Villa 0-0 Arsenal | Can everybody see the cracks now?

My headline for last week’s match report against Spurs was Papering over the cracks. Refusing to get carried away by a victory that was mostly down to Adebayor’s red card, I wrote a critical piece that pointed out the flaws in our game and how far behind Spurs we were while they had eleven men. I quote myself: “We are not suddenly a brilliant side — we just papered over the cracks that were glaringly evident in the first 17 minutes.”

I was duly slaughtered in the comments by people either unable to see the bigger picture or in denial, but I think today proves my point. I hope if anything good can come out of that pitiful performance it’s that a few more Gooners will have opened their eyes.

My reason for saying ‘I told you so’ is not self-indulgence, it’s because I want those AKBs to understand what is really going on. A rot has set in the club that spreads from the boardroom right down to the players. While Wenger still has the blind support of these fans nothing will change and we will remain an unambitious club which sells its best players, charges the highest ticket prices in the world and only aims for 4th place.

This flawed strategy will remain until the board can see dissatisfaction from its customers supporters with its own eyes. That’s why I was pleased to see thousands of empty seats against Montpellier on Wednesday because fans need to vote with their feet and stop going to matches.

Speaking of that match, forgive me a brief aside that perfectly captures this club’s arrogant, dismissive attitude to its supporters and how it hides behind spin and propoganda to further its own agenda.

Consider this — the ground was about 90% full on Wednesday. Our capacity is 60,361 which puts the likely attendance figure at about 54,000. According to it was 59,760, just 601 less than a full house. My arse were there only 601 empty seats! The reason they came up with that figure? Because Arsenal announces attendances as tickets sold rather than people at the match. That way, they can tell their sponsors that all is rosy and that their faithful supporters are at Emirates instead of watching the match at home because they’re disillusioned with the way the club is run. It is classic spin typical of this current regime.

I don’t want to know how many tickets were sold Arsenal, I want to know how many people actually attended the match — that’s what an attendance figure should show. And the fact you refuse to give us that information in an effort to hide the level of dissatisfaction amongst the fans is a small illustration of what arrogant, self-serving tossers you really are.

Arsene Wenger during the match against Aston Villa

People need to stop judging this once-great man on past glories and open their eyes

Anyway, now that’s off my chest I suppose I should talk about today’s game. Wenger rightly rotated his squad and gave breathers to Wilshere, Vermaelen and Sagna. If you were in any doubt as to the lack of depth we possess, today should have made it perfectly clear. I can’t remember us having so little possession against any team, never mind one in the relegation zone, and having just checked the stats on the BBC it was 50-50. That’s astonishing for a supposedly top side whose entire way of playing is based on possession.

Indeed we were so impotent that it took us 29 minutes to create a chance when Ramsey’s shot was kicked away by Guzan. Villa were also quiet in attack, but did have the ball in the net following a half-cleared free kick only for the linesman’s flag to correctly save us.

Moments before the break Koscielny scooped over when well placed and the halftime whistle brought a woeful contest to a halt. Not much changed after the restart though. Ramsey had a couple of half chances before Agbonlahor shot straight at Szczesny from 10 yards out.

Then came Wenger’s default substitution as Podolski got the hook for Gervinho. Is he the only player in the world to be on a 70 minutes per game contract? The decision looked all the more baffling when Gervinho’s first touch went straight out for a goal kick and then moments later his next touch went for a throw in.

I was hoping the last 20 minutes would signal a barrage of Arsenal attacks as we used to nick games like this in the latter stages, but we are a much weaker team now. Villa were giving as good as they got as they had done for the whole match and on 77 minutes they came the closest to scoring when Holman’s shot was superbly tipped onto the bar by Szczesny. It’s so nice to have a proper keeper back between the sticks.

With five minutes to go it was stick or twist time as Wenger made his final substitution. Incredibly, he took off Giroud and brought on Coquelin. I cannot for the life of me understand that and the only logical conclusion is that he was trying to hold on for a point.

I’ll say that again — Wenger was trying to hold on for a point against Aston Villa. Forget all the bullshit he talks in the media about still being in the title race, here was the truth for everyone to see. We used to batter sides like this, now we’re satisfied with draws. “You don’t know what you’re doing!” chanted the loyal and fed-up away support.

Indeed. How the mighty have fallen.

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  1. Watch

    My name might seem arrogant, like I’m saying for you to watch what happens with the team. It’s not that. It’s more, watch the bs spouted by AKBs flow in like it does constantly. You know how poorly we’re doing when they’re constantly having to defend Wenger, and their very label of AKBs just shows that Arsene really doesn’t know best.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 22 Thumb down 4

  2. silentstan

    been with you on this for years. in fact I shall boast and tell you that I told my son 5 seasons ago we would win nothing as long as Wenger is in control. The AKB’s just leave me speechless. quite how long their penny is dropping lord knows. He has no tactics, openly admits he doesn’t prepare for the opposition, and is clearly incapable of motivating players. this bunch are talented , you don’t keep getting caps without some skill. but he is incapable of making them work and tick. Those protesting the board have it wrong, they have got us new ground, training ground, medical facilities, raised our brand abroad, it is Wenger alone who is responsible for a shambles of a team, year in year out

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 17 Thumb down 6

  3. davi

    He took off Giroud because playing Gerv though the middle has worked well quite a few times this season, and did have an affect, although I think it merely changed our playing style rather than really improving it. We certainly weren’t just hanging on at the end anyway, we were the more likely to score, but it’s true that we weren’t good enough, of course. I don’t know if your 50-50 stat is correct, but by the end of the game, we averaged >60% possession, so it wasn’t so bad on that front.
    Your point on the Spurs game is also a bit off. Yes they were far better than us before the red card but that’s hardly a complete reflection of how the 2 sides matched up. Had they really been that much better a side than us they would at least have been able to scrape a draw from the game with 10 men – at least make it close! And it’s the sort of fixture where they could have gone 2 or 3 up with 11 men and we might then have turned it around. You just can’t tell at the moment. No, in truth we are of a similar level to Spurs. It’s not where we want to be, but at the moment that’s the reality.

    Anyway, the issue with the side at the moment is WINGERS. I don’t think anyone really played that bad, but the 2 wide players just weren’t creative enough. It’s been the same all season, when the wingers have fired, we’ve played well and scored goals, but when they haven’t turned up we’ve been very poor, despite the admirable efforts of Olivier Giroud and the central midfielders. The fullbacks and defenders all had decent games, from what I saw.

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  4. Big wang

    Spot fucking on.

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  5. trugun

    What a shambles, 1 x Goalkeeper 8 x statues 1 x defender who thinks he’s a forward (Koscielny) and Ramsey,why is he wearing an Arsenal shirt? No passion No drive No commitment, although I’m just listening to Wenger telling the media he was proud of how much commitment the team showed; No! I kid you not, he was referring to Arsenal not Villa, Villa a team that showed everything we lacked they chased, they fought, they never gave up. It hurts to see an Arsenal team that is so bad, the only saving grace is I stopped going to the Emirates last year so stopped spending an arm and a leg to watch this crap live at least with tv I can turn off.

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  6. Danish Gooner

    Can anyone tell me when we last played a decent away game ???

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  7. Jaro

    Those who wish to vote with their feet are free to do so. The Arsenal season ticket waiting list is 40,000 plus strong. A ManU season ticket can be purchased for next season without much hassle. The team is not as dynamic as we would expect. Perhaps , as we bemoan the lack of dynamism, we should also reflect on why we have the luxury of having such high expectations.

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  8. William

    Agree with the paper over the cracks assessment.As is usual,the gunners try to waltz/pass their way through a massed defence when a direct pass is better.I don’t know but Villa could have won.We all know if Spurs had a full 11,the gunners could have lost,except the fm.
    This failure to beat bottom or near bottom cubs is a regular dose of reality.The gunnere were leading Wigan 2-0 when they were beaten 3-2.We will have to wait till Jan to se if Wenger will get some quality and experienced players and notsome wc kid who could turn out to be another failure to be sold eg Pennant,Upson etc.If he thinks the present squad can go all the way ie get 4th place,he must be dreaming.

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  9. Adam

    I can tell you as someone who has worked for many years in sports management and event promotion across several sports in the US, Asia and Australia, it is the common and correct practice to announce tickets sold as that reflects the demand for the game. If a ticket is sold but that ticket holder doesn’t attend for whatever reason (could be illness, other commitments-whatever) their seat still remains held by them and cannot be sold again by the club. While I understand your sentiment, Arsenal are actually doing what all sports and events do.

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    • Gooner Steve

      Arsenal record both the number of tickets sold and the number who attend on matchdays. Irrespective of what other sports and clubs do, as an Arsenal fan I want to know how many people are inside the stadium. They have that info, but use tickets sold because it will always be higher and therefore suits them.

      From this Daily Mail article:

      “For example, at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, the attendance figure released to the public reflects the number of tickets sold for each individual game. However, the club also count the number of people who walk through the turnstiles and record the figure for their own private records.”

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  10. Unknown C

    Aston Villa Arsenal
    Total shots 9 12
    Shots on target 4 1
    Shot Accuracy 80% 12.5%

    What does that tell you?

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    • Idiot

      That you can’t do basic maths

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  11. JacksBack

    AS I was clearly the only one of the usual keyboard fools on here who was at the game, here are my thoughts.

    It ain’t about defending Wenger. It’s about being realistic. Wenger has over-achieved for 5 years yet is constantly slated. The only two teams that finished above him last year spent close to half a billion pounds to build their team. Both of those teams were knocked out of the Champs Lge in the group stage last season. United had infinitely easier group (as this year) but they went out. This year, City again and Chelsea have failed to get thru their groups. Chelsea have spent over £150m in a year.

    We DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY £30m players!

    So Wenger makes magic from peanuts. Believe it.

    Our problem has always been that our first XI are great – but the replacements are average. Wenger builds the team so he is to blame of course – but the expectation that we compete with city, Chelsea and United in transfers and money is ridiculous, naive and makes every anti-Wenger moron look as stupid as they are.

    We were very flat today but could easily have won the game with numerous Ramsey chances, Cazorla’s shot and Koscielny’s sitter. ManU have played far worse this season – at Liverpool & Southampton – but somehow stole the points undeservedly. Yes, its was hugely disappointing. Cazorla and Podolski looked knackered. The rain was incessant. And once again we were the only Champs Lge team to have a day less than everyone else in Prem. (Its not an excuse – its a fact and makes a lot of difference!_

    Wenger tried to shake it up. Absolutely great decision to play Gibbs and Jenkinson. And 100% correct to rest Jack. He’s been out for 14months – he MUST not play 3 games a week! He will play at Everton.

    The fans that chanted ‘you dont know what youre doing’ at the Giroud substitutuin are imbeciles. That was EXACTLY the correct substitution. Giroud was running on empty. Gervinho was fresh and better to play up front. Switching Arshavin to the left was correct. In two minutes, Arshavin’s cross was an inch away from Gervinho tapping it in. These are the margins.

    Anyway – I just got back from a nightmare motorway drive and have no time to listen to fans who never go see the club and don’t know what a McGoldrick/Hillier midfield is.

    Does Wenger Know Best? He knows better than you, that’s for sure!

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    • Gooner Steve

      “We DON’T HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY £30m players!”

      Who is asking us to? I’d just like us to not sell our best players every season for a start. We have £170m in the bank earning the club interest when some of it could be spent on better players.

      “but the expectation that we compete with city, Chelsea and United in transfers and money is ridiculous, naive”

      Again, who is asking for us to spend that kind of money? I’m not. I don’t want us going bankrupt. My beef is that we use the transfer market to make money by selling our best players and replace them with cheap, inferior alternatives. We neglect the team when with just a little extra investment we could be challenging for trophies.

      “We were very flat today”

      The most sensible thing you said. How would you describe our performances against Sunderland, Stoke, Norwich, QPR, Schalke, Man Utd and Fulham? Today was not a one off.

      ” ManU have played far worse this season – at Liverpool & Southampton – but somehow stole the points undeservedly.”

      That’s what good, championship winning teams do — win when they’re not playing well. I thought everyone knew that.

      “Cazorla and Podolski looked knackered. The rain was incessant. And once again we were the only Champs Lge team to have a day less than everyone else in Prem. (Its not an excuse – its a fact and makes a lot of difference!”

      All of those are excuses. Seriously, the rain?! Wasn’t it raining on the Villa players then? Your denial is staggering. And I thought Wenger was bad…

      “Absolutely great decision to play Gibbs and Jenkinson. And 100% correct to rest Jack.”

      Agreed, as I said in my post.

      “The fans that chanted ‘you dont know what youre doing’ at the Giroud substitutuin are imbeciles.”

      No, their eyes are open and you are the imbecile. Keep bending over because the board loves shafting fans like you.

      By the way I was in the family enclosure the day Hillier made his league debut — sorry to shatter your image of me. It makes you feel better to think I’m not a proper fan doesn’t it? Gives my views less credence so you can just ignore them and stay in blissful denial.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 22 Thumb down 10

    • Paulb

      Deluded, Wenger has lost the plot and he is a disgrace with his tactics, his selection, his spin, his lies, his lack of a plan b and his decision not to resign and I remember a midfield of Price,Sunderland,Hudson and Chippy. It is simple Wenger has lost the plot and he needs to go, he has done so much damage to the club it will take years to undo what he has done, look what the clown did to Monaco and they are still suffering he is a madman and he has to be stopped

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 14 Thumb down 9

    • Watch

      You must be a great fan, having seen McGoldrick and Hillier and being closer to death must be incredible. It really does make you a better fan. You’re the imbecile here you vile waste of space. It’s ridiculous to think the world has people as stupid as you.

      Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. Alan

    I think its wrong to say Ramsey has no passion No drive No commitment, he does put the work in. The problem is he doesn’t seem to have much vision, creativity or the ability to play the ball forwards.

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  13. Alan

    Gooner Steve

    From this Daily Mail article:

    “For example, at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium, the attendance figure released to the public reflects the number of tickets sold for each individual game. However, the club also count the number of people who walk through the turnstiles and record the figure for their own private records.”

    ….quoting the Daily Mail is scraping the barrel. That’s just one step away from moaning about the number of foreigners in the team and how they’re taking jobs from English players!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    • Gooner Steve

      Ha ha! I have no love for the Daily Mail, believe me, but their article demonstrated that Arsenal could release actual attendance figures for the attendance if they really wanted to.

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  14. Paulb

    Jaro you are full of shit mate,is it fuck 40,000 st waiting list, the spin and the lies from the board is bullshit, the waiting list is now down to about a few thousand, I know people waiting three years who were offered st last year, it is a con and a PR stunt about this so called big waiting list

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  15. maverick

    When will people wake up! We’re not saying spend 30m on players. The point is, Arsneal DON’T ACTUALLY SPEND ANYTHING. RVP, Song & Vela more than funded Cazorla, giroud, podolski. The same goes for Adebayor, Toure, Nasri, Hleb, Fabregas, etc, etc

    Wenger refused to justify his subsitution. There’s far too much of this attitude coming out of Arsenal these days. Hill-wood, Gazidis, wenger are showing a real lack of respect towards the fans.

    The board must laugh their asses off when they cash in on another star player, the moronic fans turn on the player EVERY TIME for leaving, and they get off without any blame at all

    Either lower ticket prices or start funding some signings

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  16. Geoff

    The short passing game has its merits.But so do other ways of passing. The only difference is the degree of ball possession.However possession does not translate into goals and winning games.
    Everyone can see it except Wenger. He expects his players to have unhindered access to goal.The problem is other teams don’t see it his way and more often frustrate the gunners by scoring a breakaway goal which he will condemn as anti soccer.
    Villa could have nicked it with some high balls.I am afarid gunner fans will have to wait for some before a trophy is won. Btw,getting that 4th spot could be a lot tougher thi season.With the millions at his disposal Wenger shd get some qualty and experienced players.Flooding the senior team with quality players shd be the order of business and some precocious talents who will wilt under pressure.

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  17. Uzochukwu

    @gunner Steve,

    let us pretend you were a manager(not in your life time) what would you have done differently? You chose the negatives to shout about, what of the positives? Our defence were solid, our goalkeeper superb, but you conveniently ignored those. Are you not same as the management that chose to announce tickets sold.

    Please go and drink chilled water because you’re not a coach and can never be one. What even makes you think you are an arsenal fan? Is spreading hate what qualifies one now?

    gervinho is really shit. I also think the Ox is really overhiped. Our only problem today was that the wingers were flat. We need a better bench/dept.

    But jog-on gunner steve. You’re so depressing. Supporting is not only in the name.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

  18. Thierry

    podolski is a good player but not a winger thats why he only lasts 70minutes. He may score goals but he doesn’t create much as a winger or make opportunities for our striker we always create more when arshavin comes on he crosses more balls into the box. Also as much as i like arteta he is no Alex Song we cant keep possession since he has left our midfield iv seen cazorla helping arteta defensivley too much when hes supposed to be in the other half. I cant remember afc playing so many 0-0s in 1half of a season since wengers been at afc the reason is arsenal dont keep possession enough and thats because we never replaced Alex song because we thought we could rely on abou diabetes when he does play you’d notice arsenal keep more possession but he only plays once every two months. Arteta is no dm boss hes not physical enough like ex players gilberto, vieira, petit or song we really should have brought mvila of a better dm. I think fans don’t notice this I don’t know why.

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  19. jemboy

    There seems to be a lack of ambition to attack. Backpassing for the sake of possession is killing our game. Look at the ring of our players around the penalty area when the attack is on. They should be rushing INTO the area when the attack is on. The lesser opposition always play the same way against us, park the bus and play on the counter. So we ponce around in our half and on the edge of their area with our back passing and side passing, eventually lose the ball and are vulnerable. It’s all so predictable. I’ve been a supporter since the mid sixties when I lived in Blighty, have attended many games. Now I live in the antipodes but have to weigh up the value of waking up at 2am to watch a game. Saturdays game against Villa was particularly bad. God forbid that I would want to pay for a ticket and actually travel to a game to watch the experiment unfolding. Villa looked more interesting than us !!!

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  20. Rocket

    I am 100 percent behind you Steve WENGER Is clueless and has to go its time. this team just does not care and fight hard enough it’s time for a change please so tired of these crap performances we are mid table mediocrity WENGER has had his time he will always be a legend but he doesn’t know what he is doing anymore

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

  21. rsk2110

    I dont know why arsenal charge the highest ticket rates.They do not win anything
    .The team doesnt play beautiful(mostly boring meaningless possession-our highest passers are mertsacker and arteta who spend most of the time in our half) football anymore .
    The board members do not respect the fans(Why kroenke).Btw Peter Hill Wood is highest paid director for his timely assurance that 4 th place is a great achievement and falling out from fourth wouldnt be a disaster.
    Arsene Wenger is not even a shadow of what he used to be.
    Our best hope is the capital one cup.We have a really good chance all the bigger clubs have fallen out only chelsea who are suffering a dip in form.So lets cheer our
    hardworking players(may or may not have a much skill).

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  22. London gunner

    Another draw. The gunners have drawn 5 matches that is 10 points dropped. If you aspire to win the epl,you have to win games. Now the gunners are 10 points behind red faced.
    For Wenger to say he can win th epl is really sounding hollow. I know this is Novemeber but the gunners have already fallen so far behind. I am afraid 4th spot could be out of reach.

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  23. Lobster

    NOBODY likes the “U SEE, I WAS RIGHT!!” Kind of guys, leave that to the wives and girlfriends will u

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  24. Gunner

    AW has definitely lost the plot. He lost it 7 years ago. How can a manager sit around and do change to improve his side that is predictably side-passing and back-passing against basement teams that ‘park the bus’, in the name of possession, beautiful football and unable to score? How can he not have other styles of play for different opponents? Why can’t Arsenal play fast direct attacking football which they excel in? A majority of their goals the last 7 years are through energetic, fast and flowing counter attacks. They don’t score many when they play the slow lethargic and short passing possession football. A change is necessary if AFC is to win any major prizes.

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  25. gooner

    Tactically Wenger has lost it. His is a one dimensional geared towards attack.he doesn’t believe in the high ball till it’s too late.The gunners persist in attacking through the centre when even confronted by massed defenders.They choose to indulge in a a merry bout of passing in the final third.This leads to a cul de sac.
    Yet he shows no sign of change.If the gunners can’t get the 4th spot,imho,he shd be off.

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  26. Jaro

    Paulb – I am using facts and you are using assumptions. The very fact that you “know people who have waited three years” invalidates the rest of your statement. By the way it is entirely possible to debate without hurling insults, or is that asking for the impossible? Must we all hold the same views on this forum to be accepted as Arsenal fans?

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  27. Adam

    Completely agree, Steve. Wenger is a shadow of his former self. He lies to the fans, plays dumb when it suits him and, worse of all, spits his dummy out if anyone dares to question his inept decision making. Nothing changes, the club keeps regressing and no-one is ever held accountable when we lose our best players and produce pitiful, passionless performances. It’s a sorry state of affairs and until Wenger moves on, this frustrating monotony of underachieving will continue. My eyes are wide open. This has to end.

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  28. Jim

    You called this 100% right Steve! Also the people that slaughtered you for speaking the truth are certainly not forthcoming to agree with all the serious points you so correctly raised last week, but no real surprise there to be fair. Thankfully we have a blog here that keeps it real and to the point, and see’s games through all different angles of opinion. This site is a top four blog for genuine fan’s that know there football. Great site.


    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    • Shanzuman

      Yes Jim 1,000% correct. Those that are using insulting words against this blog writer without any constructive response basis etc are NOT true concerning Arsenal fans but are purely and sadly engulfed within the Wenger/Gazidis spin that is thrashed out every week. Keep it gong for the sane football understanding fans. I am still calling for Wenger to resign with dignity and for the Board to call upon Guardiola before the Chelsea lot get him.

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