Arsenal 3-3 Norwich | Arrogant, complacent and naive

After yesterday’s frustrating draw, Norwich striker Steve Morison said: “I think Arsenal thought we were going to be a pushover today.”

You’re absolutely right Steve. Arsenal often do that against so-called ‘weaker’ teams because they are a bunch of incredibly arrogant players who think the style of football they play and the technical skills they possess makes them superior to most other sides. They are too vain to understand that you need to match the opposition’s work ethic in order to be successful and ultimately that boils down to a failure on the part of Wenger. He mollycoddles them too much by rarely criticising them and rarely dropping them after a poor performance.

Take Alex Song for example. Lately he has been sauntering casually around the pitch because he knows our squad is so weak that his position is not under threat. Who can Wenger drop him for — the raw and injury prone Frimpong? Or the raw and injury prone Coquelin? It looks like the manager’s stubborn refusal to splash out a modest £5m on Scott Parker last summer has come back to bite him on the arse, because Song’s lack of desire and reluctance to sit in his defensive midfield position makes him an inadequate shield for our back four, as yesterday demonstrated.

The second Norwich goal is a perfect example. The visitors break and suddenly there are three yellow shirts looming large against just two defenders. Ramsey and Song are slowly ambling back after yet another failed attack but are too far away to help and we concede. Quite why we leave ourselves two against three in the first half I just don’t know — that’s what you do in the last few minutes when you’re chasing the game. Song shouldn’t have been in such an advanced position and this has happened many times over the season.

People point to the fact that Song has so many assists and indeed he chipped in with another yesterday, but that is not the primary function of a defensive midfielder. First and foremost he should be a screen for his centre backs — assists are merely a bonus. If you’re floating around the edge of the opponent’s area so much then you’re pretty useless when the move breaks down.

As a quick comparison, the best defensive midfielder I have ever seen in the Premiership was Chelsea’s Claude Makelele. For five years he sat deep and broke up opposition attacks, allowing the more creative players freedom to go forward and wreak havoc. In those five years he scored just twice and probably didn’t get many more assists. Not because he was a poor offensive player, but because he was rarely in the attacking third and spent most of the time diligently protecting his back four.

If Arsenal are to prevent the likes of Wigan and Norwich coming to the Emirates and scoring five goals between them, they need a disciplined defensive midfielder to sit deep and protect what is a pretty fragile defence. It’s time Song did his job properly and until he does we will continue to concede sloppy goals and drop points.

This is only partly Song’s fault of course as it’s Wenger who encourages him to get forward so much, constantly praising his attacking qualities. It’s another example of the manager’s over-the-top commitment to attacking football which, although admirable, is starting to look very naive.

What use is another excellent Song assist when you’ve just conceded three at home to Norwich?

Steve Morison equalises against Arsenal

Why weren't we back defending our lead?!

I’m still bewildered I’m forced to write such a critical analysis of the game because it all started so well after Yossi Benayoun scored that early goal. Unfortunately it came too early because the players became complacent and assumed the match was won after 120 seconds. This stems from their arrogance (which in turn trickles down from the manager) and they got the deckchairs out, only to be shocked as Norwich knuckled down and outplayed them for the rest of the half, going in 2-1 up and also having been denied a couple of penalties and a red card for Benayoun.

I wish this was an isolated event but it’s become all too common for us to take it easy against the lower sides. It’s also no coincidence that our poor run of late coincided with us beating Manchester City to go five points clear of Spurs in third place. Everybody then assumed third place was in the bag (including the media and fans) and the players relaxed, thinking their mere presence on the pitch from then on would guarantee enough points to seal third spot.

We need to stop doing this. We need to approach every match with the same intensity as if it was Manchester City at home. Because we haven’t, we missed the chance to have third place wrapped up already and now we need to beat West Brom away.

People have pointed to the injured Arteta as a big miss. Whilst I accept this, it is not the reason we have picked up only two points from our last three home games. Arteta was in the side when we had that horrific run in January so that doesn’t add up. Back then people pointed to having no full backs as the reason for losses against Fulham and Swansea. Well, Sagna and Gibbs have played every one of the last four games and we still haven’t won, so again, although injuries don’t help I don’t accept them as an excuse.

It seems that no matter who the personnel involved are, the same problem keeps cropping up — a lack of motivation for matches against ‘inferior’ opponents. So if it’s not down to personnel, there is something fundamentally wrong with the attitude of the squad as a whole and again, this comes from the manager.

Of course there was still the chance to have grabbed a dramatic victory yesterday when van Persie made it 3-2 with ten minutes left. “Phew, we got out of jail,” I thought, assuming the players would have the intelligence and tactical nous to tighten up and see the game out. We should’ve played keep-ball with everybody but van Persie sitting deep, but instead we got caught trying to score a fourth.

How naive!

Wenger or Rice should’ve been on the touchline screaming for them to get back and show some discipline. Do some of the dirty work for ten minutes and the game is won, but we swagger forward looking for a fourth. Ridiculous.

As has happened a few times over the last six weeks, Spurs (and Newcastle) have failed to capitalise on our poor result. Just because they are crapper than us doesn’t excuse such an unprofessional lack of focus, but we should be grateful it’s still in our hands.

So will we finally produce a determined, committed performance next week at West Brom? Who can tell with this lot. All I know is that things are a lot harder than they needed to be and even a thick footballer like Steve Morison can tell you why.

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  1. James

    Very well written. The tactics are a farce and Wenger has become a farce. This has been going on for years and will never stop until he’s sacked. If he was going to change something about how the team plays without the ball surely he would have done it by now? Why wait forever, as season after season goes down the drain due to Wenger’s stupidity. When VP goes there will be no world class players left. Just a shit defence, unprotected by a lazy midfield and no strikers to put the ball in the net.

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  2. bashman

    reading this made me laugh very very hard, of all the players to blame or have a go at you chose song? incredible, arsenals second best ploayer through the whole season second only to robin van persie. im sorry but you fail

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  3. Musa gunner

    Mr wenger is arsenal’s problem,why siting back only to watch is players fumbling.3pts in 4matches,ramsey & wenger should leave now

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  4. ChrisPierrot

    Song our 2nd best player…… That my friend is hilarious and if it was true , then we’re really in the shit.

    He walks around in coma most of time, can’t tackle cleanly, has no pace and 1 in 10 final balls might find Van Persie. The rest are gifts to the opposition that put us under pressure…….. Norwich’s 3rd goal confirms my point.

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  5. Northbanksy

    Much of what you have written certainly seems to be the case, but in team games there’s often more too it.
    I think Morison is the naive one in not fully appreciating the situation. It was a must win game for Arsenal but of little league importance to Norwich. The difference between Arsenal tearing teams appart & looking average is down to how fast they move the ball arround. Inspite of the early goal they looked like a nervous team who had to win whereas Norwich City were playing like a team who were free of any expectation.There arn’t many teams come to the Emirates & play 2 up front.
    Song going forward isn’t the problem, but rather the fact that when he does, no one is dropping back to cover for him. This is a problem of discipline & organisation & often as not, the players get it right.At the moment the only player available who should be covering Song is Ramsey, who isn’t a defensive midfielder & who is not in form at the moment.In the absence of the injured Arteta, Wilshere, Diaby, & Fringpong who else would you play there?
    Even given a poor defensive performance the first Norwich goal was a keeping error, from a player who’s otherwise been outstanding all season & the second goal a deflection over the keeper .. which is down to bad luck.
    The inability to close the game down with less than 10 minutes to go was poor, but again in order to come back from a loosing position 2 midfielders had been replaced by 2 strikers. You can’t always have it both ways.

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    • Gooner Steve

      You make some fair points, but which of Arteta, Diaby, Wilshere and Frimpong is a better defensive midfielder than Scott Parker? Wenger didn’t sign him because it would’ve “killed” Frimpong, Coquelin and Ramsey so yet again results suffer because Wenger wants to develop his players to sell for a nice profit in a few years.

      Re your last point, I’m upset we were in the position of having to throw on Chamakh and the Ox in the first place — we shouldn’t have been losing to Norwich at home. In the words of Wenger himself on

      “It is more than frustrating because we were very poor in the first half, not switched on. The quality of our first half was absolutely not at the level we wanted in a decisive game like that.”

      Why not Arsene? Why does this keep happening? These are the key questions that never get answered and frankly, I don’t think Wenger has a clue what the reason is.

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  6. Sid

    This is the kinda blog that gives Gooners a bad name.

    I mean, your opinions, or should i say, the opinions that have been foisted on you by lazy hacks and clueless twats on talkshite are so lazy and cliche ridden its hilarious.

    You are an idiot and this is the 1st and last time I will bother with this gash blog.

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  7. Sid

    I wish I had posted that Northbanksy!

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    • P Diddy

      I thought you weren’t coming back?

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  8. bashman

    you are jocking right, which song have you been watching my friend because its not alex song i assure you

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  9. Cabbie

    “What use is another excellent Song assist when you’ve just conceded three at home to Norwich?”

    You summed it up perfectly. The only decent defensive midfielder in the squad should focus more on defending than attacking. Song doesn’t.

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  10. John

    Poor article putting most of the blame on Song. Yes Song was poor, but he was not the only one. Vermaelen was terrible yesterday and has been for a while now. Szezseny was terrible as well, even Sagna was poor for the 30 odd minutes he was on. The poorest though were we, the fans. Did we support the team yesterday? We’re we the 12th man? Did we put any pressure on the ref after a dodgy decision? No, no and no. I thought the Norwich supporters were rather quiet for an away team but they still managed to out-support us for most of the game. We only sang when we were winning. We, as supporters, really need to have a look at ourselves, we’ve become consumers; we think we are entitled to a great performance, show us what you’ve got and if we like it, we’ll sing. We ne to have a very good look at ourselves, it easy to call the players arrogant but aren’t we the same or worse?. And don’t get me started on the imbeciles on Twitter abusing Wenger and the players, not to mention the retards on Le Grove.

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    • Gooner Steve

      I haven’t put most of the blame on Song, I just didn’t have the time or inclination to go through everything that was wrong with yesterday’s performance. Otherwise yes, I’d have mentioned things like Vermaelen’s poor form and Szczesny’s bad game. It’s just that Song has not been playing like the disciplined defensive midfielder we so badly need for a while now, so I chose to focus on that.

      Re us fans needing to lift the team. I take your point to an extent, but the 60,000 people there paid about £3m between them to watch that match while the players earn more in a week than most of us do in a year. So I think the onus is on the players to lift the fans, not for the fans to do the manager’s job for him by encouraging and motivating his pampered stars.

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  11. Northbanksy

    Gooner Steve, I’d personlly prefer Artetta, Wilshere or (a fit) Diaby to Scott Parker. Any one of them brings more to a team than Parker IMHO.

    John, Couldn’t agree more about the fans at the Emirates yesterday. I often think we get the team performance we deserve at home. Big game…big support & big team effort. Small team …minimal support & shakey team performance. All performers “feed” off audiance atmosphere. What amazed me is that the team were able to lift themselves in the second half to pull two goals back, given the apathy of most of the home crowd.
    Looking arround it seems to me that on games against smaller teams the crowd has a 50% turn over..lots of Arsenal “tourists” who’ve come to be entertained, rather than get behind the team.

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  12. John

    @Gooner Steve. Nonsense, you put most of the blame on Song in your prose. Read it again. What is the point of your blog when you just pick and choose what/who you are going to critisise? Your attitude of of the onus being on the players to lift the fans is the ridiculous consumer attitude. I’ve paid my money and I want to be entertained. Maybe the Cinema is a better place for you. Anyway, I’m not going to waste anymore time on a expert with a keyboard blog so it’s goodbye from me.

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  13. Shanzuman

    I agree with most of the article and yes with most comments. Yesterday we were disorganised in every department, arrogant cos we scored so early and assumed that the 3 points were in the bag. As for Song, well he had to do the mid field defending as well as the creative offensive as no other bagger was capeable of to do either!! The responsibility for this falls on Wenger and his coaching staff and as I said before on this blog, we need to completely restructure our management, tactical play and introduce a new style of football with world class players. If not than the same will be dished out next year, the year after and so on. Oh and as for the singing fan, John mate you can sing your heart out as the 12th man but when your other 11 players are not interested or not skilled enough than you are of no assistance!!!!

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  14. KJ

    I thought we were brilliant offensively in the last 30 mn yesterday, we were finally carving out chances. Havent seen that for a while.

    Song is not a CDM. He should be playing in the Ramsey role, with Coquelin in the CDM role.

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  15. John

    Alex Song has been our 2nd best player this season with more assists then the rest of our attacking players and more assists then Arteta. Too blame Scezecny, Koscielny, Rosicky, Song or RVP this season as Arsenal fan is irresponsible because those five players have been carrying the team. Arteta has been good or ok maybe he can be given the sixth player carrying the team. Alex Song is actually doing two jobs at once, his natural holding role and making chances for RVP and our wingers to score because not many other players are doing that at the moment. We need vast amounts of cash spend on the squad because at the moment our best five players are looking shattered and the rest are being complacent, arrogant and not stepping up to plate when it matters.

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    • Gooner Steve

      The point is Song should not be doing two jobs, that’s the whole issue and it’s a huge part of why we’re conceding so many. What other CDM in the world has to make chances as well as stop them? Even Yaya Toure now has Gareth Barry sitting behind him so he can venture forward. If that’s the case then buy a proper CDM and push Song forward, I’ve no problem with that.

      But the key issue is a CDM should defend first and foremost and at the moment Song doesn’t. Whether that’s his fault or Wenger’s is another matter.

      “We need vast amounts of cash spend on the squad because at the moment our best five players are looking shattered and the rest are being complacent, arrogant and not stepping up to plate when it matters.”

      Absolutely, that’s the general tone of this article and if you care to look back, the general tone of this blog over the past year or so.

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  16. edu

    I have read what you have to say about Song, what do you think of Ramsey’s performance yesterday?
    Yesterday was a must win game and am sure thats why Song was pressing forward. Most of the season Song has been going forward with Arteta covering. When Arteta got injured he was replaced by Ramsey, so when Song was going forward Ramsey should have been covering, but he was not, he was at jogging pace through out the match.
    The 1st goal Ramsey was jogging back, 2nd goal even worse, he’s on the camera shot jogging like Dennilson. There was a part where he was chasing a player then he just gave up and let him run.
    After he (Ramsey) was subbed, how did Song play? We won the part of the game Ramsey was on the bench. 3rd goal was due to Vermaelen poor positioning.
    How did Song play without Ramsey on the pitch?

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  17. faizel

    what contribution does ramsey bring to the team? someone help me. he is constantly slowing down our play and very poorr defensively.

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