Lack of world-class talent keeps Arsenal from reliving glory years

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The lack of world-class talent, and its role in preventing us from realizing past glory.

 This article will address what I feel has been the main issue that has prevented the mighty Arsenal from being genuine title contenders the past 7 years.

When Wenger first joined Arsenal in 1996, he brought with him a great deal of change.  His transfer signings went beyond anything one could predict and he unearthed talents such as Vieira, Henry, Campbell, Pires, Toure, van Judas etc.  He was able to take advantage of the fact that he was able to shape the team and make it his own.  Bringing in so many new faces at the same relative time period meant there was less of an entitlement of senior players at the club feeling that they deserved a starting place.  Also, we must be cognizant of the fact that Wenger developed those players into world-class talents and he’s never been one to overspend to acquire those types of players.

Fast forward to the current crop of Arsenal players and players with much less experience are demanding they be starting every week and being played in certain roles.  This is one of the few downsides of Wenger’s daring approach to give young players an opportunity.  However, I accept that the game has evolved and that Wenger is currently dealing with a “me-first” generation where players’ demands continue to escalate in unreasonable manners.  Although this is a huge issue, my article will look to compare and contrast our current roster with the world-class talent during the Invincibles season.

I identified five key players that I believe to be world-class talents and were integral to the glory years where Arsenal was always a contender and occasionally won the Premier League.  These 5 key players played in essential positions that helped us dictate and dominate games.   They should come as no surprise to any of you and are the following:

Sol Campbell – He was a rock for us in the heart of our defense at CB and was a no-nonsense player who provided invaluable leadership to our team.  He is still regarded as one of the best CB to ever play for Arsenal and I believe he is well deserving of that recognition with two Premier league titles and three FA Cups to his name.  Centre backs are one of the more overlooked positions on a roster, despite the fact that defense wins championships and CBs provide a necessary stability to any side.  While Vermaelen, Mertesacker and Koscielny are all good defenders in their own right, we have failed to adequately replace Campbell since his departure.


Patrick Vieira – An individual who really made the box-to-box midfielder role his own, and was renowned for his galloping runs forward and domination of the midfield.  He was an astute reader of the game, an excellent passer, a fearless tackler and an emotional leader.  He could singlehandedly change a result and elevated the games of those around him.  Opposing players feared the presence of Vieira and much like Campbell, Arsenal has failed to even come close to replacing him.  When healthy, Diaby has had flashes of brilliance that mirrored Vieira’s passing and momentum charging forward, but his game has never been about being a vocal leader or a no-nonsense player.

Robert Pires – My favourite player to ever don an Arsenal jersey, Pires was a classy winger who accomplished everything from an offensive standpoint.  He scored as if he were a striker, delivered many crafty passes and had an unparalleled combination of speed, movement, ball control, and on-pitch intelligence from out wide.  Because he was such an immense threat on the wing, Pires opened up space in the middle of the park for Vieira, Henry and Bergkamp.  Arsenal has lacked the creativity, directness and delivery from a wide position since Pires’ (and unfortunately to a lesser extent Na$ri’s) departure.


Dennis Bergkamp – A player capable of producing some truly spectacular moments and he had a strong desire to win through any means necessary.  He was the epitome of a complete footballer who understood the game at another level.  Defined by a sleek, fluid technique, Bergkamp also had the mental toughness that current Gunners are lacking.  Wenger’s attempts to develop complete footballers have been in vain; current youth are not willing to develop their talents in various positions and want to make an immediate impact in their preferred spots.  In an era where capitalism dominates, loyalty is extremely tough to come by.  Bergkamp was and still is the epitome of a true Gunner through and through that wore his heart on his sleeve.

Thierry Henry – What more can be said about this football icon who is considered as one of the best strikers of all time?  He was so fast and agile that he made everyone else look slow yet had the ball control and flair to take on defenders in tight spaces.  He was dangerous from set pieces, could play a dangerous ball in the final third to a teammate, score from 35 yards out, create goals out of absolutely nothing and had unmatched movement.  Despite not being the exact same type of striker, van Judas was a world-class replacement and Wenger failed to replace him after letting him go this summer.  I rate Giroud relatively high, but I do not believe he will ever reach a world-class level like his predecessors.

Two areas that could be strengthened with class talents in January are the holding/box-to-box midfield position and right wing.  If we can somehow acquire both, the onus once again falls on Wenger to groom them into world-class talents.  Victor Wanyama of Celtic, Etienne Capoue of Toulouse or Kevin Strootman of PSV Eindhoven would fulfill the first need, while Jesus Navas of Sevilla, Isco of Malaga or Cristian Tello or Isaac Cuenca of Barcelona fit the latter need.  All the suggested transfer targets are relatively young and can be groomed by Wenger, with the exception of Navas who is already a world-class talent.  In my opinion, a world-class striker is not necessary if the delivery is top notch.  It will be sufficient if Giroud can prove his ability to score goals whenever given the opportunity to.  A support striker with a different playing style that complements Giroud would go a long way in providing us with a fresh approach, while also contributing if Giroud goes on a run of poor form.

I strongly believe it is this lack of world-class talent at those five key positions that is holding us back from the results we desire.

I accept that with Arsenal’s wage and transfer policies it may be impossible to ever build a squad as divine as the Invincibles, but our current roster is still a far cry from that of the glory years.  One world-class talent in Cazorla and a burgeoning world-class talent in Wilshere are not enough for Arsenal to be consistent contenders.  Finally, I would like to point out that I’m not saying we have zero talent in our squad; simply that we lack two to three top-end talents that would allow us to compete with teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.


Do you Gooners agree about the lack of world-class talent currently in our side?  Do you think a world-class striker or CB are more imperative than my suggestions?  Let me know what you think, all comments appreciated!


Written by: The Gooner

87 thoughts on “Lack of world-class talent keeps Arsenal from reliving glory years

  • TG 🙂

    A great maiden blog for Bergkampesque, and there is so much for me to agree with. The five players you highlighted were all exceptionally good – no argument there. It would be hard to argue Arsenal currently have a similar number of super-talented players. Arsene was instrumental in developing those players into super-quality players, but the obvious big difference is now that we don’t keep our super talents long enough any more.

    Song could have developed into a great player had he stayed, Fabregas has always been class, van Judas left us in the lurch, Nasri could have been developed into a new Freddie, but it was not to be. Arsene can do it again, no doubt about it; but he needs to be able to hold on to players when they reach their peak.

  • There is plenty of talent there, but a lack of cohesive game plan. We’ve got strength in every position, but the previous team you’re looking at came before the big money (Serie A and La Liga were far bigger) and at a time when teams were still learning to play against Arsenal. That one Ajax game changed everything and killed off the high-line defence, and Wenger hasn’t been able to find a new formula, particularly with his first XI in such constant flux (consider how United have had success without world class players).

    For me, the crossing to Giroud is the most interesting development in the last three years, and let’s watch this space…

    The key to fixing our team is what I call the “messenger boy” – the guys who move the ball from attack to defence, namely the two full backs and that middle midfielder. Without Sagna and Gibbs we struggle, and Ramsey is too slow to get the ball under control and doesn’t have the burst of pace. Wilshere and Rosicky could be influential going forward. In the final third, I think we have enough talent to score goals, as long as they get the ball, which is our primary problem right now. Our problem is not defence – again, not defence (if you don’t get this, have a look at United).

  • Hi Savage,

    A very balanced comment and I especially agree with your last paragraph. Which Ajax-game are you referring to in the first paragraph?

    Re United’s defence. We had seasons when we started like that – conceding too many but scoring even more – only to falter at the end. Will MU be able to keep the ‘outscoring’ up?

  • Wow, you certainly are “The Gooner”, with that article. fantastic stuff.

    I totaly agree with the lack of world class talent. But as suggested by TA above we just cant keep our young talents long enough to see there possible impact.

    I think it says a lot (and has driven me to despair) that all the players we have lost in recent years are to richer clubs, and that most had there best years ahead of them.

    Saying all this, the modern game is evoloving all the time. i might be wrong about this but i dont feel our midfielders or back players are any worse than City or Utds. it seems to be that more than ever the big clubs are relying on world class attacking talents to make the difference, and there is no question, in my mind anyway, that we are short in this area.

    This of course means that were not far short. Stick TH14 and Magnifique Robert Pires in this team and we could be winning the league.

    Keep the faith.

  • Not yet TA. Well ok, i admit it, i havent even started yet. hahahaha

    But i promised you so i wont let you down. Will probably go for a funny one. involving an away game, a gay party, and a stalker. hahahaha

  • Good day All 🙂
    Fine debut on ‘Bergkampesque’, Gooner.
    May I nominate Gilberto as well. I know he and Vieira didn’t work as a midfield pairing, but he’s a world cup winner. A lot of what he did for us went under the radar, but he solidified our midfield unit and IMO was very under-rated.
    You’re right to point out the attacking threat that others possess, Terry, after all goals win games. It’s been a MU trademark under SAF, that they always carry an attacking threat. Coming from behind to win a game as they’ve done regularly this season is not a new phenomenon, remember the 1999 CL Final against Bayern Munich? The big difference between Arsenal and MU is that they are far more direct than us, and when they move forward they have an attacking menace that suggests they could score at any time with a myriad of different goals. We’ve been missing that for a long time.

  • Hi Terry,

    I really appreciate the kind words! It’s my first ever article written on the Arsenal, so it’s really encouraging to have a fan of my work in you!

    What would you suggest as the best way to keep our young talent? Is it a matter of altering our wage structure or Arsene changing his mentality/old school belief that he can groom a team to grow old together?

    Who would you suggest as world class attacking options?

    Cheers again for the reply!

  • Hi Herb,

    Cheers for the encouraging reply!

    I debated about including Gilberto for some time, but I felt Vieira’s impact was more inspirational and his absence has had a greater affect on our squad. As you mentioned, Gilberto was a fine midfield player and the stability he brought was crucial in allowing our offensive players work their magic. However, I feel Gilberto is more of a great complementary player, whose role is necessary to any championship side, in the mould of Arteta. Arteta has done a fantastic job of settling down our team and winning back the ball and distributing it to players in more advanced roles. I reserve the term “world-class” for players considered to be near the top of the world at their position. And much like Arteta, I felt Gilberto was also extremely underrated but fell into a category slightly below “world-class”.

    I agree with our offensive approach not being direct enough. I’m very happy Rosicky highlighted this in his comments, as it shows that he’s also cognizant of it and that he’s willing to be vocal about it too! I think a direct attack comes down to confidence and decision making. Unfortunately, both are low right now, especially the decision making from out wide. We’re in desperate need of a true winger who has the creativity and delivery that can help us play more direct football, in the same way Pires did for the Invincibles.

  • Hi TA 🙂

    Thank you for asking me to write on this blog and for the praise!

    I agree that it’s difficult to build a team with world-class talent if they continue to leave. However, does the onus fall on the board or Wenger to alter our wage policy? I think the modern game has changed and one or the other are not adapting to this change. I don’t even believe that all these departures were entirely financially motivated either (van Judas and Song). These players simply wanted Wenger show more desire and ambition in building a championship side. My issue is that Wenger does not properly recognize the impact left by a departing player, thus not finding a suitable replacement soon enough. It’s an endless cycle that will continue to have a negative effect on us, until our top players decide to break the cycle themselves. However, Wenger can help assuage their concerns by acquiring more talent to prove his ambition.

    Just my two cents, what do you think?

  • Hi Savage,

    Appreciate the comments!

    I question the impact of our fullbacks though. Even with Sagna and Gibbs, the delivery does not seem to on the mark. They are excellent at moving the ball up field, but their crossing leaves much to be desired. In addition, I think Arteta does a wonderful job of distributing and has almost acted as a holding midfielder/deep-lying playmaker for us. However, he needs to take a few more chances and try and play the long ball every now and then.

    My concern is more related to the delivery from out wide, whether that be from fullbacks or our wingers. None of our current wingers, aside from Gervinho, are orthodox ones. Podolski and Walcott are strikers who have been pushed out wide to help develop versatility to their game. It’s also an easy solution to give them a starting spot in the first eleven since Wenger does not have the personnel to currently play a true winger. The delivery is not sufficient and the decision making in the final third often lets us down. Having both on the field, in addition to Giroud, is a recipe for disaster; all three have goal scoring mentalities first and ball distribution suffers as a result. I would like to see Wenger deploy one of Podolski/Walcott on the wing with Giroud, and to sign a new “true” winger in the January transfer window. I believe this would undoubtedly make our attack more direct and aid in opening up space for our creative midfielders in Cazorla and Wilshere.

  • What a great debut “The Gooner”…….That post has enhanced an already fine Site. With entries like that you will cement yourself in the first team.

    5 world class players are currently out of Arsenals reach, considering their miserly approach towards transfers.

    I still feel we have a nucleus of players that only need 2-3 quality additions, to turn us into contention.

  • Anyone seen Rocky?….I still need his entry, along with Oz and Red Arse.

    Rocky will be attending the game tomorrow so I fear he may not get an entry posted, as he is travelling from Canada.

  • Hi VCC,

    Thank you for the appreciation and kind words! I am hoping to write more articles for the site in the future, maybe I’ll prove myself worthy of a spot in the starting eleven ;).

    I completely agree that 5 world class players are out of Arsenal’s reach, which is why I suggested 2 quality additions to take us into contention. One defensive midfielder with presence in the center of the park such as Capoue, Strootman or Wanyama and one orthodox winger in Navas, Isco, Tello or Cuenca. None of these players aside from Navas are world-class but all certainly have the potential to be groomed to that level. Despite both options likely costing Arsenal around 20 million, I believe that a transfer fee in that range is possible from Wenger and the board.

    Then, we might be able to see some semblance of a team growing together since we’d have the established veterans in Arteta, Cazorla, Podolski, Vermaelen, Mertesacker, Sagna etc. leading the way for our youth and new signings. The new proposed signings are all at an age where they could both make an immediate impact and be signed on for the prime of their careers to hopefully see out their careers at Arsenal with potentially some silverware. I’m adamant that Arsenal need to make a statement of their intent in the next transfer window, or else we’ll continue to experience an endless cycle of top talent leaving our club.

  • Evening Scrotticle`s 😆

    What a fine post from our new member ( please, no crude remarks, leave that to me hahaha ). I look forward to more !.
    I may however have to phone my samaritan, as I now cant stop sobbing after looking at all them fine former world class gooners that are no longer with us !………damn you…..The Gooner…….My mirror`s looking a state with make-up smugged everywhere !.

    As everyone knows, the only reason we haven`t won anything since I buried my….oops …I mean since 2005 is because of the ” Oil Factor”, people say the game changed for ever, we could/can no longer compete for the top talent, but the powers that be were never going to sit back and let this continue indefinately, leaving everyone else`s trophy rooms full of scrotumbleweed !. Change is about to happen again and we will once again attract top talent in the next few years and the players we wish for, will once again grace the hallowed turf of The Arsenal !.
    The ” Oil Factor” will be like the “Canute Factor”, the strength of the wave majority will overcome their brief time on the beach. If not , then I will kidnap the ” Oil Factors” and Shove exposives up their rectums in the first episode of my new show, ” The semteX Factor ” !.

    The Gooner, the rest of the crew are the intelligent one`s ( apart from VCC, he only gets in, because he acted with Clint Eastwood in the film, ” The Good, The Bad and The UMF ” hahaha ) , I`m the eye candy !.
    Right, where`s the Cillit Bang ?, my mirror needs cleaning !. hahahaha

  • The Gooner……don’t hold your breath with regards to Arsene Wenger spending £20 million on each player. If he did, this would indeed send out a statement of intent. If they were to be successful it would help springboard our season.

  • Hi Glic,

    Thanks for the reply and sharing your feelings on my work! Haha I thought the readers of this site would be more emotionally stable, but I’ll have to keep you in mind when I write my next article (kidding ;)).

    In terms of the “Oil Factor”, I think you can still win in this day and age without money. It’s certainly more difficult but just look at Montpellier and Borussia Dortmund as shining examples. Whether or not such a strategy is sustainable season after season is debatable though. Dortmund are frequently able to make shrewd purchases and churn out quality talent from their youth system. In fact, I’d go as far to say that they’re exactly what Arsenal use to be and are striving to once again achieve. Lewandowski, Gotze and Hummels lead the squad and are all world-class talents at integral positions. They are also supported by an extremely talented group in Reus, Piszczek, Blaszczykowski and Subotic (the case could be made that Subotic and Reus are world-class or close to it as well). I think the talented support is there for Arsenal, and if Wenger can support Cazorla and Wilshere with two more world-class players (or the potential to be world-class), I think we’ll push ourselves back into the discussion of title contenders.

  • VCC, definitely not holding my breath if Arsenal’s transfer history is anything to go by. However, if we can get one world-class talent at £20 million and another with potential at £10 million, I think we’ll propel ourselves in the standings and keep our top players happy. With that said, even that is a lot of money being spent and I’m not entirely sure Wenger will be that ambitious. Possible combinations include: 1) Navas, Isco, Ben Arfa or Zaha (£18 mil) and Capoue or Biglia (£ 10mil) or 2) Strootman, Wanyama, Cabaye (£20 mil) and Cuenca, Tello (just re-signed though), Huntelaar, Ba (£ 8mil). Obviously, these transfer possibilities would not solve all our team’s issues but it’d certainly go a long way! Any preference in the players I’ve listed? Do you believe any of them to even be realistic?

  • Hi TG,

    Thanks again for a fine post which has attracted some quality comments on a usually quiet day (Fridays tend to be like that in blog world).

    Changing the wage structure in a way that we can keep top talent is not just a decision by either Wenger or the BoD; there are financial realities the club needs to take into account. Paying van Judas £1m or £0.5m per month is a huge difference, especially with the added liability of a four year contract.

    In order to keep and attract top talent, Arsenal would have to increase the wage bill significantly, and I reckon the club will find it difficult to do this in the short term. Unless FFP starts to work properly soon, the Oilers will also simply keep increasing wage packages until they have the players they desire.

    Did van Judas not just leave for money? Yes, I think you are right. He also went to MU because of a belief he will win more silverware. Song is a different story: he wanted a better contract and Wenger was getting annoyed and agreed to the sale (allegedly). A huge loss in my eyes.

    I disagree that Song/van Judas wanted Wenger to show more desire;there is not a man in the PL with more desire. He really does not have to prove his ambition to anyone at all. Wenger finds the talents and develops them into class players; he has done it more and better than anybody else in the PL.

    They could have been disappointed about the Boards, or even Wenger’s, transfer (and wage) policy, but that is not the same as not having no desire or ambition. Wenger has a different way of looking at things and how he develops a team. If players would stay longer they would reap the sporting benefits from this, but they do not appear to have the patience and the size of carrot dangled in front of them also makes it a lot easier to leave Arsene in the lurch.

    The hard reality is that the stars have deserted him for one reason or another, and something needs to change, unless successes and more cash are somehow coming to us once again imminently.

  • Dortmund’s players are good player but I would not describe any as world class (yet), TG. Klopp just gets the best out of them and lets them play in a system of football that is very effective. The absolute master of this is Van Gaal who can turn a group of good players, with the odd star in it, into world beaters. Klopp is pretty similar.

    Dortmund/Klopp would find it a lot harder if it swapped places with Arsenal in the PL right now. I am absolutely convinced if Arsenal would play in the Bundesliga we would win prices constantly, and would also find it easier to replace our leaving players with quality, yet affordable, signings. The PL is a far tougher place than the BL.

  • Hi Guys

    It was only last year that we got the upper hand over Dortmund, but we could see what a fine team they were. Alas, I dont think we could repeat that this year as they have gone a step forward and we have gone a step back !. However, we may have taken a step backwards and one even further back if we dont get top 4 this year, but I`m still in the belief that there will be a lot of steps forward in the on coming years.
    There will be many rumours of intended players over the coming two months and I shall take most with a pinch of salt, but the Zaha one is gathering pace and him being a gooner will make it easier for him to choose if he wishes. My biggest worry is not who we bring in ( as I prefer to wait untill the summer ) , but who we may lose, Theo sign da ting !.
    I dont know if Wenger will spend big in January, but he definately needs to in the Summer. There is a lot of money under his mattress and he will need to spend big and I mean BIG, as to send (as VCC says) a statement of intent to the rest. If he doesn`t do it by next Summer with the bggest war chest he`s ever had, then he never will, then it may well be the time to move on or up. If by some miricle he manages to get top 4 and win a couple of trophies then the goal post`s will change and he will think we are still good enough, but that will be papering over the cracks and we will be back to Grounhog day, he stills needs to spend big even if we do win something !.

  • TA,

    I rate Goetze as world class. He routinely dominates the top teams such as Bayern, Real, etc. Wilshere’s just a little behind after the injury setback and I believe that despite being different players, will both be world class. Goetze’s just proven more and won more at similar stages in their careers. As far as Hummels, he is certainly world-class and one of the most sought after defenders who could command a transfer fee in excess of £20 million pounds! I know transfer fees aren’t always relative to talent, but Hummels is a rock back there and also provides a presence offensively and in the air. I agree that Lewandowski may not be world-class yet though. He’s been a prolific scorer for them but is unproven in other leagues and the international stage and has had 1 and a half seasons of success thus far. However, he’s definitely got more quality than Giroud and is a player who can create scoring chances out of nothing and would be a welcome addition to our squad if available.

    In reference to your second point, I disagree that Arsenal would be winning prizes in the Bundesliga. I think the league is very underrated and the teams there are always constantly attacking and counter-attacking. Arsenal’s porous defence would concede even more goals than they are now and if we can’t beat teams like Schalke, there’s almost no chance we could win the Bundesliga. Dortmund and Bayern are head and shoulders above Arsenal and have been for the last few years. Even teams like Leverkusen and Schalke are still slightly better than Arsenal. We’ve still got a bit of a way to go before we can compete with the Dortmunds and Bayerns of the world.

  • Hi Glic,

    You echo my thoughts on Dortmund and the current state of Arsenal word for word! If the reports are true that Wenger has the cash to spend then I’ll be thoroughly disappointed if we don’t improve our less than impressive squad in January. I think trophies are already out of reach, but that coveted top 4 position (which really shouldn’t be a goal) is still attainable. I think we’re better off missing out on everything this year, so as to improve with a more sustainable strategy in the future.

    TA, if you’re still around my next article was focused on Zaha and an analysis of his skills and my thoughts on whether or not he’s a realistic transfer target. Would this be a worthwhile read?

  • The Gooner, are you Canadian or someone just living /working there ?. Without being insulting, your football knowledge seems quite expertise for someone of them shores ( as in , Im guessing it`s not Canada`s national sport ! ).

  • The Gooner…unfortunately I don’t get to see much European football so I can’t give a fair judgement on any of the names you mention. I trust Wenger has sufficient scouting prowess to make a choice. My fear is Wenger prefers to want to pull a rabbit out of the hat all the time. He is loathed to pay top money for established talent.

    Many on here will testify I have been banging the same drum for some time now about us purchasing 2 or maybe 3 proven players to bring us to the table unabling us to compete with the big boys. I truly feel we are not that far away. We lack confidence for sure, but that will soon change if we had a couple of strong characters around the dressing room. It would make the players feel six foot tall as we enter the arena.

  • I would love to read it !. There is a lot of hype about this kid and I know a Palace fan who rates him the best ever Palace youngster.

    I was working with a Southampton fan and he gave me great reports on OXO before we bought him, he was gutted when he left !.

  • TA,

    I should clarify what I meant by Wenger’s lack of ambition. I was referencing his ambition in the transfer market. Until Cazorla, Wenger wasn’t even willing to sign a player with a transfer fee in the range of £15-20 million! There are a lot of world-class talents (or potentially world-class ones) to be found in this price range and there needs to be a blend of spending on youth and relatively established players if we’re going to find any success.

    I admire his unwavering faith in his own players, but there have been several opportunities to improve the squad that he should have taken advantage of. For example, as much as I love what Arteta is doing for the team this year, he should have bought a replacement for Song. Giroud looks like he’ll be a class striker and come good for us leading the line, but we still need more reinforcements up front. He should have been cognizant by now that Gibbs is injury-prone, and that Santos was never a quality back-up option. It’s decisions like these that have kept us from competing this season and will continue to affect us if they are not addressed soon.

  • Sorry I have not been able to contribute today, especially with TG’s marvellous debut Post and fine follow up comments. Ace! 😀

    I think we have uncovered a couple of serious talents in that man Oz and now The Gooner.
    {Of course, Glic sets the standards, as he and his mirror are hard to beat — though VCC would like to beat him — anyone got some fresh twigs?} 😆

    I have written a couple more chapters of my new book “Fifty Shades of Men Only”, some of which I will share with you.

    OK, what do you think of this fantabulous penmanship!

    — “Harder!” she cried, gripping the workbench tightly. “Harder!”
    “Okay,” I said. “What’s the gross national product of Nicaragua?”

    — “I lay back exhausted, gazing happily out of the shed window.
    Despite my concerns about my inexperience, my rhubarb had come up a treat.

    — “Are you sure you can take the pain?” she demanded, brandishing stilettos.
    “I think so,” I gulped. “Here we go, then,” she said, and showed me the receipt.

    — “Hurt me!” she begged, raising her skirt as she bent over my work bench.
    “Very well,” I replied. “You’ve got fat ankles and no dress sense.”

  • No European football !, thats because your zimmer frame interfere`s with your Satelite Dish and picks up too much Babestation !. hahaha

  • TG @20:12 you are overrating the BL. Just because Arsenal are going through a hard time now does not mean you can pull conclusions that we are well below Dortmund and Bayern. Only a year ago we send Dortmund packing in the CL. It is also a lot easier to compete financially in the BL and this would suit Arsenal very well imo.

  • Glic,

    I am Canadian, and your comment isn’t offensive at all! In fact, it’s a huge compliment :). Footy not being our national sport, means that I’m not as biased towards the Premier League. For example, I’ve had countless debates with EPL fans that believe no league comes close to it. However, several football fans that watch multiple competitions (Bundesliga, Ligue 1, EPL, Serie A and La Liga etc) will tell you that there is more quality in La Liga than the EPL. It’s not a discussion of whether or not one league is more exciting than the other, but simply a matter of talent. La Liga is just bulging with quality players and it’s evident by their success in the EPL. Mid table teams like Bilbao can dominate and pass around EPL teams all day. If it weren’t for the dire financial situation in Spain, La Liga would certainly be able to retain their top players.

    My footballing knowledge has been bred from an early age with my father being a huge football fan. It was reinforced by my cousins and close family friends who are all fanatics as well. Several of them work with football broadcasting networks or within football organizations themselves. Through them I’m able to expand my footballing knowledge and occasionally gain game clips and information on individual players that I wish to know more about. Zaha in particular was an intriguing one and I’ve watched plenty of isolated film on his games so hopefully the article does him justice!

  • Agreed on the need to replace Song, but feel that Podolski is good replacement for OG. An extra striker would always be welcome though. I rather have a DM and RW first though.

  • TA, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. I watch the Bundesliga week in and out and Dortmund are just a fantastic treat to watch. I truly believe Bayern and Dortmund round out the top 4 clubs in the world with Real Madrid and Barcelona right now, with a healthy Manchester United squad just behind. Bayern is the equivalent of a pseudo Mancs team, they have the financial banking of Manchester City and the allure of Manchester United. Dortmund is everything Arsenal is currently building back to. Yes, Klopp gets the most out of his players but keep in mind, Dortmund are in the early stages of their renaissance with several of their key players not even at the tender age of 25 yet. Mental toughness will continue to be strengthened and they have learned from past shortcomings in the CL. They’ve already won the double twice during Klopp’s reign.

    Throughout both legs last year, I felt that Dortmund could have won the game with more chances on target. If it were not for a world-class talent in van Judas, we would not have won those games. He was on inspiring form at that point and really carried us through. Keep in mind, we also had another top talent in Song against them last year. As Glic stated, they’ve taken steps forward while we’ve gone at least a step back.

  • Cheers Red Arse! I’m loving this site and am disappointed I only uncovered it a couple days ago. I’ll be sure to be contributing more often with comments as positive as yours.

  • TG, re Zaha article: a big YES from me. See also email I sent an hour ago. Tomorrow will be a match pre-view and Sunday is for analysing the game, but if you want we can publish your post on Monday or Tuesday. 🙂

  • TA, completely agree that Podolski is a good replacement for Giroud, but is either willing to come off the bench or rotate? Giroud’s been more effective centrally this year, but Podolski’s the more “established” player. DM and RW are also my main priorities that I’m hoping Wenger will address in January.

  • Hope to be around a bit more tomorrow TA.

    TG has a notion to discuss the attributes or otherwise of Wilfrid Zaha. Cannot wait to read it, and a ‘funny’ from Terry Tease is another one to look forward to.

    Is Oz doing the pre-match?

    Xmas is coming early. 🙂

  • VCC, I agree 100%. I think Wenger is starting to turn a corner though and realizing that tricks are for kids ;). Cazorla, Podolski, Arteta, Mertesacker and Giroud all represent a significant change in his past transfer dealings. If we even get 1 top proven player in January, it’ll be a success. As you and others have mentioned, we aren’t too far away and can slowly add the pieces (as long as they are eventually added and a top 4 finish doesn’t mask the greater issue at hand AGAIN). Unfortunately, we can only wait and see…

  • I watch the BL regularly as well TG, and am far less in awe of it. We deserved our win against BD at the Emirates, but I respect your views.

    Van Judas scored two good goals, but he was also provided with two fine assists. I bet Giroud would have done well with those as well 🙂

  • TA, that would be perfect. I was going to ask if you could publish it on Monday or Tuesday opposed to this weekend as I’m sure there’ll be a lot to talk about pre and post game tomorrow!

  • Ta, fair enough. As I echoed to Glic earlier, I just feel that several EPL fans overlook other competitions and see the EPL as the be all, end all. I respect your views as well but I’m very adamant on Borussia Dortmund being a better team that Arsenal, regardless of our place in the standings this year. I look at squad depth and the understanding players have with each other on the pitch, and we’re just below them right now. We’re not miles away by any means, but I also consider Wenger’s transfer history and unfortunately don’t see him acquiring the right players to propel us into the conversation with teams like Dortmund.

  • TG,

    I also believe the Spanish league is the best in the world. It is hard to argue against you at this moment in time re BD, and maybe they would beat us this time roud over two games.

    Dortmund have only got 6 more points out of their 15 games in the BL compared to us in the PL, and are trailing Bayern by 11 points. So I am not as convinced as you are about their current superiority.

    I would not mind it if we would draw them for the CL: a good game to re-establish our reputation in Europe! 😉

  • Credit where it`s due TG.
    I`ve been following The Arse for 50+ years and your knowledge is better than mine………you swine !. hahahaha

  • Glic Clog, Glic Clog, Clig Glog, Gig Gog, you are making me dizzy with all this mind changing.

    I have to go and lie down now!! 😆

  • Glic, 50+ years dedication is absolutely spectacular. You are to Arsenal, what Wenger is to his youth and players. I’m sure you know more about the rich history and tradition of the club than I currently know and are more familiar with the greats like Adams, Cruyff, Brady, Wright, Rice, Parlour etc.!

  • The voting is over…….I can now reveal……that the winner…….of the pole I just instigated……for most dramatic music……………..and in no particular order…..the second one !

  • F**k me Redders, for one minute there , I thought one of the horses had escaped from the stables !. hahaha

  • TA,

    Completely agreed. I’m likely a little too high on Dortmund since they are my Bundesliga team, and I’m generally overly harsh on Arsenal since they’re my first and number one love haha. I’ve just come to expect so much more from Arsenal and they simply never meet my expectations anymore. Dortmund consistently exceed them and they’ve lost top players in the process as well (Sahin, Kagawa etc).

    Again though, anything can happen in two games and Arsenal could hit good form and come out on top or it could easily go the other way around. I think it’s quite clear that CL is a poor indicator of the best team in the world (Chelsea winning it last year…), but rather is a testament to the best performing team in that particular tournament on those given days.

  • I may be old and senile TG, but I`m sure we didn`t sign Cruyff !, hahaha
    I did see him at Highbury when we played that great dutch team in 1971/72 after we won the double in 1971 in a European Cup tie, we lost the 1st leg 2-1, Ray Kennedy scored a precious away goal, but we lost the return home tie 1-0 when George Graham scored a spectacular own goal !.
    I`ve still got the programme of my 1st ever game at Highbury in 1965 vs Sheff Utd, we won 6-2. Not only the football world, but the world has changed so much since then. People always talk about the good old days, but I prefer what I`ve got now !. It`s a great world !.
    Have you visited the Emirates yet ?.

  • Glic, you’re 100% correct about Cruyff, not sure why I included him on that list! He’s one of the best footballers ever, so I probably just assumed that meant he played for Arsenal ;). That experience at Highbury sounds fantastic, really makes me jealous that you have so much knowledge about Arsenal’s gloried past!

  • TG
    The old boy below VCC, is even older and would be able to tell you more about Arsenal but the dementia is set in quite bad with him and he`s currently stuck in one of them revolving doors at the dementia clinic trying to find a way out, at least he`s getting some good exercise, he`s done 500 laps since his last comment !. hahaha

  • TG, I have great respect for what Klopp is developing at BD and I take great pleasure in them beating BM to the German top prices two years in a row. I also enjoyed it that Maureen’s Madrid were beaten by BD over two games. I can be over-defensive of Arsenal at times as well 🙂

  • TA have you scoured the globe in search of great Arsenal supporters? This Gooner bloke has written a gem with great comments to boot.

    Can’t disagree with much of it other than Freddie is a bit stiff, but I suppose you have have to draw the line somewhere!

    Also love the BD references as they are my favourite non-Arsenal team. I often dream of raiding them of numerous players and think Klopp would be the perfect replacement for Arsene. Tactics wise and how he sets the team up surpasses what Arsene is currently doing at Arsenal.

    Wanyamamamamama (although I’m still convinced Coquelin and Frimpong are the answers for us), a winger and a LB a definitely on the wish list! In fact I’ve already wrote my letter to santa! Either we’ll get the players or I’ll get a lump of coal…I shall await with interest (although getting three blokes under the Christmas tree is more GLIC’s dream than mine! 🙂 )

    UMF league predictions (soon to be winners) are as follows:

    West Ham v Liverpool DRAW
    Villa v Stoke DRAW

  • Hi Oz,

    Your reputation precedes you, as I’ve heard about you numerous times from TA. He seems to hold your views on Arsenal in high regard. So, it is a pleasure to hear such positive feedback from you!

    Nice to meet another Arsenal/BD fan! They’ve done a spectacular job of grooming their youth and slotting them into their system with great success. Long-term I agree that Klopp would be the ideal replacement for Wenger. He seems to also have a real eye for talent, puts his faith in the academy and is accustomed to working within a tight budget. I also concur that his tactics are superior to that of Wenger and he knows when to shift formation. Wenger looks to fit Arsenal players into defined roles in which they do not belong; Klopp is able to get more out of his players from being more flexible and better utilizing their strengths.

    Hahaha I really hope you don’t get a lump of coal mate! All three of those positions should be high on Wenger’s list. Despite us not having Wenger’s years of experience, we know and watch enough of Arsenal to have figured that much out! I’m at a crossroads with Coquelin and Frimpong. Yes, they’re both young but at the same time have not shown enough consistency or brilliance to convince me that they are the solutions long-term. At most, I see them being highly rated squad players who get rotated in the squad to keep our starters fresh or in a match-up against a more physical team. As for the left-back position, Meade could make the back-up role his own, as I was really impressed by him on Wednesday. He played a very safe game not typical of a youngster on the big stage, yet was not afraid of showing a bit of skill on the ball when in possession. He’s got good pace and recovered from the odd mental lapse/over-commitment quite well. My only criticism would be in relation to his height/aerial ability (which he cannot change), as he only stands at a meagre 5’3.

    Perhaps you can explain to me how these predictions work and for what league they are?

  • Also Oz, can you imagine the wonders Klopp could work with a bigger budget?! If Klopp takes over once Wenger retires, I think our team would explode with German talent and I strongly believe Germany is the future of football after the Golden era of Spain ends.

  • Interesting post for sure, and I’ll comment on it in the round shortly, but I just want to address your line “that Wenger does not properly recognize the impact left by a departing player” I don’t agree with this at all, in fact I think dear old Arsene feels the pain of a departing player more acutely than any fan. Arsene isn’t like most coaches/managers; he works very, very closely with his players, and invests a massive amount of time and effort into their development. When they leave in the manner of Cesc, Nasri and Van Judas I think he feels betrayed, and I think rightly so, because, it’s because of both his vision, and man management that those he works with/on progress so far so quickly. More than anyone else I think he knows of their potential and the personal relationship he’s developed with them. I think he builds his teams in the manner of a puzzle, each piece contributing to the finished picture. That’s why we suffer more than other teams, if one of Arsene’s jigsaw pieces doesn’t fit, because it distorts everything. Currently we have the pieces but Arsene doesn’t seem to be able to fit them together, or rather just when it seems like all the pieces are about to start falling into place we suddenly realise the blue we thought was the sky is in fact the sea. I think the departures are wearing on Arsene, I think it’s arduous for him when he loses a jigsaw puzzle piece because, he knows he might have to start a completely new puzzle building exercise from scratch, or the bits might not gel into a vision.

  • Do you mean the Manu’er without the world class players like Ronaldo, Rooney or Tevez or were you thinking of other non world class players like Rio, Vidic or the keeper Arsenal should’ve bought for £3Mil from Fulham Edwin Van der Sar.

  • I think Arsene Grooming a young team to grow old together is our best possible chance, for the future. It’s only Alan Hansen and Kelsey from the other place that thinks you can’t win anything with kids.

  • Hi TA. Good as always! How about yourself?

    @ Gooner

    that’s just because TA is a nice bloke, trust me when I saw a new writer on here my first thought was ‘sh*t now I’m further down the pecking order of writers on BK haha’
    Even Terry’s ‘loft dwellings’ will pass my semi-illiterate musings!
    The pleasure is all mine Gooner, great to see another like minded Arsenal fan out there!

    I agree, Klopp’s pressing game is what excites me most. With a game-plan like that you do not need to have brilliant signings, just a well drilled machine! I do envy their flexibility and players that have come through the ranks; fingers crossed that Eisfeld becomes a gem! What a revelation he’d be if he became a greater player than Goetze!

    I’m a big fan of hummels, at only 24 I think he could become the best in the world. If i was Bayern I’d be spewing considering he came up through their youth team. He rivals Vermaelen (at his best).

    I just think they haven’t had the run of games to prove themselves to be honest. Frimpong has struggled with injury and needs first team experience to work on his positioning, a loan deal for the rest of the season will do him the world of good. People complain about his passing yet others complain we don’t have a beast of a DM. Which is it? It’s rare to find both, but with Frimpong we have an Arsenal player through and through, his attitude is exceptional.
    With Coquelin I see a more skillful Flamini, he brings a lot of energy and stamina when he plays, but how can he develop without continuity? One game in one game out, do the hokey pokey and his development is shaken all about! Do we want a ball playing DM or a beast? We have both already!

    Meade looks promising and I’m happy seeing both he and Miquel playing back up in that position. His height is a worry but his speed is excellent, as is his final product. I watched a game of his in the reserves and he tore it up on the LW, he created all sorts of trouble.

    the ‘UMF League’ by VCC is a prediction based league where you predict the outcomes for 5 premier league games during each fixture (midweeks not included). Each one you get correctly gives you a score of 1. The ladder can be seen on the top right hand side of the page. RA is on top, he is a crafty accountant so has no doubt worked out some sort of gambling formula that is above all our heads!
    I’m sure VCC can cut you in somehow, I say start you off on 5 points that way GLIC is still last!

  • Herb can you push that one past me again “Gilberto and Vieira didn’t work as a midfield pairing”? Vieira didn’t work as a midfielder without Gilberto more like! It was only when the great Gilberto Silva was out injuried long term that Patrick looked very ordinary.

  • You mean Australia isn’t going to be the next football super power? Darn it!!!

    I agree, I love a player with fight and determination and most German players have that in spades!
    Klopp gets to spend what he makes though which i feel is important for any manager. For instance they sold Kagawa but replaced him with Reus! like for like almost, both great players.

  • Hi Richie,

    Thank you for the insightful reply. Excellent analogy with Arsene trying to fit everything together into a jigsaw puzzle. For me, this notion that all parts must fit exactly to achieve an end product is an old school belief that isn’t possible in such a day and age. I think with advances in technology (aka the modern game changing) the jigsaw puzzle that was originally in the box is meant to be complemented with other jigsaw puzzles and expansion sets that add depth and allure to the original product. Furthermore, when pieces go missing over time, it is the puzzle builder’s responsibility to replace the missing pieces with like pieces.

    I was never questioning Wenger’s ability to coach and build relationships with his players; simply stating that he doesn’t adequately replace the players that he’s lost. Feeling the impact of a departure is one thing (Wenger is a very passionate man and it’s clear that he always does), and adequately replacing them is my biggest concern. It took him one full year before he replaced Fabregas with Cazorla and he is yet to replace Song and van Judas at what are crucial roles for any serious contenting team. If he had identified the impact of their departures sooner, we could have acted swiftly in the summer transfer window to replace them. Again, I’m not saying that it’s always easy to find top talent in the transfer market but that there needs to be a like replacement lined up if he is allowing a player to leave.

  • Good spot Richie, I misread his original post and thought he said they worked as a midfield pairing. I must agree with you richie that Gilberto and Vieira were a spectacular combo!

  • @ Oz, so after reading my work you are confident that there’s no way I could be above you in the pecking order? What are you trying to say mate?! 😉

    I’ll reserve my comments on Eisfield as you can never predict how a player’s career will turn out, but my gut very clearly says that Goetze will be the better player. Having seen them both play, Eisfield is missing that something special that I’ve seen in Goetze. I definitely think Eisfield has a lot to offer but his future may lie as more of a goal scoring midfielder than a creative distributing one. I really hope that he’ll be a class player, but it’s very difficult for me to view him as a player with “world-class” potential like Goetze has.

    If I’m being honest, I think Vermaelen can be world-class in a different way than Campbell was. Vermaelen defines more of the modern day CB that can drive a team forward with his darting runs. He still needs work on the defensive side of his game as I’m not quite sure what happened to him last year. Even this year, he’s been rather inconsistent and has succumb to some serious mental lapses in our end this year.

    For me, the physical DM who is a beast and an emotional leader is more important than the ball playing midfielder right now. We need someone who is a presence in the heart of midfield that can break up plays and strikes fear into the opposition. I think Frimpong fits that part of the bill, but he gambles too much and picks up too many yellow cards in the process. It would also be beneficial if the DM could distribute well from a deep position. I’m not talking about being Pirlo and Vieira at the same time, but a DM that sits in front of the back four, has an aerial presence and that makes all the simple passes from back deep. I’ve been very impressed with Capoue from Toulouse and seriously think he fits the bill and is affordable at a rumoured price of £10 million. However, I agree that it’s hard for either Coquelin or Frimpong to establish themselves without adequate playing time, but I really think Wenger was hoping that one of them would turn into a combination of both current players (ball winning, smart passing and tough tackling).

  • Exactly the point I was trying to make. Wenger has failed to bring in a like for a like replacement for van Judas and Song, which has hurt the quality in our side this season. I’m happy that he finally found his Cesc replacement but he shouldn’t have rested on his laurels. Though, I will admit the rumours of a bid for Cabaye before the window closed were very promising and if it weren’t for Newcastle’s inflated asking price of £20 million, I think Wenger might have found a quality b2b midfielder to sort of replace Song and as an alternative if Diaby got injured (which he inevitably did)!

  • I just think Arsene has hand his hands tied with being able to buy like for like players. We should be able to cope more now with more revenue coming in though. My only worry is not making top four (heavin forbid) and losing out on 25+ million because then the tshirt deal balances it all out and we are back to square one. Alternatively we can just win the CL haha.

  • I’m saying you’ve knocked me out of medal contention haha. So what if I’ve been walking around telling everyone I’m the third best writer on BK, now a bloody fourth comes in…and there’s no medal for fourth! 🙂
    Soon enough I’ve been struggling to make it through the heat stage!

    I think the major injury slowed down Eisfeld’s development, whereas Goetze had room to grow. Also Goetze has gotten regular games with top notch players which is something that is definitely going to fast track your development (unless of course you’re Denilson and you’re just a waste of space). I await eagerly over the coming seasons to see how develops more.

    Agreed on Verm.

    I think Frimpong’s discipline largely comes down to his youthful exuberance. He wants to win and he’s playing for the team he loves so it’d be very hard to keep your emotions in check (heaven forbid I ever played for Arsenal. If someone knocked us out of a cup I’d probably shank them on the field.) He will settle with time, he will mature, and given the chance he will strike fear in the opposition. If he didn’t injure his knee at Wolves he wouldn’t just be knocking on the first team door, he would have ploughed through it

  • Oz, that paragraph on Frimpong and your reaction to an Arsenal loss was brilliant lol! I definitely agree with your assessment on Frimpong and his youthful exuberance. It often portrays him as a brawler without any real footballing skill. As I said about Eisfield, I sort of reserve my comments about young talents since you’ll never know how their careers will turn out. I guess I’ve become “cynical” on gushing over our youth since I’ve seen many failures over the years.

  • All am saying is for Wenger to bring back our glory days.We are tired of trophylesness every year.He knows all the talents in the world why wont he go out and buy them.But he rather exposed them to other coaches.Wenger I love Arsenal please…

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