Are Arsenal In Crisis?

I rarely read the newspapers but from yesterdays news it seems like we’re in a crisis.

We’ve played 5 games so far this season and currently sit just above the relegation zone in 17th position, amassing 4 points. Of those 5, we’ve  only managed to win one, which was a nervous 1-0 victory over Premier League new boys Swansea City.

The other games include an opening day draw against Newcastle United, a defeat at home to Liverpool and that drubbing against Manchester United. A 4-3 defeat at Ewood Park completes our opening 5 Premier League matches.

But are Arsenal in a crisis?

Generally speaking, 5 games into the season is hardly enough time for any manager, nevermind a great such as Arsene Wenger, to be judged upon. The problem we have is that it seems to be the same old story season after season.

Our defending is shambolic. There’s no other word for it. We can make all the excuses in the world but the fact is we can’t defend. We’ve had some really poor defenders in our time, Pascal Cygan and Igor Stepanovs come to mind, but this weekend really summed up where we are.

Against Manchester United, we were ripped apart and it could have been 14 or 15 if they didn’t feel sorry for us. But at the weekend, the severity of the situation really showed.

Arsenal are a team that are always capable of scoring, that’s one side of our game which has never really been questioned over the last 15 years. But at the back, it’s a disaster. The fact is Blackburn Rovers, whose fans were so upset with manager Steve Kean, intended to protest after the game. Blackburn Rovers were rooted to the bottom of the league and their fans were not happy at all. They had scored 1 goal at home all season, yet against Arsenal they filled their boots.

That’s the context you have to put this result in. Bottom of the league, struggling to get a win under their belts, their fans on the brink, yet they scored 4 goals against us. If Blackburn Rovers, a team with the manager who the bookies have favourite to get sacked first can score 4 goals, what are the rest of the league capable of doing to us!?

With al due respect to Steve Kean, he is hardly the most experienced or talented manager in the league, yet he easily worked out how to beat Arsenal. The idea is simple really, Arsenal’s defence is so fragile that and balls played in behind or in the air will result in goals. Making Blackburn Rovers look like Barcelona is quite a feat yet we managed to do it.

And where is the blame?

There is no blame at Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger is the only one at the club that expresses and opinion. The board are never come out with any intentions, and of course we have Silent Stan. At clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City who all have foreign owners, we understand what their intentions are. But not at Arsenal.

What does Silent Stan want? What is his vision for the club?

For me, Arsene Wenger has his hands tied and is not the one to blame. We have no idea what is going on behind the scenes at the club and ever since David Dein left the club, Arsene hasn’t had any real support within the football club.

The board are the ones who are seemingly only interested in making money rather than winning trophies. Many that drubbing at Old Trafford was Wenger’s way of telling the board he’d like some proper investment into the club, but instead we brought in some last minute deals which were blatantly not Arsene’s kind of signings.

Players like Mertesacker, Santos, Young and Arteta are ones that have experience but are not world class, nor players you would see at United, City, Chelsea and even Liverpool or Spurs, with all due respect.

While the media turn up the heat on Arsene Wenger, it would be sad for Arsenal to sack a manager that has brought so much success to the club and someone that has put Arsenal on a steady footing for generations to come. When you think of the disgraceful sacking of Peter Reid by Peter “I ruined Leeds United” Ridsdale then that is not the way we want to go.

I Predicted Arsenal Would Finish Outside The Top 4

On August 4th, before the season had started, I predicted and explained that Arsenal would finish 5th in the Premier League.

I received a few abusive comments for that from the AKB and here we are. 6 weeks later and 5 games into the new season, we currently sit 15th in the table and have a solitary victory against Premier League new boys Swansea City. And that was a shaky 1-0 win.

If you didn’t already know, in the other 4 games we’ve played so far include a draw against Newcastle United, a humiliating defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, an “unfortunate” loss to Liverpool at home and then yesterdays 4-3 defeat to Blackburn Rovers, who are doing so well this season their own fans are calling for Steve Kean’s head.

So where does that leave Arsenal now?

However you want to look at it, we are a shambles at the moment and strangely, I’m not that bothered.

I’ve supported Arsenal since I was 5 years old which is coming up to 24 years now, followed them through thick and thin and I love the club. They have brought me so many highs, so many lows and I have Arsenal in my veins. When I think back to some of the football we’ve played, matches we’ve won and trophies we’ve lifted, they are some of the best moments of my life.

And when I believed and predicted we would finish 5th in the league (which even now looks like a distant possibility), it wasn’t to cause controversy or upset, it’s just where we are as a football club and for me that’s perfectly fine.

We all have unrealistic expectations for Arsenal at the moment and sometimes you need to have a fall before you can build yourself up again. Arsenal are currently a million miles away from competing in the Champions League so finishing 5th might change the ethos and attitude at the football club. Liverpool are an example of how a football team can miss out on Champions League football and then rebuild the foundations.

As Arsenal stand we’re not going to win the major trophies – we are far too comfortable settling for 4th every season and that has made us complacent, and that’s why you see performances like you have this year. Arsenal need a kick up the backside and not making the Champions League positions might kick start that.

It could spark changes at the club, whether it’s with Arsene Wenger at the helm or not. I truly believe that if Arsene accepted help in certain areas then we would be a much stronger force than we currently are. Can he change though?

That’s the million dollar question.

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Hats Off To Arsenal… Maybe Not

If Arsenal’s season couldn’t get any stranger, it has emerged today that Arsenal have successfully won (not on the pitch it has to be said) a legal battle with a Hat Shop Owner from Seville.

The terrible woman, had the sheer audacity to name her shop after our great football club. Despite the fact she happens to spell “Arsenale” differently, and despite the fact it is pronounced differently, Arsenal decided to protect their brand and have been successful in doing so.

Reports tell us that Arsenal’s lawyers have been working since 2007 to get Alicia Simon to change the name of her shop, which would explain the lack of activity during the summer in the transfer window.

Sources close to Arsenal have said:*

“The seriousness of this case has meant we have not been able to deploy enough resources in bringing new players to Arsenal during the transfer window. Fortunately this unsavoury incident was resolved on the 30th August meaning we had just enough time to recruit players on deadline day.”

Arsenal fans have been confused to why new recruits were only brought in late in the transfer window, and now at least they know why.

* Not really.

Arteta / Benayoun / How Will Arsenal Line Up?

Firstly, a happy September to you all.

So what a dramatic final day of the transfer window eh?

Arsenal wrapped up the signing of Mikel Arteta from Everton late last night, who has penned a 4 year deal. Arteta is not a typical Arsene signing, with most of his acquisitions over the last 5/6 seasons either being from the lower leagues or from abroad. Let’s hope Arteta’s time at Arsenal is more fruitful than the only other Premier League signings, Diarra, Silvestre and Gallas.

He is also 29 years old, which is certainly not an age Arsenal likes to recruit players. With Mertesacker at 26, Santos at 28, Chu Young Park at 26 and Benayoun at 31, you wonder if Arsene has finally conceded defeat in only recruiting youngsters or whether it is the board who have put their foot down and demanded proven experience be brought in.

BBC’s Sports News Correspondent, Dan Roan, has just revealed on Twitter that Arsenal lodged an initial bid of £5 million on Tuesday, and then offered £10 million yesterday, both of which were rejected by Everton. It was only when Mikel Arteta handed in a transfer request at 7pm that the move materialised. So essentially we did a “Barcelona” to Everton.

It has also been reported that Arteta was on £75,000 per week at Everton, and he has taken a pay cut to join Arsenal. I’ve spoken to friends who are Everton supporters and they have mixed reactions to Arteta leaving. Some are truly gutted as he was their talisman while others are being quite defensive, saying he’s past it and only passes the ball sideways.

Personally, I think it is an excellent addition to the squad. He has Premier League experience, doesn’t need time to adjust himself to the country, is excellent on set-pieces and has that creative spark we desperately need. The fact is though he’s already scored goals this season and while his goal and assist statistics may not be in the same league as Cesc Fabregas, it must be remembered he’s been playing in an Everton side which most supporters will admit play far to negatively. So at Arsenal he will have far more attacking license.

And onto Benayoun. This signing is a little more confusing but again, he is experienced so I’m not going to complain! I can’t seem him as a regular starter but after speaking to Chelsea and Liverpool fans last night, the response was far more positive than I thought. Chelsea fans will point to Benayoun having a fantastic pre-season with Chelsea, and he only left because they brought in Mata and Meireles in the transfer window.

Liverpool fans on the whole, rate Benayoun. I pointed to the fact that he never seemed to play for Liverpool but they seem to think that he was one of their best players when he was fit, and Benitez preferred to play a more “solid” formation with Torres alone up front and Kuyt in behind. And despite being mainly a substitute in his 3 seasons at Liverpool, he did still average around 10 goals per season which is a decent return.

So how will Arsenal line up this season?

We’ve brought in 5 experienced players over the last few days, along with Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho. So a total of 8 new players, but I can only see 4 of those making the starting line-up on a regular basis.

For me, our regular line-up will be as follows:

Arsenal Line-up 2011-2012

Arsene is going to want to limit the amount of disruption to the team and Gervinho is already settled into the squad. Arteta can slot in where Ramsey has been playing this season and he can fill in for Jack if he’s out injured. Santos is certain to start with sicknote Gibbs being out on a regular basis and Mertesacker will play alongside Vermaelen, or Koscielny depending if the Belgian is injured.

Chu Young Park is simply a squad replacement for Bendtner and can fill in if Van Persie gets an injury. Jenkinson has proved he is a solid performer and the same goes for Frimpong. It will be interesting to see how much Arsene uses Benayoun however; he has been a bit part player for both Liverpool and Chelsea in the past and you would think he joined Arsenal to get more playing time. At the moment though I can’t see him being more than an impact sub, as he’s been utilised in the past.

And if you still need to get excited over the arrival of Mikel Arteta, then here’s a compilation of his goals and assists at Everton:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVq4mEdpTbc[/youtube]