Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sad, but True.

Or at least it seems so, at the moment anyway:

"Such is Arsenal's inability to hold on to a lead, you would not trust them to walk your dog, let alone win the Premier League. 2-0 down at half-time, Tottenham Hotspur were helpless, hopeless and beaten – against any other side. For 45 minutes a swaggering Arsenal had held a gun to the back of their rivals' head. Tottenham winced, waiting for the trigger to be pulled to end it all, but it never happened. It rarely does. Like a James Bond villain, they got complacent, bored even, spending too much time telling their victim what they were going to do rather than actually doing it. It was hardly surprising that Tottenham managed to escape their clutches. Arsenal were brilliant in the first half, with Cesc Fábregas and Samir Nasri foolishly granted the freedom to strut their stuff as and when they pleased. At the interval they were heading for the top of the league, which is where they would have stayed all weekend due to Chelsea's defeat at Birmingham City.

And then they imploded, as they so often do. Already this season they have relinquished leads against Sunderland and Shakhtar Donetsk. Last year they drew 2-2 with West Ham after leading 2-0 with 16 minutes to go, and lost 3-2 to Wigan Athletic after leading 2-0 with 10 minutes left. This is a side that once contrived to draw 4-4 with Tottenham when they were 4-2 up in the 89th minute. It is not surprising, because it keeps on happening.

While there is much to admire about Arsenal's football, they no longer know how to win and Arsène Wenger is incapable of instilling a maturity in the side. Surely he would have drummed home the importance of retaining their lead for as long as possible; within minutes of the restart, though, Tottenham were back in the game. Arsenal are too open, unable to shut up shop as champions must, lack leadership and concede too many soft goals.

Credit must be given to Harry Redknapp's brave tactical changes that prompted Tottenham's revival – his introduction of Jermain Defoe and redeployment of Rafael van der Vaart at half-time were inspired – but this game was all about Arsenal's fragility in defence. Tottenham's goals came from a long punt, a foolish handball by Fábregas that conceded a penalty and, finally, a header from a free-kick. All were eminently preventable, yet Arsenal's creaking back four requires only the slightest push to collapse. The mistakes made by Laurent Koscielny and Sébastien Squillaci were placed into sharper focus by the imperious display by William Gallas for Tottenham. For all his foibles – at one point he appeared to be close to tears – Arsenal could have done with him on Saturday"


TGF said...

"At the moment"? Come on. We both know that's an understatement. Unless your definition of 'moment' is the entire Emirates era...

Sad, but true.

P.M said...

Damn dude, you're harshing my mellow.

Reading that article and agreeing with it wholeheartedly was tough enough, and then Captain Haterade shows up and just douses the depression in petrol and lights a match...!

"At the moment". I'm standing by it.

We'll see where we are at the end of the season, and then the next one, and then maybe the one after that! Sure we may have passed the glory "Invincible" days, but it will return. I'm certain of it.

Besides, we can't all have Russian Sugar Daddies show up and fix all our problems with bucket loads of cash.

TGF said...

Hahaha! I couldn't resist.

Fake Tan Gainsbourg and now this...

Probably a bit much.

Sorry mate.

Anonymous said...

Are you actually surprised though? Pires, Ljungberg and Henry took all the plaudits but it was Viera that let Arsenal be Arsenal... since him it's been who, Gilberto? Flamini? Song? Denilson? Not even on the same planet.

...and I haven't even mentioned them trying to replace Toure with Squallacci

o.p. said...

My sentiments exactly...

Kind of how Liverpool nearly win in '08 sell Alonso and then dive into the doldrums of mid table....

I could see City, Tottenham, Villa and mayb, just maybe even Liverpool finishing above Arsenal, who are punching above their weight this season. (see points they shouldve dropped vs Liverpool, Birmingham and Wolves so far)

chan-man's theme:

P.M said...

Woah, football talk on JS... I like it.

But let's all just calm down a second. Whoever said anything about being surprised? After all, this is the same thing we've been struggling with for the last few seasons; one step forward and then... Missed chances, golden opportunities wasted, soft goals conceeded and leads reduced.

What's frustrating is the promise.

Now I'm not going to lie: the refusal of the club to spend on a top class keeper, or striker over the summer was a big let down (I like Chamakh but I don't see him becoming what we've desperately needed since Henry left), but the team we have isn't actually a million miles away from what we had.

When people talk about Henry, Viera, Cole, Pires, all these players became what they were through Wenger's direction. They weren't big deals or household names before they joined the team. They were after. I think a lot of the players we have now are on their way, if they're not already (Fabregas), to becoming greats. The question is more whether we can keep them, get the best out of them and how long we can wait for them.

Personally I'd like to see a push to turning Theo into the player he could, and should be, the same way Wenger turned Henry around.

As for our positioning in the table: are you serious? Liverpool have all the same problems with consistency of form as Arsenal with half the players and none of the structure. And your lot spent money in the summer. For what?

As for Villa and Tottenham; in a season or two's time I can see your point, but not yet. Both managers have buillt good sides who are starting to play good football. Football not too dissimar from the Wenger Arsenal model either. I enjoy watching both sides play and to be honest have no problem with Arsenal having to battle it out in the uppermiddle of the table, if that happens. It might give us the push and hunger that we need.

As for Man City: hell if any of the new big four are going to win it other than us I'm all down for them! They have a couple of my favorite ex players in the squad a natty away kit, and aren't Man Utd or Chelsea. I also enjoy the idea of all those life long City fans finally getting their time in the sun.

And finally regarding punching above our weight class: we've finished in the top 3 consistently since the league began in 1992, winning it

1992 - 1993 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Aston Villa
1993 - 1994 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Blackburn
1994 - 1995 - Winners - Blackburn - Runners Up - Manchester United
1995 - 1996 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Newcastle
1996 - 1997 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Newcastle
1997 - 1998 - Winners - Arsenal - Runners Up - Manchester United
1998 - 1999 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Arsenal
1999 - 2000 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Arsenal
2000 - 2001 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Arsenal
2001 - 2002 - Winners - Arsenal - Runners Up - Liverpool
2002 - 2003 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Arsenal
2003 - 2004 - Winners - Arsenal - Runners Up - Chelsea
2004 - 2005 - Winners - Chelsea - Runners Up - Arsenal
2005 - 2006 - Winners - Chelsea - Runners Up - Manchester United
2006 - 2007 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Chelsea
2007 - 2008 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Chelsea
2008 - 2009 - Winners - Manchester United - Runners Up - Liverpool
2009 - 2010 - Winners - Chelsea - Runners Up - Manchester United

This is our weight class and we deserve to be there. We're not still living in the Candy 80's and we didn't buy our way to the top. I can take the slip in form for the pride in our performance over the years and the faith in the future.

Foolishly or otherwise.

Oh and for the record: Song is amazing. Just ask Captain Haterade!