Arsenal Circular 184 – Arsenal have struggled because of absent men

Bellerin, Holding, Welbeck and now Ramsey… not forgetting David Dein!

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Emery – Time to earn his pay

Dear Fellow Gunners

We are at a low ebb. Three successive defeats have made 4th place almost impossible. Yes, strange things can happen and we could sneak in but it is quite unlikely.

So we are feeling down for two reasons – first, fourth spot was in our hands a week ago but not now, and, second, we are struggling with considerable loss of confidence.

This is the time when some fans let rip and allow their frustration turn to anger. They ratchet up the moans and even the hate and just turn anti in a big way. This is not entirely a surprise – football is about passion and commitment and success and an under-performing team loses all three. Confidence drains away; mistakes are made; goals are conceded; and chances are missed.

As someone once said “confidence comes slowly and goes quickly”.

Emery is facing a real challenge. This is when the manager earns his pay. He is the one person the players look to for help and guidance. He has their ear and has to get into their heads and impart enthusiasm for the players’ ability to rise again and play the flowing game, become tight at the back and assertive in midfield and win one to ones all over the pitch.

He has some obstacles to overcome – unfortunately he has lost three of our best performing players. Holding was in top form and playing the best football of his career. Bellerin had come through an uncertain patch and showing all his old skills and more recently Ramsey was our biggest influence on the pitch and determined to leave on a high when, suddenly, his hamstring stretched too far.

When things are going wrong fans focus their discontent on individual players and express themselves often with nastiness. They also forget the players we are missing. And I do add the loyal hard working and ever running Welbeck who also has a long term injury.

Am I making excuses? Am I off loading blame on the long term absence of key players and overlooking weaknesses that have been exposed in recent weeks. These are not excuses. Any team that loses four experienced and well performing players to long term injury has to suffer. One or two – you can cope with. Three or four and this becomes impossible.

It is also the case that some players have become exposed as the spotlight falls on them. This happens today and in the past. When we have been stretched in the past we have covered in the short term – I think of Morrow, Selley and McGoldrick under George Graham or of Chenhall, Marden and Shaw under Tom Whittaker. But the long term is more challenging.

At the heart of our defence we have Sokratis and Koscielny – whole hearted and committed. But Kos is pushing his body to the limit and must be close to the end of his great service to AFC. And the wholehearted Sok is not so much old but slow and accumulates yellows like a bad driver accumulates traffic points. Repeat injuries to Monreal (another tower of strength) and we are vulnerable. Some players – like Mustafi, Xhaka, Mikh – suffer from repeat weaknesses, and too much responsibility is heaped on Guendouzi and Torreira. So there is a loss of confidence – not commitment. They try and they work but in their heart of hearts they know they are more vulnerable than invincible.

But we can still rescue the season. We are in the semi-final of the Europa League. We may not be favourites on current form but football is football – as much unpredictable as predictable. Valencia are not smug or complacent. They do not assume victory. Things happen, decisions are made, effort can be rewarded – we can win. So at our current low ebb opportunity still beckons. Come Thursday we need to put anger and frustration aside and give every support to our players. We are also due some breaks. We need goals and we need to be vocal. A good performance would set us up well for the return leg and maybe the return of Ramsey if we go through – he has a good record in finals.

Now another point – we miss David Dein. Leave aside the arguments about share sales because AFC lost something significant when DD was shown the door. Fiszman may have won but AFC lost. The Board is dull and the owner is dull. And AFC should never be dull. Yes, success is about good management and great players but there needs to be someone working in the club around the clock to look after the interests of AFC – Dein did that. He was unique. He had access to every boardroom – here and abroad. He loved AFC and you need to love AFC. It is in our blood – it is part of our lifestyle, part of our life experience. But David had love and skill and he was at the heart of AFC.

And all this while THFC play in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

So dig deep, focus on this season and not the close season or next season – just the next match. Show your passion and your commitment. We can do it. Odds may be 50/50 but we are in with a good chance so give it all.

If you are interested I continue to tweet daily @arsenalcircular – topics include Arsenal, politics and social issues.

After the Leicester defeat I was particularly active.

One tweet yesterday struck a chord and received 120+  positive responses. This is what the tweet said;-

“A good friend emailed me today saying he is on the verge of quitting AFC. Depressed and demoralised. I understand his frustrations but never in a million years could I turn my back on AFC. Never”

My number of followers is not big – 4233 – but the numbers are always going up and the site is full of debate and discussion. A hobby. Join me. 


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  1. Bard

    May 2, 2019, 08:37 #113684

    Having watched the two CL semi's I would hope we dont qualify it could be embarrassing. These teams are leagues ahead of us. As usual Graham the circular is exactly that round and round with the same old rubbish. David Dein our co called saviour did very nicely out of us and then threw us under a bus with Stan. The injuries argument is a cliche. All teams have injuries, the point is to have a squad that can deal with them. The point has been made before by others but I dont see a plan or vision. Its seems like its week to week stuff. There are rumours of discord in the camp, I wonder whether Dick might get the chop at the end of the season.

  2. itsRonagain2

    May 1, 2019, 14:15 #113683

    Dein was like the rest. He looked after No1 and always did. Last time i saw him was when he was walking down Hornsey Road (they must have parked up there some where) dressed in his big long and very expensive overcoat, past the Tollington pub with his entourage of heavy looking types, waving and smiling to his adoring public. It was a night game, CL match as i recall. He looked a right tit, like some banana republic despot on walkabouts, showing the World he wasnt actually dead after all.

  3. markymark

    May 1, 2019, 11:05 #113682

    The thing with Graham Perry is that he gives his beloved Ivan G a free pass in all this debacle . The reason why Ivan gets a free pass is that he allowed Graham to wax lyrical about his love for Wenger. To us belligerent , aggressive , violent , AISA members who wanted Wenger out. Ivan was beige , very beige , very I love sport without any actual love of Arsenal. He was so corporate it was untrue. But you won’t hear a word about Ivan on that one. Now Dein was excellent in his time , apart from the Wembley view. Though even that was based around maxing cash for signings so the thought process can be understood. However Dein did bring in Stan ( the worst of all worlds for us, he’s quite old now and been away from the contacts he had. Also Dein spends his time doing voluntary Prison visits ( Good on him!) wishing for Dein is like wishing for Herbert Chapman. We need to think about the now

  4. Ian M

    May 1, 2019, 10:49 #113681

    Hard to believe you are digging up the old Dein argument. This is the man responsible for the current ownership which is a massive, if not overriding, part of the problem we now have. Absentee ownership, using the club as part of an investment portfolio, has left a dysfunctional club, especially in the overpaid heirarchy who are jostling for power in this leadership vacuum, and have ensured a directionless club without any real football nous. Emery, an ineffective and indecisive manager, is the product of this system. What chance is there of a coherent transfer and long term policy in this climate? None.

  5. peter wain

    May 1, 2019, 07:06 #113680

    sack him now - he is useless

  6. markymark

    May 1, 2019, 05:13 #113679

    Wengerballs - I wanted Wenger out with every inch of my body. But it can only be fair that each manager is judged the same. Therefore think you nailed it with your comment. Looks like most of the base will give him the new season . But I wonder what that actually means? A very poor start could actually mean 10 games with the board fighting a rear guard action till the inevitable . My suspicions of player unrest might sadly be the case judging by the Times article and the weird leaking of the Hakka oddness. He’s got to get things shaping up fast. The last 3 games have really bashed his PR , which up to that point was reasonable

  7. John F

    Apr 30, 2019, 21:41 #113678

    Agree GR ,Ajax have shown tonight what a good team they are after investing and trusting in their youth policy.I am exactly the same on my feelings about Emery ,my one criticism of him is that in the recent poor run he never trusted Willock or Eddie to play a bigger role.I do hope he doesn't block the young talent coming through.

  8. GoonerRon

    Apr 30, 2019, 21:11 #113677

    I know every team has injuries but to lose two guaranteed starters from the defensive line for half a season at the same time was damaging. That said, in preseason we knew Koscielny would have to be nursed back and Mavropanos was injured so maybe letting Chambers go on loan was an error that compounded our misfortune. Overall, I’m struggling to know where I stand with Emery and the team. Have we gone from a manager who never did anything to counter the opposition to one that’s so obsessed with nullifying the opposition that we’ve lost our identity a bit (i.e no ‘base’ formation, pattern of play and an inability to pass the ball to a team mate)? I still think Emery deserves the chance to continue for next season but it’s clear major surgery is needed to the squad. I just hope Emery has the balls to give some younger players more airtime next season and surround them with a handful of new, robust, seasoned operators.

  9. Wengerballs

    Apr 30, 2019, 20:32 #113676

    The 'key players out injured' is a tired old excuse and used every season. Wengerites used this excuse perpetually. Every team has some key players injured or absent at some stage of every season. And how many years are we going to moan about David Dein being gone and not properly replaced. Tired old excuses. Move on, stop the tired, hackneyed excuses, face reality and smell the roses. Lets just see what comes out of this summers transfer window. But Emery needs to be judged by the same standard as Wenger was. Failure to qualify for the CL should mean the axe, but he deserves another season.

  10. John F

    Apr 30, 2019, 16:22 #113675

    Arsenal have played well sporadically but I have to say I have been shocked at some of the poor play this season.It was the Huddesfield game , a game we actually won that really concerned me. If you have a go at trying to pick a competitive balanced 11 out of the players available you will probably find what I did that it is impossible.We have no wide players ,some lazy players and players who would not even make the first team of a championship side.This is what Dick has had to deal with ,he may well turn out to be our version of Christian Gross but I feel he can only be judged if and when he has introduced different players either from the youths or with his very limited budget.

  11. TonyEvans

    Apr 30, 2019, 13:56 #113674

    SKG1 - one of the most depressing aspects of Emery's first season for me is the continuance of the awful defending we had to endure under Wenger. I was so looking forward to seeing some steel at the back again, and a return to Arsenal not being such a soft touch, especially away from home - sadly it has just not happened. I read somewhere that Seville, under Emery, once went a whole season without winning a game away from home! The prospects for next season aren't great but I don't know that a change of manager is the answer right now - as others have mentioned though what's wrong with bringing a specialist defensive coach on board like Keown? Of course that does beg the question as to exactly what Steve Bould is bringing to the party!

  12. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Apr 30, 2019, 12:44 #113673

    Good piece Graham but I am sorry, I have reached a impasse with Arsenal - I cannot come to terms with Leicester's second goal. One player (I admit he is nippy) chasing a long punt from the Leicester keeper, wins the first ball, scores on the second ball. I have been telling people that our defending has brought back memories of the sixties but that Vardy goal I think is the worse goal I have seen an Arsenal team concede. Even the Swindon goals in 1969 where not that bad and Arsenal players still had the flu and were playing on an allotment for a pitch. Once I get that image of Vardy's header out of my head I will move on - it could take a while.

  13. itsRonagain2

    Apr 30, 2019, 11:53 #113672

    Croker - your point is a very well made one. It almost like a call to arms to fetch Sean Dyche. Ha ha. Hes been mentioned matey! I think GP is right in that we ve missed Ramsey but i still think letting him go is the right call. As for missing Holding? Really? Bellerin did have a good chunk of the Season too. I like Danny Wellbeck as a professional plus he seems a nice guy too and when hes fit he offers some power but its time Danny was released.

  14. Exiled in Pt

    Apr 30, 2019, 11:14 #113671

    The owner who DD introduced to the club , he then looked after his interests in the club by selling out . Change the record Mr Dein started this whole fiasco we are now lumbered with.

  15. peter wain

    Apr 30, 2019, 10:42 #113670

    the trouble is their is no accountability. Who is silent stan accountable to - no one. Similarly who are the players accountable - the manager and he is a useless comic.

  16. Croker

    Apr 30, 2019, 10:29 #113669

    Good article. We are well and truly knackered as far as ownership goes, I can’t see Wiggy selling up to anyone even with very deep pockets indeed. I’m still baffled why season after season, we put out sides who can’t do basic football tactics that Sunday pub XI players would get slaughtered for, if they showed the same failings. Sadly, my conclusion is that we continue to try and play million pound football with 5 bob players and mediocrity is good enough to earn a shirt. We need some blood and thunder back in the side and behind the scenes because we are getting outplayed and intimidated by virtually everyone else in the Prem League, even those with comparatively smaller budgets and talent pools. The fact that they can go toe to toe with us is down to team spirit and coaching and we can forget about catching up with the top sides until our guys can grasp the football basics and what it truly means to pull on an Arsenal shirt.