Daily Archives: May 11, 2011

Stoke defeat aftermath: Thoughts of a frustrated blogger

I promised that I was going to save my frustration for another post. Today’s post is the unfortunate one. I’ll start with the penultimate comment that was written by Bukinho,

The debacle at Stoke was the final insult to their long suffering fans. Given how recent displays (Manchester United aside) have prompted accessions from Arsene Wenger about the need to splash the cash, many more performances like the one at the Britannia and he’ll be lucky to cling on to his job, no matter how many Gary Cahills he promises to buy.

Stoke lapped up everything on offer, like Johan Djourou’s special two-goals-for-the-price-of-one deal, where he promised not to mark Kenwyne Jones from set pieces and lay a goal on for Jonathan Walters just when it seemed like Arsenal might salvage a point from the game. Even Jermaine Pennant had a blinder, and looked a more complete player than Theo Walcott, Nicklas Bendtner, Andrei Arshavin and Tomas Rosicky put together. “One-nil to the rugby team,” crowed the home support, who also booed Aaron Ramsey, for having the temerity to break his leg horribly on his last visit to the Potteries.

Mind you, Arsenal exerted so little energy during the match that at least they will be fresh for next week’s FA Cup final against Manchester City. Sorry, what? It’s Stoke who are going to Wembley? Well, my word, you really couldn’t tell on Sunday.”

Then the last by Chuck Bass,

“It’s just a pity to see that the goals scored by rVp this season turned out to be meaningless. After so much effort up front, the defense can’t defend goals”

I’ll follow this up with the words from the boss himself from the Arsenal newsletter,

Dear Arsenal Supporter,

It was a disappointing performance from us on Sunday.

The competitive level of Stoke was higher than ours and I think we lost the game because Stoke defended much better than we did and with much more purpose. At the end of the day we were not dangerous enough.

Stoke are a good team and they have a lot of confidence with the FA Cup Final coming up next weekend. Maybe if they had needed to fight from 1-0 down it would have been a different story on Sunday but from 1-0 up they defended well and caught us on the break.

We have been inconsistent and if you do not turn up with the same competitive spirit in every game you can lose anywhere. Stoke defend well and make it difficult so the most important thing at the Britannia Stadium is not to be 1-0 down, but after their first free kick we were 1-0 down.

We have conceded, I think, 21 goals from set pieces and only 17 in open play. That’s fewer than anybody else in open play but it’s clear we have been caught on set-pieces.

On Sunday Kenwyne Jones didn’t even need to jump to head the ball in and that is something we have to correct. It is the easiest thing to correct but you still must understand the flight of the ball and want to be first to the ball.

Aaron Ramsey returned to the scene of his injury and he did alright, he was not scared. But of course he is still short of sharpness because he has not played enough games.

Substituting him was just a tactical thing because we were 2-0 down and needed to go for more penetration. We had a lot of possession but not a lot of progression.

We played poorly on Sunday but my team has done well overall this season. If you analyze all the competitions and how we have done, we have done well. Something has gone and you could see that at Stoke but we have to take a distance and make the right analysis of the season.

Thanks for your support.”

I usually call the boss AW because of his initials but I’m going to write his name in full because I’m really frustrated and pissed today.

Arsene Wenger has to consider him a lucky man to be where he is right now. He has the World of Arsenal at his feet, the Board of Directors, fans and players adore him for his numerous exploits in his 15 year tenure with the club. It’s not every ambitious football club that would go 6 years without a trophy and the manager’s head wouldn’t be asked for on a plate. Ancelotti brought Chelsea their first double in all eternity last season but there are claims that Hiddink and Zola will assume at the helm of affairs next season simply because he ended the season without delivering any trophy of any sort. I’ve written before that Chelsea’s chairman is a U.S.S.R. dictator that changes coaches when he gets bored but Carlo shouldn’t be bothered because if his ass gets sacked, Roma would come sniffing around for it.

This season I’ve written a lot about aftermaths and they tend to be linked with each other somehow. When Man Utd usurped us from top spot after we held it for just a week or so, I wrote about us changing our Mr. Nice Guy attitude. When we endured that frustrating draw against Blackburn, I made a few points about Almunia’s error proneness, Wilshere deserving rest, Chamakh getting a run out, Sagna’s inconsistent crossing,  Arshavin’s retention in the squad regardless of how we end and why we do not deserve to be Premier League champions. More recently, when Bolton drove the nail into our Premier League ambition coffin, I emphasized on how Wenger had paid the price for not buying a center back in the January transfer window, Clichy needing competition, Walcott needing to improve, holding on to Fabregas this summer, signing the right players and  flushing out the players that have been below par.

Today, I’m going to write about the issues that frustrated me after seeing my darling Arsenal meltdown again against a side that didn’t even do too much considering the fact that they had a FA Cup final to look forward to.

Gibbs is not ready yet to wear the Red and White on a weekly basis

Just like the way Djourou, Wilshere and Szczesny can tell their kids in the future that the 2010/11 campaign was when they got their breakthrough, Kieran Gibbs can tell his kids that he broke through the Arsenal ranks in the 2008/09 season thanks to a series of injuries that kept Clichy out for a while. The youngster did well in Clichy’s absence but messed up in probably the most important game in his young Arsenal career; the Champions League semifinal match between Arsenal and Man Utd at the Emirates. He slipped when the ball was sent to that Korean who wasted no time in punishing us. Ronaldo scored a free kick from planet Venus which still beat Almunia on his near post. With 11 minutes gone, Arsenal was 3 goals down on aggregate. If Gibbs cleared that ball out, we probably would have gotten the chance to revenge with Barca just 3 years after beating us in Paris. Last season, Gibbs broke his metatarsal in the game against Standard Liege and missed a considerable chunk of games in the campaign. This year Gibbs has featured more in the Carling Spoon and the FA Cup but also messed up in a vital game Wenger considered him ahead of Clichy; the FA Cup quarter final against Man Utd. He was exposed countless times and was at fault for the first goal. The under-fire Almunia pulled out a good save from Chicharito’s header but Fabio was on hand to slot the ball to an unguarded net. Gibbs was supposed to be tracking the fellow down. If you read the match review of that FA Cup game and my last post you’ll see that Gibbs was at fault for the same reasons; being caught out of position and failing to contribute to the attack.

Despite all this, Gibbs is a youngling so he can afford to go out on loan to any side where he’ll get vital first team experience. Whatever Wenger decides what he wants to do this summer, I clearly feel that a new left back should be added to his wish list.

Arsenal needs to be more aggressive

In the days of old, Arsenal hated visiting Sam Allardyce’s Bolton at the Reebok for one reason; their aggressiveness. Big Sam’s Bolton had it all; a drug dealer lookalike in Ivan Campo, a ‘handsome’ scary model in Abdoulaye Diagne Faye, a player that produces acid spit in El Hadji Diouf, a short Leprechaun who was always very mischievous in Stelios Gianna….(too fucking long) and more scary models in Bruno N’ Gotty and Radhi Jaidi. With all the dirtiness and bullish nature of his side, he also had a player that was so good that he had to be named twice, Jay Jay Okocha. Arsenal has suffered a lot this season because most teams know how predictable we can be.

If you mark out the wingers and the playmaker effectively, we start lacking ideas. There have been countless times this season where Alex Song would be with the ball but he’ll have no idea what to do with it because all possible routes have been blocked by the opposition. There are even times teams defend very deep against Arsenal because they know that the club has that annoying “no shoot” policy.

The Britannia was the ground where Ramsey had his leg snapped like a toothpick but there was only one player that had fire in his belly, Jack Wilshere. The young lad wasn’t afraid to get involved with Dean Whitehead and Jermaine Pennant with the ultimate aim of getting the ball. Let’s roll back the years a bit and create a scenario with the invincible squad of 2004. If a player like Reyes had his legs snapped to bits in a ground like the Reebok Stadium for instance, players like Vieira, Lauren, Campbell, Cuntley Cole and Toure will rub their battle-ready influence on blokes like Henry, Pires and even Father Bergkamp to make the game a match to remember.

Our present back four is just too nice with Sagna attesting to it and he quotes,

“We are too nice. We have to fight a bit more. We didn’t give enough. We didn’t play as we can and that is what happens when you don’t give the maximum – you get beaten everywhere.”

The back four of Adams, Keown, Winterburn and Dixon were brawlers when they wanted to be. In 2004, Ruud van Nistelrooy smashed his penalty against the bar in Old Trafford after making Vieira get a red card but how did the players react after the whistle was blown? Let me take you down memory lane. The players on the pitch didn’t even wait for their combative leader who was inside the dressing thanks to the red card. Keown smacked his head, Lauren followed suit and there was pandemonium. The players got fined but the message was sent, “you don’t fuck with the Arsenal”. The best part of it all was that it took place in Man Utd’s home ground in front of their 73,000 fans.

Let’s take the battle of Thermopylae that took place in 480BC at the Hot Gates. Leonidas was a vocal Spartan leader that killed so many Persians in that battle. His right hand man and general Eudorus was equally as aggressive as him on the battlefield. Anytime Leonidas broke rank to kill more Persians, his soldiers did everything in their power to stick with him kill more Persians than him. When a team’s captain is working his skins off on the field of play, his teammates will give their all for him.

I’m not questioning the leadership of Fabregas and van Persie because they lead in their own unique way. Fabregas gives more through passes than the amount of times Messi checks his height to know if he has grown taller and Robin the ‘son’ of van Persie shots more balls than the amount of ‘Sun’ rays that hit the Ozone Layer.

We need to have more players like Wilshere that will go for that tackle and will never be afraid to get stuck in. You don’t have to be a leg breaker like De Jong, Karl Henry, Shawcross or that Mullan bloke in the MLS to execute an inch perfect tackle that’ll show your commitment.

My last point was supposed to be about the Arsenal ‘defense’ situation but I’ll save it for the next time Arsenal frustrates me again. I just hope that it doesn’t come anytime soon.

Till then,

Have a frustration-free day