Arsenal’s “Deadwood” – How bad are they?

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
May 23rd, 2012
15 Comments

After my post yesterday about do I still trust Wenger in the transfer market I predictably got a lot of responses, mainly on my twitter, naming Wenger’s dud buys. Every club buys players that don’t work out but no-one mentions Bebe or Shevchenko or Jo because it seems only Wenger buys bad players and every other club buys great players.

I don’t really like the term deadwood but I can’t think of another name. I want to explore the “deadwood” and give my thoughts on whether or not they are/were as bad as many of us, myself at times included, have made them out to be.

The so-called “deadwood” are Almunia, Arshavin, Bendtner, Chamakh, Denilson, Diaby, Park, Squillaci and Vela.

Almunia

I remember a time when Arsenal fans were clamouring for him to play instead of Jens Lehmann…. how ironic that they all say Szczesny is our first decent keeper since Jens!

 AlmuniaSzczesny
Apps/Mins98 / 880853 / 4770
Clean Sheets3719
Goals Conceded9068
Average Goals Conceded Per Match0.961.28
Penalties Faced/Conceded14 / 810 / 7
Penalty Save Percentage43%30%
Total Shots Faced844524
Total Shots On Target Faced359200
Saves269136
Save %74.9%66.7%

As the table shows Szczesny, statistically, isn’t much better. He keeps fewer clean sheets on average and concedes more goals with a similar amount of shots on goal. However, what Szczesny has in abundance that Almunia always lacked is an unshakeable self-confidence that even if he makes a mistake he won’t make another. When Almunia dropped a clanger he looked completely crestfallen and was prone to making more errors.

Confidence aside I don’t really think anyone can call Almunia “deadwood”. He is a decent keeper, maybe not up to the standards of the great keepers we’ve had over the years but if he was earning 50% of what he has been earning I don’t think many people would have objected to him staying as 3rd choice keeper.

Arshavin

Arshavin has never played in his favoured position for Arsenal and seemed to lose interest after he had that stint upfront and he got kicked to pieces. I believe he would have shown more of himself in the hole rather than out wide. For a shackled player his goals and assists tally for Arsenal is excellent. Far from deadwood, misused wood maybe and it’ll be a shame to see him go this summer for me personally as I always liked him even though I hated his nonchalant attitude in some games.

Bendtner & Chamakh

Bendtner’s stats aren’t bad and whilst many will argue that stats don’t tell the whole story they are the only way to measure a players effectiveness.

When you compare Bendtner to the player I believe we kept him over (Adebayor) and our main striker at the moment he doesn’t look like a complete waste of space.

Chamakh started his Arsenal career so well and then completely ran out of steam and hasn’t got any back since is a different story. With the amount of chances we create I personally believe that Chamakh or Bendtner would be 15 goal a year strikers for us if we played with 2 strikers.

 BendtnerChamakhAdebayorRVP
EPL Minutes (2007 onwards)66482012101039635
Goals/Assists461289114
Minutes played per goal/assist14416811485
Shots21655327492
Minutes Per Shot31373120
% of shots on target45.8%47.3%51.1%43.7%
Minutes Per Shot On Target68786145

Chamakh I believe we can label as “deadwood” but I think Bendtner has enough quality not to be labelled as deadwood. He is certainly overpaid but he does have quality, his 8 goals and 5 assists for Sunderland this year (just over 1 goal/assist every 2 games), who do not create the chances Arsenal do, to my mind, prove that. Bendtner is often ridiculed as well the same exuberant self-confidence that Gooners love Szczesny for so much.

Denilson & Diaby

Denilson is an efficient and hard-working player however his positioning is suspect and his tendency to slow down play doesn’t really suit the way Arsenal play. Brought to be the long-term successor to Gilberto he shares many of the great man’s traits and certainly had/has the potential to emulate Gilberto but his slow passing and general lack of urgency makes him susceptible to making a silly pass, albeit it accurate, to a defender putting them under unnecessary pressure. Having said that he might just fit into our current system of having two deep midfielders. Someone like Arteta next to him would help no end I’m sure. I’m not ready to label him deadwood as I think at 24 years of age he could still have something to offer but that’s not to say I want to keep him at the club.

Diaby is a different kettle of fish altogether. All the talent in the world but not one good limb to use it with. Should we stick by Diaby through his injury problems like we did with RVP?

The below table shows how often an injury free player should have been available to us and how much they actually played.

 DiabyRVPWalcottSagna
Potential Appearances200
(38*5 + 10 for 2005/06)
304200
(38*5 + 10 for 2005/06)
190
Actual Appearances112194149153
% of potential games played56%64%75%81%
Potential Minutes18000273601800017100
Actual Minutes709613299873812834
% of potential minutes played39%49%49%75%

I’ve used Walcott as well as RVP because he joined at the same time as Diaby and has also had his share of injury problems. As you can see, Walcott has given a similar percentage as RVP. I’ve used Sagna as well as a yardstick for what we should expect from a player given every player gets injured. Diaby for me has spent far too long off the pitch for me to consider him anything other than deadwood despite his prodigious talent. If he was earning half of what he does I might be inclined to keep him.

Park

I feel it is premature to label him as deadwood as I think he deserves more than half a dozen appearances before we cast him aside for good. A part of me thought, at the time, we stole him from under Lille’s noses to hopefully use him as a bargaining chip for Hazard but I hope I was wrong as I don’t want that mercenary in my club.

Squillaci

International defender, twice top-flight league winner, double national association cup winner, league cup winner, champions league runner-up and team of the year player. Am I describing Squillaci or am I describing Sol Campbell?

When Portsmouth signed Sol his CV would have read the same as Squillaci’s if you put it in bullet points. Did they get a bad player? Did we?

Squillaci was a respected defender in France and in Spain when Arsenal bought him. He has great qualities but like many players joining an English club later in their career has struggled to adapt to the league. Because of his many high-profile mistakes and exorbitant wages I am going to label him as deadwood but I’m confident that he will enjoy a better end to his career once he leaves Arsenal and returns to continental football.

Vela

Vela for me is another player who doesn’t suit the league. An excellent finisher and a scorer of classy chipped goals when 3-0 up Vela never really got a chance to grips with English football. His qualities are being demonstrated in La Liga and I’m certain that if Vela had never joined Arsenal that he’d be getting linked with a move to Arsenal this season after his excellent showings in La Liga and there’d be scores of people on twitter purring over videos of Vela like this one saying we should sign him:

I personally would give Vela a shot in the first team next season if we sell Arshavin AND loan out Ryo for another year. He might actually do well on the left of our front three in rotation with Podolski.

So there we are. I’m not so sure our “deadwood” are entirely so but I don’t dispute that we should make efforts to move many of these players on, mostly because of their exorbitant wages.

Quite a few of them are far from being as bad as some people make out so are they worth nurturing a little more at Arsenal?

I’ll leave that up to Arsène but maybe we should look at why these players who clearly have talent aren’t working out at Arsenal before we paint them as substandard failures. I suspect playing to the strengths of a few players rather than to the whole or adapting to certain formations for certain games has played it’s part.

Thanks for reading! Please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan).

Please also head over to “1 nil down 2 one up” to read a great post on the best way to utilise Santos and to “He Blogs When He Wants To” to read a stirring piece on winning “The Arsenal Way”.

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About "" - 508 Posts

I am a South London born Gooner now living in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. I'm a husband, daddy, podcaster, trainer enthusiast and aspiring author. My work is my passion and for that I will always be grateful. Here is where I write my thoughts and views on Arsenal Football Club, the greatest team the world has ever seen.

15 Responses to “Arsenal’s “Deadwood” – How bad are they?”

  1. Richard B says:

    Nice article. As fans we seem too quick to equate high profile mistakes to an overall lack of quality. I expressed an opinion this morning that, bearing in mind I believe Sczcesny represents our future, getting in a world class keeper to sit on the bench to act as back up would be difficult. Personally if Almunia were to be resigned on £15 – £20k wages I wouldn’t have a problem.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I agree (about Almunia). I’m hoping that we get Craig Gordon in as I understand he only earns £30k a week at SAFC so we could pay him £45k a week & still save money on Almunia.

  2. Madge says:

    It’s clear we do have to cut our wage bill this summer.
    Vela has made it clear that he doesn’t want to
    Come back. As for Almunia, I can’t see him taking
    A wage cut. Who knows, I could be wrong. Bentner should I jnow
    Ypu made a good argument for him, but I don’t have any
    Faith in him at all. Andre, I reckon he wll stay in Russia.
    The rest well we will have to wait & see. Thanks Daniel

  3. Daniel Cowan says:

    Just to clear up any confusion. I’m not making a case for any of these players to stay at Arsenal. I’m just making the case that they aren’t as crap as some people would have you believe.

    • Steve Gooner says:

      Agreed, none on that list are crap. Some have been mis-managed; Chamakh better with a strike partner, AA23 played out of position. Even NB52 wasted out wide.

      Feel Denny & Vela too lightweight for PL & would be better suited plying their trade in Spain.

      Feel sorry for Diaby with his injuries. Should he ever manage to stay fit, there’s no doubt he’d prove his quality.

      The mysterious case of JY Park; have no idea why we signed him unless AW knew he’d have his National Service deferred & make a quick buck out of him selling on. Any hope of S Korean shirts sales are definitely out of the question now!

      And a footnote; I would like to see Ryo in an Arsenal shirt next season. Used wisely, he will make an impact.

      Steve.

  4. Kunle says:

    Wats killin ours players is d misuse position they are been played.dat is why i give fergie utmost respect as a coach,he will buy u and play u in ur best position.wenger do play dis players out of position.for instance,AA23 is nt a winger,he plays better behind a striker or cam bt wenger plays him on d winger,leaving ramsey to play cam.wenger should play players right position.

  5. Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

    Again well done…….I agree with your premise wholeheartedly, the AAA, Wenger-bashing morons who arrogantly call themselves ¨true¨Gooners are always using the ¨deadwood ¨argument against AW. the problem is that they haven’t a clue about:

    1)What those players actually earn since AFc don’t publicize that information,
    2)What it takes to make a good Footballer a great one…according to their unstable,fickle,feeble-minded evaluation criteria Henry,Campbell, RVP, Walcott, Pires, and countless other Arsenal legends would be ¨deadwood¨ after 2 games.

    We will see what the master of player evaluation does but Wenger seems to know who is worth being patient with and who isn’t usually.

  6. Matt says:

    Stats are great but as the old saying goes: “lies, damned lies and statistics”.

    The reality is that statistics are unable to measure so many other aspects to a player’s performance and value to the team.

    I think everyone would agree that if Bendtner had controlled the ball and scored against Barcelona last year that he’s be worth his £52k per week and possibly start believing his hype of being the best striker in the world.

    The reality, and frustration with fans, is that he continually paints himself as the best in the world when there is simply no evidence to support him. Indeed part of my frustration with him is that he needs too many chances to net a goal. Much like Adebayor when he was at Arsenal.

    And to suggest that Chezzer has the same sort of arrogance as Bendtner is untrue. Chezzer has a lot of confidence in his ability but he is quite humble in most aspects about his progression and need to improve. Bendtner already thinks he’s the best.

    Equally, I don’t think it’s fair to compare Chezzer’s stats to Almunia’s and suggest they’re similar. Almunia was lucky enough to have a much stronger, organised and solid defence in front of him (Toure, Gallas, Sagna, even Campbell), than Chezzer has now (Vermaelen, Kos, Djourou, Gibbs/Santos), who constantly leave him exposed after they’ve gone up to have a crack at goal.

    I agree that Arshavin was/is played out of position which must be acutely frustrating for him. However, fan’s frustration with him was not about his assist and goal-scoring contribution (which was great), but his complete refusal to offer anything in defence. That role is critical, particularly when you look at the way play with our full-backs and their desire/need to get forward.

    Look at Drogba and Torres in the CL Final – they made some vital tackles just outside their own area to help out the team – I can’t ever remember Arshavin doing that.

    With the others I’m of a similar opinion.

    Park I just don’t understand and can’t believe he was ever a bargaining chip for Hazard – Lille wanted Park and were exceptionally pi**ed off that we took him at the last minute – we were hardly endearing ourselves to a future deal for Hazard!

    Squillaci simply didn’t adapt, but why did we keep him for so long?! He should have been out at the end of his first season!

    Vela is unfortunate – I would have really liked to see him play more for us.

    If we can find a buyer for Diaby then get rid and free up the squad place and wages for someone who can give us a better return.

    Chamakh is a real shame – I really liked him in pre-season and the first couple of months but something happened just before Christmas and once RVP was back he’s never been the same.

    Denilson is one of those where stats just don’t paint the picture. If you’re passing sideways or backwards for an entire game then I’d expect your accuracy to be great, but it’s hardly penetrating, attacking football that we play. He just doesn’t suit our formation and style and as such am stunned that he got as much game time as he did.

    Another great debate started!!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Statistics were good enough for Billy Beane. Statistics don’t lie. Popular opinion does. For example, Vermaelen is a crowd favourite but his position has been suspect on a number of occasions however we pick up more points with him so statistically we are stronger with him but I suspect that is because Koscielny plays better with him. I always said that Toure was a great defender but that he was tactically and positionally stupid and he performed better when he had an intelligent defender next to him like Campbell or Gallas. I believe Vermaelen to be slightly cut of the same cloth. No where near as stupid as Toure positionally and tactically but I believe he plays best with a more intelligent defender next to him which is why he was great in his first year and looks solid next to Koscielny or Mertesacker who for me are excellent readers of the game. Vermaelen is more of an all-action defender than a reader.

      With regards to Bendtner, my point is that he isn’t shit. He might believe he is the best but has he ever really had a prolonged run in the team to prove or disprove it? I know people will bang on about him not hitting double figures at Sunderland but would RVP have scored 30 in Sunderland’s team and the way they play under the most boring man in the world next to Daniel O’Donnell (who speaks with the same tone no matter his emotion)? I don’t think so.

      Bendtner and Szczesny are comparable in their self-belief. Arrogance is a different thing. Both believe in themselves, only one of them is an arrogant sod.

      I’m not saying Almunia is better but I think it is fair to compare them. If you compare them when they both played in front of the same defence then their stats are similar. Szczesny was a slight improvement on Almunia (1%) but actually had less to do on average per game so the defence had tightened. I’m not defending these players and saying we should keep them, I’m just saying they aren’t as bad as some people make out and getting rid of them isn’t going to improve the team. Bringing in new players will improve the team.

      I understand the fans frustration with Arshavin but we have to cut him some slack, if we was out of position can we really expect him to be able let alone want to replicate the duties of a winger? We never asked Rosicky or Cesc to protect the left back. That is the position that Arshavin plays.

      I remember Arshavin tackling plenty, he just wasn’t very good at it so his attempts at doing so were easily forgotten.

      The Park/Lille thing was just a conspiracy theory I believed might have been possible at the time.

      Squillaci didn’t adapt but how many players do in their first year? This year was his second year so I think we can forgive Wenger for hoping that he would adapt and become a steady back-up defender. This summer is the time to get rid.

      Vela – I agree.

      Diaby – I agree but only because of his very poor appearance record. We stuck by RVP whose appearance record was just as bad pre January 2011 but he was a very effective player when fit and has come back to be completely fit for 18 months. Diaby hasn’t done that for me and I don’t really think we’ve missed him like we miss RVP when he isn’t there.

      Chamakh just didn’t have the engine to play upfront on his own and he burnt out. Would be effective as the target man with RVP off his shoulder.

      Denilson’s stats may not paint the picture that many want to paint but he was/is an effective player but as I said and you have said he just didn’t suit our style of play or even our league I’d venture.

      Glad you’re enjoying the debate

    • Matt says:

      Did you stifle a laugh when you wrote: ‘statistics don’t lie’? Of course they do – I could find all sorts of stats that would paint lovely pictures but there’s so much more to football than measuring minutes on the pitch, goals scored etc. Indeed you inferred exactly that when you said that Toure performed better when he had Campbell or Gallas next to him.

      And as for Billy Beane… Much like Wenger in the PL, Beane revolutionised the way managers looked at players and assessed their abilities. BUT. AND IT’S AN IMPORTANT BUT. Billy Beane has NEVER won anything. So while statistics might work for a team trying to keep costs down, they don’t help you win anything!

      It’s been widely reported that other GMs in baseball have learnt from Beane and taken that knowledge further. Much like Wenger in fact – revolutionise and then stand still while all around you take that knowledge and move it on.

      Wenger insists on playing players out of position (Theo, Bendtner, Arshavin), not giving them runs in the team (Park, Vela), persisting with his ‘favourites’ when they don’t fit with our system (Denilson).

      I’m not suggesting for a second that the players under examination are bad, but they don’t/haven’t worked for us. And as such they are deadwood and do need to be moved on and replaced with players that actually add value (most likely playing in their preferred positions).

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Statistics don’t lie. People lie. Anyone can use stats to their own advantage.

      For example, some will say that George Graham has a better trophies per year ratio than Wenger which he does if you count the shared charity shield (which I don’t as it was shared). Statistically George Graham will be our best manager in terms of trophies per year by the end of next season if we do not win anything (AW is currently on 0.68, GG is on 0.66). However if you include the statistics of win % then Wenger is the clear winner and even if we lost the next 100 games he’d still be the best on win %. He statistically is the manager to have made us the most competitive with his 11 trophies and 12 runner ups. Statistically under Wenger we have been the most competitive we’ve ever been yet some people will choose to look at it and say that George Graham is statistically the better manager. The stats don’t lie because they can’t lie. They are just numbers, how people present them is what makes them what they are.

      Of course there is more to football than stats but without the stats you cannot judge a player objectively. You are judging all of these players based on your perception. You have to look at the stats in conjunction with opinion because you can say XYZ player is crap drop them/sell them and when you do and you replace them with someone else and the problem is still there you wonder why. If you remove a player who has great passing accuracy because they don’t make enough forward passes for your liking and replace them with someone that does you might actually be reducing your possession and you can’t score without the ball. Managers use statistics because they work. If they were as full of shit as most people foolishly make out then managers wouldn’t waste their time doing it.

      Billy Beane may not have won something but he led the way in recruiting unfashionable players and making a decent team out of them based on stats. His model has been copied by people who have won stuff but without Billy Beane and his stats that method would never have been discovered.

      Yes Wenger does play people out of position or stick with players that you believe do not suit our system and you label them deadwood because of that. I find the whole deadwood term quite offensive and a stupidly flippant term from people who should know better (myself included in that) because people are too quick to point the finger at the players and tar them with the shit brush but no-one stops to question why don’t we adapt our formation to get the best out of the whole rather than a single component (a la Cesc who was the reason we went to 433 in the first place).

      Just because they aren’t working out doesn’t mean they are deadwood. We haven’t tried to get the best out of these players and there is no guarantee that if we bring someone in that they’ll add any value. Would Hazard be played in his best position? Kagawa? Vertonghen?

      A change of system is needed much more than a significant change in playing personnel.

    • Matt says:

      You may be right that you need statistics to start an analysis but the problem is that the statistics that are measured only provide a very very small part of the picture.

      I have yet to see statistics that say how many of Denilson’s passes were forward / sideways / backwards. Two out of three of those options will most likely not result in a goal. Two out of three of those options risk putting other players into trouble – where are the stats that measure that?

      I have yet to see statistics that say Arshavin didn’t track back 20 / 30 / 40 times in a game. Not tracking back means that there is no cover in more defensive positions. Where are the stats that say Arsenal conceded 10 goals when Arshavin was in the opposition’s final third?

      I have yet to see the stats that say Bendtner had X amount of ‘reasonable opportunities’ to score goals, i.e. 1-on-1s, one defender to beat, or that he didn’t run into the box when a cross was delivered.

      I could go on… These things aren’t measured but are there for all to see. They’re not ‘perceptions’ or ‘subjective’.

      You’re absolutely right about the problems associated with changing the team only to find the same problem exists with the new players. Someone on another blog suggested spending £30m on the defense to overcome the fact that we let in 49 goals in the League last season, to which the reply was: ‘Why bother. With no defensive training it doesn’t matter who you put in there – we’ll still leak goals’.

      That comes down to Wenger’s training policies and tactics.

      Would new recruits be played in their best positions? You’d have to hope that if you’ve shelled out big money in transfers and wages on players like Hazard, Kagawa or Vertoghen that you would play them in their best position, but history doesn’t guarantee that and there’s the rub.

      Could someone else do better with the squad we have? On last season’s performances you’d have to say yes.

      When you put together Wenger’s transfer policy, the players that we can’t shift because of ludicrous wages, the lack of tactics / plan B, players played out of position, the same problems occurring over and over again with no clear addressing of them, you have to say that Wenger is on very thin ice.

      I genuinely believe that this season will be make or break for Wenger. It’s good to see some positive changes already (Pat Rice moved out, Bould brought in, seven players released, one big signing already made with more rumoured), but the proof will be where we are at the start of the season in terms of squad development (in and out), and then again by about Jan / Feb next year in terms of league position and progress in other comps.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Your comments are comprehensive as ever Matt! 😉

      I don’t think stats are a small part at all. Maybe you just don’t see enough of them.

      I have yet to see statistics that say how many of Denilson’s passes were forward / sideways / backwards. Two out of three of those options will most likely not result in a goal. Two out of three of those options risk putting other players into trouble – where are the stats that measure that?

      I have to disagree with you there. You are rating a player purely on forward balls. How many times in a match do Xavi, Busquets and Iniesta play the ball sideways or backwards? If Denilson was under instruction to get the ball to Cesc and the best option to get to Cesc was to pass the ball sideways or backwards to dilute the midfield and help Cesc find space then what’s wrong with that. Unfashionable players always get a hard time and get labelled wrongly in my opinion. Denilson’s only fault in my opinion, having watched him play many many time as I am sure you have too is his positioning.

      Where are the stats that say Arsenal conceded 10 goals when Arshavin was in the opposition’s final third?

      What if the attack came from the other side of the pitch? If they score would it have made a difference if we was covering the left back? If they didn’t score I’m sure there’d be complaints that he was back defending when there was nothing to defend and wasn’t in a position to counter-attack. Some players can do no right.

      I have yet to see the stats that say Bendtner had X amount of ‘reasonable opportunities’ to score goals, i.e. 1-on-1s, one defender to beat, or that he didn’t run into the box when a cross was delivered. I could go on… These things aren’t measured but are there for all to see. They’re not ‘perceptions’ or ‘subjective’.

      Of course they are. If you haven’t see the statistics how can you objectively make a judgement on how clinical or wasteful a player is? As a human you are bound to remember his glaring misses more than the good saves or blocks from opposition players even if the latter has the higher number.
      These things are measured, you just need to pay to see the statistics. If you want to know you should sign up to EPLindex or Opta.

      Could someone else do better with the squad we have? On last season’s performances you’d have to say yes.

      Never had you down as a Wenger-out bod. I don’t think so. No fullbacks for over a month, 17 points dropped in first 7 games, no Cesc, no Nasri, no Wilshere yet we still finished a place higher and with more points and more goals than the season before when we had all of those things.
      If you take out our god-awful start we weren’t really that far behind. A bad start and a blip in January when we had hardly any defenders made us play catch up all season. Could we have done things better last summer? Certainly but Wenger is the man that once again got us into the champions league despite the difficulties we had across the season. I don’t think anyone could have done anything better.

      When you put together Wenger’s transfer policy, the players that we can’t shift because of ludicrous wages, the lack of tactics / plan B, players played out of position, the same problems occurring over and over again with no clear addressing of them, you have to say that Wenger is on very thin ice. I genuinely believe that this season will be make or break for Wenger. It’s good to see some positive changes already (Pat Rice moved out, Bould brought in, seven players released, one big signing already made with more rumoured), but the proof will be where we are at the start of the season in terms of squad development (in and out), and then again by about Jan / Feb next year in terms of league position and progress in other comps.

      You think he is on thin ice but in reality he has the safest job in football. He’s going nowhere.

  7. Matt says:

    You may well be right. The stats may exist and I/we haven’t seen them. And you may also be correct over instructions to players.

    I just don’t believe that Denilson would ever have been told to do what he did in terms of the direction of his passes, particularly given the style of play Wenger espouses.

    Equally, I have only seen Bendtner’s goals scored stats and know that he had so many more opportunities to score than he converted.

    And I know I’ve seen many pictures of Arshavin walking slowly back towards his own half while the opposition have marauded past him (admittedly not all resulting in goals, but as I said earlier – look at what Torres and Drogba did for Chelsea against Barca and BM).

    I’m not a ‘Wenger out bod’. I genuinely hope he turns it around this season and reignites all the faith we’ve had in him, but his recent lack of success and many of the results last season have heaped pressure on him.

    You mention no Cesc and no Nasri but it was blindingly obvious to everyone else in football that those two leaving Arsenal was a foregone conclusion. Wenger’s reluctance or inability to plan for their departures meant that we started the season woefully short in key areas. That directly led to the losses to Liverpool and Man Utd, the draw with Newcastle and arguably the loss to Blackburn.

    The last day purchases didn’t come close to replacing them and that is bad management. As a result the god-awful start to the season was entirely down to Wenger.

    The blip in January – again, you have to question the back-ups for the full-backs: Jenkinson and Gibbs? One who’s never played at EPL level before and one who’s never stringed together more than 3 games in a row because he’s injury prone (and a 1st choice who’s never played in the EPL before (Santos)). Once they got injured we’ve got reserves stepping up into the first team.

    You’re then forced to play players out of position and make yourself short in other key areas meaning that we have players of the quality of Djourou and Squillaci in central defense – a disaster waiting to happen and again, all down to bad management.

    You’re right, he probably does have the safest job in football, not least because we have a majority shareholder who really doesn’t give a c*ap about winning trophies and knows little about English football – as long as we’re in the CL does he really care?

    Equally his contract comes to an end in a couple of seasons and it’s probably easier to let him see that out rather than pay £14m to push him out.

    I hope that he turns it around, demonstrates a change in tactics that delivers something close to his past successes and we try and get him to sign up to a contract extension.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I just don’t believe that Denilson would ever have been told to do what he did in terms of the direction of his passes, particularly given the style of play Wenger espouses.

      Maybe Denilson felt the same pressure to pass get the ball to Cesc the same way other felt to get the ball to Henry but I think it is fair to assume that players were under instruction to conduct play through Cesc where possible considering we changed our entire system just to get the best out of him.

      Equally, I have only seen Bendtner’s goals scored stats and know that he had so many more opportunities to score than he converted.

      If he’d scored more or as many chances as he has had then he truly would be the greatest player in the world!

      And I know I’ve seen many pictures of Arshavin walking slowly back towards his own half while the opposition have marauded past him (admittedly not all resulting in goals, but as I said earlier – look at what Torres and Drogba did for Chelsea against Barca and BM).

      I’m not saying that Arshavin wasn’t lazy but I’d probably be a bit despondent if I was asked to do something I didn’t want to do everyday. Not that that is an excuse, more of an explanation.

      I’m not a ‘Wenger out bod’. I genuinely hope he turns it around this season and reignites all the faith we’ve had in him, but his recent lack of success and many of the results last season have heaped pressure on him.

      You could have fooled me! 😉 😛

      You mention no Cesc and no Nasri but it was blindingly obvious to everyone else in football that those two leaving Arsenal was a foregone conclusion. Wenger’s reluctance or inability to plan for their departures meant that we started the season woefully short in key areas. The last day purchases didn’t come close to replacing them and that is bad management. As a result the god-awful start to the season was entirely down to Wenger.

      I’m not debating that at all. Completely separate point. Whether we knew they were off or not we weren’t going to have them and any replacement unless already an established star was going to consider a downgrade. Without three of our best players from the season before it was always going to be difficult yet we managed to finish higher, with more goals and more points. We came back from losing positions more than any other team. I’d say this team has gained fight. Let’s judge them next year because although we’ve had lots of troublesome years recently this is our first truly “transitional” year since 2007.

      The blip in January – again, you have to question the back-ups for the full-backs: Jenkinson and Gibbs? One who’s never played at EPL level before and one who’s never stringed together more than 3 games in a row because he’s injury prone (and a 1st choice who’s never played in the EPL before (Santos)). Once they got injured we’ve got reserves stepping up into the first team.

      Jenkinson was brought in to be back up to Sagna not to replace him immediately. Leg break aside Sagna is one of our most featured performers so I think we can forgive AW and the medical team for assuming that he’d be available for at least 75% of the season. Who else could we have brought in? I also see Jenko as a step towards reducing the wage bill. We moved out Eboue who was on £50k a week and brought in a more athletic player with more potential (who has been reasonably solid for someone making such a big step) on a third of the wages. He is also an Arsenal fan and as with the likes of Perry Groves, Adams and Wright you can’t put a price on that if they have a reasonable amount of talent. I also don’t see you complaining about Chamberlain who also came from the same league as Jenko.

      You’re picking holes in the back up defenders but our blip didn’t come when the second choice were playing who actually acquitted themselves well, it came when we had no fullbacks at all.

      You’re then forced to play players out of position and make yourself short in other key areas meaning that we have players of the quality of Djourou and Squillaci in central defense – a disaster waiting to happen and again, all down to bad management.

      Would you have rather put less versatile people in the fullback spots?

      You’re right, he probably does have the safest job in football, not least because we have a majority shareholder who really doesn’t give a c*ap about winning trophies and knows little about English football – as long as we’re in the CL does he really care?

      I think he has a safe job because he does a good job with modest resources and we rightly do not have a hire and fire attitude. Sure it has worked for Chelsea but they’ve been able to rely on buying shed loads of players. Spurs on the other hand….

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