Calum in Torture Chambers | Dreaming of Arsenal’s Best-11

Yesterday’s defeat against Swansea hurt less than the draw against Anderlecht, even though the former is a lot more costly. Somehow, I am getting used to Gunners-disappointment – I might even be finding some inner-peace around it all.

Yesterday’s team v Swansea (well done 17HT for getting it spot on!):

Arsenal v Swansea Nov 14

I thought the team fought hard and with discipline for a long time, and although our play was far from a compliment to the eye, I was still enjoying it. The goal, a well worked counter-attack between Ox, Wellbeck and the deadly Alexis, fell at the right time, as, of course, it was important to score first.

After that, it was a matter of either absorbing pressure and play counter-football or to keep playing on the attack in order to score the all important second goal. Key is to make a choice and stick to it….

This is easier said than done, especially after giving a three nil lead away against Anderlecht. Nerves played a big role and tactical indecision – on the pitch and on the touchline – proved to be very costly. It also does not help that the only defensive player on our bench is a young, promising, but highly inexperienced, FB: Bellerin. It became very quickly squeaky bum time, and it got worse. 😦

Ramsey had been ineffective: eager yes, but without focus and much control, which is so vital in the b2b/CM role (what was it, hey?). About time to dump the tennis shoes as well…. what is next: sheep and cow patterns?

Flamini, our man of the match by a mile, had been protecting the defence with an aggressive yet disciplined performance. For once we looked solid through the middle of our defence. But on the right flank we were vulnerable and there was very little we could do about it: the chink in the armour was gaping and our RB was imprisoned in his very own torture Chambers. Paradoxically, the opposite flank of Swansea was their most vulnerable area, so it made some sense to keep Ox on the right…

But Chambers, who simply has been playing too many games for a 19 year old, does not appear to deal well at the moment with speedy wingers who like to sprint to the by-line in order to cross into the box (I reckon fatigue is playing a big role here). His latest ‘Tormentero’, the impressive Montero, knew he had the better of the young Englishman and skinned him ruthlessly time and again. This is a real worry for our nr.2 RB, but more about this during the week. Ox still has a lot to learn defensively, and it is fair to say Chambers did not get much quality support from him; and the BFG is not going to help him much either when it comes to outrunning attackers.

Swansea’s equaliser was a chapeau-moment. The wall looked wobbly, but Sigurdsson’s free-kick was simply unstoppable. Nothing was lost yet; in fact, I was convinced we would bounce back from this. But Swansea smelled blood and their manager made the right substitution: the chink needed to be cracked open. Montero got the better of Chambers once again and produced a good cross into the box and a big, fresh CF, Gomis, is there to pounce home. It was reminiscent of a Drogba goal: Gomis out-jumped and out-powered the sorry looking Nacho and Ramsey, leaving Szczesny no chance at all.

We made substitutions and had the game lasted another half an hour we might well have drawn or even won it, but we all knew the game was lost.


I wrote about our soft underbelly after the Anderlecht game, and we all know we need to reinforce our defence and midfield in the middle with steel, speed, skill and character. So let’s not go over this again. The TW is 50 days away and we have a hell of a lot of games to play between now and then. And there might be no suitable players available come the start of the new year. Having said that, Flamini played well and the triangle of Flam, BFG and Nacho held strong for a very long time, allowing Swansea very little in the process.

Having watched Arsenal against Burnley live last week, I reckon we need to give more weight to the number of first team players we have been missing for a long period now. We looked ordinary for a large part of the game; in fact, I have not seen Arsenal lacking so much class throughout the team for a long, long time.

Welbeck really is nowhere near as effective in our team as Giroud. Chambers has to learn a lot to become as solid as Debuchy. Santi is significatly more limited in his attacking play than Ozil. Ramsey, out of form this season, is nowhere near as effective as Jack or veteran Arteta at the moment. Ox has moments of promise, but is still so raw and technically/tactically undisciplined compared to the ‘previously arrived’ Theo. Nacho works his socks off but is only half as good as tiger Koz.

This does not mean that the ‘stand-ins’ are rubbish: far from it! They are all decent to good players who would play well in a team that had very few injuries to their main core. Arsenal can cope with a couple of first teamers out, maybe even three. But there has been such a drop in overall quality over the last few months; and, in my view, this is down to the sheer numbers of injured first teamers. All teams have a core of first choice players, and if too many are injured, sooner or later this will show in their performances.

No Ozil, No Giroud, No Koz, No Theo, No Debuchy, and No Arteta and Jack for the last few weeks – easily £100-120m transfer value – is an incredible bloodletting for any team, and certainly for Arsenal. Too many stand-ins have been too much – or should it be too little – for the team, especially when we play them about twice a week as well.

To me this is the obvious problem – in combination with our lack of defensive cover, of course. Just imagine we can play the team below week in week out for a while, whilst adding a proper DM and a quality CB in January:

Arsenal strongest eleven 2014

We would do a lot, lot better…no doubt about that!

The PL title is lost, but the season is not. The Chavs are rampaging on, and although I can see weaknesses in their team, we are not going to make up the 12 point gap this season.

We have to hope to see our team get back to full strength, or there about, as soon as possible. Add steel in defence and/or midfield in January, and see where we go from there.

In the meantime, Wenger and Bould have to work hard to get the current squad into a solid, confident unit which will see us through this challenging period. The international break has come at the right time, it seems. For once, no Arsenal football for a couple of weeks feels like a relief. 

Written by: TotalArsenal.

57 thoughts on “Calum in Torture Chambers | Dreaming of Arsenal’s Best-11

  • Other than against Chelsea and some very, very dodgy referee sing decisions Swansea has been outstanding this season without playing particularly well. Yesterday Swansea (depleted by four regulars) played well. Before the weekend round of games Swansea was lying in 6th place one below Arsenal, the game was at Swansea.
    The result, always hate losing, was not disappointing because of of the performance or score – it was disappointing because some fans have the arrogance (and some players given their pre-game web comment!) of believing teams life Arsenal have a right to beat teams like Swansea. ManU didn’t beat Swansea, Everton didn’t beat Swansea & Southampton and Stoke only managed it with cheating players and shockingly bad refereeing.
    Games between the two clubs have been close since the Swans gained promotion; so wake up Gooners and recognise you have a great club and a great manager but not the ‘right’ to beat anyone.

  • Well written TA I don’t think there is too much to disagree with.

    This time last year the team was flying and Ramsey prior to getting injured was on player of the year form. We also had a very sound Bacary Sagna at right back (hope he is enjoying the bench). Giroud of course was fit and leading the line (although often getting bad press.).

    Since then we have spent large sums of money and although we have had a lot of bad injuries (don’t we always? ) it seems to me we have taken a step backwards.

    I am a big Wenger fan, but am beginning to think its ti me he considered moving upstairs. I can’t believe that Steve Bould cannot see some of the glaring errors we have been making recently. I can only assume he does not have any authority.

    I can think of a few examples recently that were at least worth a try

    1. When Hulls reserve keeper went off injured, surely we should have put him under pressure? If memory serves me well he had nothing worse than a back pass for a long period of time.

    2. When Ashley Williams was in trouble at the star of the game, did we try a few balls over the top to try and expose him for pace. No we spend15 minutes pushing the ball around at the back.we never troubled Fabianski for nearly 40 minutes.

    3 Why do we leave it until 10 minutes to go to bring on fresh legs and why was Chambers so exposed?

    4 when Fabianski first played for Arsenal he was awful at defending corners. Everyone we played stuck a big guy up against him an unsettled him. Sure he got better, but did we at least try to outmuscle him? No

    Sorry I am letting off a little steam. I will always support my beloved team whatever happens, but I am really not enjoying watching at the moment

  • TA, great post btw mate – its slightly helping to lift the spirit 🙂

    From what i saw we went there to be secure and not give too much away before thinking too much about brilliant attacking football as the first half was testament to and which i cannot blame Wenger for doing after mid week.
    However I am certainly not being paid 8 million a year and even i (as i said before the match and many other times this season) could see Ramsey’s form is shocking, Chambers is not good when it comes to pacey wingers and Cazorla is providing very little in midfield.
    Now if it was me knowing those three things and adding all the injuries to the list of problems (which i include Theo in atm becuase he can’t start) and i went out with the same game plan as Wenger then my team would have been a lot different.
    Understand that you need pace in the full back position to overcome mistakes and inexperience of youth.
    Height and strength in the CB position.
    Forget the out of form B2B if you are trying to shore things up and go with two sitting defensive midfielders.
    Add a bit of midfield magic up front with Jack.
    And fill the rest with attacking pace.
    So until Hayden is back fit this would have been my team for yesterday and it worries me that Wengers is so entirely rearranged.
    Oh well what do i know

    —-Sanchez——-Wilshere——The OX——–

  • RDD 🙂

    Not sure what you are on about…… Nobody here thought that playing Swansea away would be easy. However, giving a lead away and then losing is not something we accept easily at Arsenal…

  • Retsub 🙂

    All fair questions. I reckon we lack air-power throughout the team. Danny is not a good header of the ball or in-box attacker in the air. Our full backs are not great in the air either, although Calum is quite good. BFG is a threat, but that is about it.

    But we got our goal and had looked solid and in control until then. After that it went all wrong though.

  • Steve 🙂

    It is your right to believe that line up would have done better, but of course we will never know. Bellerin is no improvement to Calum, despite him being faster, but it could have worked WTFDIK as 17HT would say.

    Ramsey is an important player and of course the only thing Wenger can do is play him until he finds form again. That is how he works and I cannot blame him for it. Maybe moving Monreal up would have made a difference but he has NEVER played there, so why try it in the middle of a game, or even at the start…..

    As I have said recently, Wenger works with the players closely in order to get the best out of them and being loyal to them is an integral part of building trust and confidence. He will not change this and believes in evolution rather than revolution.

  • TA, i think if he doesn’t start to tweak his approach to evolution pretty soon what he will have on his hands is a revolution.

  • The thing is football management is hard, especially at the top. Of all the top teams, only the Chavs are happy right now. The other teams have all disgruntled fans, telling the manager what they need to do…. It is impossible to describe the enormity of the gap between being a FF manager and actually doing it in the real world. But the former is such fun thing to do and great basis for blogging.. 😛

  • We could have Messi, Baresi, Bobby Moore and Pele in our team and as long as Wenger in his current guile was managing that team, we would find a way to fuck it up. Didn’t we have that same dream team get mauled 6-3 by City last year? Unfortunately, IMO, the manager has no leg to stand on. He’s been trying to teach his teams to defend, without, any real continuing success, for over 6 years now. Why can’t we all just call it as it is-he is not an ELITE manager in today’s world. Barcelona aside (and that team collapsed tragically and with such familiarity), Arsene hasn’t beaten an elite team nor elite coach in any real important game for years. Look at his record against the Top 4 in the EPL and against the top CL teams-it provides bloody awful reading. Really, your 1000th game, your opponent calls you a “specialist in failure” and you send your team out looking like a squadron of headless chickens and get picked off and slaughtered 6-0. Mourinho proved in emphatic and embarrassing fashion whats wrong with Arsene’s tactics. Elite coaches don’t suffer that type of humiliation on such a regular basis (maybe once). Every issue we have right now is linked to one man and one man only-Arsene Wenger.

    He was great but he’s just run of the mill right now with some excellent players at his disposal. What we used to gain from having his a manager seems to be what’s costing us now.

    Either we change manager or get used to the type of results we’ve been used to for the last 6-7 years. If we don’t change I’ll still enjoy reading all the blogs but I’ll probably get fed up of the having to deal with the same discussions week in week out, year in year out.

  • Like the look of Kristof Kramer, own golazo be damned. He’s a player. A bigger, more skilful Flamini. His annihilation of the pitch-side microphone against Bayern was epic. Good quick feet for a big man too. Me like.

    I think we can safely say that even with everyone in our squad fit, there are still issues, so I guess I’m just speculating on whom we might consider for alternatives, outside of the organization. Speculation/lowest form of scouting, if you will.

  • I disagree that no club besides Chelsea is content with their lot right now. Southampton??? They are flying and only four pointers behind Chelsea. It might be time to wake up and smell the slime. The initial poster in this article did have a point, in my view. Look at Swansea and Southampton. Look at Borussia Monchengladbach, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, even Borussia Dortmund etc, etc. Way fewer resources, more consistent and higher quality results. They also happen to have more than one or two players whom we could do with right now, if only on current form. Maybe even a manager or two thrown in. I love Wenger. I am not adverse to change, if only for curiosity’s sake. That can be dangerous, I know. Valencia have been on the cusp of bankruptcy, if not complete termination for nearly a decade, but they have risen from the ashes, if only temporarily. Atletico and Dortmund have also had grave financial issues as well. Still, you can only go (judge, evaluate) on the past and present, with any real conviction.

  • TA,

    Good, uplifting post after such a horrendous week. You made valid points especially in regards to key first team personnel being out at the same time for so long. However, it is not all about that, in my humble opinion. Injuries or not, makeshift defense or not, we are still somehow finding ourselves in a winning position well into the second half (mostly thanks to our player of the season so far, Alexis Sanchez). What is so frustrating is that we keep making the same mistakes (not closing down shop) and appearing not to learn from them at all. You would naturally think that after managing to blow away a mind-boggling 3-goal lead at HOME to CL minnows Anderlecht by not being disciplined enough to see out the game (just play simple Arsenal possession football and then hit back on the counter if they dared to commit many bodies forward), we would not repeat the same mistake in the same week!! But no, not us. This is Arsenal and we do things the hard way. We commit 7 or 8 players forward in search of a second goal thereby neglecting our defensive duties (knowing fully well how hard it is for us to protect a lead these days, and how slow some of our current players are). We did the same freaking thing again and got exactly what we deserved.

    “History tends to punish those who do not learn from it”. That is what is so aggravating and frustrating to most. Either the exact message is not getting through to the players on the pitch or the manager is not giving them any message at all (regarding protecting a lead in the second half). It seems to me like it is actually better for us to play the last 30 minutes from a losing position rather than a winning one because from what I have observed so far this season, we seem to play better defensively and offensively when we are going all out chasing the game with a good amount of time left on the clock.

    In any case, the Winter Transfer Window is too far away for us to do anything about our shortcomings. We have to make do with what we have got. It is therefore up to Arsene Wenger to keep it simple and together until then (if he is actually planning on spending any significant amount of money on a couple of good quality players to strengthen our very leaky defense). I’d love for Arsene to INSTRUCT the team to just play solid defense if we are leading in the second half. That would build and boost our confidence level bs appease the fans if we can on a 1-nil winning streak until we get a full squad back next year. Let’s show teams that we are capable of playing good defense and winning ugly. That would be impressive.

    The big question is: would Arsene Wenger EVER go for this? I personally doubt it…

  • *** That would build and boost our confidence level as well as appease the fans if we can go on a 1-nil winning streak***

  • Gino 🙂

    You answered your own question by saying we are better when behind or even towards the end of the game. We are, at least at the moment, not a sit back and defend a lead team. We just have not got the players for it

  • Atletico melted away last season??? Dortmund melted away in 2011 and 2012??? Ok, ok??? I’m struggling here, but making the effort. Everton melted away completely last season??? I wouldn’t go that far. In fact I admire their manager a great deal. Not in Wenger’s old territory, but definitely making his own legacy. Southampton IS not a fluke. They might finish eighth (I doubt it) but they have as solid a base now as any club. Youth Academy??? Check (all day, every day, long) New Stadium??? Check. Solid fan base??? Probably. Good first team??? Check. Past success in relation to “resources”??? Check. There is nothing wrong with a little admiration for these successes, if there IS something to admire. We are not pure garbage ourselves, but in my opinion, IT SHOULD be better. Maybe not a whole ton better, but better none the less.

  • TA,

    “We are, at least at the moment, not a sit back and defend a lead team”. We may well not be such a team, but that shouldn’t stop us from at least trying, given our current lack of confidence, our various missing-in-action players (injured), and quite frankly how unimpressive we have been playing so far this season. I am confident that if we truly put our mind to it, we can do it. These are PROFESSIONAL players and “impossible” must not be on their vocabulary. If they get instructed to do something, they’d better do it, or at least try their best to do. If they can’t do it, then play whoever can carry out that instruction. We should (or at least Wenger should) demand and totally committed maximum effort from each and every one of our players, irrespective of the personnel we have on the pitch at any given moment. There should be absolutely ZERO EXCUSE as to what we can or can’t do on a football pitch. Most of these players are fully recognized internationals, for heaven’s sake! If they cannot perform to their ability, then Wenger should start giving some of our youngsters the chance to prove and improve. I am assuming that most of us have a job somewhere. If we keep failing to perform or follow clear instructions from our supervisors, we would probably get fired. If Wenger tells them to sit back and defend a hard earned lead, then that is what they must do. No excuses!

  • What about attack is the best defence? What you are proposing is not the Wenger way and, at the moment, he has not got the def players for it Imo.

  • Come on, don’t dismiss me like that!!! 😀 hahahaha.

    To COMPLETELY change the subject, cast your eye upon Ainsley Maitland-Niles. He played regularly as a right winger in the academy until the end of last season through to today, where he is now being used as a roaming central midfield player. He will most likely NEVER solve our defensive stability issues in the first team, but he is impressing in an attacking sense, and will improve tactically. It just provides more credence to the theory that Wenger and the rest of the club staff, are increasingly looking to play total football, to it’s very essence. This is exciting. The most basic principle of total football (I believe, not sure) is that all players are sympathetic, or empathetic to one another through having experienced playing in different positions on the pitch and playing them at a relatively high level (relative to their age group, generally speaking). In other words, they know what each player is supposed to do on the field (what the general job is, as well as the minutia of each position, including their own). Exciting??? FUCK YES!!! EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO ACCOMPLISH, AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL??? FUCK YEAH!!! DIFFICULT TO WIN THE BIGGEST, BIIIIIIIIIIIGEST PRIZES WITH??? Well, not as difficult at club level as it seems to be at international level, to a certain degree. HOW LONG WILL THIS TAKE TO FULLY EVOLVE, IF EVER??? Probably upwards of five years, as Maitland-Niles, Crowley and Zelalem are only 17. Will all three even make it??? No certain thing at all. Maitland-Niles might actually be the best bet, from all reports, as Crowley is TINY and probably always will be, his style of play invites the hardest, most violent of tackles, and Zelalem is too much of a pushover physically as well as being a bit too one dimensional and not nearly accomplished enough defensively. Maybe the biggest positive that Zelalem has in his favour is his supreme levels of endurance. He can run all day, even if he gets dispossessed 100% of the time and never wins a tackle in his career, which is a gross exaggeration and will not be the case. All three are very different forces at their level though and will be very interesting to follow, for those people and fans (like myself) who take an active interest in European youth football. Do I know, does anyone know for certain that this is the direction Wenger has chosen for the club, if indeed he looks that far in to the future??? No. Is it exciting to speculate??? I have no guilt in giving that a FUCK YEAH!!! 😀 It keeps the spirits up if only until after the next first team match, hahaha. Apologies for the atrocities committed to the rational view of the English language, in advance 😀 (swearing).

  • the problem that we have at Arsenal is that everyone including our great goal keeper wants to get fcuking forward and be on the ball .

    not one player wants to stay behind and do the dirty work, everyone wants to be part of the “show” .

    Flamini had a decent game yesterday but with all due respect, he’s another one of the players with brain farts occurring way to frequently – just stay in your own half, let them go around you if we lose possession let them go the long way as we re-group .

    Gibbs could have avoided taking that one for the team as well, it was unnecessary but saying that, it was a fantastic free kick .

    2nd goal ? comedy of errors and again – there is a reason why we are conceding so many goals and no, it’s not Monreal, Chambers or Per – the reason is Sczny – just not good enough .

    he concedes a goal against a team who hardly score from corners .

    Fabianski was 10 times better the goalie yesterday in everything from distribution to coming out at corners to bail out his team .

    we let the wrong pole go .

  • *corners/ crosses

    skipper is right – we don’t have the defensive players for it, so who’s fault is that ?

    Song was available – Wanyama / Bender / Fellaini were all available, ok, he wanted Schnierderlin but didn’t go all in –

    Jose.Moron want Cesc and he missed his son’s game to personally go and convince him to come – why can’t we push the boat out for the players who would really make the difference ?

    people are moaning about letting TV5 go, well even if he was at ARsenal, he would still be out injured, no ?

    I don’t know what it is but count me a dreamer as I much rather be 12 points behind Chelsea now as opposed to be 12 points leading like last year at the top of the table with us coming crashing down come feb – this way least, we get our house in order and come Feb, who knows ? we might be able to surprise a few people…

    I still believe we can turn this around , can’t get any worse now, surely ?

  • Sorry TA – Late coming to your post. I agree very much the line on Calum Chambers. He has been asked to do a lot this season. At first it was novel, and the excitement carried him through. Now it is becoming a chore, and that is hard for to deal with at his age.

    We all know we have muddled through a few games and kept the unbeaten run going, despite injury upon injury. Never thoroughly convincing in any game, even the 60 minutes against Anderlecht had dodgy moments at the back. I thought in this game we were going to do a Chelsea thing, that is score, then defend with discipline? Players knowing their role and carrying it out. Most managers issue fresh instructions from the touchline, especially when apparent weaknesses are appearing. Arsene seems very reluctant to do that? I have also noticed that Bould does not shout at the players any more.

    It could also be the likes of Ox and Ramsey might get caught up with the Alexis ‘get up and at ’em’ mentality, which does not always help the collective defending either?

    Perhaps with a few more players back after the break will help, but I do think AW has got to become more involved from the touchline, and not moan about it going wrong afterwards?

    The UMF update is up – You are our pole sitter …for now?

    I watched the Moto GP testing this afternoon. Riders just getting to try out the new spec machines for next season. It was not racing, just riders doing a few timed laps. Very enjoyable none the less, especially seeing the Marques brothers, aged 19 and 21, riding around on identical bikes, both World Champions in the same season in their respective classes.
    That puts a smile on your face ..

    Let us hope Arsenal can do the same between now and Christmas 😀

  • arghhhh dang you “wanted and join not come

    Steve that video you posted sounds like it was me and my amigo having our usual chat after Arsenal losing 😀

  • TA,
    Attack is the best defense would be true if we had goal/assist contributions from all over the place like last season (i.e. Walcott, Ramsey, Cazorla, Giroud, Ozil, Koscielny, Mertesacker, etc…). This season especially, despite adding Alexis Sanchez and Wilshere returning to form, we are somehow struggling in attack as well as defense. In the vast majority of our games this season, we are really laboring and finding it extremely difficult to unlock defenses and get even a single goal, let alone 2 or 3. It is as if most teams have finally figured out how defend our passing game in the final third and frustrate the hell out of us. So when we finally do get that oh-so elusive goal, I believe we should exercise common sense restraint and mental caution, and just leave a few players behind to help defend that important lead, especially with half an hour or less to play. Not just a slow and out of form Mertesacker, an (enforced) out of position Monreal, and Gibbs. It may not be the Wenger way, but sometimes circumstances dictate how we normally do things. We may not always like it but in order to still move ahead, we may need to put our plan, our “way” on hold and adapt to the changing circumstance. By all means, I am not suggesting that we totally abandon our offense and not get a healthier lead if we could. No, not at all! I am simply saying we re-assess/re-evaluate our approach, use our intelligence, defend that lead first and foremost and attack second. At least for now until we get our all our quality players back (both injured and out of form players) and firing on all cylinders. Then we can go gang- ho, all kamikaze and use “attack is the best defense” format. We should use the acronym you coined yourself: “OGAAT”. But instead of “One Game At A Time”, it should be: “One Goal At A Time” 🙂 If nothing else, we (that is all of our players) would be “practicing”, for lack of a better word, how to defend a lead and win ugly. This, in turn would help us better prepare against the big teams in the second half of the season. Repeating the same defensive errors is certainly not helping right now. It is actually borderline insane. We need every 3 points we can get our hands on right now. If we keep giving them away like this, we may end up looking back come May 2015, and bitterly regretting not doing better to preserve the lead against the likes of Swansea City. Just saying…

    Let’s just start winning again, and not worry too much about how many goals we score. Let’s rebuild our confidence slowly and go from there. I would gladly take a bunch of 1-nil victories from now until January. Wouldn’t anyone…? 🙂

    Sorry we don’t see this the same way, TA, but that’s only my opinion, anyway!

  • I’m leaning towards Bond’s opinion of our goalkeeper, though wouldn’t go quite as far as laying the blame solely at the doorstep of his haven/cave, yet. I gotta watch the headed goals that we have conceded in the recent past again, first. I will not count his first year or so (2011) . I wish he were more authoritative though and not just all bluster and very often blunder, in the media/social media. At least his Dad’s mouth hasn’t been in the vicinity of a microphone in the past year and a half…I’m just waiting for that one 😀

    Even my Father who is well past legally blind (he can only see glare/light) said that we shouldn’t have let Fabianski walk, even if he was to remain a back-up if he was “willing” , as in given a pay rise. I know that COULD be termed counter-productive (paying extra for a back-up) YET he was the one minding the goals when we won our first trophy after a nine year slumber. Is that the bottom line??? For most, winning is and even for those who don’t always deem it 100% necessary (me?) it feels fine, doesn’t it??? 😀

    Is our keeper improving??? If he is, he’s doing it at a rate that is so slow and miniscule, it’s very difficult to judge in the affirmative. It is, wouldn’t you say???

  • Following on from the above, I would say the dogs are barking up the wrong tree, again.

    The only thing that Fabianski would have stayed would have been first team football. That means in effect he would have to have been our No1. The reason being, the goalkeeper is about the last position that you can ‘job share’. Almost every back 4 likes stability, and that applies particularly to the one behind them, the ‘keeper? On the back of the previous season, I don’t think many would fancy going into this season with Fabby as our No1?
    He was out of contract. He left. Move on.

    The reverse of that is also true. A goalkeeper likes a settles back 4 in front of him. Not only have we not had that, the mixture of inexperience or out of position player at CB could not be worse? That also spreads out to the FB’s too. Last season we had pretty much a constant back 4 of Sanga, Mert, Kos, and Gibbs … and we kept clean sheets, 17 of them. Mertersacker has been the only constant this time around. Post WC he has not had the easiest time with the changes to get back to some thing like normal. On the one hand he does not know if Chambers is going and attack or stay back on line, so often they cover the same attacker. With Nacho, an experience defender, but not a reliable header of the ball, nor the tallest. When Gibbs plays he is invariably our best defender. So with that chaos going on in front of Szczezzer, and the cavalier attitude of our supporting players, you can hardly blame him for not being too sure of what is going to get through to him.

    The wall was a classic case for Swansea’s first goal. How come the smallest guys were at the bit that covered the goal farthest away from Szcz? If it had not have been for Flamini organising it at the last minute it would have been even worse. He was calling more into the wall because he could sense that it wasn’t good enough at that distance. I did not see our captain doing that? I think his German mentality of people knowing their jobs is any situation is being sorely tested at the moment, almost to the point of meltdown?

    Don’t bother going down the route of ‘why didn’t we buy X or Y’ because it did not happen. For whatever reason, the targets decided it was not the right time or place for them or their families to move to London?
    At the current rate I can see Hayden getting back before Kos, and that cannot come soon enough. Per will be happy to have just one partner he can work with. In the meantime the big decision has to be made in order to get some shape back in defence.
    AW seems to have gone in favour of Monreal for his experience. That means Chambers remains the choice of RB. Whatever way you cut it, with the players available, this is probably the best option, as Bellerin would have struggled against a player like Montero, and then you are moving an inexperienced player to the central position. Against the Man Utd that will be exposed ruthlessly, and do even more damage to Chambers confidence?
    What can be done to help him at RB is give him more support, and Bellerin on the right side of midfield would be ideal, depending on how Walcott and Ox are deployed. Hopefully it will not be long before Debuchy gets back.
    At CB it is either Monreal, or the completely inexperienced Ajayi? The latter would be a solid option at set pieces, but in open play, his naivety could be a problem. So again it come down to better support for Monreal. May be at set pieces, push him out to do his LB thing and have Gibbs or Welbeck be placed where Per wants them. This would have to be rehearsed on the training ground naturally. It is either that, or stick with Chambers in the middle and trust that Bellerin can do the job at FB. He is a better option than say having an out of form Ramsey there? Flamini could do it, but is more valuable at DM at the moment?
    No, we cannot recall Jenks or le Coq.
    Tafari Moore? He is taller than Bellerin, and might get an outing in the FA Cup, but not this side of Christmas. So those looking for 1-0 victories over the next couple of weeks after the break may be should lower there sights just to get the -nil? This will pee off Alexis no end, as he will find little support going forward, and he will let the world know it. It will pass. Get Giroud and Debuchy back, then Kos or Hayden and we can head into Christmas with 3 players who will be like new signings?
    Breathe a sigh of relief, the worst is over …
    Keep the faith …

  • Hey fellas…I just spent a few moments writing a long one. but it’s too personal and might be better issued as a post during this interlull. Naturally, it focused on the topic of blame (responsibility)… TA, let me know if something along those lines would interest you. I’ve got a feeling my drivel isn’t everybody’s cup of tea…and that nobody really minds when I take a couple of days off… 😀

    While the stuff people write during and immediately after a tough result often offends me, this post seems quite rational and on the money. I’ve been enjoying the comments as well as people (kind of…) come down from their initial (and extreme) finger pointing. (The opening comment here, by RDD, I think, is spot on…Arsenal have no “right” to believe, at any given moment, that we’re better than teams like Swansea…) In general, I like the broader overviews the best and it’s been good watching strong writers like Milo and Gino come around in their own ways… 😀 Gerry’s comment (directly above) mirrors a lot of my own feelings, but I’m not clear on why the worst is over. Our schedule only gets tougher and I’m having trouble seeing exactly how we’re building a plan or the confidence of the squad… Under (even) more pressure, (i.e., against better teams) the cracks will surely get (even) more exposure. Giroud with an early comeback seems a nice and hopeful idea (at best) and makes a certain measure of sense for maybe giving us a bit of shape when we’re trying to hold a result. Beyond that… I see hands reaching but straws failing to be grasped… I will, of course, keep the faith…tempered by reality, of course… 🙂

    The more reactionary comments which point more specific fingers can also speak the truth even if (I think) they miss the bigger picture. I understand why people go in this direction but this is a collective failure at its heart. If you MUST assign blame, I say, follow the money, which will be found in the pockets of one Stan Kroenke. As in any enterprise, management (and staff) ultimately serve at the pleasure of he who pulls the purse-strings. As such, suggesting that we’ll solve the ills of the club by making upgrades in (a part of) the management or the playing personnel also seems wishful. If it makes people feel better venting in this manner, who am I to say they shouldn’t? Still, I think it misses the true nature of our problems, which (actually) run deeper… Optimism, hope, etc. aren’t bad ways of dealing with the situation, but lower expectations (and/or a MUCH longer term perspective) are probably a surer path to feeling better about the club…

    Anyhow, enough said (for the moment at least… 😀 ) and sorry for being so glum… The sun is still shining here, so I gotta enjoy it…

    Carry on…

  • Evening (here) HT, Yes, I agree about lowering expectations, particularly until we get at least two of the four players I mentioned back in the side.
    It is only when we get Kos or Hayden back do I think the worse will be over, barring fresh injuries of course.
    My view is once we have got back to a solid back 4, we can then unleash our very potent and pacey attack to the full. Quick clearances to Giro and our counter attacking will hit full stride, irrespective of the strength of the opposition.

    Interesting points made on ‘Untold’ this morning, regarding Arteta and Flamini. Which is is summarised thus:
    Played with both, we keep clean sheets.
    When playing with just Arteta, well let in one goal.
    When played with Flamini we let in two goals.

    A bit harsh on Flamini really, because whoever Arteta is paired with, he will always stay back. But Flamini, who is likely to try and win the ball back high up the pitch, and get more forward, the likely combinations who can pair with him will do the same, and we have all seen the result of that recently?

    However, it does point to the need for a double defensive pivot, in terms of the players we have?

    Your point on the fixture list I find a little strange. Yes, we meet Man U next, but they are depleted too, WBA are no great shakes. We might have two players back for the home tie against Southampton, and whilst they have been getting the results, they are not flying like they were early on. In fact the whole of December is taken up by Stoke, Newcastle, and QPR, WHA either side of Liverpool away. What is so terrifying about that run?
    We don’t meet Man City until mid-Feb, and Chelsea at the end of April. Even the CL games after the group stage don’t start until mid Feb.. FA Cup starts Jan 3rd, but we may be able to play the ‘second eleven’ for that?

    I’d be very surprised if we do not pick up a whole host of points from that list after the first couple?

    Keep the faith …

  • The problem is simple!

    Reserve squad team 1
    An almost full line up of over the hill or broken experienced players

    Reserve squad team 2
    An almost full line up of inexperienced, physically underdeveloped, raw youth talent
    —–Campbell ——Gnabry———Akpom——-

    And finally a starting XI
    An almost full line up (we are still missing a BFG replacement and DM)
    Subs: Ramsey, Welbeck, OX

    When we lined up against Swansea this is what was left of that first team:
    Subs: Ramsey, Welbeck, OX

    All the subs were used as starters as would be expected in this time of crisis, Ramsey performed woefully and Danny and OX did their best with what little they were given.

    A very wise man recently said:
    “Optimism, hope, etc. aren’t bad ways of dealing with the situation, but lower expectations (and/or a MUCH longer term perspective) are probably a surer path to feeling better about the club…”
    This I am afraid is exactly on the money!

    If you think the experienced reserve team is going to fill in and produce anything but mediocrity then you are deluded (17HT)
    If you think the youth reserve team is going to fill in and produce anything but mediocrity then you are deluded (myself)
    If you think a mixture of both will produce anything but mediocrity then you are deluded (anybody left)

    What we need is our first team back and anything we do until then is just us trying to polish a turd to be honest. That doesn’t stop us from trying, I like my turds shinny and will always try and give my thoughts on who should be used, where and why but it is a useless pursuit in the end because the answer to the problem we are trying to patch up is obvious.
    Lower our expectations, close our eyes and prey we get to January with the least amount of points dropped. Make sure the boss realizes his mistake from the last transfer window and this time signs a DM, a CB to replace BFG and a CB to cover for Koscielny in case his Achilles problem rears up again and welcome back all the injured first teamers.

    Go into the New Year with a first team line up for the first time this season!

    My wish list for the TW
    DM – Wanyama
    CB – Winston Reid
    CB (kos cover) – Virgil van Dijk

    Line up:
    ——Walcott————Sanchez————-The OX—

    Subs: Ramsey, Ozil, Giroud, Dijk, Monreal, Hayden

    And with three tactical subs the whole dynamics of the team could be changed from creativity in the midfield with four attackers up ahead approach (a la Chelsea) back to our style of 4-2-3-1 that almost won us the league last season, with the creativity higher up feeding off of a more static hold up striker and a B2B scoring midfielder (shown below).


    That is what I call a tactic to be able to use during a game if plan A isn’t working! Not just the like for like player swap we see at the moment in the eightieth minute.

    Roll on January!
    In the mean time don’t expect to see much better from us than we are producing now I’m afraid.
    I’m still backing the youth over the oldies in the meantime though 🙂

  • I got to say all the Wenger Outters are taking it way to far imo.
    The fact of the matter is this is down to injuries.
    Kos and Doubchy are 2 massive players to lose in defence with the limited players we have in that dept, which is Wengers fault, but the main point is the injured 1’s.
    Losing just 1 would have been a problem but losing 2 is harsh.
    Once they are back we are in business again.
    We had the second best defence in the EPL last season, have ypu all forgot that already?

  • Add Ozi;and Giroud and basically Theo and the problem is clear.
    Lets be honest the chavs will win the league this season bar a massive dip in form and a massive INJURY problem.
    Wenger will sort it out, i would bet my last quid that nobody is more pissed at the results then Wenger himself right now and he will drill them hard to improve.
    Kos and MB please get well soon!

  • Also it could , should and if not i might change opinion be a blessing in disquise.
    Where the problem is the clear that Wenger now has to spend big on 2 defending players , you guys know the positions.

  • Wenger has now started spending the big bucks on attacker’s, he now needs to splash out you 20-30 millions on defender’s then we will be cooking on gas.
    We really are not that far away.

  • I would say that PSG would be a good place to start sniffing around for great defenders who are not getting game time and we are no direct threat to them.

  • Talking of wise words Steve, how’s this from a funny film I saw over the weekend?

    ‘It will all turn out all right in the end. If it doesn’t, then you haven’t reached the end’

    I think Dick Van Dyke is playing tonight? I’ll run my scouting rule over him.

  • ‘Ascend the watch-tower yonder, valiant soldier,
    Look on the field, and say how goes the battle.’

    (Schiller’s ‘Made of Orleans’)

    Steve, FFS! stop producing these great comments and write them into a post instead! 😈

    We need input! 🙂

    17, yes please. 🙂

    Night all 🙂

  • haha i was going to TA but the whole tone would have been to depressing right now (Janurary is a busy couple of months away yet) and the concepts outlined were obvious and well known and recognized by pretty much everyone here.
    I could have condensed the whole thing down to:
    we need the three signings we keep saying we want and all our first team players back and then we will start playing proper football again.
    lol, i want to hear about what people suggest we do now, the best i came up with in that comment was close our eyes and prey lol.
    Hopefully 17HT or Gerry or you can come up with something more constructive, there is quite some time until we play again to come up with something we can all debate about for a while 🙂
    I will leave the type of post my comment eludes to until the TW is a bit closer 🙂

  • After perusing social media i can tell you an answer literally thousands of people want an answer to (myself included).
    why is Bellerin suddenly not trusted with RB duty? they are both 19 whats the difference in experience?
    And why is Chambers not playing at CB instead of Monreal?
    Nearly every comment, video, fan site in the land is asking those questions.

  • I’d like to see Monreal given a go at defensive mid, with Bellerin at RB and Chambers at CB, until we get players back.

    Good shout by Steve on Virgil van Dijk – I thought he was the best of the Dutch defenders during the World Cup and would love to see him at the Arsenal.

    Virgil would be my ideal first signing of the summer, along with that German lad Rudiger, a regular in their U21s and he recently made his senior German debut in May this year. Both inexpensive and quality options and we really should go all out and try to get the pair.

    Schneiderlin for DM perhaps, if Southampton would be so kind?

  • Steve – The film was ‘The Very Best Marigold Hotel’, or something close.

    As for changes we could make, here is a radical one.

    Gibbs at CB?

    Yes, yes, loads of downsides: Miss him in attack, never played there before, not physical enough … but …. If Monreal is being played there for his experience, his speed, and reading the game while complimenting Per. Then so has Gibbs, plus a better heading ability?

    I am wary of putting Calum in the firing line against RVP, Falcao, and Rooney because of his current state of mind. Admittedly he may have a good time on international duty and come back refreshed. On the other hand, any negative stuff will not help.

    I suspect the reason why Bellerin has not been the automatic replacement at RB is probably AW sees the same problem I have been saying all along. He is really a right winger who can tackle. In any game he has played, it is always his instant pace that saves him. But the point is, players do get past him? I bet the same thing happens on the training ground? Put him in at right midfield and he could double up with Calum and not even CR would get past them.
    If he loses the ball high when attacking, he would be able to get back without the ball even crossing the half way line. In that line up, we could almost play with 3 at the back?
    Like this:
    Bellerin_________Art/Flam__________Jacki _________Gibbs

    If Jack is prepared to do his England duty and tackle, move, and pass,b and not try to get in on at the finish every time, we might get away with that? The attacking trio with support from Gibbs and Bellerin would terrify United’s fragile defence. It is not so hard to imagine that Gibbs alongside Per, with Monreal supplying the crosses either, meaning Per has pace on both sides?
    Downside is inexperience CB’s on either side.
    Remember, we are hopefully only talking a couple of games here. If Debuchy is back, then no problem with switching Chambers to CB because will have less to worry about who get through from his right side? Throw in Ozil for Bellerin and things will start clicking into gear?
    With Giro back, switch Alexis with Welbeck and that is the ‘lighthouse’ back?

    That should get us through to mid-December when I hope Hayden will available, even if Kos is close. Both would be right for the ‘Pool away game, leaving us to be pretty much full strength for the fairly light Christmas program. Not much travelling, and nothing top drawer until Jan 3 with the return fixture on a Thursday away at Southampton.

    Of course we have no right ‘to expect to win against X, X, or X’, but with a pretty near full strength team we damn well ought to?
    Keep the faith …

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