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Stoke 1 Arsenal 0: I’m probably being naive

YES, the defending for the goal was very poor.

Yes, we were imperfect going forward and Ozil (and others arguably) could and should have done better.

But more often than not if you put that game through a simulator it would have chucked out a scenario where we equalised and then quite possibly went on to win the game.

On the offside goal, put it this way: had it been given nobody would be arguing he was offside. I think we were pretty unlucky on that and the penalty that wasn’t awarded too.

So I’m not entirely dispirited. Though I do realise my optimism will in all likelihood turn out to be completely misplaced!

37 Responses to “Stoke 1 Arsenal 0: I’m probably being naive”

  1. longtallgooner says:

    After being at Stoke and witnessing the Shawcross tackle on Rambo I vowed not to got to there again, so find myself watching going aargh why do I put myself through Groundhog day again, but you do don’t you! The ample acres of green space in front of our defense is going to be a recurring theme I fear if we keep giving balls away in the positions we do. For all the possession we had, the drive and link up wasn’t working and no amount of ‘bad luck’ is going to placate fans for the fact that there are players who have started not to show the sort of fight they did in the cup final. Of course we have to remain optimistic but didn’t we just witness some familiar softness and lack of invention? Read the Per interview, hope he gets to be a big influence on out team.

  2. PD says:

    I admire your optimism goodplaya. Did you u have a beer too many???

  3. PD says:

    If this was an isolated result, we could write it off…..but let’s face it if this was a TV show called ‘Why Arsenal didn’t win the league’ the critics would be destroying it for having run out of original ideas. (‘So, so predictable. This looks remarkably like an episode from 2011′)
    There’s is very little left to say. I actually stopped watching with half an hour to go, just couldn’t face it. Utterly predictable.

  4. MDP says:

    I can’t pass this off as one of those days. Yeah we had a bit of bad luck with some of the decisions but there were a lot of things wrong with this Arsenal side. Yes, we could have won this on another day but we could have lost to Leicester on another. There’s something fundamentally wrong. It’s not hard to see some of those things either. It’s not as if people are scratching their heads about the problems. They’re plain to see.

    Even before kick off I was shocked at the choice of back 3. I just can’t get my head round how Arsene can opt for Monreal as the anchor man in the back 3 and also have Kolasniac as one of the centre backs. It failed last week and it failed again this week. There’s 4 fit centre halves in Mert, Mustafi, Chambers and Holding. Yet, we are experimenting at a time of the season where we notoriously start slow. Madness! I don’t question Monreal or Kolasniac for ability as the left wing back but I’ve yet to be convinced they can do anything but fill in at the centre. Together is a last resort.

    So much more could be said but we’ve probably said it a billion times before. So bored of this.

  5. MDP says:

    Well, Spurs losing their first PL game at Wembley cheered me up a tiny bit even if it was Chelsea.

  6. Elvis says:

    A disappointing result at a ground where Arsenal almost always struggle.

    I had hoped that an August fixture would give us a better chance than in a blustery and miserable February or March when this game always seems to fall. Stoke tend to start slowly in the league too. Oh well…

    I tend to agree with Goodplaya that, had Lacazette’s goal stood, Arsenal would probably have gone on to win the game. In any case, I am not writing the season off just yet.

    Let’s see how things look with Sanchez back in the side and a defence that looks a bit more first choice.

  7. slc gunner says:

    I don’t understand how the BFG didn’t start. He has his weaknesses, mainly lack of pace, but he is good positional awareness and maybe the smartest defender that we have. I think he’s ideally suited to be the middle man in the back 3. Arsene has over the years avoided having to make decisions in key positions. I don’t think he wants to have to drop Bellerin or the Ox (maybe trying to keep the latter happy so that he signs a contract), and so we end up the back 5 that we saw at the weekend.
    It was one of our better displays at Stoke (apart from last season, most have been abysmal), but one bad mistake killed us. It wasn’t the misplaced pass from Xhaka because unlike last week, it was in an area of the pitch where there should not have been any imminent danger. But instead of taking a step back and holding his position, which would have slowed down the opposition, he runs after the ball like a headless chicken, opening up a huge gap behind them. Ill ignore for now that Ramsey was nowhere to be seen (he has more license to roam with a back 3 behind him, but maybe not that far). Now, I don’t know if the coaches actually talk to the players about these situations and it’s not sinking in, or if Arsene let’s the players figure it for themselves- many would say the latter. Either way, the mindset is going to have to change quickly if we’re to have any chance. With Liverpool at the weekend, we need to get the defence in shape quickly. Koscielny will help.

  8. PD says:

    I’ve always thought that Arsene’s inability to have the team mentally ready has been a far bigger problem than his team selections (& still do) but I have to agree with slc (& others) …..leaving the BFG out while playing Monreal in the middle of the back 3 was an extraordinarily bad decision.

  9. N7 says:

    If ever a match has had an inevitable feeling about it….! I wish I had the discipline to just turn off games like that!

    We looked so ponderous. Kos and Alexis being back will help…and hopefully the Coutinho saga will impact Liverpool ahead of our game there.

    Great to see Spurs lose – they needed to not have a tone-setting “we’re going to make Wembley our fortress” moment

  10. MDP says:

    All I ask for now, is that in the next game we find that defensive solidity that the back 3 gave us prior to the Leicester game. Kos will be back and I personally would play him alongside Mert (anchor) and Mustafi. You then have the decision to either play Monreal or Kolsaniac on the left and Bellerin or Ox on the right. This is difficult but I’d opt for Kolasniac on the left and Bellerin right. Monreal and Ox would be sure to get on second half. It will be interesting then to see if Alexis starts, I think that situation is far from over or clear cut.

    3pts is a must against Liverpool, a draw would be underwhelming and a loss very very bad. I think they are there for the taking minus Coutinho if we stay strong at the back and give their defence a good going at.

    So, Mr Wenger, stop tinkering. We know Kolasniac and Monreal are both very good and hard to leave one out but lets play to our strengths and win the game.

  11. ChicagoGooner says:

    I applaud the positive attitude towards Monreal in general, however, the game has passed him by. On the ball defending and intelligence have never been his top attributes and yet he was anchoring our defense, that should never happen. When we signed Kolasniac I was hopeful the days of Monreal on defense were over, he could be a second half sub at left wing back when the game is in hand to add some additional defensive mindedness, outside of that, he should not see meaningful minutes.

    Mr. Mariner did us no favors Saturday, but it is still a fixture that should have been won 2-1 for sure. If Kos is back for Liverpool I will be much more at ease.

  12. PD says:

    I think that’s very harsh. Monreal can still do a good job. I think he may no longer be a certain starter with the arrival of Kolasinac but he’s still going to play quite a bit. I would certainly be more comfortable with him as back up this season than I was with Gibbs for the last couple that’s for sure.
    It’s hardly Monreal’s fault the manager hung him out to dry playing him in a position he’s completely unsuited to….mind you he’s hardly the first!

  13. MDP says:

    I like Monreal a lot, just not in the middle of a back 3. He’s been one of the successes of the last few years but at 31 and with a bit of serious competition he might not play every game. Kolasniac seems to have that strength and fighting spirit that Arsenal have lacked. I’m still not sure where this defence is heading and what Wenger really has in his mind. With Gabriel gone, Holding taking a break, Mert not 100% trusted and Chambers not even making the bench/probably heading for the exit. Not sure what’s next?

  14. longtallgooner says:

    Agree, I think Monreal is a success story on the whole, not his fault if he has to cover the midfield in front of him that think they’re on a picnic outing. Kolasniac is shaping up to be the kind of beast we need and looks promising. I wonder if he could do a midfield Viera type role? Bit early to tell probably but here we are again talking about balance in the side!

  15. MDP says:

    Aside from all the gloom… If Wenger’s going to give youth a chance this season, I look forward to seeing Reiss Nelson in an Arsenal shirt especially with the Europa Cup giving us a chance to blood a few youngsters.

  16. PD says:

    If Arsene’s team selection last week was bizarre, this week’s was even worse. What the hell is going on in Arsene’s head?
    How’s that optimism holding up Goodplaya?

  17. slc gunner says:

    What an embarrassment. I could go on and on about players, lack of leadership etc. but we’ve heard it all before. As PD has been telling us, what’s the point. I have no optimism for the season ahead. You cannot see that squad and manager doing anything outside of the cup competitions. In fact, we should concentrate on the cups.

  18. Elvis says:

    Is it over dramatic to say Arsenal are as good as out of contention for the league before August is out?

  19. slc gunner says:

    No. I think that’s realistic at this stage.

  20. slc gunner says:

    One thought that comes to mind so i’ll put it down while i think of it. This was, in some ways, akin to the 8-2 loss at Man U (it could easily have been 8) and it was at the same time in the season. The big difference though: we had a makeshift team out at OT that day and it was before the mad rush to bring in players on the last day of that window (Arteta, BFG and some others). Today, this was our best 11 – no injuries, a team that AW is supposedly “very satisfied” with.

  21. MDP says:

    Complete and utter humiliation. For the fans, for the players, for the manager, for the club. Not just for yesterday but for all the other calamitous performances and terrible decisions that have gone before. It really came to a head last season but now it’s falling apart.

    Sourness said at halftime how basically he’d been banging on about how Arsenal needing a defensive type ball winning midfielder for years. Haven’t we all Graeme is all I can say. That’s where the problems began yesterday with Liverpool waltzing through to our 18yard box unopposed whilst Ramsey and Xhaka were nowhere to be seen. Our defence were exposed time and time again and they cracked.

    Then we have the trademark style of playing players out of position epitomised by Bellerin as the left wing back. It seems a long long time ago that Arsene shifted Henry to the centre, Toure to centre half and Lauren to right back. It was all that time ago that these switching of positions actually worked. At a time of the season where we should be looking for stability, building on our strengths and fighting for a strong start, we’re just fucking about to disastrous effect.

    I could go on and on about lack of preparation or a spineless board or many many other things but it’s all been said before. We’ve had some good days like the cup final in May but the cracks were still there and the club is not just stagnating, it’s going backwards.

    The problems are so obvious yet with only days left of the transfer window we’re left with no choice but to trudge on. How much more damage and humiliation will we be subjected to before the seasons out. The only option now is a clean slate, a fresh start. I’m just not sure when it will happen.

    PD, fair play mate, you were one of the first I know of to see this coming. I gave you stick when I first wrote on this forum. I stuck by Wenger for a long long time and I’m comfortable with why I did that. But, this is nothing new, it’s been going on a long long time and it’s dull and depressing.

  22. PD says:

    Elvis, not dramatic at all.
    Slc, your comparison with the 8-2 is one of the most depressing comments I’ve read about Arsenal. Mostly because I can’t disagree with it in any way.

    The club needs to show a ruthlessness, desire & ambition in the next 3 days like it has never shown before to salvage something from this season….and then sit down & work out a plan for Arsene to walk away next summer.
    Chances of that happening……practically zero.

  23. King Henry says:

    When you have had a full week to prepare, against a team that had to play in midweek, have your best players available, then play them out of position, leave your record signing on the bench, pick a guy who does not want to stay at the club, produce an abject display, failing to register a single shot on target, and do nothing to address the manifest issues during the game, or motivate the team to have any pride for the shirt, you can only look at the manager.

    Arsene, your team is six points and fourteen goals behind the league leaders after just three games, and the players look like they couldn’t care less! Looks like game over before the transfer window is shut.

  24. PD says:

    I shouldn’t laugh but the Guardian’s description of the game as ‘Arsenal brought a paintbrush to a gunfight’ I found hilarious.

    I see the Ox is off to Chelsea. I’m OK with this as long as we use the money to buy that DM we so desperately need……………hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  25. slc gunner says:

    we’ll probably buy Mahrez with the money, another twinkle-toed fairweather player

  26. PD says:

    Yeah, probably. He can be company for Ozil when we come under pressure !

  27. MDP says:

    It’s quite remarkable looking back at 2011/12 season with the high profile departures of Fabregas and Nasri. In the opening 3 games we drew 0-0 with Newcastle, lost 2-0 to Liverpool and 8-2 to united. After that panic we signed Park Chu-young, Andre Santos, Mertesacker and Arteta. I wonder what we have in store this deadline day? Interestingly this was the window we signed Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Look how far we’ve come in those 6 years! You could make the most incredible timeline of disasters, failures and blunders. I wonder if the board actually take all these things into account or just blank them out. If I didn’t laugh I’d cry.

  28. King Henry says:

    This “DM” who is going to fix every problem at Arsenal. Who is he? Who does he currently play for?

  29. PD says:

    No chance of any player fixing every problem King Henry….but there’s a huge hole in front of our back 4 that is blatantly obvious to everyone surely? And neither Coquelin or Elneny have the quality to fill it.

    Now, the mentality problems in the team….they will still exist regardless of who we sign & it’s hard to see any solution to them that doesn’t involve a change in manager……

    (I was just trying to laugh at the the idea that selling the Ox might be part of a plan….the very idea that the club have a plan is hilarious at this stage)

  30. longtallgooner says:

    Plan? Ha! It is, as you say, hilarious, only it’s so embarrassing ! Not been this embarrassed by a side since the defeat to Swindon Town at Wembley, but at least they were trying that day! I’ve never seen an Arsenal side so ill at ease with itself and it’s been brewing for a while. MDP is quite right in pointing out the quality of our buys after the last ‘crisis’. Players have to take some responsibility but at the end of the day only one person to blame . Now other clubs know how desperate we they’ll want ridiculous prices for average players and the manager will turn round and there’s no better out there. But where were we when the likes of Mane or Matic were available?

  31. Elvis says:

    How can a team that played so brilliantly in the FA cup final in May be in such utterly shambolic disarray in August?

  32. MDP says:

    A good question Elvis.

    If I’m being honest the cup final and in some ways the semi final against City were up there as some of my favourite FA cup memories. They were great fun and such a release during a turbulent time. There’s obviously many other memories that eclipse them mainly due to the fact we’ve won doubles and titles when we knew Arsenal were the best at that time. Knowing your team are the best certainly within England and standing alongside the best in Europe is certainly a greater feeling.

    But, the team that won the FA Cup last season no doubt had quality but the key point for me Elvis is consistency or lack of it in this case for Arsenal. This inconsistency is down to a long list of things. This list of things is the reason the club is stagnating. Some times things align themselves together and it looks alright. Maybe a change in system or the chance to play in a Wembley final can have that effect. However, that long list of things that we’ve all talked about many times sooner or later brings inconsistency. It’s proven to bring a clear pattern of extremely bad and damaging results season after season from Old Trafford to The Allianz Arena to Anfield.

    That list include… A greedy owner that doesn’t give a fuck and is just in it for the money; a manager that has made countless errors yet in the eyes of the owner can do no wrong; countless flaws in the playing personnel with a gaping hole in midfield for years and lack of emphasis on defence resulting in no real spine and a team that generally lack balance; there’s a huge concern over preparation, a lack of communication from the manager with a well documented reserved approach and managing style; there’s playing players out of position to try and mould them into something better or is it just trying to fit them in because they’re good yet not good enough to be first choice in their strongest position; there’s paying too high wages to average players and struggling to offload them or injury prone players that we hang onto for too long; there’s a lack of ruthlessness and in turn a loyalty and closeness to players that should be long out the door, clogging up the system; there’s just no coherent plan that leaves the fans, the players the pundits and media tearing their hair out time and time again which is so so so so damaging. Round and round and round in circles as Groundhog Day appears again and again and again. The list goes on and on and if I had the time and inclination could be more researched and eloquently put but we all know what these things are. Arsenal is currently a breeding ground for problems and there’s lots of them. As things stand we’re trying to solve those problems from the bottom but the only way it’s going to happen is from the top. That’s the owner and the manager.

    A lot needs to change to get back consistency. Consistency wins titles and brings success.

  33. slc gunner says:

    Forgetting about the debacle of last weekend for a minute and pretending it didn’t happen, this whole transfer window has still been a bit of a mess (surprise surprise). Sanchez, Ozil, Wilshere are staying it appears, but there are no new contracts signed, and we are likely to be in a dangerous financial situation at the end of next season unless something drastic happens.
    In terms of ins and outs, you could argue that we’re slightly better off. Kolasinac for Gibbs is an improvement. Chambers for Gabriel could be an improvement, but only time will tell. Otherwise, it’s the status quo and we were not great at the back last year.
    Wilshere in for the Ox. not like for like I know, but really the only midfield change. The Ox had been a mixed bag but improving. Jack has a lot to prove, but if he got back to his best, that would be a great boost. But we’re still lacking in a defensive midfielder that fits the mould. We just don’t have that all-round player that is needed. Coquelin is decent on the defensive front, but lacking in footballing ability. Xhaka is the opposite. I look at a player like Jordan Henderson who is the complete package. The top teams have those players, but right now, I can’t see that we do.
    Up front, it’s really just Lacazette for Perez which should be an improvement.
    Nothing to get really excited about though, especially given the current mood. We usually recover from games like last week to finish in the top 3-6. Which is to predict same old Arsenal for this season.

  34. MDP says:

    A disastrous summer. I feel like we’re watching our club falling apart. We’re currently stuck in reverse and I’m not certain when and how someone will step in and turn things around.

    There’s two men culpable from what I can see. Wenger who has Arsenal in his heart but has completely and utterly lost the plot. Then we have Stan Kroenke who after what I’ve been hearing from sources outside of Arsenal is only in it for the money. He doesn’t give a fuck about Arsenal, about sport, about entertainment, about the history and legacy of Arsenal Football Club. He’s ruined sport franchises in America and he’s at it again in the U.K. Ask the fans of St Louis Rams (now LA Rams) why he’s so hated in America. Source: Arseblog podcast with writer James Montague – about billionaire owners. Well worth a listen and not the first time I’ve heard this stuff.

    On the surface it was so Arsenal to be chasing an attacker all summer when the real problems were in midfield and defence. As it was Lemar would have been a good replacement for Sanchez (not like for like but good). Sanchez should have gone as I said on this page previously and will cause more instability in the weeks and months to come with no money to show now at the end of it. Lemar was on board as I understand it all summer but Monaco needed to be won over. By the time we win Monaco over the player has understandably changed his mind amid all the chaos. So very very very Arsenal.

    Koscielny went down injured last night. Just hope it’s a knock. Our defence and midfield is the area that’s going to make or break this season. A season that is now about finishing fourth (extremely difficult when you see how all our rivals have strengthened significantly)or winning the Europe League. Champions League qualification is the only thing that can put the brakes on even if its temporary.

    To try and find any ounce of positivity is hard but I’ll try. The signings we did make are very good. The players we have got are quality. We might have gaping holes but we’ve had to deal with that for the last ten years. Let’s hope the players choose to show some balls rather than sulk.

    It’s going to be very very very hard and I don’t want to even think about the instability that could occur in January and the summer that will follow. Will there be any money? Will Arsene be able to take any more? Will Stan free up some money or sit in his ranch counting his wealth?

  35. PD says:

    So….that was weird. The positives first : Lacazette & Kolasinac look like good signings. 10m for Gabriel & 40m for the Ox are good business. After that…..a mess really let’s be honest. Even by Arsenal standards, this was a terrible summer.

    Ospina ? He wanted to go, we wanted him to go. Couldn’t find any takers, stuck with him.
    Two right full backs neither of who we want. One stayed who we won’t pick, the other is gone on loan where we are (most likely) still paying a fair proportion of his wages.
    Chambers was told he wasn’t wanted, then suddenly told he was. What’s he thinking ?
    We were willing to let Mustafi go but couldn’t get a deal done. What’s he thinking ?
    We turned down 10m for Gibbs early in the window hoping for 15m. Then sold him for 7m !
    We made no attempt at all to buy a midfielder even though our options there are dire.
    We turned down 10m for Lucas on the basis that we could get more. Then ended up loaning him & will be in no position to sell him next summer.
    Campbell is on loan for the SIXTH season. What is the point ???
    We said all summer Alexis couldn’t go. Then on the last day told him he could…but only if we got a replacement….who turned out to be Lemar…and after bidding roughly 50m earlier in the summer on the last day we decided to bid 92m !!!!! 50m to 92m – wtf ??? So however pissed off Alexis would have been if we’d stuck to our guns is nothing compared to what he must be feeling now.

    Awful, awful stuff. I think we could come anywhere from 4th to 7th. I think assuming we will be in the top 6 ahead of Everton is not a given at all.

  36. Elvis says:

    That’s an accurate comment PD. The club looks like it is being run by the Keystone Cops, all worse the wear from alcohol. A baffling and hapless transfer window utterly lacking in authority and any discernible strategy. It is going to be a very long season.

  37. longtallgooner says:

    Wow, when you list it out like that PD it really does bring home the chaos at the club. From what I remember most of the Keystone Cops eventually managed to get on the wagon, we’ve got players who are not remotely close, but a good analogy never the less I worked out that it would take me over 2,260 years to earn Neymar’s annual salary, which makes me realise how stupid this whole game has become. Will there be a super-European league appearing with just a few of the top spending clubs? A long few seasons ahead unless there’s a major restructuring at the club.

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