I am sure Wenger is sensing this too and, like all of us, he will be praying that JW10 will remain fit for the rest of the season.

Total Arsenal.

57 thoughts on “Did Wilshere set the team an example last Saturday?

  • Afternoon, TA, 🙂

    A very good topic for discussion!

    My opinions are not too far from those in your Post, although I am slightly differing in some aspects indirectly affecting the team.

    As you say, disappointing though the team performances have been, I cannot seriously believe that they have not been trying, either as individuals or as a team unit.
    They are very well paid professionals and their job is to win — and I think they have been trying to do that.

  • With regard to the captaincy/leadership question, I have formed an opinion that explains, perhaps, the decline in Vermaelen’s performances this season, as compared to last season.

    I think that the captaincy has led TV to try and ginger up the attack, when they are stuck in a dreadful stalemate, by charging upfield and almost willing them to follow his example.

    Unfortunately, other teams have rumbled us, in as much as they are content to allow us to pass prettily from side to side of the pitch knowing that when they press us, man on man, we will lose the ball.

    This makes TV look clueless when he is caught in the opposing penalty area when we are caught on the breakaway.

    He is trying TOO hard to gee the team up and I think he needs to stick to his job as a CB and leave the others in midfield and attack to do theirs.

    If they are not good enough, at least it will become obvious to AW, and the fans who are too quick to blame TV, where the blame really lies, and AW can deal with that in his own way.

  • Hi RA, good to see you back 🙂

    A bit of quiet day until now. The good news is later in the evening we will have another fine pre-match post from the Gunner from Down Under! 🙂

  • Am watching the Schalke game again, and the handball by Cazorla, when he dives to the floor, made me laugh once again! There is something very comical about Santi 😛

  • Can I make a comment, that is somewhat personal, about one of the bloggers on BK?

    Well I am going to anyway!! 🙂

    When I first came into contact with Oz, a year or so ago, he was quite diffident and disarmingly modest about his contribution to AA, as it happens.
    But with an eye to potential I thought to myself that he was interesting, opinionated (as all bloggers have to be) 🙂 humorous and forthright in a pleasant way.

    Reading his recent comments on BK, in particular, I am delighted that my expectations have been more than right. He has shone recently, and not wishing to be patronising – well I am a good few years older than him – 🙂 can I say well done Oz and thanks for your increasingly significant contributions!! 😆

    [OK, you can come out of hiding now Oz and stop blushing!!]

  • Very well said TA, couldn’t agree more. Viera comes to mind in this situation, he was a warrior and was happy to get a card here or there. Sport is massively psychological and if you can get in your opponents head you’ve gone along way to help ensure victory. Look at the Australian cricket team for example, they were the biggest sledges in the game, constant chatter. You can’t tell me that wasn’t a reason behind their success.

    @ RA

    well said also. That’s why i feel Verm wouldn’t make a good Defensive midfield. He tries far too hard and would run himself into the ground trying to get to both ends of the pitch. I think he just needs to get back to basics to be honest. Bould is hopefully having a word to him. His game changing goals could have led to his undoing, just how Song’s hail Mary’s often left him trying it far too often.

  • TA,

    I wrote my critique of Oz before I knew he was writing the pre-match! 🙂

    That’s going to put him under more pressure to produce another mini masterpiece! 🙄

  • That is a difficult one re TV,RA. We often need the imputus from the back to break the opposition down, but like you I would prefer a more conservative approach, especially if and when we operate with ‘wingbacks’ as well.

  • That’s precisely it, Oz, if any sportsman over extends himself in a team environment the outcome is rarely good.

    I would stick with TV as captain, because this has been part of his learning curve, and he will come out of it a better all round captain when he learns the hard way!

  • Personally TA I would put Miquel in at left back, he has to be given the experience, even if he eventually ends up playing in the centre of defence.

    He is big, pretty pacey, skilful and willing to listen to TV re positioning etc.

    That would leave our cavalier Brazilian maestro Santos free to charge up the left wing in support of Giroud and Theo.

    [Of course Arsene never listens to me!!] 🙂

  • I wrote a post a while ago that TV might be stuck between Bould’s defensive focus and Wenger looking for more attacking imputus. However, RA, I have to disagree: he is not suitable for the captaincy.

  • You are far too kind RA. Cheers for that, gave me a grin from ear to ear. In all honesty from day dot I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading both your and TA’s comments (like so many others have done too). When I was first on AA you both were nice enough to always respond.

    I know a lot of the time I’m blubbering nonsensical dribble so it’s a testament to both your characters for putting up with me. The Mrs would probably thank you both enormously as well. Before I stumbled on to AA and now BK I’d always chew her ear off about Arsenal (in oz it’s hard to find a decent football fan let alone an Arsenal one).

    Once again thanks a lot RA much appreciated. And thanks to TA for this great up and coming blog, and everyone else who comments…yes even you GLIC!

  • Redders, Herb’s team formation made me think again about what is happening with our youth project. Are we reaping the full benefits from it or have the recent purchases of experienced players hampered it? Miquel should really be playing a lot more footie, and there are others who are not getting enough opportunities, although I understand why Wenger is doing ti at the moment.

  • Steady on, Oz, are you serious — Glic? — his mirror maybe, but that son of a gun Glic?

    Oh, OK — you are right! There is something loveable about him, in a manly way of course!!
    But we cannot have him without the two tyros he refers to as the ‘UMF’ and the ‘Ugly Sister’? 🙂 😀

  • Bugger back to the drawing board for the pre-match, now there’s expectations!

    Good shout Miquel, I really rate him as a player, and after toweling up Adam Johnson last season at LB I definitely think he can do a job. I think a loan deal would do wonders for him. But then again lower teams tend to stick to the bigger bodies, and the championship may rough him up a bit too much.

    I didn’t like the idea of him being captain, but now that he has it I definitely agree he must turn it around. WHEN he does he will improve greatly. If he was stripped of it you might as well take his testicles too because it’ll deplete his confidence to near on empty

  • Oz, the pleasure is absolutely mutual, and it was obvious from your first comments that you knew your football.

    If your Mrs can listen with attention to you talking about footie, it must be real love! 🙂

  • haha with the help of GLIC i’m now the funniest bloke in Oz, all I have to do is come on here, take some notes and retell them to my mates!

    @ TA

    I’ve been thinking the same. Arsene used to get criticized for playing youngsters, but now it’s as though he isn’t willing to give them a go. They rarely come in or are involved in rotations, except when it’s cup matches. I would love to see more of Miquel, yennaris, meade, and eisfeld. Then next season Campbell, afobe, and ryo

  • TA,

    That is something I have also pondered on in recent times.

    We have a lot of ‘foreign’ players in our youth system, but since Jack we have not seen any of the English youth coming thru the U19s and the U21s – altho I see Benik Afobe is in the latest U21 squad.

    Why are players like Chuks Anneke and a number of the younger kids from all the other countries not coming thru to their national age group teams?

    I am less surprised at the failure to break into the Arsenal first team, but that is a consequence of the outcry to bring ‘experienced’ ready made players in from outside.

  • Half the time I think she’d tune out, but that’s okay I just needed to get it off my chest.

    All right fellow burgerkampers I must be off. Enjoy the rest of your day. I hope all is well with your health RA

  • HI Total, Redders, Oz,
    I see Mr Wenger has called on players and fans alike to bring the stadium to life tomorrow, I don’t know how the acoustics work, but I do know that when a stadium rocks with the players and fans in it together, there’s no greater atmosphere. Celtic and Rangers fans sing from the first whistle to the last, and it has to give their respective teams a huge boost. Maybe a couple of home games in front of a noisy, passionate crowd is just what the doctor ordered. If we let them know how much they mean to the club, they’ll want to give back in return. Get that right and suddenly the whole club is buzzing again with positive powerful energy.
    Because we have an attacking minded manager, under Mr Wenger, our full-backs operate as wing-banks, which requires attacking nous and defensive solidity. In that respect the signing of Andre Santos makes sense, because IMO he was viewed in the same way as Lauren. Valencia at MU is a good example of what a good wing-back should be. It’s quite a specialised position/requirement, and a difficult balance to get right, as many clubs have discovered, notably Chelsea. Keiron Gibbs is coming on leaps and bounds, and if Jenks can replicate that on the right, that would be a big conundrum solved.

  • Hi Herb, 🙂

    Very well said.

    That is indeed the conundrum, balancing attacking flair with defence responsibility depends both on the manager’s tactical set up and players being prepared to cover for each other.

  • Herb,

    I read your earlier comments with some interest — you certainly have a valid point on many issues, and when you are upbeat and balanced in expressing those views you stand a better chance of getting my vote!! 🙂

    Now I hope you will take advantage of TA’s “Smiley” page at the top and shock us with a 😀 or a 😆 or even a 😳 then there would be no stopping you!!!! 😈 😆

  • Oz 14:55…….Be careful re telling GLiC experiences in life down under. Do you know he is insane and would normally be in a mental home, but living in Cornwall the authorities give him a wide berth.

    If you try and imitate him in Oz they might not be so lenient with you, be very careful.

  • Hi VCC, 🙂

    Just caught you as I was closing down.

    There are many absorbing chats on here on so many different subjects, but what really makes it work for me are all you guys, especially the large dollops of humour from you, the Glic monster, and Terry Titmouse! 👿

    See you later!

  • That’s the only one I know how to do.
    Hi VCC,
    when I said ‘we were only two or three players short of greatness’, I was just using the popular generalization that’s been trotted out by various sources over the last few years.
    So many little things have to be put in place and work consistently together, it’s hard to say definitively how far away we are.

  • Herb. …..Be it wishful thinking or not, I have everything in/on my body crossed so we win something this year and become a major force again. When I watch us in certain games earlier this season my hopes go sky high and think to myself, IF ONLY Wenger would buy 2 or 3 finished proven articles we could be on top again, only to be brought back down to earth with a resounding bump.

    I really believe we are not that far away, yes not world beaters but certainly good enough to win a trophy this year.

    Im forever dumb founded to see how ManUre keep winning after looking at their team sheets. How does Ferguson keep doing it? as on paper I don’t see they are that much better than us, beta me.

    It maybe because I hate them so, but they don’t frighten me.

    Perhaps you can put the finger on it.

  • VCC,
    if you look back over the history of English Football, you’ll notice how many Scottish managers have had great success, the likes of Matt Busby, Bill Shankly and Ferguson are the stand-outs. William McGregor (I think), a scotsman who owned Aston Villa at the time, played a major role in setting up the Football League in 1888. At some point during their history, Preston (North End, as people used to say), had 11 Scotsmen all playing in their first-team.
    Jimmy Greaves once brought it to attention, the fact that Scots managers seem to be better and more successful than their English counter-parts, and it was put down to the Scots having a work-ethic and a determination that the English just don’t seem to have.
    We could extend that though, because Brian Clough, Bob Paisley and Bobby Robson were all from the North-East. It could be they all drank Irn Bru, which as we all know is made from real steel girders.

  • I did indeed Redders, thanks for putting me right 🙂
    Why do you think I bang on about Arsenal having another Scottish manager.
    Herbert Chapman was a Northerner too.
    It’s been scientifically proven that the colder the climate, the better the brain operates.

  • I agree, Herb, those eskimos discovered the magic of flight, and put the first reindeer on the moon, which of course explains the little known reason why Santa’s grotto is in Lapland, and that he will be down your chimney on Xmas Eve, so, don’t forget, to leave the sherry and the mince pies out for him!! 😀

  • VCC,

    That reminds me, were you a northerner in ‘real’ life? I have always suspected you, Glic and Terry as being Santa’s little fairies! 🙂

    Or was that ‘little helpers’ or perhaps his ‘little elves’ —– ummm, no, it was definitely his ‘little fairies’!! 🙂

  • I think we should send Redders and Rasp on a year-long sabbatical up to the Scottish Highlands with a few crates of Whisky, and give them a go, with the ‘Total Football’ ethos added by TotalA.

  • Herb….there sure are some clever knowledgeable bloggers on AA and BK.

    Red Arse, GLiC is king of the fairies.

  • Afternoon Ladeeez

    Arsenal`s future is sorted Herb. Arsene is set to announce his successor and just for you, he is even more intelligent than Northern people or Sweaty`s…………… it`s an Eskimo from the Artic circle !. It`s effing cold there, so his brain should be well clever !.
    To keep him in tip top condition , he will have a bespoke built Igloo at London Cold..ney !
    Right I`m off for some din dins and some exercise and will read the post later and see if my Southern Fried brain can understand any of it !
    An intelligent person live`s in a Igloo. People full of shit, live in a bigloo. VCC live`s in a Ugloo. hahaha

  • Evening gents 🙂

    Enjoyed reading the good banter. Can only agree with you on the Scots, Herb, but I would deny my heritage if I did not say the Dutch have produced a few half decent managers as well. 🙂

  • Thank you Total
    I would love a few more to be like Tony Adams to get them fired up. Maybe it`s because the management is not vociferous and that reflects in the players !.

    Your right about the Dutch producing some excellent managers, that Steve van McClaren is doing a fine job at Twente, speaks English aswell ! hahaha

  • Good point Glic, yet it is so important to be vociferous and extrovert on and off the pitch. When I grew up there used to a Welsh manager, Barry Hughes, who managed several Dutch clubs. He was a great gentleman and had luuuvely accent! 🙂

  • Hi Total,
    the Dutch have produced some fantastic managers, going back to Rinus Michels.
    I think Martin Jol is a good manager from what I’ve seen here in England. I thought he was unfairly sacked by Tottenham, and it doing a great job, almost under the radar, at Fulham.
    Perhaps GliC, Terry and VCC should have the Arsenal job!

  • Evening Herb,

    I loved it when Jol was interviewed for the first time and he referred to Arsenal as ‘The Arsenal’ several times. The Spuds must have hated that! 😛

    I think he is a warm human being and gets footballer to play well for him – a strong motivator. I find him less strong tactically, especially if he is required to turn a game round against a strong opponent. But getting players to want to win for you is half the job done and I would not be surprised if he will stay a long time at Fulham now: seems the right club for him (and he loves the PL).

  • Hi Herb
    I couldn`t do Arsene`s job with the constraints he has had, to run the club as a self sustaining business model in the face of financial doping. Just like Wiggins said, he never had a chance of winning the Tour de France while Arnstrong was drugged up. I have always said that, me, you, anyone with an ounce of football knowledge could be successfull at the Chavs and City with that sort of money. they bought all the players I fancied for Arsenal !.

    Now, the Arsenal Ladeez team , that is a different kettle of fish !. What job would you like Herb ?, I have a nice little vacancy for soap holderer in the showers !. I have to be carefull in giving these jobs out, as VCC is currently in intensive care, after he got over excited at being named team vaggazler and slipped over and shafted himself with his zimmer frame !.
    Terry is runners nipple cream massager.
    Total is tactical position coach and so far has had them in every position on the team coach !.
    Redders is offense coach and just shouts out offensive words, well we think they are offensive as no one knows what the f**k he`s on about !.
    Oz comes over once a month as Tampon inserter and remover, all part of his forensics training !.
    These are all part time positions, as we are only Semi – professionals ! hahaha

  • Sign me up GliC!
    Agreed Total, Fulham and Jol seem the perfect fit. Berbatov was a brilliant signing who I thought could have done a job for us.

  • GLiC, you are a nutbum!

    Not sure about Berbatov for Arsenal, Herb, but I can see them getting Arshavin of us in January, and they could work really well together at Fulham. Technically, Berbatov is a superb striker; one of the best around, but he just does not put in a shift, and that’s not the Arsenal way.

  • You’re probably right, Total. I read somewhere that Mr Wenger saw him at Leverkusen and didn’t rate him. Even so, he did we,ll at MU.

  • Herb, he had one really good season – 2010 -2011- at MU, scoring a goal in every two games on average, but then something went wrong between him and Fergie. I also thought Hernandez would break through last year, but now he is third or fourth choice.

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