Let-offs, leaks & livery

Does anybody want to finish third? After we made a right royal mess of our game with Norwich, we found ourselves needing favours from elsewhere. Thanks to an abundance of dark prayer and a good degree of fortune, we got them: City beat Newcastle to set themselves on course for the title, and Aston Villa managed to hold ten man Spurs to a 1-1 draw. It is somehow back in our hands.

It’s a reprieve that I’m not sure we deserve. Arsene was clearly furious with the performance on Saturday, and fiercely critical of our play at both ends of the pitch. Of the defending, he said:

“Again we made the mistakes at the back which were absolutely unbelievable. It is a big disappointment because when you come back into the game like we did from 2-1 and then give a goal away in the way that we did.

At the back everybody was absolutely horrendous for the third goal. It is just not acceptable.”

The forwards didn’t escape criticism either:

“When you look at the chances we created, it is absolutely unbelievable that we scored only three goals.

Again we are punished because Robin had to score and many times we do not get enough goals from elsewhere. We had so many obvious chances that you would want somebody else to score one. That doesn’t happen enough.”

Even Robin could have been a little sharper. Everyone – from Szczesny to the skipper – will have to be markedly better at West Brom on Sunday.

It is now devastatingly, heart-stoppingly simple: win at West Brom, and third is ours. There’s no trophy on hand, but in many other respects it resembles a cup final: ninety minutes that will determine if this season lives in the memory as a blessed relief or a painful disaster.

It’s a fantastic opportunity, and one which we really shouldn’t have. One can only hope the players recognise their good fortune and seize the second chance that’s been afforded to them. However, after taking just three points from the last four games, a degree of doubt among supporters is more than understandable. The bad news is that if results go against us on Sunday (and in tonight’s game between Liverpool and Chelsea), we could end up as low as sixth. Anyhow, there’s time later in the week to discuss what is sure to be a massive day for the club.

If you listen to the chatter on Twitter and forums, many supporters’ minds have already turned to next season. The winds of change haven’t yet blown the transfer window open, yet already the rumours are whipping up a frenzy. The two names cropping up most commonly are those of Yann M’vila and Jan Vertonghen. As far as I’m aware, stories suggesting a deal for either of these players is imminent are somewhat premature. Whilst I don’t doubt Arsene admires both, competition for their signature and the limitations of our 25-man squad and wage structure make their arrivals far from a certainty. Vertonghen, for example, is far closer to signing for Spurs, and I understand that: we have plenty of centre-backs.

There’s also been debate about just who will replace Pat Rice as Arsene’s assistant manager next season. Le Grove say it will be Steve Bould. If that turns out to be the case, I’d welcome the appoint. Bould has done a fantastic job with the U-18s, and I’m sure will carry that work over to the first-team. However, expecting him to drill a back four to match the one he played in is probably unrealistic. Only recently Bould spoke about the impossibility of replicating that sort of unit:

“You could not step up with your arm out and scream offside like we used to. That is not an area you can really coach any more. Also, you cannot get away with going to ground or any real aggressive tackling the way we used to nowadays.

So, while there are some principles that persist, passing on what I used to do as a player has to be adapted.”

Certainly an internal appointment would make most sense, and if Bould is the man chosen I expect we’ll hear something about it in the days following the West Brom game.

Another change for next season will be our home strip, with the club unveiling Nike’s latest offering:

It doesn’t seem to be particularly popular, particularly compared with this year’s classically simple 125th Anniversary effort, but I must admit I don’t mind it. The regularity with which we change our kits around means that there will inevitably be arbitrary changes introduced, like the blue trim, and I’m happy to put up with it for a season or two.

Right. This is going to feel like a long old week.

Gunnerblog is the brainchild of childbrained football writer James McNicholas. Aside from Gunnerblog, James currently contributes to Bleacher Report, The Mirror and ESPN.


  1. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    I once loved a girl named Livvie. Now every time I hear something that sounds like her name, it makes me want to drink until I vomit out my pain, while sobbing hot salty tears of regret.

    Thanks GS. You just made my day with that title.

  2. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    Moreover, that blue trim looks a bit black, and next season it’s going to look like we’re wearing black armbands every match. If we don’t get Champions League footy and we lose van Persie, maybe that’s not a bad thing to have on our shirt.

    And I think it speaks volumes that the Arsenal players are playing ping pong during an Arsenal training session. No wonder our lads excel in playing ping pong but come up short when challenging for trophies in football. If we had a Premier League for Ping Ponging Footballers, I bet Theo and Ping Pong Song would be 1 and 2 MVPs respectively.

    • the boyhill gooner   •  

      well said Wegrice you’d think they had better things to be concentrating on than playing ping pong.

  3. RealisticGunner   •  

    talk about trying to paint wenger as a born again tough manager – what do you think “by highlighting wengers criticisms” it somehow excuses him for being the one responsible

    the players are lazy…dont concentrate…think they’re better than they are – BECAUSE OF WENGERS INFLUENCE

    he can’t wrapp them in cotton wool and now start showing tough love…thats why when the world class players we have leave..they do so cos they feel like this soft..panzyfied manager cant tell them anything anymore..

    and you make me laugh – “we have plenty of CB’s”

    well yh …plenty of poor incapable lost centre backs – your telling me your comfortable with djourou..squallici even mertsacker who is slower than anyone

    sure – plenty centre backs ..smh

  4. the boyhill gooner   •  

    arsene wasn’t the only one furious with the performance on saturday a win is essential on sunday we can’t rely on prayer.

  5. R.S.P.C.Arsenal   •  

    b movie film for a b movie team…..

  6. Nick   •  

    Seriously? That’s our new home kit not United’s? When did our home colors become red/white and black?

    There are some really impressive international kits Nike designed for Euro. Why can’t our new kit be class like the Netherlands away kit or Turkey’s home kit? Simple but dramatic. Take Netherlands black/orange away kit and swap the colors for Red as the base color and white where the orange is. Sew (not glue!) and Arsenal crest on there and we’re done! I’d buy extras!

    When it comes time to renegotiate the kit sponsorship maybe we better rethink Nike if this is the crap we’re gonna keep getting handed.

  7. Gerard   •  

    I agree the kit is horrendous. I bought both home and away kits for this season, but I think I’ll pass this United-esque kit.

    Also, We DO NEED Vertonghen. I would happily trade Djourou, Squillaci and one of Bendtner or Vela for the big V. We are lacking a utility man, so if we get one who is actually quality it is a great deal. Also, I don’t know if you read Van Persie’s twitter, but he was quite happy to see Vertonghen win MVP of the Eridivisie so it could help to make him sign an extension.

    That being said, if we end below 3rd we might as well say farewell to our cap.

  8. Me   •  

    I see Downing missed a penalty…

    Boy im glad he turned Arsenal down!

    I dont actually believe AW offered £20m for him though.

    I have big hopes for Gervinho next season. I may just put him in my fantasy football team.

  9. indian lawyer   •  

    hey guys. so worse comes to worst we will finish as low as 5th. we have guaranteed european football for next season, which is not too bad. plus we will be finishing above chelsea since 2005 i think which is a nice feeling.

    would you guys trade champions league football for europa league football? i know i would. i’m tired of watching arsenal time and again not win the champions league, and i think we have a better shot of claiming some silverware in the form of the europa league cup.

    also this theory of an exodus due to the fact that we are no longer in the champions league seems a bit strange to me. while under wenger we have always qualified for the champions league. if you look at the players we have lost in the past, they have all been big players despite the fact that we offer champions league football: fabregas, nasri, kolo toure, clichy, adebayor, flamini, gallas and gilberto to name a few (i’m referring to how good they were when they left arsenal not how good they are now).

    i know alot of you weren’t fans of clichy but i think hes way better than gibbs is currently and andre santos as well. you cant convince me that arteta is better than fabregas or gervinho better than nasri. the fact is that the longer we wait for silverware the faster our big players will leave the club, and replacing them is not easy.

    i think in the worst case scenario of qualifying for the europa league, after a long while we will have a real shot of claiming some silverware and building a base for future success, rather than making up the numbers in the champions league time and again.

    not to say that i would not be happy if we DID qualify for the CL, its always a nice thing given the money we earn as well as the prestige etc… and ofcourse the fact that i can’t rule out arsenal winning it next season 100%.

    look at chelsea, i think the reason the core of their team has stuck together for so many years and hence gelled into such a great unit (barring this seasons league position) is due to the fact that they have been winning together. i think next season we should do everything we can to win something and i personally feel we have a better shot at the europa league than the champions league.

    i want silverware to take a step towards bigger and better things.

  10. Wegrice Weguamba   •  

    The Wegster has been thinking about why the Arsenal are buying players so early in the piece. It’s unusual because the Arsenal are usually the later buyers in the piece. But it’s not unusual to be loved by anyone, and it’s not unusual to have fun with anyone, but when I see you hanging about with anyone, it’s not unusual to see me cry “oh I want to die”.

    I think we’re resolute on buying the league next season. Wenger’s seen that it worked with Man City and Chelsea, so he wants to be in on the next big thing. First it was growing a team made of disparate Frenchies. Now it’s about buying a team made of disparate Frenchies!

    • Wegrice Weguamba   •  

      next Season

      Sangers Kozza Vermie Gibbsy
      –Yannie Schlonger Jacks
      —Theo van Wegsie Poldie

      Of course, if we buy young Eden Hazard, or those Frenchies from Montpellier, then we could be shunting Theo back to the bench. But if we don’t want to kill young Theo, we’ll be in a right pickle.

      I do declare though, that our first team is looking mightly different to those projectinos from only a coupe of years ago.

  11. AmeriGoon   •  

    I think what some forget is that if Arsenal does get M’Vila, then that frees up Song to move to CB in emergency situations. And for that reason we really do have plenty of CB’s. Song is easily ahead of Djourou, then we have 4 quality CB’s (even if I’m not convinced by Mertesacker).

    As far as other signings, I really welcome the link to Dempsey. He’s in good form and at an age where he has to try to win trophies with his next club if he’s ever going to. He also can play centrally, out wide or up front, so with Podolski I think our wing and striker situations are shored up. Also, it’ll provide more options in the Cesc role with the potential for more goals in that position. Get him and I think we’re largely ready for next season.

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  15. Johanne Beede   •  

    Oh no! I cannot make it and I am so sad! I really want to go nevertheless the girls are throwing me a going away party that night at Angie’s. And that i need so much clothes for my new job. So bummed. In any case, possess a blast and that i would go along with the dress its fab! XOXO

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