I Thought This Was The Biggest Game Of The Season So Far… And So Did Arsene Wenger

In my preview for the Sunderland game yesterday I emphasised how much of a massive test this was for us.

With our usual form after International breaks, Sunderland’s improvement this season and their ability to take on the biggest sides (as Liverpool and Manchester United will testify) I firmly believed that for us to be considered true title contenders, this was a game we had to win.

And as I said in the preview, I would have been more than happy with a smash-and-grab as long as we took home all 3 points.

The reason for this was because to be title challengers a team needs to know how to win ugly. When Arsenal are on top form then we can beat anybody. But you just knew that with the International break, the injuries to key players like Van Persie and the cold and wet away day we were up against it. And the sad thing was if we had managed to overcome all these obstacles then it really would have answered all those questions and given us a massive lift. A win at Sunderland would have pushed the side forwards and onto greater things.

But unfortunately, we weren’t good enough and lost another away game.

People laughed when I said this was a massive game but it appears Arsene Wenger feels the same too. The great Arsenal sides that won titles found great strength through adversity. The team would grind out results no matter the circumstances, and for our current squad Sunderland was that test. You didn’t hear excuses about International breaks or injuries when we went the entire Premier League campaign unbeaten did you?

After the game, Arsene Wenger said:

“It was very harsh to lose the game because Sunderland did not create a lot. But we did not create enough chances either and there was a lack of penetration.

“They were organised and defended very well and we lacked the sharpness to make a difference. In some positions we were not strong enough.

“It is a massive setback because you need consistency to win a title. And today we were not capable of doing that and it raises question marks.”

If you ever listen to Arsene Wenger interviews then that last sentence is damning. We might be third in the table, and we might be doing better than Liverpool or Manchester City but right now it’s a two-horse race, and unfortunately for us it’s between Chelsea and Manchester United – just like Alex Ferguson said earlier this week.

Arsene knows how big a setback this defeat is.

Every team goes through good and bad patches, but the top teams win however they’re playing. Both Chelsea and United have played awful and brilliant this season but they are so consistent. If they play well, they’ll win, and if they play poor, they’ll still win.

Arsenal need to learn how to win ugly and learn fast because that is the only real obstacle in our race for the title. We have improved leaps and bounds over the last 12 months but we’re just that little bit short of being right up there.

And Arsene knows it.


10 thoughts on “I Thought This Was The Biggest Game Of The Season So Far… And So Did Arsene Wenger

  1. We have had 3 seasons to learn.Everytime an opponent comes up with a bit of commitment we are in trouble,as soon as west ham got committed at Upton Park we were in trouble,the plain fact is as always for the last three seasons…….we are playing within ourselfes and some of the players are so bad (Rosicky.Nasri etc) that they shouldnt be playing for Arsenal.If you really believe that all we have to do to be title contenders is to learn how to win ugly you are in for a rude awakening and how the hell is a team that concedes every game ever gonna learn how to win ugly……wenger should learn them how to defend as a unit firstly and not as 11 individuals he has had so much time it is borderline embarressing.But what the hell the professor knows…………….balls.

  2. I waited a couple of hours before facing the drama that will ensue with this defeat. Arsenal followers are just that! Dramatic….As well we should be because we are attacked and criticicized always…I enjoy defeats like papercuts or sunburn or death itself. But, I always love my team and am grateful for what pleasures I get 95% of the time! Should Rosicky scored? Of course! Should Eduardo have scored to answer the The RVP stupidity? Yes! Should Vermenator have won the first head ball that bent won and miraculously got a lucky give and go to score. Of course! I knew when all of this played out the way it did we would eventually lose….But, let’s not be so damning with this season..Let’s cerebralize things causing the setbacks of this game. Start with the positives: Traoure for one. He is massive in my opinion! He has more skill than both Gibbs and Clichy at the moment. His potential I would say is equal to or greater than the best left backs in the league currently Oh by the way have played consistently game in and game out this season. Alex Song is playing massive proving all critics wrong…Gallas continues to be massive as well! And, Almunia is just solid…What about Eduardo just clicks from scoring yet another goal in another game; His runs and what he does is equivalent to the best chess players that have ever played. The setbacks at the moment are very little in my eyes other than the win…Give credit where it is due. Sunderland were very good today which I believe was the reason they won! Bent was amazing today. He bullied our defense in both ends of the field. He got his reward when he scored. Cana was also a contributing factor in the win. Look at what was new in this game; Our whole lineup was new and was different from what I have seen this season. I believe though we should have won and we would have won “ugly” if a bit of luck was on our side!

  3. hartwick89.. i see what you are saying but for the past 5 seasons we keep saying if we had some luck then we would have won this and won that. bottom line is this team is short of man utd and chelsea in that they are unable to grind out results when playing badly.. there is something about this team.. not enough fighters and too much skill.. we need more vermenator’s…
    i dont think there should be an overhaul in mgt because i think that if wenger goes then there is no one out there who can maintain this level with the budget we are on.. in my mind arsene is the best manager in the world.. but that does not mean he is not without faults.. he needs to get some proven winners in the mould of a tony adams, paddy vieira.. players who can truly lead the team in games like this after a break, away from home, playing in harsh conditions… we need atleast 2-3 players like that and that is the diff between us and the big two//

  4. Drew,
    Post this at the end of the season and you will be right. Right now though we are left with what is… And what is right now is a new line-up forced upon Arsenal by injury and a loss that the Football gods have dictated…Pressure is on for AW for now but as I see it this team has depth and the fear should be with Chelsea and MU. I predict…mark my words is trophies for the next five years! Fear not gunner fans!

  5. Arsenal are the highest scorers and their soccer is bewitching but until that
    ends with a trophy it is of no use.Brazil used to play beautiful soccer and were everyones favourite for the wc.Sadly when they were on top of their game,teams have found a way to stifle them.
    I’m afraid that is what is happening to the gunners now. The reason is obvious. Against physically tough opponents the gunners have been subdued. They want to be give time and space to stroke the ball. When these two ingredients vital to the modern game they are neutralised.
    All is not gloom and doom. But the team needs to pick itself up by beating Chelsea.Ancelotti is a pragmatic coach and wont be afraid to win ugly something alien to AW.
    Next week’s game will give us more info on whether the gunners can challenge for the title. Analysts have predicted a two horse race and they are usually right.It’s up to the gunners to prove them wrong and go on a long winning sequence.drawa are no good.
    if they can’ achieve the long winning run that shows the squad strength is not good enough.

  6. What are you moaning at? You have the world’s BEST manager and if I were not a Sunderland supporter I would happily be a gooner. Ilove to watch the Arsenal for their beautiful football, but it does become easier to defend against as you always try to walk the ball into the net and defenders re-group. Live with it, try supporting a team that rarely wins trophies and see how lucky you are. The Professor is Top Man.

  7. Todays result wasn’t a surprise, we’ve been playing well of late and it’s a pleasure being a SAFC fan. Arsenal palyed very well in the first half, to the extent we were chasing shadows. However, the goal was coming in the second half, we played better and desrved it. On the whole a draw would have been a fair result, but hey ho.

  8. We had enough possession and 1/2 chances to have won this game. Anyone see the Vela penalty incident? For some unknown reason my coverage didn’t even give a replay of the incident. Have we been awarded a penalty this season?

    Sunderland never really had us under any sustained pressure and I thought we defended well as a unit. However, these are the type of games where you need to take you 1/2 chances and we were guilty of missing them.

    We should have been leading b4 their lucky goal. We HAVE to learn to win these games.

    Still the bottom line is we lost and now we have beat Chelseas to get right back into the race.

  9. It’s amazing, Arsenal have gone 5 seasons without a trophy, yet there are still hoards of fans in the ‘Arsene Know’s’ brigade. The fact of the matter is you need that certain quality to win the league and only United and Chelsea have it right now.

    Arsenal can’t grind out results. The West Ham and Sunderland games are prime examples. We are now 8 points behind Chelsea, and it would take a miracle for them to lose that kind of lead. The best chance we have is beating Chelsea in a weeks time and hoping that they struggle when their players are missing at the ACN. But they seemed to be fine yesterday without Drogba!

    And did you hear Arsene say if we played Sunderland at home yesterday we would have won? What kind of statement was that?! Only a fool doesn’t realise you need to win both your home AND away games.

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