Arsenal’s Defence And Defending Arsenal

By Daniel Cowan
In Arsenal
Jul 30th, 2012
148 Comments

There has been a lot of attacking of Arsenal by Gooners on twitter recently and the stagnant air of negativity has even driven some very well liked tweeters into hibernation as they cannot stand to read the streams of abuse hurled towards the club and its players.

Instead of exasperating me to the point of quitting twitter it has, for want of a better word, inspired me to adapt my post. This piece was originally going to be entirely about the defence and, ironically, defending them and I’ll still do that but now the piece is going to be a bit longer and will be about defending the club as well. I suggest getting a cuppa as this is a long one but I really hope you’ll stay to the end because I think the message is worth hearing.

I’m as desperate for success as the next Gooner however I do not think we have a divine right to trophies nor do I think we have a divine right to challenge for trophies and I most certainly do not think that we should buy a sense of entitlement by selling out to the sugar daddies of the world.

That said I do believe that we should be challenging. Not because we are The Arsenal but because we have one of the best managers in the world, a world-class stadium full of supporters, world-class training facilities, top coaching staff, an enviable youth set-up, the best pitch in the world and a group of very talented players to take to it. I see no reason why we should not compete moving forward but understand fully why we have not challenged for the league in recent years even if I don’t like the fact we haven’t especially given the players we’ve had.

And now I want to dispel a few myths that kept cropping up in a twitter conversation last night and are used fervently by some as the reason Arsenal are not winning trophies.

Myth 1: We don’t challenge.

This is a falsehood. If you said that we do not challenge for the entirety of the marathon then I might agree with you but even then I still think it does the club an injustice to say that they do not challenge. Since our last trophy in 2005 we have been in a Champions League Final, 2 League Cup Finals and finished 4 points off the title. Over the past 7 seasons the runner up in the league has finished an average of 4.28 points behind the winners so in that season despite finishing 3rdwe can argue that Arsenal challenged for the title. Despite not winning a trophy in that time we have competed for a trophy on 4 occasions so technically have only had 3 years of not competing.

Parody

It is completely fair to say that Arsenal have not won a major trophy in 7 years but there have been worse periods for our club and there will be worse in the future as well. No club wins a trophy every season for a prolonged period of time because teams run in phases and Arsenal were unlucky to be embarking upon their rebuilding process when Chelsea came in and changed the landscape. The counter argument to this is Manchester United rebuilding and winning during that time but some fail to realise that Manchester United were and are a much bigger brand than us, had a massive stadium for years before the Emirates was built and had the luxury of excellent commercial deals. Moving forward Arsenal will be able to boast similar luxuries. Up until the end of this season money is a valid excuse for not being able to compete with clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United who have both won major trophies in the oil era and moving forward we can still complain about the financial clout of City and Chelsea but we will no longer be able to say it’s impossible to compete because we’ll be on almost even footing with Liverpool and United who have proven it can be done. Not done cheaply but done nonetheless.

Myth 2: We don’t spend any money

This is the biggest piece of bull I’ve ever heard. The club’s accounts are there for all to see and many media sources regularly break down the numbers for all clubs.

Just to make this perfectly clear for anyone who is in doubt, the TPA (Transfer Proceeds Account) is EMPTY. What that means is that we have spent all of the 70% we are required to put back into transfers and wages from our player sales. The other 30% the club can do what they wish with it however the figures show that Arsenal have actually ploughed that 30% back into player wages and transfers and then some more. Arsenal have spent more than they have brought in over the past 7 years. So far this summer we have spent close to £20m on transfers.

Not lost, just only seen for the right reasons

Over the past 7 years we have sold players and brought in around £191m and were required to put £134m of that into the TPA. Over the same period we spent £152m which is £18m more than what was in the TPA and then we add the £20m from Giroud and Podolski as well as the reported fee for Cazorla which I’ll be stingy on and call £15m. That brings our transfer spend to £187m which is £4m less than we brought in. This is not taking into account the backdated pay we gave to Cesc of £5m or the signing on fees paid to new signings or the wages they have demanded or the improved terms we’ve offered to many players over this time including Saga, Wilshere, Vermaelen and more recently Koscielny. So in fact we have spent more money than we have brought in through player sales. To say that we do not spend any money is rubbish and to suggest that we do not spend enough is just credit card mentality because we spend as much as we can afford to. We haven’t been extremely frugal over the past few years as some would suggest and moving forward with improved commercial income we will probably be spending a lot more.

Myth 3: We don’t replace the players we sell

This is another falsehood. We do replace them. We may not replace them like for like but when a player leaves you have three choices; buy a direct replacement, (buy someone different and) change dimension of the team or buy/promote a young player who will become the eventual replacement.

In most cases Arsenal have done one of the latter two. When we sold Henry there was no player that could have been for Arsenal what he was, we might have had a replacement in Reyes who I believe Wenger bought to eventually replace Henry as the striker who drifts in from the wing and Reyes possibly had it in him to be Henry’s eventual replacement but he became wasted talent. Instead we decided to replace him with two players. Firstly with Eduardo for his goalscoring ability and secondly with Theo Walcott who we hoped and I believe still hope will be able to become Henry’s replacement up front. Theo will never be as good as Henry but he can still be a very good player for Arsenal.

With Adebayor we moved completely to a lone striker system (contrary to popular belief Adebayor mostly played up front with Eduardo the season before leaving) and RvP, Eduardo and Bendtner (who was joint second top scorer that season) shared responsibility as the lone striker. The following season we can argue that we lost no-one of note but gained Koscielny and Chamakh. Chamakh might have his critics but he started really well and sadly the league caught up with him and since then he has had such little game time he has been unable to make an impact as a second choice lone striker with his best performances coming in games where he has played as part of a two.

Then we lost Cesc and Nasri. Nasri we replaced with Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain and still had change not only in transfers but also in wages as those two players combined earned less last year than Nasri was demanding. I think 99% of Arsenal supporters agree that we sold at the right time and got a good price for him. Cesc we did not replace directly because we already had Ramsey who despite his detractors is one of our best prospects and could still be the player we all knew he could be before his leg break. Let us not forget that we’ve known for years that Cesc would eventually return to Barca and Ramsey’s performances before his leg break made that eventuality not seem so bad.

We also replaced Cesc by bringing in Arteta to fill Jack’s deep role having fully moved to the 4-2-3-1 formation the year before (having trialled it in a few games in 2009/10) and allowing Rosicky to move back into the centre having mainly been deployed wide in a 4-4-2 or on the left in the 4-2-3-1. Certainly we have not replaced a player directly but there are valid reasons why not. Henry had no peers and any new player would have meant a change in direction. Adebayor was, has been and always will be a temperamental player who will have a great season then drop off and when he left we weren’t losing a 30 goal striker we were selling a 16 goal (total) striker for £25m and giving another opportunity to a striker who scored 15 goals that year (Bendtner).

Can the club be blamed for losing RvP to injury in November in an international friendly? I don’t think so. Nasri was replaced with one very good player in Gervinho and one player who will be better than Nasri in The Ox. Cesc had and has very few peers and replacing him would have meant buying Xavi, Inieista or Silva. We had no chance of getting any of those players so we had to go for option 2 or 3.

Myth 4: We are never in for the best players

This is false because it infers that we have no interest in top players. It does not consider the circumstances when that player was available. For example, David Silva cost City £24m. At the time we had Nasri and Cesc (both in positions that Silva has since gone on to play for City), so why spend £24m to replace Nasri who at the time was a fan favourite and acclimatised to the league? Why buy a player for £24m in Cesc’s position when you have Cesc? Aguero cost £35m when we already had RvP and needed to strengthen other areas of the team.

The only player bought by one of our rivals over the past 8 years that I cannot justify us not being in for was Vincent Kompany. For his ability and price I cannot understand us not being in for him but then again his ability is retrospective as City signed potential, the exact same thing we are given grief for by a faction of our own supporters. Most other players that we’ve missed out on has been because of money. Mata’s signing on fee at Chelsea I believe was £7m. I cannot confirm if this is 100% true but it seems to be the most consistently quoted figure. To put that into perspective we spent less than £7m on Sagna, on Rosicky, on Ramsey or put another way we spent less on Toure, Song, RvP and Vieira combined.

Can we say that we were never in for Hazard or Kagawa? I think so. Kagawa seemed bolted on for United from the word go and we never seemed to display any interest at all. Hazard on the other hand we had been interested in for years but his mercenary attitude and price tag I believe put Wenger off. £30m for a Nasri-esque turncoat was probably £15m too much. Hazard also made it clear quite early on that his preference was to play in blue. Not the red of Manchester or the white of Madrid but the blue of Manchester or of Chelsea, the two biggest oil whores in all of the world. Arsenal signed one of the hottest strikers in Europe in Giroud for a pittance and signed one of the most consistent performers in probably the second hardest league after the EPL in Podolski for another pittance (in relative terms).

So in short, we spend our money extremely wisely in 95% of cases as @th14Renato & @TheSquidBoyLike have so concisely put.

Tweets

Myth 5: The defence is crap

This is a myth until proven otherwise. Yes we let in a lot of goals last season but we had 18 different starting back four combinations and where injuries and subs have taken place where the back four has changed with more than 30 minutes of the match remaining we have had 24 different combinations.

What is arguably our first choice back four played the first game together but then did not play together in the league until the 26th game! They also only played 10 games together so you can argue that we played with a second choice defence for 28 games. We only managed to play the same back four for more than three games on the trot twice! Once for 4 games and then once for 3 games and in the other 31 games we only managed to put the same back four out for two games in a row four times!

We used 14 different players in defence last season but with 7 of those players playing more that one position we’ve technically used 21 players in four positions! How any team can cope with that amount of change and upheaval and not concede a lot of goals I do not understand. The defence could well be crap but until they get a regular run of games together we cannot say and until that time it is just a myth.

Far too many changes to cope with – click to enlarge

The above table for me really says a lot about how well the club did to finish 3rd last season. Some have blamed it on Spurs’ collapse but I say that we still had to win our games. Spurs could have lost every game from Christmas and we could have still finished behind them. You can only win the games that you have in front of you and Spurs didn’t win theirs. We play the same teams as they do so why should their collapse mean our revival means less?

Just awesome

From 17th to 3rd with the defensive problems we had and the amount of new players we had to bed in and the fact that we lost two very good players very late in the summer and still managed to finish a point higher and with more goals is something that should be celebrated and considered a platform for future success rather than another reason to moan. With a fit defence or at the very least a group of defenders who now know each other a lot better we should be able to concede fewer goals and regardless of whether RvP stays or goes or if Cazorla signs or not we have a team for next season.

I think it is important to stress that we are finally becoming a team again because since the invincible season we have had a tendency to play through one player and as such have been a one man team in the sense that ten players play to the strengths of one rather that all pulling together for the same goal. First it was Henry, then Cesc and now Robin. Regardless if whether Robin goes or stays I think we’ve seen the end of it. I wrote a piece in March on team spirit and my good friend and fellow blogger Dave Seager, better known as Goonerdave66 wrote a piece at the back end of May which explains in greater detail the need to play as a team not as a collection of supporting acts.

We should be immensely proud of our club for remaining part of the premier league elite (despite not winning trophies) when there is so much money floating around and shouldn’t always look at Arsenal so negatively. I wrote a piece a while back on us fans and I still believe that the constant negativity on social media sites and in the ground plays a big part in the “failures” of the team. They are human too. Sure they get paid lots of money and have media training etc but none of that makes you any less of a person or any more able to deal with constant negativity. They say to smile when you are talking on the phone because the other person can sense it so why can other people not sense negativity?

The club is in good shape and everything is going pretty well except we don’t have any recent trophies to show for it but they will come. This club has gone through dry patches before and we’ll have more in the future but as long as there are fans to get behind the club and the team then we’ll always come bouncing back.

This team might not be as special as the invincibles but they are a talented group and I’m confident that this season will be a fruitful one and I don’t say that because I’m overly positive or because I feel the need to kid myself. I say this because I wholeheartedly believe it is true. They say you don’t know what love is until you’ve truly felt it and then you realise that everything you thought was love before wasn’t really love. That is what I feel with this season.

Thanks for reading! If you liked what you read please comment on this post, subscribe by email, share with friends and follow me on twitter (@thedanielcowan).

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About "" - 189 Posts

South London Gooner born and bred now living in Bristol. Trainer enthusiast and aspiring author.

148 Responses to “Arsenal’s Defence And Defending Arsenal”

  1. Ross Thomas says:

    Fantastic article well done. Arsenal needs more supporters like you!

  2. nick says:

    That’s one of the best and most inspiring pieces I’ve read in a while. COYG.

  3. Madge says:

    Well done, Daniel everyone should read this, too many
    AFC fans with their heads up their bums. They have no
    Sense of reality. Trophies are the be all and end all of
    Everything. This obsession with 7 years of no trophies
    Is also laughable, there are AFC fans, like myself who,
    Have waited 18 to see us win a trophy. It’s about time
    Some of us got real.

  4. Great read, this should be mandatory reading for our supporters to assist them in finding their footing in this media madness (and might I add AFC bashing) that encompasses football. Also thanks to goonerdave66 for tweeting out this link! I try to read blogs from level headed Gooners, and this, my friend, has been added to list.

  5. gunnermike 4ever says:

    The best article I’ve read for a long time. Everything you say is true and you obviously spent a long time researching.
    For 66 years I have been a staunch Arsenal supporter, and have experienced many highs and lows. This is all part of football. I have always stood up for the team and given my all at the matches. It is very easy to criticise, which seems to me to be too evident these days by so many so-called supporters.
    Get behind the team and we will all ultimately be rewarded with trophies.
    What Arsene has achieved since he arrived is really remarkable when you consider that he was originally up against a team where money seemed no object. Our trophies stopped when a certain Russian bought a London club two league titles and various other cups. Now we have another rich man who has entered the playground and bought himself a very expensive toy in Manchester.
    The day we get a sugar daddy and start buying trophies is the day I lose interest and give up my season ticket.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks Mike, that means a lot. I do put a lot of effort into researching and writing my posts so it’s really nice to have people read them and enjoy them.

  6. Ebonyn says:

    Thanks mate. This is the best blog I“ve read for a very long time. It‘s eye opening and I wish all those who have been misguided by those who spread faulse info would read this.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks mate. That means a lot and I’m really glad you enjoyed. I hope to see more of you on future posts.

  7. Webioso says:

    Well said sir,

    I am very proud to be a gooner. I couldn’t be anything else. I for one love the way the club is run and believe in their principals. Success can be achieved by such fine margins and we haventwon enough of those margins in recent years. However dispite the last 7 years we have been there or thereabouts. Incredible considering the massive problems we have, according to some fans. I always believe at the start of the season that we can be better, after all this is what Wenger preaches. I am excited about his season and have every right to be.

    Good blog sir

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks James, I’m really glad you enjoyed the post. I hope to see more of you on the blogs in the future.

  8. Lanz says:

    This is what I like. Every point you made, you supported very well. I wish people would do things this way. What a lovely piece! I will share it as much as I can. God bless you.

  9. Fall River Gooner says:

    Vey well done mate! Well thought out and presented. Even if one disagree with some points, I must give you props for putting forth your points succinctly and with research. Well done.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks mate. Would be nice to know what you didn’t agree with so I can get the counter argument

  10. gooner50 says:

    Excellent article & good perspective of the last few seasons. Lets look forward with confidence.

  11. Pazma says:

    Brilliant, my thoughts exactly, but more detailed. I get really p*ssed off reading some of the comments from so called Gooners nowadays. I will be sharing this! Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  12. Really enjoyed that article! I reckon this season will be better than last! don’t agree that Gervinho is a good player but I hope I am proved wrong!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks. Glad you enjoyed. Gerv is very frustrating but with a few tweaks he can be an effective player

  13. cupsui loves kozzer says:

    Well said Dan…
    I’ve been very blog quiet lately (and i never tweet) because i’m just getting over people needlessly berating the manager, players, team and board…and of course i am too getting over the modern footballer (RvP comes to mind immediately). Selfish greedy ego maniacs that believe they are entitled to supreme existence. BAH!
    But i still read and you write a great blog.

    I think the real key to keeping our defence tight lies with song and arteta staying fit. They were impeccable in the games they played together and if you look at goals scored with them both in and games without them both you’ll see some incredible figures.

    I also agree that not having Sagna Koz Tv5 Gibbsy combo added to that. So lets hope they stay fit too.

    2 points on how our team in shaping up…

    1) Much more depth than last season so we can hope for a little more rotation and hopefully less injuries (although we are the arsenal)

    2) Wenger seems to really be focussing on the temperament of the players he signs. Clearly there has been an attitude problem at arsenal. But most of the trouble has been moved on (nasri, gallas, adebayor, bendtner [almost], maybe even RvP). If we look at the type of player coming in over the last few season there is a big difference and i think it will help arsenal in the future…

    Arteta – pure pro
    Koz – Quiet type, performance on the pitch (love the man)
    Tv5 – Utter nutter and determined…i hope our captain this season
    The Ox – Def has his head on his shoulders despite his potential and media hype
    Gervinho – Again the quiet non outspoken type who seems to have a down to earth personality
    Jenko – Determined
    Giroud – Late bloomer like kozzer that kept out of the french problems. switched on!
    Podolski – youngest ever european to reach 100 caps…you cannot do that without the right attitude
    Yossi – True pro that gives his all for his current employers
    Chamakh – whilst he may not have the skills to be the success we want he is still coming out saying if giving the chance he will give his all

    I applaud wenger for this and we will see its benefits in the next few years with the building of team unity…the unsung hero in football (look at dortmund)

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks mate. I enjoyed reading that comment.

    • thepuff says:

      I almost agree with every word u put there, but I have to inform u that Yossi is not an Arsenal player, although I would love to see him in our red & white (and a bit of blue) next year…

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I don’t think he meant that Yossi is still our player but that he was signed (on loan) for his attitude.

    • Cupsui says:

      Yes Dan said it right…
      I think he was excellent for us last season but I really don’t think we need him this year…ESP as it seems cazorla is on his way…again he seems a switched on determined player. I think he will fit in well…

      P.s. is chelsea insane? They seriously have 1000 midfielders and all ego maniacs…can’t wait for the bitching and moaning to start when there isn’t enough game time to go around…and they are still trying for Moses…crazy!!

      Sneaky bid for Essen?

    • TH14 says:

      Great Article. Great comment. Only thing I would say is that Pod was known to have a fiery temperment, much like our Dutch friend. I think his lack of success at Bayern may have helped to humble him and give him better perspective though. Very excited for this season (will increase ten fold if we are to sign Cazorla)

  14. Alli Moses says:

    A well written article. A good researcher does what you did. Keep maintaining the momentum! Sky is not only the limit, but also the beginning.

  15. weedonald says:

    Formidable post Daniel………this post tore the AAA and anti-Wenger brigade another asshole…as if there weren’t already enough with that lot!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Lol, thanks mate. I remember doing a few pieces a while back that you accused of being AAA!

  16. [...] 18 different back line combinations along the way, as discussed by Daniel Cowan on his blog here http://northlondonisred.co.uk/arsenals-defence-and-defending-arsenal/#more-996 Only a Fool doesn’t take his own [...]

  17. Lloyd Gooner from Zimbabwe says:

    Some football dilettantes claim that our team is average to rubbish, that Wenger has blind loyalty to useless players whata whata. But is it not true that at the end of each “worst” season our rubbish players that Wenger overrates are invariably tapped up by some oil whore? And unfortunately becoz of the oil money pumped around, many of our naive players get their heads turned and leave our team. Despite that we have always unleashed a new gem after those players left. If those players had stayed wouldn’t we be having a title winning team now? If Ade, Hleb, Cesc, Nasri, Kolo, Cashley, Clichy were in the team now, wouldn’t we be having a shout (though I believe we have a better team now)? What those naive arsenal moaners don’t realize is that Wenger and Arsenal are envied by those oil managers for the admirable principles. We are going to come right soon and the oil teams are all going to crumble. Only Arsenal and German teams and to an extent Man U are going to be left standing because of their governing principles. Man C and Chelsea are passing fads and unfortunately even Real Madrid and Barca are going to go down too. Are we forgetting that these financial bubbles are the result “too big to fail” banks likes Lehmann Brothers, Freddie Mac, Fennie Mae etc are all gone today? Even Malaga is a case study of how reliance on bubbles can lead to danger. Very nice piece bro and I am happy we still have decent Arsenal supporters out there becoz it’s always disheartening when a small upheaval occurs at the team that moaners and groaners appear from the woodwork and stir the pot. Up the Gooners!!!

  18. MattR says:

    I read this with great interest and not a few raised eyebrows at some of the stats and was about to dive in until I read the comments.

    Let me begin by saying I am an Arsenal fan of more than 30 years. I have worked for the club in the past and while my current location doesn’t allow me to go as often as I used to I watch every televised game with a passion for Arsenal to do well.

    That said, I think some of your stats are a little misleading…

    Obviously no one forgets the Champions League Final. That was a momentous occasion and, to a certain extent, the raising of the bar in terms of expectations that Arsenal fans have of what we should be achieving.

    That was back in the 05/06 season so 7 seasons ago.

    True – we have been to 2 League Cup Finals. We lost one to Chelsea (I was there) when we got there entirely on the run of the Reserves team (I believe it was Henry’s first appearance in the competition that season!). The other we lost in a season when we’re going all out to win it and lost (with pretty much a full strength team), to a team that was ultimately relegated. Not good enough.

    Finishing 4 points off the top of the table. Again, that was more than 5 seasons ago and could just as easily be seen as a blip. We certainly weren’t challenging for the title on the final day of the season and in every other season before that and since (since we won our last trophy), we have been double digits behind the winner. Our best was 11 points but more often than not its been closer to 20 and as much as 24 behind the winner. That is not ‘challenging’.

    Our only other take-out from those years has been qualification for the Champions League.

    That should not be taken lightly. I love being able to watch us take on Europe’s elite. Particularly when the Spuds are in the Europa League! And particularly when I also had to wait 18 years to see Arsenal win the League again it should not be taken for granted that we should win titles.

    But circa 20 points behind the winners each season is most definitely not challenging.

    We don’t spend. You’re right. We do. Just badly. There is no excuse for the wage structure we have at Arsenal. No one else in European, nee world football, has ever thought it a wise approach. We have a wage bill not dissimilar to Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City but we cannot pay what they pay their superstar players because we insist on over-paying the dross. We are now struggling to move them on. Much like Man City are also struggling in some instances.

    There is no doubt that we have missed out on some players, while others have left because, rightly or wrongly, they want the money that the Rooneys and Tevezs are earning. We may not have been able to afford those anyway but we could have been a damn sight nearer! Hence it also means we are never in for the best players regardless of whether they were with us to begin with or not.

    Our defense is crap. You don’t win titles, or challenge for them when you are leaking 40+ goals a season. You can find excuses like the amount of different line-ups we had, or players playing out of position but it didn’t affect other teams as much as us – Man Utd dealt with a lot of back four injuries last season.

    • pattygooner says:

      yes man united did deal with a lot of injuries last season, and they didn’t win the league, so you kinda can blame it on those injuries

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks for the comment Matt, comprehensive as ever.

      That said, I think some of your stats are a little misleading…

      Obviously no one forgets the Champions League Final. That was a momentous occasion and, to a certain extent, the raising of the bar in terms of expectations that Arsenal fans have of what we should be achieving.

      That was back in the 05/06 season so 7 seasons ago.

      True – we have been to 2 League Cup Finals. We lost one to Chelsea (I was there) when we got there entirely on the run of the Reserves team (I believe it was Henry’s first appearance in the competition that season!). The other we lost in a season when we’re going all out to win it and lost (with pretty much a full strength team), to a team that was ultimately relegated. Not good enough.

      Finishing 4 points off the top of the table. Again, that was more than 5 seasons ago and could just as easily be seen as a blip. We certainly weren’t challenging for the title on the final day of the season and in every other season before that and since (since we won our last trophy), we have been double digits behind the winner. Our best was 11 points but more often than not its been closer to 20 and as much as 24 behind the winner. That is not ‘challenging’.

      Maybe you have misread the blog or I’ve not conveyed the message properly. Sure we have not won any trophies and sure we have on most occasions finished much further behind the league winners than we would have liked (not that we’d ever want to finish behind anyone) but the stats aren’t misleading at all. Reaching a final is challenging for a trophy, just because you didn’t win doesn’t mean you didn’t challenge. We reached three finals in three different years so in those years we challenged for a trophy, the outcome is irrelevant to the meaning of “challenging” (although entirely relevant to the happiness of the fans). Based on average league points Arsenal did “challenge” for the title when we finished 4 points behind because 4 points is the average number of points 2nd place finish behind 1st. To say that those in 2nd place did not challenge is just wrong in my opinion. It’s like saying Silver Medallists at the Olympics didn’t compete. Sure we have not competed every season or finished close enough to trophies to say we competed every season but to say that we have not competed for 7 years is wrong and that was the point of that myth buster.

      We don’t spend. You’re right. We do. Just badly. There is no excuse for the wage structure we have at Arsenal. No one else in European, nee world football, has ever thought it a wise approach. We have a wage bill not dissimilar to Man Utd, Chelsea and Man City but we cannot pay what they pay their superstar players because we insist on over-paying the dross. We are now struggling to move them on. Much like Man City are also struggling in some instances.

      That is just so wrong mate. We have a wage bill that is £30m less than United and vastly less than Chelsea and City. £30m is essentially 3 players earning what Rooney earns and £30m is a lot of money for the club to find when you also factor in the taxes the club has to pay on those wages too. New commercial deals will allow us to spend that extra £30m but also the club over the past 12 months have shown they are changing their philosophy on wages. We are seeing big earners like Almunia, Squillaci, Vela and Bendtner move on. Denilson is having all of his wages covered by Santos also. We have brought in players that will add to the team and be paid what they are worth. Times are changing and whilst we have spent wage money unwisely in the opinion of many fans over the past few years I wouldn’t agree that we spend all of our money badly at all. We in fact spend our money very wisely as the tweet graphic highlighted.

      There is no doubt that we have missed out on some players, while others have left because, rightly or wrongly, they want the money that the Rooneys and Tevezs are earning. We may not have been able to afford those anyway but we could have been a damn sight nearer! Hence it also means we are never in for the best players regardless of whether they were with us to begin with or not.

      Like I said, I think you need to look at the circumstances. If a player was available that we didn’t need then why buy them? We are not City or Chelsea who buy top class players just so other clubs can’t have them! Or if a player was available that we needed and showed an interest in why continue to show an interest if you are going to get into a bidding war with Chelsea or City? We know we’ll lose so why waste the time? The myth is that we are not interested. Not buying doesn’t mean not interested. I remember you talking about the latest MacBook and complaining about the cost. You have not bought it but I know you are interested in it.

      Our defense is crap. You don’t win titles, or challenge for them when you are leaking 40+ goals a season. You can find excuses like the amount of different line-ups we had, or players playing out of position but it didn’t affect other teams as much as us – Man Utd dealt with a lot of back four injuries last season.

      They are not crap. When our first choice team played together we gave some of our best defensive performances. Man U did have injuries last season but not to the extent that we had or for as long. No other team had to cope with the disruption we did. It’s very difficult to put a run of wins together when you are forced to change your team almost every week. I believe it is harsh to call them crap. If they play 20+ games together this season and we still concede a lot of goals then we can say they aren’t good enough.

    • MattR says:

      Ha! I’d quite like a Ferrari too. Or a slightly cheaper Audi. But I know that at best I’ll have to settle for a VW Golf GT on my salary! Desire is not the same as actual interest. When was the last time we knocked on the door of Utd, City, Barca or Real and tried to get one of their first 11? Yet it happens to us all the time!

      And apologies for the comparison of wage bills with Utd, City and Chelsea. Let me make a more realistic comparison to illustrate my point. Bayern Munich has a similar wage bill as us and boasts the likes of Ribery, Neuer, Robben, Gomez and Lahm who are all on ‘superstar’ salaries that we could not (or would not), match.

      And in terms of the defense, we continually conceded goals last season due to poor positioning, either when one of the defenders had roamed upfield and left his team mates exposed on the counter, or when our back four weren’t sufficiently protected by the likes of Song because he felt the need to also take on the role of CAM.

      Although I haven’t seen any of the pre-season games it sounds like most of the goals we’ve conceded in those games have been in similar circumstances. With luck Bould will help to sort that out, but with no more games currently scheduled before the start of the season he won’t know if they’ve learnt anything until some clangers have been made in important games.

      I hope I’m wrong on all fronts moving forward.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Desire is not the same as actual interest. When was the last time we knocked on the door of Utd, City, Barca or Real and tried to get one of their first 11? Yet it happens to us all the time!

      Now you’re being facetious ;-) The MacBook is something that you want and something that you believe will improve your life (for work or whatever) so therefore you have an interest in acquiring it. A Ferrari isn’t going to make your life better so therefore it is an item of desire not an item of requirement. If you can’t get a Ferrari you go for a cheaper car because it gets you where you need to go but when you actually compare the Ferrari to your Golf you see that the Golf suits your needs better anyway so therefore you ultimately have no interest in owning a Ferrari because if you did it would not be practical for shopping, taking the kids to school or going to the cinema (would you park a Ferrari in an NCP?). The MacBook will improve your work life but instead you have to settle for something cheaper that might need additional software or tweaking to at least be considered a worthy second choice. That is Arsenal with footballers. We want the best players but sometimes have to settle for something less. The equivalent of us buying a Ferrari would be buying Messi but never playing him. Just buying him so we can say that we own him.

      With regards to your comments about buying players from other teams…. well, United haven’t bought a top class player from us for years, Barca signed Henry maybe a year earlier than we would have like at the most and Cesc. All the others we’ve sold to them…. do you really care? Do you care about Hleb? The same with Real. When did Real last buy one of our top players? City have only really bought one player from us I think Wenger wanted to keep and that was Nasri. All of this “we never buy from top teams but they always buy from us” is more myth. It’s really easy to think that way and believe me I was with you for a long time on that but when I take a step back and remove the emotion of not winning anything for years and look at it objectively I only really see two players going out of the door that we didn’t want to lose in Nasri and Cesc but even then we still finished higher up the table than we did with them!

      And apologies for the comparison of wage bills with Utd, City and Chelsea. Let me make a more realistic comparison to illustrate my point. Bayern Munich has a similar wage bill as us and boasts the likes of Ribery, Neuer, Robben, Gomez and Lahm who are all on ‘superstar’ salaries that we could not (or would not), match.

      Even then I think it’s not a fair comparison. Munich spend €20m more than us on wages and they have a better tax system than us and they earn £70m a year more than we do. Robben & Schweinsteiger both earn €5.5m a year which is less than the €6m we paid Cesc and what we are reportedly paying Podolski. We pay Arteta €5m a season! Ribery is on €8m a year which is roughly what we offered RVP. So it’s not that we can’t or won’t pay those wages, we certainly have the ability to. The issue, as I have touched on many times, is the dispersion of wages. Far too many “fringe” players were earning too much but we have addressed that. We saved €11m a season when we sold Cesc & Nasri and with the sales of Bendtner, Vela, Park and Squillaci that Wenger has made already or has said will happen will save us a further €14m a season which even after paying Giroud and Podolski (Cazorla if he joins) and even retaining RVP and giving him a new contract would still leave us with around €5m a season which isn’t far off what many top players earn overseas. We could of course need to add about $2m more to that to afford a Robben because of tax but not for long as UK tax will be on par with Germany from 2013. But then again we also need to consider how Arsenal could have afforded the €50m transfer fees for Robben and Ribery combined plus the extra €10m in signing on fees and €2-4m a season in bonuses before we consider the €13.5m a year in wages they cost. Things are changing at Arsenal with regards to wages and when the accounts come out next year I think we’ll all be pleasantly surprised at the quality of our team and their wages compared to the previous 6 years.

      And in terms of the defense, we continually conceded goals last season due to poor positioning, either when one of the defenders had roamed upfield and left his team mates exposed on the counter, or when our back four weren’t sufficiently protected by the likes of Song because he felt the need to also take on the role of CAM.

      Yes the defence conceded a lot and made a lot of positional mistakes but I feel we can be generous with our forgiveness as the team was highly unsettled and it takes time to get an understanding. Sure they work together on the training field but it would be impossible to train all of the combinations we had to play last year. The players would never get any sleep!

      The defence has been unsettled for years either because of bad relationships, attitude problems, adapting to the league or severe injury crisis. No other team has had that level of disturbance and yes we can blame ourselves for many of those problems we also have to consider that it takes time to sort these things out. Until we have a settled back four that can actually string half a season together I think it is very harsh to call them crap (as per my myth).

      Although I haven’t seen any of the pre-season games it sounds like most of the goals we’ve conceded in those games have been in similar circumstances.

      My original post on the defence (before I changed it to the myths) had quite a bit on pre-season. Simply put, it’s preseason, half of our first team weren’t even out there, they players were jetlagged and had hardly any time to train but most of all, again, it was preseason!!!! We cannot judge a team on preseason. Chelsea once won the league after an abysmal preseason. Arsenal had a really crappy start to preseason before going on to win the league undefeated. Preseason is mostly about fitness and to be fair it’s good that these mistakes happened in preseason because those games don’t matter and the players can work on the training pitch to avoid the same thing happening in matches that count.

      I hope I’m wrong on all fronts moving forward.

      So do I :-)

    • Aussie Gunner says:

      “Why buy a player for £24m in Cesc’s position when you have Cesc?”

      Cesc WAS leaving it was enevitable, we held on for as long as we could but short of a miracle we always knew he was going back to his childhood team Barca…That being said always knowing he was going we let an almost perfect player to fill his shoes in Van Dar Varrt join the spuds for an absolute steal (in the region of £7m). From memory earlier in the same transfer window we sold Cesc in, I may be incorrect there but I know it was close.

      At this price I have no idea why he was not bought on, could you imagine the offensive chemistry between RVP and VDV…

      I understand everyone misses opportunities but this one was a doozy.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Van Der Vaart was a player we could have had but to compare him to Cesc is an insult to Cesc. They are nothing alike. VDV would have been played on the wing, most likely in Arshavin’s spot, because that is what Wenger tends to do with playmakers of that ilk. Rosicky, Hleb, Nasri, Arshavin and even Ljungberg were all played on the wing by Wenger when they all had played almost the entirety of their pre-Arsenal careers as central playmakers. VDV is in the same bracket as those players and that’s probably why Wenger didn’t buy him.

      Cesc leaving was inevitable but Wenger planned for that by buying Ramsey, who if people got off his back and allowed him to grow back into the player he was becoming before his leg break (which was Cesc’s long term successor and whose form led us to believe that life after Cesc wouldn’t be so bad) will show that we did not need to pay £24-35m for a replacement. Whilst Cesc was there we did not need to replace him. After he had gone we could have replaced him but the players who could step into his shoes seamlessly would have been impossible to buy. At any rate we had Ramsey back from injury and hopefully ready to step up. That unfortunately did not happen but I believe that with fan support he will improve. He has the ability, all he needs now is the stamina, composure and confidence.

  19. MattR says:

    As did Man City. The difference was strength in depth. Why was Squillaci still playing last season. Why did Djourou have such a stinker?

    All that said I am looking forward to the new season with renewed hope. If we can pull out Cazorla and Sahin then we will be starting this season in a much stronger position than we did last year. And given that City have yet to make any real additions and United have only added a teenager and Kagawa there is an argent to say we could close the 20 points from last year. Particularly if no one stumps up for RvP!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Squillaci didn’t play that much at all, not enough to warrant a place on the graphic I put on at any rate he is off now. Djourou wasn’t that bad, he had a couple of really bad games but overall he actually played in some solid games and were it not for injuries he would never have played in the first place. It’s all good and well talking about strength in depth but I’ve covered this many times in many other posts and I think deep down you realise that it’s not easy to build squad depth with the issues we’ve had.

      I think you are right to be positive about this season. It’s going to be a good one and if the fans truly believe then the team will too and if you’re positive then even the most disillusioned fan will find it hard to be negative! ;)

    • Griggles says:

      Other thing – Djourou was often played out of position at RB…I reckon he’s a decent Cb, particularly as our 4th choice.

  20. Great article. Great read. I00% agree with what you said. We need to get behind our club at all times.

  21. shuvam indian gunner...alwayz says:

    Very true.Critics can’t realize dat football is an eleven man army not a one man.Wenger has been master in market and i know he’s going to have the last laugh.Transition goes in evry team.Chelsea spend soo much bt still we defeat them 5-3!!This is it.

  22. Matty Chibs says:

    Top article. The sooner we get more Arsenal supporters like you the better for the club.

    Keep the faith, I am!!

  23. Hillary says:

    Our problem has been bulding our play on one player.We normally have to build again when that player leaves.Our season was revolving around RVP thats why he flourished.We should give players equal responsibility so that we are no held to ransom by want away players.Look at Man U they rely on the team.

  24. abayomi says:

    good analysis but every team has injury crisis, that shouldnt be an excuse.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Not every team has the severity of crisis we had nor for as long.

    • Griggles says:

      Seems to keep happening to us though… I often use it as an excuse myself but the bad luck is so consistent I’m starting to worry it isn’t luck…

  25. Brilliant article, It can be testing to support a club that carries the torch of credibility through a world of instant gratification and repugnant over spending. Reading articles like this is reassuring. Thank You

  26. Danny says:

    Absolutely fantastic article, the best I have read in a long time. Unfortunately in this day and age of instant access, and therefore instant gratification on all things in life, people want the good times, and they want it now !!!! Oh, and if they don’t get it, then damn it, they’ll complain !!!!
    I bet most of these detractors weren’t in love with the club in the early eighties when being a gooner was extremely hard, but love got us through. Or Pre-Wenger/Bergkamp when life wasn’t exactly rosey (yes the Graham era brought success), but after winning the league in 91 (I still don’t think we get enough praise for the btw-2nd top scorers, meanest defence, and only 1 league defeat), things got a little stale (and yes, despite winning the FA & League Cup, anyone who was at the reply can’t tell me they enjoyed the game?). Added to that, we’ve gone from having a stadium that held 38,000 supporters, of which I would guess a good 25,000 went week in, week out, with the best team the Premier League has seen, to a nice new stadium, with 60,000 supporters, some of whom are “new” supporters, who grew up on recent good times, not the hardships of old, and can now go and watch matches, and they want their piece of success. As a lad growing up, my dad always went on about the 71 double team, and his dad always went on about the team of the 30′s. What I’m saying is, despite the unprecedented success of Man Utd recently, not many teams dominate for 30 years. Football goes in Cycles, and we are on the way back to the top again. Our club was built on team work, not individuality, we will be winners again, and like your piece, I believe it will be very soon!!!!!

  27. deformis says:

    Thank you for this fantastic blog post! I love it when someone gets behind the numbers and tells how things really are. Even if we don’t win any trophies in the coming season, we can surely say that our team has what it takes to win.

  28. Nir says:

    Hi Daniel, I have been supporting arsenal from only 2006. So when I see comments above from other fans, I consider myself as the one with very little knowledge. Eversince I am a gunner, we have won nothing but my love towards the club is increasing in increasing order. Of course I am disappointed often, but am always positive and optimistic about arsenal.
    All the the Myths you have mentioned above, I truly agree with your opinion. Really enjoyed your article. The best bit for me is the fact about mata’s signing in fees for chelsea, which is less than what we actually paid to buy Toure, Song, RvP and Vieira combined….love such stats:-)

  29. Brook Dyson says:

    This is very much a Braveheart speech to the fans. I was one of said moaners but you quite rightly put me back on the straight and narrow with your comments about the millions of different defensive combinations we had to use last season.

    Arsenal fans READ THIS and GET BEHIND THE TEAM! COYG

  30. walter mukuru says:

    Are you saying finishing 20 points of the top is challenging?Really?? We all know WEnger’s target is only finishing number 4. We challenge for number 4 only and nothing else. ARe you saying our defence is not crap?? The arsenal defence and goalkeeper are so shambolic it drives me to drink when every i watch our games. Vidic, Rio, Evans at MANU were injured at one point but we never heard complains.
    For all he has done, Wenger lost the plot a long time ago and the barren spell will continue as long as he stays.He is not made to account for poor results like most managers in the leage. He has a free reign but always finds excuses when the team fails. Its either lack of experience or injuries…..but a team cant be youg forever, after all its a choice to have young players. Injuries should never be an excuse , because its a squad game. Chelsea and MAnu both had injury problems but they soldiered on.

    And of COZ we are never in for the best players…..most of them know they will have no chance of winning anything with us. WHy should they join us when we cannot pay them higher wages and they have no chance of winning. The mentality of finishing number 4 and seeing it as a great achievement should be done away with.

    The greatest myth that is being perpetuated by supportedo f teh current status quo is that Arsenal will compete once Platini rules comes into effect. That is never going to happen coz most teams will find ways around the rules. An unfortunatley when Wenger and the borad realise this, it will be too late

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      No I’m not saying that. Maybe you have misread the message. I dispute the myth that we haven’t competed for 7 years. We have very nearly won trophies in 4 of those 7 years so to say that we have not competed at all is just made up rubbish by people trying to serve a negative agenda.

      You cannot compare the Utd defensive issues to ours because no team had the level of injuries we had nor for as long. United did not go 24 games on the trot without their best back four. United did not struggle to put the same back four out for more than 2 games on the trot. United did not use 18 different back four combinations. To ignore these facts and declare that Arsenal would still be defensively weak with a full strength defence for a prolonged period is just very naïve.

      I mentioned in a response earlier that being in for a player and missing out is a different thing. We might miss out on a lot of big players but to suggest that we are not interested in them at all (which means “being in for them”) is extraordinarily naïve.

  31. SAYDEE JAHAM BLAYEE says:

    Great article but I’m still worry about players coming in and going out. Take for example song, we need another definsive player because I don’t see anyone to replace song if he gets injuried.And if RVP leaves, we will have to re-invest the money in another striker because you can’t carry on with only two strikers for the whole season; taking into account if charmark, park and bendtner leave. So what I’m saying in short, we need a strength in depth team. It doesn’t have to be a 45 million dollar player or a 30 million dollar player but a player that will be up to the task if called upon, in case of injuries.That has been our problem for some time now and there’s need we put a stop to such problem. finally, I hope we sign these two players…Cazorla and Sahim. I will love to see M’villa too. THANKS!!!! ARSENAL 4 LIFE TILL I DIE!!!!!!

  32. Garden City Gooner. says:

    It was an interesting read. Whether we win a trophy or not I believe we will provide a competitive force. I have already accepted RVP won’t be there and look forward to seeing the new strikers. I will continue to attend games and support the club I love.
    It’s not all about winning. Going to a Saturday afternoon game gives me something to look forward to from the start of the week. I make a day of it. We have the best supporters pub in The Gunners and the best supporters group in The Arsenal Away Boyz. Mix that with wall to wall Gooners, a couple of pints, a loud sing- along and dance before a 3pm kick off = bliss.
    Then I stroll to our new stadium past the memories of our old stadium, mingle with the masses, take in all the sights and smells building to the excitement of the main course of the game itself. Even the click of the turnstyles and the first sight of that resplendent green pitch still gives me a buzz.
    If only we can bottle or transfer the noise and pre match support that I frequently witness in Arsenal pubs before games, the fans could be the twelfth man and maybe motivate players to improve their performance. The very least Arsenal supporters should do is stop behaving like sheep and leaving early before a game has ended especially when the result has not been determined.
    I want all true Gooners to repeat the following statement and spread the word: EVERY MATCH THAT I ATTEND, I VOW TO STAY UNTIL THE END. WIN LOSE OR DRAW, I NEED TO KNOW THE FINAL SCORE.

  33. thespotkick says:

    Wonderful read! While I disagree that all the transfer business has been fantastic in the long-term (ie. Chamakh and Arshavin), there’s a lot that goes under-appreciated or misunderstood about the management and direction of Arsenal.
    Regardless of the the ’7-years since a trophy’ whining you see every day from opposing fans, or even the club’s own supporters, the fact remains that Arsenal is a team I am always proud to get behind, and hey, we’re the only club to never have been relegated once promoted to the top League. Therefore, the best club in England ;)

  34. thepuff says:

    First of all, great article, one of the best!

    Second of all, I’ve never posted a comment after reading an article, but this time I felt I have no choice and that I have to put some words of gratitude, so

    GREAT ARTICLE!!!

  35. Euan says:

    That was a great blog, I didn’t like the swearing, but I thought it was such a positive article and also true that it really showed all those up who were slating us, and I’m looking forward to next season avidly now, just hope a few more come in, Cazorla and Sahin maybe, possibly M’vila and also M’baye Niang, funded by a few exits too, hopefully not RvP. Remember RvP hasn’t said he is going to leave, just that he wont sign a new contract at the moment. Maybe he’s seeing whether we are challenging by January, and then will stay or leave.

  36. sean splane says:

    Tut tut…an obvious pro-Board bit of propaganda.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Don’t know how you got that from that post. You’re obviously a first time reader of this blog otherwise you’d know that I have no real love for the board. I don’t hate them and do applaud them for wanting to repel the forces of evil oil money but I also think they could be doing a hell of a lot more to help the management and I think the amount of money the commercial team get paid for the deals they have provided us is sickening.

      Like most Gooners I am an “in the middle” man. I do not hate Wenger but nor do I think he is infallible. I don’t think the club is perfect nor do I think we are in crisis. I don’t think the board are entirely the wrong people to run the club nor do I think they are entirely right. I am in the middle as I can dip in and out of either camp based on individual circumstances.

  37. Rodney says:

    Beautiful piece! Cheers

  38. excellent article mate. Every AFC fan should read this!!

  39. Steven Wells says:

    Walter Mukuru: “We all know Wenger’s target is only finishing number 4. We challenge for number 4 only and nothing else”

    Can we lay to rest this ridiculous idea that our club (or indeed any club) sets out at the start of a season with the aim of reaching a particular level? A moment’s thought shows this to be absurd! Every club sets out hoping to win all their games and seeing where that takes them. As far as the constant whinging about us not having won anything for years, well boo hoo. 95% of football clubs know that they are unlikely ever to win very much but do they therefore shut up shop? Do they heck – they come back every year and try again.

    I’ve been supporting AFC since I was ten – that’s 1970 – and since then there have been good years and bad years. That’s the nature of the game – that’s why football is so addictive, because it’s never pre ordained how it will play out. We do not have a divine right to win anything – there are all those other teams out there trying to beat us, remember!

    Great blog, Daniel – I hadn’t been here before, noticed it flagged up on Arsenal. com – but have added this to my favourites. Keep up the good work. Bring on the new season!

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks Steven, I hope to see more of you on the comments board in the future and please do have a read of some of my older stuff (I really think my best work has been April onwards) if you have the time.

    • walter mukurru says:

      @ Steven wells……. we all know the target is finishing in the champions league positions…. and make a bit of cash in the UCL because we always get knocked out once it gets serious.We all know the current team is not good enough to challenge for any trophy —-maybe the carling cup.Its has been the story of the past seasons. All we need is the club to show more ambition ….the game has changed and will never go back to what it was in the 70s or the 80s. Every player who has left the club in recent times has cited the lack of ambition and unless there is change in philosophy , we will continue to lose players and be ridiculed as a feeder club for the likes of Barca and Man City. That even players like Theo Walcott who is average at best is playing hardball on a new contract tells a lot about how we have fallen as a club.
      As for the defence, i dont think there is any case for defence. even with everyone in there, our defence is still shaky. We can only hope and pray that Steve Bould can teach them a thing or two and they can improve.

    • cupsui loves kozzer says:

      yawn…we all know this we all know that…
      did you even read the article? it seems that Dan for one believes we can win a trophy or at the very least challenge hard for a trophy, i’ll throw my hat in the ring and say we can this season and i might even make a huge assumption and say steve wells is with us too…

  40. Morgan says:

    Daniel, great piece. The graphic on defenders is fantastic. With your permission I would like to use it for a blog post I’ll be writing for Premier Punditry. Would that be ok with you, of course I would credit you as it is part of the image.
    @MorganArseCan

  41. sam says:

    Great article. The only element I disagree with is “Myth 5: The defence is crap”, I am not going to argue that the first choice back four is crap, personally I think Laurent Koscielny’s new contract is possible the best bit of business completed so far this season. However I would argue that defensive failure has been the number 1 factor in the lack of trophies over the last 7 years. We simply havent had the back-up personel to coup with injuries. The problem has been going on for so long it beggars belief.

    You rightly highlight the injury statistics of last season, but I feel you draw the wrong conclusions. What they really highlight is a lack of back-up in key positions i.e Djourou; the only back-up defender with premiership experience in the whole team and a player prone to silly errors of judgment. Then we have Santos (unproven in EPL, first season with Arsenal) Mertasacker (unproven in EPL, first season with Arsenal), Jenkinson (unproven in EPL, first season with Arsenal, very young) and Miguel (unproven in EPL, very young). We also have Gibbs as a first team player, young, very talented but yet again unproven and inexperienced. We then, through more injuries found ourselves playing Coquelin at LB and RB, again he is young, inexperienced and this time out of position.

    I am not one of the fans calling for big fancy signings like Hazard (nice as they would be) the only thing I have wanted Wenger to do for the last seven years to start a campaign with at least 3 excellent CB’s. Again this season it looks like we will be going into a campaign with two good CB and one proven RB.

    Try and name the last season Arsenal went into a premiership campaign with three top CB? For example the last time we won the league with the invincibles Toure played 36 games and Campbell played 35. Their back ups were Cygan and Keown who played 13 games between them.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      And would you say that was top backup? Cygan was never considered very good quality and Keown was nearing the end of his career.

      You have your stats a bit wrong because both Cygan and Keown won league medals that year and you need to play 10 games to get a medal.

      Strength in depth is an issue but to be fair to the club once again it is very hard to imagine a situation where you need to play all of your back up players for a prolonged period of time. Also we would struggle to keep a top quality second choice back 4 happy like City and Chelsea (of the past) have done because we couldn’t afford to pay the wages they paid. For example Wayne Bridge earned more on loan for City than RVP did for us as our best player.

      United’s back up is quite young and they would be seriously exposed if they were subject to the severity of injury crisis we were. Our back up is okay and will be even better next season now they’ve had so many games and are used to the league.

    • BrummieGooner says:

      Didn’t Keown get his league mrdal by playing 2 minutes of the last match on the right wing?

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      He did :) Still counts though ;)

    • sam says:

      United have been suffered serve CB injuries for the last two seasons! My point regarding the invisibles is that remarkably both CB were fit for pretty much the whole season, which is frankly a major stroke of luck! But even in that season, we had no decent long-term, back-up CB’s. Also according to Wikipedia Keown made 3 premiership starts and 5 substitute appearances. Cygan made 10 starts and 8 substitute appearances. If that is wrong then thats wikipedia’s fault.

      I honestly can’t see how you can clase the defensive woes that have dogged the team for at the very least the last 4 seasons as a myth! It is Wenger’s most consistant failing. We have had some of the most exciting, attacking, and creative players at the club over the last 7 years but there brilliance is continuously undermined by shoddy defending and (until Wojciech’s emergence) dodgy goal keeping.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      United have suffered injuries but no team has put out as many combinations as we have. I did research this quite thoroughly and no other team has dealt the severity of change and upheaval as we have. Even if you take out the combinations from consideration you still have the fact that we struggled to put out the same back four for a reasonable run of games. No other team has had to contend with that.

      Without wishing to sound pretentious I wouldn’t trust wikipedia for statistics; it’s open source so anyone can add to it. Keown won a league medal that season with his 10th appearance coming on the last day of the season. There is a famous clip of him joke strangling Wenger who pranked him by telling another player to warm up when he had already used 2 subs which would have meant Martin would not have made his 10th appearance.

      We haven’t had the same defence for the past 4 years. This group has only been together for 1 year so to label them as crap I think is harsh. It is a myth to say they are crap because it has not been proven yet. When the first choice guys were together and even the first choice plus Santos and Mertesacker we defending very well in almost all of those games. Our worst performances came when we were severely hampered. If you look at the games the other big teams lost significantly, ie Utd 6-1 to City and Spurs and Chelsea 5-2 and 5-3 respectively to us you’ll see that the losing teams had pretty much their first choice defence which proves that all teams have an off day. Our first choice had just as many off days as the other big teams did but that doesn’t make the defence crap.

      With regards to Szczesny it’s worth noting that statistically he has been weaker than Almunia!!! The thing which sets Wojciech apart from all of our keepers since Lehmann is his confidence. If he makes a mistake he is unlikely to make one again in the same game. With Almunia and Lukas you just knew they’d fluff it again in the same game if they made a mistake because they were shaken. Also, 49 goals conceded plus the 16 odd from the 41 from the year before says that he still concedes a lot of goals. I would put that down to a lack of consistency in front of him.

      If the defence is crap this year but they all stay fit for a reasonable amount of time then we can say that the defence is crap. Until then it’s “an unproved or false collective belief” which is what a myth is.

  42. Innocent says:

    Objective objective!! Loved this article!

  43. Sunny Udeh says:

    Hi Dan,
    My heart swelled as I read through this piece. I am a Gooner through and through and and agree with you on what I chose to call the “informed” optimism that our club will get it right this season on the trophy front.
    Calabar, Nigeria is the red of Arsenal. C’mon Gooners. Let’s do it.

  44. The_Undefeated _Statement_Is_Losing_Its_Sting says:

    Though our squad will be more complete than last year, I fear that the improvement will not be enough. Chelsea, United, and City all have more complete squads than us. More depth as well as stronger more experienced starters. I fear our identity will begin to fade into fighting for 2nd and 3rd place. Injury and loss of players has been our excuse for 7 years now. We need players who are feared on the pitch! We replace Henry with Adebayor; Viera with Song; Fabregas with Arteta; Nasri with Rosicky; Van persie with Giroud. Though these replacements are quality, they are not equal to preceding talent. If RVP leaves who will strike fear in opponents? A wounded young Wilshire? Maybe Gervinho? We have no one to count on AGAIN! CAPTAINS KEEP LEAVING US!!! 4 captains. If we had valued our captain’s opinions more we could be possibly be fielding Cesc, Nasri, Rvp, Wilshire, Song, Gervinho, and Ox along with the players they requested by now. {Shaking my head in fustration} Furthermore, Arteta, Walcott, and Koscielny can be great subs, but we shall not win as long as we have them starting. And lastly, when the future worlds best player (Neymar) has not yet been landed by a big club, we simply must put a bid in. No matter who we have in their position. A Championship team begins with the competition within a team, ask Ferg. ….and for Christ sake move Song foward more, hes an assist machine not a tackler.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Manchester United have not strengthened as much as we have and City have not strengthened at all yet. The window is over and we can still buy players.

      Song has never been and never will be an attacking midfielder. The majority of his assists came from a deep position. He could well be a deep-lying playmaker but he’ll never be a CAM. It’s unfair to call most of those players unequal to preceding talent as you are comparing relatively young players with your memories of other players at their peak. It’s almost impossible to directly replace a player as no two players are the same. In Giroud we have a very good replacement for RVP and let us not forget that RVP has only had one stand out season and that was as a result of being the main man. Playing through one player is what has held us back. I’d rather a team of very good players played together as a team a la Dortmund or Montpellier than a team of world-class stars all trying to outshine each other.

    • sam says:

      RVP’s “one good season” was not the result of “being the main man”. It was because he was fit. I really don’t go along with the current rhetoric being thrown around by a lot of Arsenal fans, that ‘RVP was a one season wonder” He clearly demonstrated last season that he is with out equal in the Premiership. Some fans seem to be in-denial of that fact.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I’ve never said he was a one-season wonder but I do believe that being the main man really set him up. In Cesc’s last half a season he was very good too but Cesc was also injured for a lot of that so he was the main man then. RVP is a quality player and I’ve said it on many occasions that he is our only world-class player but the fact remains is that he’s only had one good season in 8 because he’s only been fit for pretty much a whole season twice. I consider playing a season as being fit for 75% of the games (I put this on one of my older blogs) and Robin hasn’t been. Will he have a whole team playing for and through him elsewhere? Probably not. Will that make him less effective? Probably yes. By how much I cannot say but unless he is the main man he won’t have as many opportunities. Some people are in denial of the fact that Robin didn’t play all on his own and the largest percentage of his goals came through other people’s hard work and assists.

    • The_Undefeated _Statement_Is_Losing_Its_Sting says:

      Youth, injury, and inexperience can no longer be an excuse.
      My main concern is our depth. I’m all about having a team over playing through one man, but in order for that to work the team needs to have more feared starters. United for examples starts (Rooney, Scholes, Evra, Vidic, Ferdinand, Nani, A.Young). We dont have 7 starters that better or equal to that quality. Van persie maybe better than Rooney, but other than that we lose each positional battle. Last years United also has many subs that would definitely start for us (Valencia, Berbatov, Smalling, Hernandez). As much as I hate United, their team has players who are consistent and composed and stay healthy for the most part. (Walcott is no Nani, Rosicky is no Scholes, Gibbs is no Evra, Vermaelen is no Vidic, Mertesacker no Ferdinand, Gervinho maybe beats Young, Song beats Fletcher,Sagna beats Rafael. With Welbeck and Arteta’s impacts canceling out that leaves gives us a 4/9 individual comparison ratio with field players. Though the game is not based positional comparison, we will clearly do better with a better ratio. Youth, injury, and inexperience can no longer be an excuse.We lost by nearly 20 damn points last season, that is disgusting. I feel we are doing what we need to close that gap this offseason, but I haven’t seen enough to both close it and overcome it.

    • The_Undefeated _Statement_Is_Losing_Its_Sting says:

      Btw your article is really good and very valid points made. I appreciate you taking the time to address the topics.

  45. Sensational Arsenal says:

    Excellent article. It is sad and funny that we have to fight for sensibility against an overwhelming tide of “spend baby spend” culture. Some fans want Arsenal to be the beneficiary of some dodgy rich billionaire just so we can go toe to toe with City and Chelsea spending wise. The media lazily picks up on us not going into administration by spending and saying that that is the reason we are not winning any trophies. Just because we are being sensible doesnt mean we are not ambitious. Arsenal are being hugely ambitious for now and the future. If most of the fans who are constantly moaning sit and think for 5 mins, they would shut up and understand.

    Anyway, I want to say again that you wrote a very good piece. Thank you for fighting the good fight. I hope your piece gets widely read.

  46. don says:

    Fan-f******-tastic article. I am ashamed of myself when I let the team down with negative thoughts. You are spot on with every myth, and I´m looking forward to enjoying another trophiy that is won and not bought!! Get behind the team everyone. Gunners for LIFE!!!

  47. Alex says:

    Really enjoyed your article. I try to stay level headed but sometimes doubt & frustration creeps in but I’m so glad there are people like you that blog to help me think a lot more straight. So thanks for that!

    Regarding the defence I’m hoping we have a bit of luck there are don’t have any injuries. Hopefully Bouldy will be able to form a solid defence with the players he has currently. I believe we could shed off about have the goals conceded last season. Also, in case there are injuries to key players in the defence I hope this coming season we’ll be able to have adequate back-ups and the change won’t affect the whole defence too much. I think the back-up(s) should be able to play with the other 1st choices as it’s necessary to be able to work it out if we are to challenge for any trophy.

  48. BrummieGooner says:

    Dan,

    Very heartening piece of writing which echo my sentiments entirely. What is equally heartening is the amount of support in this comments section.
    Having been a supporter since 1950, I have also witnessed relatively hard times for The Gunners but I also remember Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City spending time in Division 2 (as it was). Thankfully, football success is cyclical and the current travails of Rangers, Leeds and Portsmouth should be a warning to all the “spend, spend, spend merchants” to be careful what you wish for.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      It is very heartening indeed to see so many positive comments. I honestly expected to be deluged with negativity and the same tired myths but I’m really pleased to have been wrong and to have such a high percentage of readers sharing the positive mindset.

  49. TH14 says:

    Dan,
    I am an American Gooner that has only supported the club since Henry started playing (my first love. and yes, I am a man) SO, I know that in many fans eyes, I automatically lose all credibility. However I am going to push on with my comment and let the chips fall where they may.

    I love Arsenal. I watched every single league and CL game last season. I buy extra channels with the sole purpose of watching the Arsenal. Wenger is a soccer (football) genius. Both on and off the field. My one bone to pick with him is that he is loyal almost to a fault. And even that is something that is at least admirable. I thought Arteta was one of the best signings we have had in years, and I am sure most would agree with that. Gervy is going to come good this season I think, Ox was a revelation albeit still very young, and Yossi was the consummate professional. Santos is not a lb, and never was. We will see how he pushes on this season in a more attacking role. On the other hand, the BFG is not my favorite signing we have ever made. I do see his redeeming qualities and appreciate he brings something different to the back line than any other defender, but the jury is still out on him for me. I think TV5 is overrated. I KNOW that will get me crucified amongst supporters, but I have to be honest. Is he swashbuckling? Yes. Does he score important goals for us from what seems like sheer will power and determination? Absolutely. Is he a consistent, solid defender for us, especially in 1v1 situations? No. I think he was the culprit on more goals last season than many fans would like to admit. I hope Bould can impart consistency into his game, because he has everything else to be our captain, but I don’t think he is there yet. Kos is the man, enough said. Sagna for me is the heart of the team. I can only hope and pray that his leg does not become a reoccurring issue, because the thought of Jenks being our starter does not do good things for my peace of mind. Am very excited about the youngsters we have, all of them looked promising on the tour (I think Coquelin could do a Wilshere if he were to get that much time on the field). Cazorla is sorely needed by us. Rosicky too old, injury prone to be relied on to create for us for an entire season. Arteta too valuable for us in his deep role to move him up. Song is a boss, again hoping Bould can impart a bit more discipline in his positioning and responsibility of giving our back line cover. RVP is gone, so meh. For me I think Walcott is best used for us as an impact sub. His main (maybe only?) strength is his pace, so let him fly past opposition outside backs when there legs are tired. Excited for Pod and Giroud. Think we need someone to actually challenge the Scez at no. 1, not just someone that helps him warm up like Fab or Vito. I think we could do worse than Julio Ceasar but I am not holding my breath.

    So all that being said, I think we need a few more pieces to truly “challenge” as you mention. A Cazorla type player is needed, cannot convince me otherwise. We lack invention in the final third. I think it is essential for Walcott (ie he doesn’t have to dribble past anyone, just run past them and cross or shoot) I think this is more realistic than negative, but I don’t see Song signing an extension unless the team really performs this season, and he sees that we are in the mix for the League, CL etc. Dein is his agent and that never means anything good for us. I don’t see Frimpong stepping up and I like Coq better as more of an Arteta type midfielder. As much as I want Diaby to be successful, I just won’t believe until I see it. Don’t know much of Sahin, maybe he would fit there. Would LOVE M’Villa but by all accounts that seems to be off. And even if it is a loan deal, I think we need better cover for Sagna than Jenks and better cover for Gibbs than Santos. Santos not a lb, as I said earlier, and Jenks is driven and hard working and can cross but imagine him playing against Europe’s greatest. I don’t see it. If Sagna is fit it won’t matter, but at this point and time it is a big if. Anyway instead of responding directly to your points in this blog, wanted to give you my perspective on all things Arsenal.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and will be visiting again.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks buddy, read my last two posts before this one for thoughts on Mertesacker and how Cazorla could help Theo.

  50. Hey Daniel My gooner buddy loved your article really great piece “One life one club” Arsenal FC win or loose this will be my team for life and your article made lot of sense and all the fans who just spout shit about no trophies should seriously think for a moment and see the reality

  51. andy says:

    This is a very good piece of reading.

    Spoken truly with a heart in for the club.

    Forward Arsenal!

  52. masterj2 says:

    I wish and I hope every Arsenal fan and/or haters of Arsenal FC read this article and start applauding the club rather than criticising us for what we are not. Thank you for sharing the same view with me – optimism that the club will surely do well this season.

    Nice read, thumb up to you @Daniel

  53. this really give an incisive knowledge about my team (arsenal) trophy-less saga, i believe and hope something extra ordinary will come out of this new team.. I’ll continue to support with passion.. Gooner for life, thanks Daniel!!!

  54. azhar says:

    i am azhar a gooner from india (jdp.). and i love ur article. hope glory days will come soon

  55. Tom says:

    I am a great believer in the team.My believe has never swayed,despite the deluge of negativity trailing the team.We must surely come good some day,may be not too far!I really enjoyed your piece and I agree completely with every argument posed.

  56. seun says:

    Simply fantastic.

  57. DeeJayAFC says:

    Good read, great attitude. One problem, our defence looked shit at times. There’s no trying to paper over the cracks with excuses. The 5-2 win over sp*ds you must have missed. There was acres of space for them to run into in that first 45 mins. Vermaelen, who is usually our best CB looked completely lost. It was the story of our season. There needs to be more organization back there. I give 2 fucks as to who is starting. They train together, stop pissing about and learn how to defend as a unit. Until that happens (which I believe Bould will bring that into the side) our defence will be shit. Love Pat Rice, but I believe Bould is going to bring so much to that unit at the back.

  58. Ray says:

    Excellent article. I hate it when Gooners moan and how they sometimes get on the back of a player that isn’t performing too well. I think when someone is having a bad game they should be encouraged to do better instead of being jeered from the stands. I have supported Arsenal since the Sixties and feel criticism dished out at Arsene Wenger recently is also uncalled for. Although the last few years have been trophyless, the football is always entertaining.

  59. Mojo says:

    An excellent analysis! As a fan of over 60 years standing and a third generation gooner it’s refreshing to know that others love the club so much they’ll take so much trouble and thought to show those that can see no further than their noses what the situation really is. Keep writing!

  60. Fit. says:

    Wenger is a geneous! The team wouldn’t have been run any better, if not worse! Going in the right direction and will soon be one of the few world bests. Expecting miracles with the up and coming yongsters!!

    Once a gunner always a gunner!!

  61. Mandy Dodd says:

    Superb, sums it all up really. Why is it so hard for some,to see common sense?

  62. Arunn says:

    Its a very good article. In fact it brings some confidence to all the fans that the club is doing well inspite of 7 yrs of drought.

    But. . . But, one point i would like to add is that, year after year for 7 years, we have been finding one reason or the other to excuse ourselves for a trophyless season. This should not continue further. This article does put in a lot of facts and figures as an excuse to the last years. But what do we do to prevent it from happening further is what we should be looking at. Because if we slip again this season, we might go down and end up like like liverpool or newcastle and find it very hard to get back up again. And all this talk of splashing cash, replacing players, etc is all a result of that, a fear of that actually. Fans are trying their best to come up with suggestions and ideas and that is the myths that you are talking about.

    I do trust in wenger but now i’m doubtful after seeing the downhill journey for the last 7 years. Just imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t won the last match last season ( why i call this a down hill journey is because our team had changed from potential champions league winner to a team struggling to find a spot in the same competition).

    Its time we put aside our excuses and get back to the place where we rightly belong (The Champions). Wenger has made his decisions for the last years and has it has not worked. Now is the time to press the pedal and do whatever may to win something this year.

    Arsenal should not settle for anything less that a trophy this year.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks Arun but I think you’ve missed a big message from the beginning of the article. Arsenal do not have a divine right to win anything so if we do we should not consider it as being “back where we rightfully belong”.
      I think this year, injuries allowing, we’ll have no excuse for not competing.

  63. thanks for the article…a very very good article..Arsenal surely needs a fans like you.. I never stop believing this team…

  64. Griggles says:

    It’s great to see a positive article for once and I agree with you on a lot of points. All is not lost. However, I have to ask. If the situation has been so rosy – if we have spent and spent well and the defense is good and and and – WHY have we struggled to win anything over the last few years? The competition has obviously improved, but what is it that precludes us from doing the same? Where has it gone wrong?

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      I would say it is being in perpetual rebuilding mode. Almost every season we’ve been rebuilding. I think this year will be the first in a long time where we haven’t needed to rebuild the squad.

    • sam says:

      But being in a perpetual rebuilding mode is surely a by product of selling many of our best players? Does it also not show a lack of strategy? Don’t get me wrong I really did enjoy the vast majority of your original article, it just feels a little rose tinted.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      It’s a product of losing a key player and having to integrate new players. Rebuilding doesn’t take half a season or a season, it usually takes about 2 and the team as a whole are developing together at the right pace but when you lose a player and need to replace it sets that part back a bit so the rebuilding goes on as planned but is slightly delayed and it’s these delays that are causing the issue. I don’t see how you can blame that on strategy. I blame it on clubs being bought by billionaires and players having too much power.
      I wouldn’t say that I’m rose-tinted. I’m just calling it as I see it and for a long time I was part of the negative group that wondered where all the money was going and slagged off the defence and said the players we buy are crap etc but I got bored of that and decided to ask myself why I thought those things. Was it because I was well informed? Was it because I understood the situation? Or was it because that’s what most people were saying and the media was saying? It certainly wasn’t the first two!
      I decided to research what I believed were the reasons for my negativity last summer and I’ve since been a much more positive person. Read my very early posts from early 2011 and you’ll see that I wasn’t always of the opinion I am now.

  65. Duke says:

    Good on you mate! It ain’t easy out there i.e. in the football world and I think the club is doing its best.

  66. promise says:

    Nice pice Dan…… Fernando lorente,Cazola,Sahill & M’villa(paraventure both willshere and diaby don’t recover quickly). All these players acquired then I think we are good to go. If not we might only b competing for CL spot. We just have to face the fact and call a spade a spade. Mind you the likes of Man city, Man utd and chelsea still ve better teams than us and they re not thinking of relenting on there odds . Gunners for life!!!

  67. Odun-Ayo says:

    Incisive and educating piece. Though, I wish am just more than a fan! Because d club is a great business enterprise.

  68. Fantastic article mate you really have put everything into perspective and it is good to hear from someone with the same positive attitude as i have for next season. Cmon you Arsenal!!!!

  69. Enyinna says:

    well researched. well done, mate.

  70. bennie says:

    “They say you don’t know what love is until you’ve truly felt it and then you realise that everything you thought was love before wasn’t really love. That is what I feel with this season.”

    This is the feeling I get whenever we win, lose or draw…to me its not about AFC winning the next UCL, EPL or other Titles but, it is the Spirit of communication between the Fans all over the world as our Talented Teams headed by A.Wenger display the Art of football on the pitch..
    I love being an Arsenal fan and never had regretted or will ever regret being.
    Wherever,whenever… I am always an Ambassador of this great football club.I really appreciate your posts and this particular one had made me fall in love again with The best team in the world (it is not a sentimental statement, its the truth).
    More grease to your elbow and more knowledge from above..
    Cheers!!!

  71. Jal Sonpal says:

    You spoke the truth about Arsenal through this article…..
    #amazing :)

  72. If arsenal could keep their best players, which is easier said than done nowadays, then not only would they be a top club in europe, but also a self sustaining club. we buy cheap and sometimes young, produce our own talent via academy, and we spend wisely. the best example of a well running club. Arsene wenger is the only man capable of making this plan come to fruition and he is trying is best.

    btw how long did it take you to write this superb article? very on point one of the most complete articles i have read. great job. i am bookmarking this site.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks Arsal. About 4 hours of research (to make sure the facts were correct) and about 45 minutes to write.

  73. Oseni 'SkinniE' Saheed says:

    Well, I have not read any article as incisive and detailed like what U̶̲̥̅̊ had in support of Arsenal, in my entire life. At times I wonder why the media is playing Arsenal-haters, Nigeria media not exempted from this. U̶̲̥̅̊ can break your radio when they try to run down Arsenal.
    But I wld not fret over that and wld never lose my allegiance to The Arsenal. Come to think of it, my grouse had never been against Arsene or the Board, but our gift of signing ‘NON-COMMITTED’ players. Looking through the time of the Invisible, 85% of the players had played together for 5yrs. They had a bad season a year before & they all learnt from it moving forward. I wondered how many trophies wld have been resting in our cabinet if Reyes, Flamini, Hleb, Adebayor, Cesc, Nasri et al had not jumped ship @ their peak time to money-crazy clubs. My sympathy usually goes to Arsene who wld constantly face media barrage for these gluttons, defending their honors, but only to be left in cold. In all of RvP’s 8yrs stint, Wenger had made it clear that RvP wld deliver d goods if manages to stay fit..after 7yrs of injury ravaged life at Arsenal, RvP confirmed Arsene’s resolves. And he now knows Arsenal’s ambitions those not match his.
    No player cld ever be ‘bigger’ than a club..It’s a phase we had to pass through, cos I’m positive we are still going to celebrate more trophies together!!! Concordia Victoria, Crescit!!!!

  74. Kabir Chugh says:

    What a lovely article, I fully believe that we will have our tough patches and we are are in one. I am also sure that we will come out strong.

  75. Ify Nwokoro says:

    i want your autograph. arsenal FOR EVER

  76. robert bartlett says:

    great colum I’m proud to be an arsenal fan ive always felt like the only gooner in the corner defending my beloved team happy to no im not the only one can wait for league to kick off top or bottom of the prem ill still love ya gooner forever

  77. Very insightful, I really enjoyed that read and I couldn’t agree more about the coming season; very optimistic indeed. Well, in mate – True Gooner. (follow me up for Arsenal/Football/Sport related topics @GordonGilmour

  78. MalaysianGooner says:

    arsenal.com brought me to this awesome site. Well done mate, an absolutely top class article. COYG!

  79. femmy says:

    Gud article, i ave been following ur blog, dat d spirit of an arsenal, it wud b gud if arsenal can kip all our prsnt crop of player, we wud defintely win a trophy

  80. ZB20H says:

    No surprise that this article was linked on the official Arsenal site as this is where this Happy Clappy ‘everything is wonderful’ stuff belongs. Maybe you have been watching too much of the Olympics and have been overwhelmed by the mood of optimism?

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Happy Clappy ‘everything is wonderful’ stuff belongs

      That’s not what this site is about. If that’s the only post you’ve read then of course that’s what you’ll say.
      I am optimistic because I have reason to be.
      If however you are a negative “everything at Arsenal is crap” kind of person then you probably would enjoy reading Le Grove more than you would enjoy this site.

    • ZB20H says:

      II am certainly not a ‘everything at Arsenal is crap’ type of person type of person and don’t read stuff like Le Grove or The Online Gooner as I find them too destructively negative. I too am optimistic and you state quite well the reasons why Arsenal fans have a right to be. After that your article reads like a whitewash of any and all failings. Briefly looking at your ‘Myths’ one by one,

      Myth 1: We don’t challenge – forget the League Cup, Wenger does not take it seriously so neither will I. A CL Final 8 years ago and a couple of EPL campaigns that looked quite promising until March or February does not make us properly competitive. There are valid reasons why we haven’t been but it is a massive stretch to say that we have been challenging.

      Myth 2: We don’t spend any money – our net spend on transfer since 2003 is slightly above Wigan (http://www.transferleague.co.uk/league-tables/transfer-league-table-2003-to-date.html) I think the stadium move is a big factor here but we have been massively outspent by our direct rivals and this has shown up on the pitch.

      Myth 3: We don’t replace the players we sell – of course another body will come in to replace a departed player and in that sense he is replaced. The question really is, are players that leave adequately replaced? Until now the answer has to be no.

      Myth 4: We are never in for the best players – who the hell knows what players we are ‘in for’ apart from those at the club involved in the process? Moreover the banner on your site has a quote from Wenger saying ‘We do not buy superstars, we make them’ so you are contradicting yourself here.

      Myth 5: The defence is crap – ‘This is a myth until proven otherwise’, guess what, 49 goals conceded proves otherwise and the evidence of your own eyes proves should prove otherwise. You excuse this by citing injuries but all clubs have injuries and moreover this is bigger than the individuals involved. We have no coherent defensive strategy or organisation. The blame for this lies squarely on Wenger and the coaching staff and until this is addressed we have no chance of becoming a successful team again.

      I am not being negative but If we can’t or don’t recognise the problems we have then we have zero chance of correcting our mistakes.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Thanks for taking the time to respond. I shall endeavour to cover all of your points.
      1) The CL final was 6 years ago. I don’t mean to be pedantic but it was. Wenger does take the league cup seriously. He has historically used it to blood younger players because it’s the lesser of the 4 major trophies. I think you are getting caught up on the “challenging” part and I did cover this in the original post. I said that if the person claimed that we had not won anything for 7 years I would agree but to say that we have not challenged is just wrong. 3 finals and missing out on the league with 2 games to go says that we challenged for trophies (glamorous or not) in 4 out of those 7 seasons. It’s a fact. It’s not something I’ve made up. Challenging as a verb and as a noun simply means entering into or attempting to win a contest. In that sense every team challenges. If we use challenging as a substitute for “being genuine title contenders until the last 5% of a competition as I think most do then quite possibly we haven’t challenged. If you were to say that we have not been genuine title contenders with 4 games left to go then I could agree but it is the myth that we have not challenged at all that I dispute.

      2) You focusing on net spend highlights the myth I have tried to dispel. Don’t look at what we have made nor the net but look at what we have spent. Low net spend doesn’t mean you haven’t spent.

      3) I covered the replacing of players. When you replace a player you have to either get like for like or change something. If like for like did not exist or you could not afford it (in pretty much all of our cases like for like did not exist) then you have to change something and if you change something then you cannot directly compare and then the adequacy argument goes out of the window. For example, we replaced Henry with Eduardo. We attempted to share Henry’s brilliance between the squad and brought in Eduardo to purely mop balls up and score goals.

      4) I’m not contradicting myself at all. The “best” players aren’t all “superstars”. Arteta was probably our best player last season, sure RVP got all the goals but I think most would agree that Arteta was our best player and is he a “superstar”? Sagna is the best right back in the league is he a “superstar”. Superstars are your flair players, your playmakers, your strikers, the £30-40m players, Ronaldo, Messi, Henry, Xavi, Neymar etc. To suggest that we have no interest in the best players is just false. Of course we are interested. If someone said we never buy the best players then I could see merit in that argument but I would counter that we would be easily outbid for such players so we probably exit negotiations quite early.

      5) 49 goals conceded does not prove otherwise and the argument that other teams have injury problems just doesn’t wash. No other team had the level of disruption that we had. No other team struggled to put the same back 4 out for more than a handful of games. And of course we had no defensive organisation, we used 22 different back four combinations in the premier league alone! In a 38 game season!!
      Judge the defence across our first 10 competitive games of the season. They’re all a year more experienced and having been so disjointed last season they’re all used to playing with one another so there should be no excuse for not having any cohesion. They may still lack consistency if the team is changed every week but overall they should be much better prepared.

      We have problems like any other team and like any other team we try our best to rectify them.

  81. Gunnersaurus says:

    I looked at the stats for the games that out first choice back four played together:

    Played: 10
    Won: 5
    Drawn: 4
    Lost: 1

    Goals conceded 10

  82. gooner4ever says:

    Loved the article.
    Not because I am a gooner for life, but because an article actually used numbers to substantiate the claims in the article.
    For long I have been defending Arsene and his philosophies, and I have been in a corner and been slugging it out :)
    I am so glad I found your blog.
    Also I think inspite of not winning titles or champions league I am really proud to be a Gooner because I think we are the only sustainable and profitable football club. Yes I get disappointed when we don’t win titles but I am really happy that year on we finish in the top four by spending a fraction of what the other clubs spend.

    There is so much talk of a defensive midfielder and filling the right back position but in my opinion we are the weakest at LB as we were constantly out run and muscled out at left back by physical teams. Would love to know what you feel about this position in particular?

    Thanks,

  83. ZB20H says:

    Your attitude accepts mediocrity and the relative failure that ensues from it.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      Or your attitude gives you a false sense of entitlement and a longing for the right here right now sod earning it culture that is ruining football… Not that I know what your attitude is mind.

    • ZB20H says:

      Meeow, your last line disclaimer hardly tempers the personal abuse but never mind.

      I am lucky enough to have a season ticket, this entitles me to watch the Arsenal first team 26 times a season. I don’t expect anything more than this but my word I want so much more and so should you.

      There is no progress without constructive criticism and debate. The mindset of unquestioning acceptance and rationalisations for the things that Arsenal have been getting wrong is a hindrance to the club becoming successful again.

      I apologise for ruining football and you can rest easy in your smug assumptions that when we are all celebrating Arsenal winning a major trophy again you will have ‘earnt it’ far more I.

    • Daniel Cowan says:

      If you think that is abuse then you are very delicate. If you want to know what real abuse is I will happily show you the comments I get that I refuse to publish because of their utterly sickening content.

      I’m surprised that you think that by me defending the team that it means I do not wish for more than we have. I do. If you are a regular reader of my stuff then you would know that. I am not an AKB type nor am I AAA. I sit comfortably on the fence. Is everything at the club hunky-dory? No. Are we in crisis? No. Are we entitled to win something? No. Should we be winning things with the players we’ve had. Possibly.

      Criticism is fine but what far too many fans are doing goes beyond criticism. I criticise the club but I don’t criticise them for the wrong reasons.
      This false notion that we do not spend any money for example. We do. Do we spend £20-35m on one player? No we do not. Should we criticise the club for that? That is a matter of opinion. Those who would are accused of having a credit card mentality (which is fair because it’s spending money we don’t have). Those that believe we shouldn’t are accused of accepting mediocrity (which is unfair because they aren’t. They just don’t want the future of the club put into long term jeopardy for short term gain).

      I also try my best not to criticise the players without reason. For example, many will berate Ramsey for good reason and for bad but sadly they do not know where to stop and have booed him for doing something that Oxlade-Chamberlain for example was lauded for. I have criticised Chamakh, not for being “crap” but for not having the stamina to cope with the English game however I recognise that he performs better in a two man attack not with his back to goal so I accept that his failure to succeed here is not entirely his fault and therefore lay off him a bit.

      I do not accept and rationalise all things, just those that deserve rationalising because football is a game of emotions and emotions and blind people with great ease.

      If you wish to know what my true criticisms of the club are and what I believe are contributing factors to our trophy drought it is this:
      Firstly, we have an extremely well paid commercial team however they have not significantly increased our commercial revenue as their counterparts at Manchester United, Chelsea, City and even Liverpool and Sp*rs have done. I believe that they are waiting for the big contracts to expire so they can claim to have dramatically increased the clubs revenues when in fact they’ve just brought our shirt and sponsorship deals to an acceptable level. Even if this lack of action costs us just a few million pounds per year that would still be a top player on £100k a week or better deals for the likes of Nasri and RVP who might have stayed if they could earn what they could earn elsewhere (although RVP has not left yet).
      Secondly, I feel that we should have had a specialist defensive coach. In Pat Rice and Boro Primorac we had two ex-defenders working with the first team yet we made a lot of defensive mistakes (mistakes we made last year however I still attribute a lot of the goals conceded to a lack of stability).
      Thirdly, I believe that our training methods cause our players to be more prone to long term injuries. I think we could benefit from individual training routines championed by Raymond Verheijen. Every club has injuries but we tend to have a lot more and more severe/long term injuries than others. It cannot simply be that our players are just fragile
      Lastly, I believe that we pay our players too much. I think we are too quick to improve player deals and offer big wages to very young players and a time comes when we can’t afford to pay them more but they think they are worth so much more than they are. For example, Jack had a great breakthrough season so we trebled his wages (reportedly but at least double is a fair assumption) and then he was injured for a whole season. Why did we have to increase his wages so much? The same with AOC, he is supposedly getting an increase to £50k after a few decent games and some exciting cameo appearances. We should be rewarding Alex with more game time not more money. Not yet anyway.

      I believe that if our commercial team did better and our wages weren’t so skewed and our players had adjusted training programmes and the defence had sessions with a specialist coach that we would have conceded less goals, would have been less prone to mistakes, would have had key players at key times and would have been able to attract and retain better players and therefore would have been in a better position to win trophies.

      These are the things I criticise the club for and do not accept. The things that I make no rationalisations for.

      And like I said; if you hold “that” view then you are contributing to the ruination of football but then again I do not know you so cannot assume that you hold one view or the other in it’s entirety. You can assume I hold certain views based on what I blog but you cannot assume I hold them in their entirety and especially not when you’ve only read a post or two as you would be mistaken.

      If you think I’d be “smug” about “earning” a trophy when Arsenal eventually win one again then you really know nothing about me and certainly do not pay close attention to what I write. When Arsenal win a trophy again they will have earned it rather than bought it but that does not mean the fans who cried out for investment and a sugar daddy are any less entitled to celebrate the win. At the end of the day we are all Arsenal fans and different opinions are what make all things interesting but I am entirely within my right to challenge and dismiss your opinion as wrong just as you are entitled to tell me that I “accept mediocrity and failure” and we both have the right to disagree with the other.

    • ZB20H says:

      Good stuff, I have enjoyed the sparring but I really should get back to doing some work. Anyway, enjoy the season, I think it could be quite an exciting one because of the money we have spent and the ambition it epitomises. I will keep an eye out for your blog.

  84. The more I read on here, the more I’m impressed. Wealth of information inside every post. Another great read! Fantastic points and a fantastic perspective. True Gunners need to follow Daniel Cowan.

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