Monday, December 14, 2009

No More Mr Nice Wenger

"I'd never seen him like that before. He said we didn't deserve to wear the Arsenal shirt and he was right because we really weren't good."

- Cesc Fabregas, about Wenge's half-time blast

2-1 to the Arsenal last night, and it looks like Wenger's finally worked out how to motivate Arsenal when we're playing like crap. We played terribly first half. We played better in the second half. And the only difference in between was that Wenger yelled at his players at half-time. 

You wonder that Wenger never tried it before. God knows, some Arsenal performances over the years have deserved a bollocking. I don't know how he can stand in front of those players at all those half-times and not lose his cool. I yell at Almunia quite a bit, and I don't have a pitch-side view of his various misdeeds. 

Still, a 2-1 away win against Liverpool isn't to be sneezed at. It closes the gap between us and Chelsea. It gives our players another win. It knocks Liverpool back out of contention. And best of all, it knocks some fear of Wenger into our players. 

It might help Diaby jump the next time he's marking a set-piece.

It might help Denilson get his foot in. 

It might help Song run and press and give it 100%. 

It might turn Arsenal into a football team with a spine.  

And wouldn't that be something?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rumors of Arsenal's death have been greatly exaggerated

Last night Chelsea drew 3-3 with Everton, and Man Utd lost 0-1 to Aston Villa. We're 9 points behind Chelsea at the moment, with 2 games in hand. We're up against Liverpool tonight, and if we win this one, and if we win the game in hand against Bolton, we're only 3 points behind Chelsea. Despite the despondency of the past couple of weeks, it's still very tight at the top. 

As Wenger said:

It gives tonight's match a bit of extra impetus. Win, and we're back on track. Lose, and we're in a really shitty position. And wouldn't it be something to be back in contention, after all the crap that's happened in the past couple of weeks? 

Then again, I don't think I could handle the disappointment again. I've had enough of new beginnings, lines in the sand, bright new dawns. I don't really care if our youth are maturing during our faltering title chase. We've seen it before and been disappointed. I'd rather have experienced pros at the club who can do their job well, not fuck up in defence, and give 100% effort 100% of the time. 

Anyway, we really should beat Liverpool tonight. I think Arsenal should stick with Arshavin up front, supported by Walcott and Nasri (or Vela). Let's send a big "fuck-you" to all those English pundits who think we're too short to win the league. 

It's time to let Theo off the leash and let him have a go up front. I'm tired of seeing him learning his trade on the wing. He's got all the physical qualities to be a great striker, and he's a good finisher, but he hasn't got the tactical brain to be adaptable enough to be a winger. So let's scrap the education and get him to do what we bought him for. It's time to bung him up front and get our squad of midfield midgets to thread through-balls for him to chase. Sooner or later, he'll latch onto one and make us proud. 

C'mon Arsenal, and c'mon Theo. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Germany. Serbia. Ghana. Australia

"It could've been better but it could've been worse."

- Pim Verbeek, about our World Cup grouping

World Cup draw last night, and we've been picked in Group D along with Germany, Serbia and Ghana. It's not a bad draw. We could've had something easier (Group F with Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia looks appealing), but we could have had something much harder as well. We wouldn't be favourites against any of those teams, but we won't be out-classed. Australia's good enough to give each of these countries a game, and who knows, we may even qualify. 

I'm kind of disappointed that we didn't draw England in the group. There was an outside chance of an Anglo Group in Group C (England, USA, Algeria and Slovenia), but I guess it wasn't meant to be. Someone else will have the privilege of knocking England out of the World Cup. It's a shame because knocking English out of international sporting events is the reason Australia invests so much money into sports. 

Oh well, I suppose there's always the Ashes next summer. 

Jason Culina thinks the group is tough, but that all the groups are tough anyway. He puts it on par with our 2006 grouping with Japan, Brazil and Croatia. I'd have to agree, but with the caveat that the talent in 2010 will be more even. If we're lucky and organised, we've got a chance of beating each of Germany, Serbia and Ghana. There was no chance in hell we were going to beat Brazil in 2006. 

So if we're good, we'll give the group a hell of a shake. If we're lucky and good, we'll get out of the group. And if we're lucky, good and the stars are aligned, we'll draw England in the second round. And wouldn't that be an interesting game?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Even my nephew can't roll over like the Arsenal

My nephew George learned to roll over last week. It's a big landmark for a baby. It's the very first step towards independent locomotion and freedom. It opens up a bigger world for him; life is no longer the polarising dichotomy of "up" and "down" - there is now a left and a right as well. 

All in all, it's very exciting. 

Watching him roll over the other night made me realise what an incredible tricky thing it is. My sister-in-law lay him on his stomach at first, and propped him up on his arms. Then he started to topple over on his side. He looked like he was doing it easy, but then he got stuck as he lay on his side. He started kicking out a bit to flop over, but couldn't manage it. He looked a bit like a turtle stuck on its back. 

I've been assured that he's rolled over three times already, but it's still obviously a little tricky for him. He hasn't got the knack of twisting his hips with his back muscles. But he's young, and he'll learn in time. Rolling over is natural part of the human condition. And if he needs inspiration with regards to rolling over, he's got the Arsenal as potential role-models. 

Even my nephew can't roll over like the Arsenal. 

We lost again last night. 3-0 to Man City, who comprehensively out-played our youngsters. When you add this to the 1-4 defeat to Chelsea over the weekend, and the 0-1 defeat to Sunderland last week, it's pretty depressing. Nobody rolls overs like the Arsenal on a losing streak. Not only does our first 11 not show up at matches; even our reserve players are starting to not show up. 

Where to from here? 

Well, the glaring deficiencies that were apparent at the start of the season are all still there. We still don't give a fuck about defending. We still don't prepare for set-pieces. We still don't have a strong squad. We still have a lot of young players who fold in pressure situations and who don't have the guidance on the pitch that they deserve. 

What's going to happen to fix the problem?

We're going to get a new striker in January. Other than that, not much. Arsene Wenger believes in developing a squad in a natural way, which to him means not buying the players we need and not coaching defences. So we just let our player develop naturally.

Just like my nephew George, we're going to get a lot of practise rolling over.