Arsenal - a team with no core or backbone
Any chance of defensive deficiencies being addressed then?
Is it just me or am I seeing/hearing things? We are yet again totally focused on buying strikers and getting rid of under-performing strikers. Letís solve the van Persie problem? What on earth is wrong with this club of ours???
We conceded almost as many goals as the bottom teams, yet we continue to score a slightly impressive number of goals each season; is that not enough indication that we need to focus a little bit more on the midfield and the defence?
When the season kicks off, I always preach the need for fans to be positive and show less negativity. I havenít had too much time to read posts on here in recent weeks, but I am sure all those perennially negative folks are saying very little right now, which is the time they should be vocal so things can change at the club (as they always say). When the whistle goes for the first match in the season, we should all be in full support of the team (manager and players) as that is the card weíve been dealt and I donít see too many teams doing better when their fans turn against them.
I am not a football expert/manager, but as a fan who regularly commutes thousands of miles each season to make the long trip back home to watch the games, it is doubly painful for me to see this sort of approach from those who are paid for their expertise! Are the following points not glaring enough -
(1) In Flaminiís last season at Arsenal, his work ethic and firm control of the midfield showed quite clearly what Arsenal can be, going forward, if we have one or two reliable folks in the middle of the pack.
(2) Fabregas solved similar problems with his incisive passing and the overall percentage of the ball he saw.
(3) Vieira also addressed a similar problem with his tackling, long-range balls, burst of pace forward and his overall demeanour (always eager to win)
(4) Our defence has been awful for over seven seasons now and, so far that still hasnít been addressed. Weíve bought some players already this summer, but, as always, nobody seems interested in talking about defence!
(5) We need one decent goalkeeping backup. We have one decent goalie, but no backup!
(6) We seem hell-bent on building a team with no backbone and, year in, year out, we all talk about the same issues but always get distracted by the sale of one of our key players. Last season it was Fabregas, Nasri etc. Letís stop talking about van Persie right now; weíve gone and bought Podolski and Giroud. Letís keep the emphasis on what matters most: the players that are staying. Do we now have a midfield? Do we have a defence? I donít think so!!!!
The handwriting isnít even on the wall anymore in our cases; itís become so bleeding obvious, the handwriting is etched on our foreheads! A team without a core (midfield) and backbone (resilience, which can only come from reassurance that if weíre firing blanks, at least the back is shored up and we wont be conceding goals at such an alarming rate and to teams who should dread playing us).
I donít think this topic requires a lengthy article, so Iíll end here: just weeks to the new season kicking off, is there a single Arsenal fan out there who now thinks we will win a trophy this season? That really is an indictment of the current ownership structure we have in place! These are really sad times for Arsenal.
12th July 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Felix 18:47pm 12th Jul 2012
To me the most important player in the team is the keeper.Wenger has never believed that.That is why Almunia and Flappy were one and two keepers at Arsenal for 4 years.It was scary that we were one injury to Szczesny last season and it would have been one of those clowns back in goal.Szczesnys form went to pot at the end of the season but we had no one good enough to bring in.We need a quality LB at the moment we have one who gets injured after playing 3 games and one who cant defend and is grossly unfit.We we need to replace Song who is as useful as a chocolate teapot when it comes to protecting the back four.Will those signings happen?No because what we have learned over the years is Wenger doesnt do defence - Post No. 26719
Alan 18:55pm 12th Jul 2012
Slight exageration of the facts in this blog. In fact Arsenal conceded 49 goals in the EPL last season. Newcastle conceded more, as did every other team below 8th place. Only one team in the bottom 6 conceded less than 60 goals so the statement made that we conceded almost as many goals as the bottom teams is incorrect. The team also conceded 14 goals, or 30% of the seasons total, in the first 5 games of the season - 10 goals before the signings of Mertersacker and Santos. Add to this the fact that for a good 2 or 3 months we had no fit fullbacks and players were playing out of position to cover. All these things considered I think this blog piece is under estimating our defensive capabilities. Yes we need improvement but what with Koscielny getting increasingly better, Mertersacker and Santos getting a proper pre-season under their belts and Gibbs and Jenkinson having a bit more experience and improving things at the back wont be as bleak as this article makes out. - Post No. 26721
Theo's Bikini-Line 18:59pm 12th Jul 2012
But of course none of this is Wenger's fault, is it CanadaGooner? - Post No. 26724
Si 19:06pm 12th Jul 2012
I understand your concerns, but we do have Mr Bould now and Kos and the Verminator are very effective. It's not the individuals but the collective performance which led to our goals against. There is work to be done as always but for the common good, lets just wait and see shall we. - Post No. 26725
saf 19:09pm 12th Jul 2012
i agree with you mate!if we don`t concede we can`t lose. The way we play we always have a chance of scoring. - Post No. 26726
richard morgan 19:14pm 12th Jul 2012
Last season was a strange season and we conceded 49 goals in the premier league. However, for a large part of last season we never had a settled back four due to Injury this contributed to such a big goals against column as did the fact that we had late comers into the squad and it took time for the team to come together. When we had Keown doing some coaching a few years back there was an improvement in our defensive record our new number two Bould a bedrock of an arsenal back four that produced many a 1-0 will have some effect. now lets look at our goal conceded in the last 6 seasons our as follows 49; 43;41;37;31;35 a bit up and down but lets look at utd for same period 33; 37; 28; 24; 22; 27 city's 29;33;45;50;53;44 spuds 25;46;41;45;61;54 chelsea 46;33; 32; 24;26;24 liverpool 40;44;35;27;28;27 so all are a bit erratic season to season I will average it out for each team now to see what that works out as arsenal 39.33 on average conceded in a season in the premier league now utd. 28.5 city 42.33 spuds 45.33 chelsea 30.83 liverpool 33.5. Now that seems to be a pretty good average and just to point out that in each of those seasons the team with least goals conceded did not always win the league spuds had best last year but finished fourth city and chelsea the year before had the best and utd won the league what cost us last season was not just defence it was in an attacking force too. are goals for go like this 63, 74, 68, 83, 72, 74. so attacking wise we suffered at the same time as suffering defensively so adding attacking options was a necessary thing to do especially if RVP leaves this summer. - Post No. 26727
maguiresbridge gooner 19:30pm 12th Jul 2012
Yes canada you'd think the midfield and defensive backbone situation would have hit home after all this time especially as it's something arsene had during his glory years maybe it has and there's still a couple more additions to come thats me being positive.Hopefully the pictures released by arsenal of bouldy working with the defence isn't just another form of spin to keep us all happy and the problem is actually being addressed but i suppose we'll not find out till after the start of the season.Yes we should all support the team from the off like i'm sure we always do regardless of the cock ups that will inevitably be made. Your right the keeper situation needs sorting and my views on that have been well documented with my view a new coach is also required. - Post No. 26728
Another season of crud lays aheads 19:59pm 12th Jul 2012
Let's be honest KOS and the SPERMINATOR are total gash as a centre back pairing. SPERM plays like a headless chicken spending more time attacking than doing what he's paid to do. And KOS is like a white KOLO Makes countless balls ups every game but his pace usually bails him out. How many own goals did these 2 jokers concede last season ???? Bring back the big German at least he has positional sense, and as for Johan Dogpoo I can't seeing that Arsene Wonger yes man leaving anytime soon either. Still could be worse we could have bought sheer class in Gary Cahill for 7 mill. If only he spoke French !!!!!! - Post No. 26731
TheOldRoy 20:06pm 12th Jul 2012
I can not agree with this statement, we have no backbone! I think we have a very good backbone and with the addition of a really good holding midfielder and the removal/replacement of Squillaci with a top class back up defender we start to look in good shape. I do believe in youth and when I look at the talent about to enter the first team I am very encouraged and that is why we get players out on loan. No Player is safe from injuries which is why we need a squad that has depth, we have the best medical people. One of the best world class holding midfielders is available for free, having been released from Citeee and that is Owen Hargreaves, the Canadian boy who learned his craft in Munich and has an injury history second to none. If our Medical people can rehabilitate him he would provide the Flamini defence. Dammit the price is right and the risk is low....I think He is very close to being back in top form..maybe a good pre-season is needed. This is man who needs to play for a top team..including England. OK Keepers ..what we have is good, very good but really not tested though Mannone did real well at Fulham and has performed well at Hull City, I think this year Fab should go out on loan, Goalkeepers need games and we have very good backup in the reserves. OK enough said....Mr. Wenger get Hargeaves. He will not let you down! and yes this year we start afresh with or without RVP (hope he stays or leaves quickly) Pity he could have had Henry's records in sight! OK Gunners lets do it this year....... - Post No. 26732
james 20:19pm 12th Jul 2012
Yes that is just the simple truth Arsenal is focusing on strike force forgetting that their rear is not good enough. Please Mr. Wenger wake up. - Post No. 26735
s j little 21:06pm 12th Jul 2012
Yes agreed Defence is second rate Best that xcan be said is "some players are good" but in a top team players are more than"good" They are exceptional. Hardly a suitable term for our defenders (not even Cesney) - Post No. 26736
Joe 21:07pm 12th Jul 2012
Great article!! Yet again all of our weaknesses are not being addressed and it is for this reason I can't see us winning anything again, very sad but very true - Post No. 26737
Bobby 21:58pm 12th Jul 2012
The best thing that can happen is that we finish well outside the top four. Then at least we can have a proper shake out at this club. - Post No. 26742
Sodie69 22:01pm 12th Jul 2012
Blimey....is this an Arsenal site, stumbled across it and fell a little depressed after I was actually looking forward to the season ahead. We had an unusual season last year, quite dreadful at times and unprecedented in terms of injuries yet we still scraped in at third....I don't share your gloom, we'll be ok this year, two very good signings in Giroud and Podolski, Wiltshire and Diaby back fit, The Ox and Theo growing in confidence, it could be a whole lot worse. - Post No. 26743
Debesai 22:27pm 12th Jul 2012
You people may not know the likes of Jack,Verminator,and kozzer to say arsenal is without core and backbone. - Post No. 26744
GoonerDave 22:46pm 12th Jul 2012
I dont think its the personnel. We play too open a game at times, no matter who we play in defence we are regularly carved open by a simple ball over the top. We are not lacking quality defenders at all, we are lacking discipline and determination. The entire team ethos will have to change in order to become disciplined in defence - I cant see that happening. Our best bet is to improve our goals scored and apply constant, relentless pressure when we lose the ball. - Post No. 26746
Tope 22:57pm 12th Jul 2012
What's all these doom and gloom about the middle and back of Arsenal, like we don't have decent personnel there at all. The problem, if the truth must be told, is that AFC is a patient and developmental club, where players are given room to grow, improve & develop. Szceszny is learning his trade & will be a damn good goalie, but he is just 22. Per has just come and needed time to bed in. Kos has just started to learn the art of defending, & is arguably the most improved player in the EPL last season. Verminator was away for a whole season. They will all come good hopefully this season. We had all 4 full backs lying on treatment table for half of last season. We were luckier with most of our midfielders & strikers, hence the decent returns. If we overcome the injury curse & have our 1st team like others, for most part of the season, we will be there or thereabout. We are not worse off than other teams if we look at our players' quality. - Post No. 26747
buju 23:44pm 12th Jul 2012
We have signed two strikers already, i say sell RVP and then use the money wisely on strengthening the team, we desperately need a new LB currently we have gibbs who seems to be as breakable as glass and a brazilian who has enjoyed one to many BBQs over the years. And another CDM to help song protect the back four so we can solve this problem of conceding goals. - Post No. 26748
monkee 0:04am 13th Jul 2012
hey, tottenham are looking for new supporters - sure they would love you to tell them how to run a club. - Post No. 26751
Mandy Dodd 1:09am 13th Jul 2012
We do concede too many goals, but then again, utd won the league in 1999 2000 conceding 44 goals. But we now appear to have an active Steve bould, an addition in numbers to the coaching staff as well, with SB and now Banfield. Szez maybe could do with different coaching, wish lens was around. But I do not think our spine is too bad, if our gk improves, we have good central defenders who will get a little help from bould, arteta brings out the best in song, hopefully one day jack will return, then up front, remains to be seen. Will anyone make a 70 million plus investment on an injury prone 29 year old in his last year? I would not rule it out, but that is a hell of a risk. - Post No. 26754
RVP 1:17am 13th Jul 2012
Arsenal club is f****ed!!! It is a money making factory now in which I am not pouring my hard earned money into it!!! He club will not listen to fans but only to when they are not renewing their season's ticket!!! - Post No. 26755
The BearMan 1:22am 13th Jul 2012
A sign of things to come! Comings n goings at Arsenal each seasons. Now it this movement was among our weaker players one could stomach it, but among the better squad players, it does not reflects brilliantly on the Arsenal model???? - Post No. 26756
True Goon 1:37am 13th Jul 2012
Not a mention of the 6 full backs out injured... If you are trying to be objective, try and compare the stats to when we had actual full backs playing... and excluding the 8 - 2 defeat at the Manc's... when we were under strength. The CB's of TV5 & Kos, with Mert as back up aren't bad at all. With Sagna, and Gibbs fit things the defence cannot be described as weak. Half the problem is the negativeity and the lack of support, these are simple facts that if you watched Arsenal you would know, but it is so easy to jump on the negativity train. To say these issues haven't been addressed is pathetic. Last season we signed Mert, Santos, Jenkinson... yet three signings you see as not addressing the situation??? with a Brialian and german international to boot. It seems that some gooners are just pain misrable bastards, such as the author, that are only happy whinging. Try supporting the team, give it a try. - Post No. 26758
Anthony 3:30am 13th Jul 2012
I'm no slave to statistics. I'll save that nonsense to the "7 am" bloke and other stat-happy Americans; however, I do believe that the Arsenal conceded quite a few own goals last season. It's no excuse on behalf of the defence. In fact, it's an indictment on our defensive shortcomings, which I agree should be addressed given the lack of cover in those positions, especially the outside backs. The midfield could also use some fresh faces. Our faith in the likes of Diaby is worrying, and the thought of the Welsh captain trotting out on the pitch makes me cringe if I'm honest. - Post No. 26760
Esso 5:35am 13th Jul 2012
I think we'll win a trophy this season. I think that before every seasson. Its called being a supporter. Also I dont recall Paddy hitting a long range ball in this life. Except straight to United in 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay, which resilted in Giggs' winner. This post follows the Fat&Orange agenda to the letter and says nothing new at all. Whats the point? - Post No. 26763
Wombledin 7:09am 13th Jul 2012
Hear hear! You've summed it all up in a few paragraphs. Where oh where are the new defensive signings!!!! Its just unbelievable to me that we might be going into next season without a major new defensive signing. I've been banging on about this for years and it never gets fixed. This is why I've lost all faith in Wenger. He is delusional and unbalanced about what it takes to challenge for top honours, grossly underestimating a defensive backbone. His attitude about goalkeepers is especially an indictment. We would have won trophies if only he splashed out defensively a bit more in numerous transfer markets. We are lacking a really good back-up for almost every defensive position in the squad. - Post No. 26764
Steve 8:10am 13th Jul 2012
You definitely make some good points. I'd love to win trophies as much as the next person but the reality is that without mega bucks we just can't compete so we've just got to, as you say, support the team as best we can. I'm going to pretend that George Graham is still in charge and be happy with 10th or above as long as we beat the scum over two games and have a half decent cup run. - Post No. 26765
Andrew Cohen 8:18am 13th Jul 2012
Mr Wenger hasn't got time to buy new defenders and central defensive midfield types. He is busy working out how he is going to undermine Steve Bould, as that august gentleman insists on defensive solidity, thus deforming Mr Wengers "11 men in their 16 yard area at all times" "strategy". - Post No. 26766
Tony Evans 8:32am 13th Jul 2012
We are very weak as regards defensive positions and have been for a very long time. Don't expect Wenger to address this issue though because if he hasn't done up to now why should we expect him to change? Wenger sets out to attack at all costs and I have lost count of the number of times we have seen gaping holes at the back where Song, Santos, Gibbs or Vermaelen should be. I am afraid until Wenger goes we will always be a soft touch and that is something we never were before his daft ideas post 2006 destroyed the mettle of our club. - Post No. 26768
Colonel Mustard 8:52am 13th Jul 2012
admirable sentiments. we know little about Giround. and Podolski looks in por form based on Euros. huge gambles again and its still July - Post No. 26770
Ron 8:59am 13th Jul 2012
Arsenal need a genuine top quality goal keeper. The Pole isnt it. Hes the one whos 'back up'material. Hes another who has afan love in, like Vermaelen and doesnt merit it. A keeper wins matches. Ours havent since Seaman in truth. I know you ll say Jens did, but his madcap personality was his worst enemy and lost games or often put games in jeapoardy too. - Post No. 26772
Angry & Frustrated 9:33am 13th Jul 2012
The thing that irks the most is ever since I can remember being an Arsenal supporter is that we have always been known to have a good defence. Not just individual players of which we can all list many from down the years, but as an orginsed defensive unit. These last few years that has gone out of the window, and to a certain degree our identity has gone with it. It's only in these recent years that I have kittens every time the ball goes anywhere near our backline, and it's simply been an alien experience to me. Yes of course we have always conceded goals, but that's different from expecting to concede each and every time the opposition attacks. Money here does not come into it, but philosphy pure and simple. Wenger's mission of his attack only policy and sod the back door is the reason, and no sane and rational pro Wenger supporter can deny that this is a fact. You could buy the best defenders in the world but if the instruction from your boss is to only attack the end result would be no different. In other words until Wenger goes, it's more of the same, as the chances of him changing his views are about as likely as my six numbers coming up in the lottery! - Post No. 26773
Freddie 10:30am 13th Jul 2012
Szczesny was built up as our saviour in the goalkeeping department because of the trash that came before him.I never bought into the hype around Szczesny.He is a long way from being the finished article.He had a poor end to the season which carried on into the Euro's.He needs any experienced keeper to push him and who will not be afraid to step into the first team not a Flappy.In Wengers 16 years at the club he has bought one quality keeper in Jens.Wenger needs to take the position of keeper more seriously because ask yourself what are we left with after Szczesny? - Post No. 26775
David the Price is right 11:00am 13th Jul 2012
At work when we discuss football, and Arsenal in particular, and I suggest we're a spent force under Wenger I hear from his apologists we finished 3rd though, and Chelsea finished 6th. My reply is we're not London's top club anymore. They retort, but the bridge only holds 45 thousand. Yes my old muckers including 2 f**k*** cups and room for much, much more. What a sad state of affairs. To the people who keep asserting that we can't spend big I say co**le**. Won't not can't. But buying big is not the actuai heart of the Juan Mata, it's Wenger's whole philosophy now. We will get turned over in sudden death games and cannot get over a finishing line. Teams want to draw us now in cups as they've got Wenger's number. We never set out not lose any longer like the old Arsenal. We may be pretty but looks are deceiving, and we are brittle as f**k. Wenger out. 'Board/bored out!' - Post No. 26777
Tony Evans 13:32pm 13th Jul 2012
True Goon - I think you will find that Santos has not been picked for Brazil for a while now because of his poor positional play and Mertesacker didn't play one game for Germany in the Euros. If you rate Gibbs, Santos, Mertesacker and Jenkinson as 'addressing our defensive problems' then I am wasting my breath and that is before we even think about the keeper situation and holding midfielders. Also I do wish the tired old 'support the team' line would stop being trotted out - of course we all support the team but are completely fed up with Wenger / Kronke and Gazedis taking us for mugs. - Post No. 26779
AFC 17:53pm 13th Jul 2012
I have always said that it is not the ability of the players, but more their attitude towards winning games. Most Arsenal 'fans' just dont have a clue about football. Dont get me wrong, i am as frustrated as the next person being trophyless but this is NOT fifa. Its not possible to select a player, put in a bid and watch him bring magic. This is players' LIVES! For everyone calling for wengers head......just stop. He was severly mocked at Stoke in this past season for showing PASSION, something our players lack most of the time. When it is there however, we turn teams over REGARDLESS of personnel. Barcelona, AC Milan, Spuds (2nd half) Mancs to name a few. However, it is after these matches where the problems begin. The team lets their guard down and are exposed horribly. We were on a seven win streak but players began talking to the media and let it get to their head then struggled at the end. 100 percent focus for every single game and i can guarantee trophies with our current squad. Sayin this, i do wish to see a DM added (Mvila, Capoue) and possibly an RB and GK. If not, promote Mannone because he IS good enough. Gunner4LIFE! - Post No. 26793
CanadaGooner 23:36pm 13th Jul 2012
well said AFC. I'm always one to question the players before questioning the man on the touchline. all said and done, it's the players who have to stand up to be counted, especially against the teams lower down the league table, which is where we're struggled in the past. That said, to get committed players you need good players and healthy competition for positions so that some players do not think they're bigger than the club as we've seen in recent times. only a fool would think we now have a team strong enough to win any of the 4 available trophies this season: what has changed? do we now have a viera or flamini? do we now have a Sol Campbell or Martin Keown? do we now have a Robert Pirez? I think not. If Wilshere comes back into the side thing will be a little better in terms of the midfield and committment from a homegrown player who will give almost anything to win. Right now, with what we have, it will only be another top 4 finish and no trophies. Like it or not, that's our reality - Post No. 26806
AugustusCaesar 1:31am 14th Jul 2012
Don't really agree with this. To me last season was the first time in quite a while where I thought the spine was looking better. Szczesny is a young goalkeeper who will make the odd mistake but we finally have someone between the sticks with confidence who also gives his defenders confidence. We have to stick with him. Koscienly has come on leaps and bounds and I'm dismayed at some recent suggestions that Vermaelen is no good. We came third in the league last year, we must have SOME good players for crying out loud, and he's one of them. Mertesacker's lack of pace is a worry but he undoubtedly brought a stability and calmness to our back four when he arrived. For me this current clutch of defenders is way batter than the quartet of Gallas, Toure, Senderos and Silvestre of not so long ago. Arteta gave the midfield more discipline and conservatism in a central position than we've seen recently and Song, despite his complacency and over confidence, remains a class act. And of course Van Persie was the league's top scorer. So I disagree it is our spine that needs surgery. For me the left back position is a concern and I don't think our wide attacking players offered the consistency we were looking for. We still suffer the old Arsenal disease of dominating matches but not scoring when we're in control and the wide players were often profligate in these situations. The away match at fulham springs to mind. There is no doubt we are shockingly naive at times with our defending but, again, it seems to be in wide positions with balls inside the full back where we are exposed. Curious isn't it. Pat Rice a revered right back in his day and wasn't even Arsene himself a full back? - Post No. 26808
Van de Ed 2:06am 14th Jul 2012
@AFC - absolutely spot on mate!! the laissez-faire attitude at the club is a huge reason why we've been, and will continue to have trophyless seasons. Most of our players are just as talented as those in other top EPL teams. Case in point, Diaby mouthing off about owning a spuddy shirt just shows complete disregard of the serious rivalry between us and spurs. This, amongst other mindless, care-free things these potless so-called stars repeatedly do. No leader in the team to drag his teammates along when the going is tough etc. End of the day, Le Boss is mostly to blame for our failures, end of!!! - Post No. 26809
20th May 2013
Online Ed: 4th place trophy and CL qualifier secured