Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ramsey's broken leg

"This is the third player - Eduardo, Diaby and now Ramsey - we've lost to tackles that are unacceptable, and spare me the articles tomorrow about how nice Shawcross is because we had all that with Eduardo."

- Arsene Wenger

This one's not about the game, nor Shawcross' tackle, nor our chance in winning the league. Truth is, I didn't watch the match. I slept in, and woke up at 7 o'clock to find the result. And now, fourteen hours later, I'm still in a state of shock. It's difficult to think that Ramsey's out for the season. It doesn't seem real.

At times like this, you've got to wonder how Ramsey's feeling.

The choices for him at the moment are probably limited to morphine or more morphine. His mind must be a mess at the moment, but the only thing he's got to do now is wait for that leg to mend. For a young man who's life has been defined by action, that's likely difficult to do. To wait while the season rushes to its conclusion, to watch the league title challenge from the stands, it must be difficult to bear. The team will want to do everything in its power to win it for Ramsey, but it must be scant consolation when the game's there to be won, and you're powerless to affect the outcome.

But once his leg's mended, and he's training again, it becomes interesting. How long does it take to recover from a broken leg? It's an absolute tragedy for this to happen when he's 19. The years between 18-22 are crucial to a footballer's ability to achieve his potential, and it's so cruel to see those developmental years taken away from him. The world's at his feet, and then… you know.

The scary thing is that he might never achieve his potential. Do people truly recover from broken legs? Eduardo, two years' out, is rusty and a shadow of the player he promised to be. Diaby's still plagued by niggling injuries. And, these were players who had their injuries at a later stage of their development. Will Ramsey come back and develop into that feisty, creative midfield foil for Cesc? I hope so, but you never know.

I guess it depends on how he approaches his rehabilitation. Dale Begg-Smith, the Australian moguls skier, came back from a serious injury to win a silver medal at the Olympics. At his interview, he said that he never gave himself the luxury of self-doubt during his lay-off. Once he was injured, he figured out what he had to do to get back to his peak. And then he did it. It's a remarkable attitude. He didn't doubt that he couldn't do it, because he knew that once he acknowledged those fears, he was gone.

I imagine Ramsey's in much the same frame of mind. He's not my favourite Arsenal youngster - Theo's a much nicer boy - but from everything I've read about him, he's a determined guy. You'd have to be tough in order to force yourself into a Cardiff side at 17. You'd have to be driven to choose Arsenal over Man Utd, and skip the opportunity to train with Ryan Giggs. And you'd have to be a tough little fucker to have a nickname like "Rambo".

I think that that force of will is what separates the high achievers from the plebs. They have the ability to focus solely on what truly matters, and let everything else slide away. And at the moment, what really matters is getting that leg mended, working his way back to fitness, breaking back into the Arsenal first team, and then hunting down Ryan Shawcross to see how he likes an "honest" 50/50 tackle to the shin.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maybe we can use our surplus to buy some new players?

Turns out the financial wizards at Arsenal FC have cut our debts by over £100m and made a pre-tax, half-yearly profit of £35.2m. Sales of the Highbury Square apartments is going ahead, and our property business has recorded a pre-tax profit of £9.3m. Sales of our African players to Man City has netted £29m.

Arsenal are tickled pink with the results. As Peter Hill-Wood, the non-executive chairman (and how can a chairman be "non-executive"?) had this to say:

"I am pleased to report that the Group has delivered another profitable set of results for the first six months of the financial year.

"There has been remarkable progress at Highbury Square over the last 12 months and it is clear that the next couple of years will see our property activities delivering surplus cash. This is very good news, although I would not want to speculate on the exact quantum or timing of this.

"How we will use this surplus remains undecided but, in addition to investing in the team, I think we will examine investment in club projects and infrastructure, both in and around Emirates Stadium, which will provide a long-lasting benefit to the club and our tremendous, loyal supporters.

"Looking ahead, our strong financial base allows us time to take a measured and diligent approach to determining the club's direction beyond our move to the Emirates Stadium and into the next phase of growth."

It's just a thought, but how about we use that splendid profit to buy some players and win the Premier League? I realise there's a lot of infrastructure projects that, if implemented, could provide a long-lasting benefit for the club, but I think most fans would agree that strengthening the squad would be more important.

If it's a choice between installing arm-rests on the padded seats of the stadium, or buying a goalkeeper, I'd opt for buying goalkeeper. If it's a choice between installing heaters on the roof so fans don't get cold in winter (like the ones in the Bernebeu) and buying a quality striker, I'd go for buying a striker. If it's a choice between installing a twenty-foot golden statue of Arsene Wenger in front of the Armoury and employing a host of scantily-clad women to throw rose petals around the statue in wanton glee, and buying a good defensive midfielder, I'd go for... okay I'd probably go for the statue and the women, but I'd think hard about the abilities of Denilson, Ramsey and Eastmond first.

I know a lot of fans take comfort in our sound financial position. It's especially comforting now that Portsmouth's in administration, Man Utd and Liverpool are past their eyeballs in debt, and Chelsea and Man City have to figure out how to turn their sugar daddies' money into legitimate, money-laundred fresh "income". But our financial reports have shown that we're not on the knife edge of financial ruin. We're actually quite well off. We can afford to buy a quality goalkeeper, or a striker who doesn't break down every year, or a defensive midfielder who's so intimidating that he scares himself sometimes. And I think we should do it. What's the point of a football club if not to win trophies?

I love the way Arsene Wenger has set out the football club, I really do. I moan like shit because I see us so close to the finished article, but unable to take the final step because of Wenger's stubborn refusal to address our short-comings. We have great talent coming through the ranks, but who do we have as role-models? We have a breath-taking side going forward, but where's the defensive awareness for when the opposition counter-attack? Where's the 'keeper that bails us out of tight games? It's frustrating to see us so close and so far away from being complete.

So I hope when our non-executive chairman sits down with the board (does non-executive mean he doesn't have a seat, or that he's bound and gagged at meeting so he doesn't say anything stupid?) he'll come to his senses, and get Wenger to buy some fucking players. And re-appoint Keown as a defensive coach. And next season, have a genuine crack at the title, instead of playing a thin, injury-prone squad with a crap 'keeper and then pleading youth and injuries as excuses.

It's the only thing the fans really want. That, and an Arsenal super-store in Melbourne. Seriously, we have three superstores in the world, and two of them are at Emirates Stadium and the other one's in London. There's no other Arsenal representation in the rest of the world. For a club with global pretensions, that's lame.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Are England better off without Bridge?

"Sportsmail accepts that Bridge has had a tough time recently in his personal life, but he is an experienced professional footballer.... You do not choose whether to play for England, England chooses you. But whenever did weak men win World Cups? Maybe England are better off without him."

- Sportmail, from The Daily Mail, about Wayne Bridge's refusal to join the World Cup squad

Sportsmail made a good point. When did weak men win the World Cup? Maybe in 2005 with Italy, when Materazzi got head-butted in the chest by Zidane and fell down, whimpering like a baby. Or maybe in 2002, when Rivaldo had the ball thrown at him by a Turkish player, and he fell to the floor clutching his head, whimpering like a baby. Or maybe in 1998, when... I wasn't interested in football back then, but I'm sure something happened which resulted in a French player falling to the ground, whimpering like a baby.

So on the face of it, weak men DO win the World Cup, and they win it fairly regularly. As long as you stock your team with fragile players with a propensity to fall on the floor at the slightest touch, who play-act and show world-class displays of gamesmanship, you're in with a good chance. On that note, I think England have a good chance. Terry slips when taking a penalty, and he ends up crying. Gerrard dives like a hawk spotting a juicy rabbit. Rooney's too honest to dive, but he often jumps, miscues his position and falls over. I think England have enough weak men to pull off a World Cup victory.

What I don't think is healthy is the moral stand Bridge is taking. I don't understand it myself (I would've thought your ex would be fair game for your mates, especially if your mate is a philandering man-whore like John Terry), but Wayne Bridge has been slighted and has withdrawn from the World Cup team out of principle. He doesn't want to be tainted by associating with John Terry. He won't be swayed by money, fame, England caps or the lure of everlasting glory. The man has his principles, and one of them is to have nothing to do with John Terry. I think that's something a lot of us can emphasise with.

However, think what would happen this notion spread, and other members of the England squad withdrew out of principle. Say, Barry didn't like Gerrard's constant diving, and withdrew because of that. Or James didn't like Ferdinand's lame excuse for skipping a drug test, and withdrew. Or if Theo didn't like Ashley Cole's manwhorish ways, and left because of that. Pretty soon, England would be left with a bunch of degenerate, sex-obsessed, diving misanthropes, and the only players who would agree to play with them would be players like Joey Barton. Therefore, I think England could excuse Bridge from this World Cup squad, to quarantine the rest of the squad from his subversive, ethical stand.

Or if not, they could even do it out of compassion. It's difficult for me to watch John Terry on TV. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it would be to play with him on the same pitch, or train with him, or eat with him in the hotel, or hang around him in between football commitments. Wayne Bridge had to do that for a number of years while he was playing for Chelsea, so it's no wonder he's not eager for more companionship with Terry. Four(?) years of Terry is more than any sane man can bear.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ashley Cole's getting a divorce

Every article about Ashley Cole includes this picture. It's quite funny. There are 2,200,000 pictures of Ashley Cole on the internet, but somehow, every writer seems to think that this photo sums up Ashley Cole perfectly.

For me, this photo shows the absolute folly of the man. He's been gifted with the ability to run very fast and kick a football. With those two talents, he was able to break into the Arsenal first team, win a couple of Premier League titles and go unbeaten in the league. He was touted as a future Arsenal captain, and was halfway towards becoming an Arsenal legend. He met, wooed and married probably the most beautiful woman in England. He became richer than his wildest dreams.

And then he crashed his Bentley over £5,000 a week, through a hissy-fit and fucked off to Chelsea. And everything fell apart. He's richer than ever before. But he's won no more trophies. He's been caught philandering so many times that his wife's filing for divorce. He's a key component of the most reviled side in England. He's lost everything that would've made him great as an Arsenal player.

That photo was taken at his apogee. Look at it closely. It's a photo-shoot for the National Lottery and it shows the virtues of conspicuous consumption. There's the trophy girlfriend, the trophy car and the misty smoke-machines of heaven. In this vision of paradise, Ashley Cole has it all - including a hilarious outfit.

Cherly Cole looks great. She always looks great. She's comfortable, in a pose that accentuates her legs and hips. She's in her element as the glamorous trophy girlfriend. But look at Ashley Cole. He's flat-footed, standing behind Cheryl, and leaning slightly towards her. He's self-conscious. Look at his face. Frozen, forced grin like the ones in school photos. Awkward as fuck. Look into his eyes. He's petrified. He's thinking, there is NO possible way this photo-shoot will come out good. Little did he know that this photo will follow him through the rest of his life, (and probably be laminated on his tombstone as well).

But he went through with it anyway. Was it pressure from his glamorous girlfriend? Was it pressure from a glamorous lifestyle? Was it a total brain-fade like the one that inflicts Fabianski on equally embarrassing situations? I don't know.

The interesting thing about that photo is that it seemed to have capture Ashley Cole at an epiphany. Sometimes you are blessed with moments when you can look at your life with complete honesty. In moments like these, you realise how fucked-up things really are, and how far you are from who you want to be. I imagine it's a bit like this for Ashley. How the hell did a kid like him end up doing a photo-op for the National Lottery, with a pop starlet on his arm, a Rolls in the background, and him dressed like body-double for Siegfried and Roy?

At this point, there were two possible outcomes for Ashley Cole. He can ditch the WAG, the Bentley and the tacky white shirts, and focus on his football and the Arsenal. Or he can continue down this path, marry the WAG, fuck off to Chelsea, fuck other women, and reveal himself as the most hated fucker in English football. As the Fray put it, he could drive until he lost control, or break with the ones he follows. Literally, in Ashley Cole's case.

It could've been so different. Oh well. Pride (or in Cole's case, a white lacy, unbuttoned shirt) cometh before a fall.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sometimes it's the referee's fault

"Wenger is rightly recognised as a fantastic coach who loves to teach young players how to play his way. But maybe it’s time someone taught him how to lose with good grace and dignity. After all, it can’t always be the referee's fault."

- Graham Poll, full-time comedian, part-time referee

Four years ago in the World Cup, Australia drew 2-2 with Croatia with a late equaliser from Harry Kewell. It got us through the group stage, and Australia was elated. It seemed like football had finally arrived to this country.

When I think about that match, there's two things that stick out for me - the immense relief that flooded by body when Kewell got that goal, and an over-powering hatred towards Graham Poll. Graham Poll had a shocking match. He failed to spot a handball int he penalty area by Tomis. He didn't see rugby-type tackles on Viduka. He even gave Josip Simunic three yellow cards before sending him off.

So yes, Graham Poll; it's not always the ref's fault, but sometimes it is. There are some incidences when the ref makes errors so horrific that Wenger's comment about Hansson - that you can either believe the referee to be either incompetent or corrupt - is entirely justified. Either they're having a 90 minute brain-fade, or they're taking money from shady businessmen.

Personally, I think Wenger's over-reacting to it. I think we were as much to blame as the ref. Campbell shouldn't have back-passed. Fabianski should've have picked up the fucking ball, and when he did he shouldn't have handed it straight to the ref. Our players should've swarmed over the ref and protested. We were very, very bad, but it doesn't mean the ref was blameless. Wenger's got a right to complain.

And I don't understand why someone who thinks 3 yellow cards means a sending off is considered an authority on the laws of the game in England. But then again, this is coming from a culture which appointed Danii Minogue into a talent-show judge. I guess the English really get irony, don't they?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Should I watch Arsenal vs Porto?

It's 7:11pm on a Thursday, and I'm wondering if I should watch the Arsenal vs Porto Champions League replay tonight. SBS in their wisdom decided to show Bayern vs Fiorentina, so I've had to make do with match reports and youTube highlights all day. And from what I've seen on youTube, it was a bit of a shambles.

The first goal was bad. Bad positioning by Clichy, bad goalkeeping by Fabianski. The second goal was worse. I suppose you could say that Fabianski is rusty from sitting on the bench all season, but still, those were really, really bad errors. I gather the rest of the team was shit as well, but at the end of the day we conceded two sloppy goals and they were both the fault of our goalkeeper.

So what's the deal with Fabianski? What should he do now? I gather he's a talented 'keeper with an Achilles' heel of poor self-confidence. It would explain way Wenger spent so much time before the match trying to boost him up. He's a full international, so he's got the talent. But every time he's played for the Arsenal, he's had some sort of brain-freeze. I still remember last season (against Man Utd?) when he came out of his box to chase an opponent, and when the opponent passed to another player, he ran off to chase the other guy. Funny stuff in retrospect, but alarming at the time.

I'm assuming the problem is that he's been on the bench for so long that he can't keep calm when he gets his chance. He's probably got some form of performance anxiety. We should really consider sending him off on loan to a struggling Championship team, so he's given a lot of opportunity to foil attacks. At 24, it's still not too late for him.

With regards to Almunia, though, I think we should sell and buy someone awesome.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Can Guus please manage the Socceroos in the World Cup?

Guus Hiddink has agreed to manage Turkey, with an initial two year contract to Euro 2012, and then an option for two additional years to the 2014 World Cup. In accepting this deal, he's turned his back on Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and host of other clubs who are on the look-out for a new manager.

It seems like Guus Hiddink likes international football. In the last eight years, I think he's only managed Chelsea and PSV, and Chelsea was only a part-time job. In the meantime, he's managed South Korea, Australia, Russia and now Turkey. He's travelled the world, been paid handsomely and been rewarded extravagantly, met a lot of nice people and done a lot of nice things. He's got a really cushy job that only requires him to work very hard every two years. If you weigh that up against the day-to-day stress of managing a top club, I would be opting for a international managing job as well.

Still, I can't help but wonder if the FFA has missed a step. I realise we're committed to Pim Verbeek, and he's done a great job for us, but couldn't we have tried to get Guus back for the World Cup? It would've been awesome. Our perspective World Cup squad's hardly changed in the past four years, so why not go back to the same manager? And Guus wouldn't mind - he loves the World Cup and I'm sure he's disappointed not to be part of it this year.

It's probably not too late. Hiddink's got a contract with Russia until the end of the World Cup. He doesn't start his contract with Turkey until then. So all we've got to do is buy up that empty contract space from Russia. Hiddink's on about £120,000 a week, so what's the chance that they'd rent him out for say, £60,000 a week? There's about 4 or 5 months until the World Cup, so it'll be about £1.2m to hire him if we were to pay £60,000 a week. I think we can afford that.

Let's make it happen.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I love Arsenal, but...

"You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose."

- Hillary Clinton, before she was beaten in a campaign by poetry

For a couple of weeks, I've been arguing with the good folk over at Untold Arsenal about their ultra-optimistic, long term view of Arsenal's rosy bright future. They're speaking in metaphors, alluding to Arsenal as a cathedral built to last a 100 years. It's irritating because they ignore what's in front of them.

There are things that Arsenal can do, right now, to improve the team and to enhance their chances of success. They can start pressing higher up the pitch. They can sort out their set pieces. They can drill their full-backs to defend better. They can work out a system where their DM covers their position and stop the opposition from ripping our lines apart like wet toilet paper.

But will it happen? It hasn't happened in 5 years, and I haven't seen much evidence of it happening right now. This is what irritates me. It's one thing for a team to trying its hardest on a limited budget. It's another thing for that team to purposefully ignore their weaknesses because it doesn't fit into their philosophy of football.

I believe Wenger is guilty of that. I love Wenger for what he has done for the club, but I think he's lost his way if he thinks he can win the league with our current approach. We've made the same mistakes for 5 years now, and apart from the odd win against the odds, we're not learning.

Cesc Fabregas said about our team:

"As a team, we need to be stronger. We can't hide behind people saying we are too young or we have injuries. We just have to compete. People say you must learn from your mistakes, but you learn how to play football when you are 12, 13, 14, 15. You don't learn these things when you are 25.

"That is why I do not believe age is an excuse.

"In the past few years, we have been doing very well, but whenever it comes to important moments, maybe we haven't been up where we need to be. We have always tried to play our football, but the goals we have conceded lately have come from defensive mistakes. We are a team, so we all take responsibility for it together. We can keep playing the same style of football, but it is the mentality that will determine whether you win trophies or not. We need an extra edge in these big games."

I completely agree with Cesc on that point. We're committing school-boy errors in defence. We're weak in the big games. Wenger talks about this side needing to take the handbrake off during the big games, but I'd rather they kept the handbrake on and stop concede those stupid goals. This isn't stuff that you learn when you're playing professional football. It's stuff you learn when you're a kid. It's just that when you're in an environment like London Colney, defensive skills are neglected and players lose their way.

And I don't think fans that blindly follow the Arsenal are helping. A supporter who takes everything at face value and who doesn't use their critical minds is a muppet. A supporter who sees the weaknesses, but encourages a team to continuing on the wrong path is an enabler.

Clichy's been on the Arsenal website to say that:

"When I am on the pitch and I hear those songs and nothing can be better than that. So I really want to thank the fans... For the fans it is a way of talking to the players.... it's a way for them to tell us that they appreciate the work we are doing and the fact that they love us as a player so it's good and we play for them and they sing for us."

I wish there was a song that encouraged him to mark his winger and not to bolt upfield and get caught out positionally. Also to learn to cross properly so we can take full advantage of him forays upfield. Could someone make up a song that says that? I think "Clichy" rhymes with "positionally" if it helps....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Who Should We Whack First?

"When Pop had troubles, did he ever think that maybe by trying to be strong, and trying to protect his family, that he could lose it instead?"

- Michael Corleone, from The Godfather, Part 2.

To be strong for his family, Michael Corleone had to whack his brother. Fredo had betrayed him, and the sentence for that was whacking. Anything less would've been a sign of weakness. To survive as Don Corleone, Michael had to be strong - no matter what the consequences. And anyway, Michael had prior history. If Michael could whack his brother-in-law and make his sister a widow, why not his own brother?

Actually, Michael Corleone has a penchant for mass whacking. At the end of Godfather, he must've whacked half of the Mafia heads of New York. At the end of Godfather Part 2, he whacked half the criminal elite of America. And at the end of Godfather 3, he took his mass whacking to international levels, taking out a Catholic priest/businessman and assorted European legitimate businessmen.

We need someone like Michael Corleone at the Arsenal. Michael Corleone would look at Arsenal with clear, dispassionate eyes, and he'd have the strength to do what was necessary. Michael Corleone would be strong for the Arsenal - he'd whack off half the playing staff and repopulate it with hungry, effective, experienced players who'll give good performances against the big clubs.

Instead, we have Arsene Wenger, who's afraid of killing his players. He doesn't have the stomach to be strong for the Arsenal, because he's afraid of killing the Fredos of our squad. Michael Corleone wouldn't care about killing Denilson or Almunia. He killed his fucking brother just because he was weak and stupid, so why wouldn't he whack Denilson for being diffident or Almunia for being shit?

0-2 at Stamford Bridge doesn't make me angry anymore. It makes me sick and disappointed. Things have to change. We're defensively naive. We have a shit goalkeeper. We are over-indulgent. Wenger expects this team to rise like a soufflé, but maybe it's time to accept that they're just a sodden pile of deflated soft pastry. This was supposed to the year that we delivered, and if we don't deliver this year, maybe it's time to go back to the drawing board? Maybe even buy some choice players and euthanise some of our Fredos and Hyman Roths?

I hope so. As Michael Corleone once said "If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it's that you can kill anyone."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

From Hero to Zero

"When you are fighting with Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Aston Villa you cannot say that because you finished third it is a disaster. It is very important to win trophies but if you do not, you do not go from being fantastic to zero."

- Arsene Wenger, alarmed at being thought of as zero

I can see where Wenger's coming from. With the squad at his disposal, 3rd is a pretty good achievement. I'd have accepted 3rd place with this squad at the start of the season. And if we consider this season's performance against last year's, we can see definite improvement. Song, Ramsey and Diaby have all made considerable improvement. The 4-3-3 has been a qualified success. And for a brief moment in January, we were even top of the league.

The problem is that we've kind of fell into 3rd place. Wenger's comparing us to Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Aston Villa. Tottenham and Aston Villa can't compete with us financially and don't have Champions League calibre players. Man City are a circus and need time to gel. Liverpool are a financial basket-case and their only two players are hobbled by injury. All we need to do to get to 3rd place is win the games we're winning, lose the games we're losing, and wait until the other sides fall apart.

However to get beyond 3rd place, we need a bit more action. We haven't seen much from Wenger to suggest that he's serious about correcting our glaring deficiencies. We're still thin in defence and thin in central midfield. van Persie's out for the season, Bendtner's still unfit, and Arshavin's cracking the shits at having to play as a centre-forward. We're still vulnerable to the counter-attack down the flanks, and our defence is still a joke. Almunia shouldn't be our first-team goalkeeper. Players such as Nasri have trouble motivating themselves. These issues have been apparent for some time (up to 5 years, in the case of some), and they still haven't been addressed. If we're going to make the step from 3rd to 1st, we're going to have to address these problems.

I don't understand why some fans are blind to it. We are wallowing in mediocrity. And unlike Spurs, this isn't acceptable. Unlike Spurs, we are not a small club with large ambitions. In fact, we have become the opposite - we are a large club with small ambitions.

A club of Arsenal's stature should be competing for trophies. We have the 3rd highest wage bill in the Premiership. We have money. I'm sick of making excuses for the board for not spending, because clearly we have the money. There's a clause in the Emirates loan that stipulates that 75% of transfer income should be spent on wages or transfers. After Toure and Adebayor went to Man City, we could've, and should've, spunked a few million on players who could've improved us. Instead, we extended the contracts of players who hadn't done anything to deserve it. There's something wrong with handing Theo a 60k a week contract, Denilson a 40k a week contract, and giving Rosicky anything other than a pay-as-you-play contract. Especially if we then claim that we can't attract super, super players because they'd break the wage structure.

We have the personnel to make a better fist of it. Maybe not good enough to win the league, but at least to put up a fight. Consider our CL Final defence (Flamini, Toure, Senderos, Eboue) against our defence against Man Utd (Clichy, Gallas, Vermaelen, Sagna). Man for man, our current defence is miles better. But tactically? I'd rather the make-shift defence that knew its limitations and took pride in keeping clean-sheets. I wouldn't bet much on thinking our current back four could go through to a Champions League final without conceding a goal. And it makes me angry because if we only paid attention to defence, we have the players to make an outstanding back four.

In the above quote, Wenger's saying that we don't go from "fantastic to zero" if we don't win the league. And yes, 3rd is better than what I thought we'd come. But is that any cause of celebration? Bouncing between "not bad" and "not good" isn't something we should be aiming for. As things stand, we're not good enough to win the league. We're not bad enough to drop out of the Top 4. I can't see anything that will change that. That might be fine for the Arsenal board and Arsene Wenger, but for an increasing number of gooners, it's not. I think we deserve a bit more ambition from the men in charge.

We're the Arsenal, and we're better than that.