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Outplayed is acceptable, being outfought isn’t 2

Posted on February 21, 2012 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

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Feb 13th:

It is quite conceivable that two poor performances in the next week could land us on the brink of a Champions League exit and out of the only trophy we have a real chance of winning, the FA Cup.

Well here we are. We face an almost impossible task at the Emirates against Milan and lost on the road to Sunderland in the FA Cup.

Now, losing? It happens. The thing that really gets on my nerves is that we have been outfought twice, in Milan we just sat off them, let them play and were being stretched by a Milan team who lets be honest, are not a patch on their former teams. We were smashed, as Andy Gray would undoubtedly put it.

Arteta bottled it, Aaron Ramsey was dire, van Persie was isolated and Thomas Vermaelen was worryingly exposed.. he caught whatever bug Squillaci brought to the club and infected Djourou with.

There was no tactical leadership from the manager, we didn’t even try and stop Milan playing as they do, we didn’t try to disrupt them – it was a bit like entering a boxing ring with sponge gloves and having your hands tied behind your back at the same time, utterly toothless, utterly unacceptable.

The fact that the squad has been allowed to deteriorate to this level is worrying, a CEO who seems about as authoritative as a rabbit in headlights – Ivan Gazidis is nothing but a cardboard cut-out CEO. The powers that be have abused the talents and intelligence that Arsene Wenger has for their own benefit, they used his principles and talents to bring about this self-sustainable model that they have cashed in on, in the process they have given Arsene Wenger enough rope to hang himself with – we are left with aged tactics, misplaced power, misplaced confidence.

This isn’t a time to promote scapegoats, its a time to change the way things are going on in our club. Sacking Wenger would get us nowhere right now – though I don’t see him being here next season, through his own free will. For years he has taken flack on behalf of the board because he believed he was doing the right thing.. you just have to wonder whether deep down he realises he has shot himself in the foot. He has his principles, he also has a great deal of pride – has he got all that much to gain at Arsenal anymore?

The mentality at the club is all wrong right now, but everyone must be focused on the number one target: getting fourth place.

Sadly, I think that target will be occupied by the new breed’s mentality: profit – at any cost.

The thing is, I don’t know how this mess is going to be fixed, there are far more questions than answers and each possible solution just leaves more questions to be answered. If the manager went who’s to say we have people competent enough to appoint the correct successor? Could you really say ‘yes’ with any conviction?

We just have to hope now that we have enough left in the tank to get fourth, enough desire, belief and yes, you guessed it, mental strength.

It starts with Spurs.

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It’s crunch time & bidding farewell to The King pt.2 1

Posted on February 13, 2012 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

So often the fate of a season comes down to a run of three or four games, slip up during this period and you can undo months of hard work, look at last season for example – in all four competitions, doing well, a couple of bad results later we are left with bugger all.

We have six absolutely huge games coming up. Milan [CL] (a), Sunderland [FA Cup] (a), Spurs (h), Liverpool (a), Milan [CL] (h), Newcastle (h).

It is quite conceivable that two poor performances in the next week could land us on the brink of a Champions League exit and out of the only trophy we have a real chance of winning, the FA Cup. We just have to show up, there are no two ways about it. Our last two results have given us a good platform to build some momentum, contrasting wins that show this side can produce when it matters and can be ruthless when needed to be. We now sit 4th on goals scored, ten points behind Spurs, but only four points off 7th place. Two wins out of the three league games in that set of fixtures I wrote above would set us up very well. Anything less than that would have us staring at a massive uphill task once again.

We could have done with keeping Henry until the Spurs game in my opinion, the fact that he was picked over Chamakh and Park shows just what Wenger does think about his other attacking options – any hope that the African Cup of Nations would provide Chamakh with a bit of confidence has been well and truly buried, our options are about to be significantly reduced with Henry’s return to New York after the Milan game midweek.

His contribution has been noticeable, three goals, two of them winners towards the end of games – the winner against Sunderland on Saturday was a vital, vital goal, and the winner against Leeds equally vital in ending a run of very poor results. There is no doubt his return gave everyone a boost, we didn’t just need a player of quality, we needed the feel-good factor that having that guy around brings – a glimpse back to days of slightly more success. I’m gutted we won’t see him on the pitch against Spurs again – not this season anyway. Who knows what the future holds?

But first, AC Milan. A great club but a team which we should really be beating. The Milan of recent times is not a patch on previous teams, or a patch on the team we knocked out the Champions League a few years ago. Our best chances of getting a result will be utilizing the pace that we have on the flanks, Chamberlain and Walcott must start regardless of Theo’s somewhat erratic form.  We need to take the game to them, scoring an away goal or two is vital – we need breathing space for the game at the Emirates, scoring an away goal piles pressure onto Milan – keeping it tight at the back goes without saying.

So, time to perform. Come on Arsenal, show us this season isn’t as much of a wreck as it seemed to be a few months ago.

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A turbulent month 4

Posted on February 01, 2012 by Martin @ thegoonblog.com

The first two months of the season were awful, the atmosphere was angry, unsettled and going to watch the team wasn’t at all pleasant. The atmosphere eased after a good run of results, putting us well back into contention for the Champions League places.

A new year run that has yet to see us win in the league has heralded the return of that atmosphere, a portion of the fanbase have been very forward with their views on the manager and a few of the players – an injury crisis has not helped matters either – all in all, being an Arsenal fan in the past few weeks has not been the most pleasant of experiences.

I’ll put my viewpoint out there: Arsene Wenger has made mistakes, big mistakes, but there is no manager who could manage the club better with what is available to him in terms of money and playing staff. Some fans react like Arsene is on a mission to destroy Arsenal Football Club and undo all the good work he did up to 2005. At this point in time I am uncertain if Arsene will be in his position come the start of next season – I question if the board are giving him enough rope to hang himself, I guess we will just have to wait and see.

When it comes to January signings, or the lack of, the club certainly made approaches to players and gave certain players permission to leave. Nothing really materialised, but it strikes me that the club find it very hard to convince players to sign and find it even harder to get rid of players that are surplus to requirements. It is an area that really needs analysing and sharpening up before the summer because if the worst case scenario of Robin van Persie being sold arises, we will need to replace him with world class – no less – or we will be bang in trouble.

There has been many a rallying cry issued and I really don’t see the point in adding to them, however now more than ever the players need the fans behind them – the issues are slightly different to those of last season when certain players just couldn’t give a toss – we need Theo Walcott, Alex Song, Gervinho, and Aaron Ramsey to up their games, take even more of the responsibility that is heaped on Robin van Persie’s shoulders and start performing. When the team clicks it is undoubtedly one of the best in the league, one of the four best, the players just have to be fit and on form.

Tonight we face Bolton away from home and the importance of a win just can’t be stated enough, three league defeats in a row is just not good enough for any side, let alone one wanting to finish in the top four. No more slip-ups allowed, no more mistakes, get the job done and get out of there.

Come on Arsenal.

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