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· Registered
2,561 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, Arsene, but you can't win title with these kids
Last updated at 11:18 PM on 16th August 2008

My name is Piers. I'm an Arsenal season-ticket holder and I'm officially depressed. What the hell is happening to my club?

I watched us struggling to beat the staggeringly ordinary FC Twente on Wednesday night and felt so frustrated I nearly switched over to Big Brother. (Only nearly, mind. We'd have to be losing 39-0 for me to do that, and even then I'd need to be manacled to a chair with my eyes stapled to the screen.)

But even that performance was preferable to the dismally pedestrian effort against West Bromwich yesterday. I watched it alone in a Paris pub and felt more inspired by the women's Olympic superheavyweight weightlifting competition on another TV (I've always been strangely attracted to girls who can clean and jerk 186 kilos).

It seems almost impossible to believe this is the same Arsenal who went an entire Premiership unbeaten in 2004. I remember that achievement rather well, because it came the day after I was fired as editor of the Mirror.

At half-time in that historic game against Leicester, we were losing 1-0, the away fans began serenading us with chants of 'Invincibles - my a***' and my phone pulsated with gleeful texts of the 'When it rains, it pours' variety.

Oh, how I laughed. But we rallied, won 2-1 and created British football history. Three weeks previously, I'd enjoyed an even more unforgettable experience when we won the League at White Hart Lane.

Me and my dad were guests of Sir Alan Sugar, who did a runner at the end faster than Wayne Rooney with a Big Mac voucher. By 8pm, the Spurs boardroom was empty, apart from us.

Then the door swung open and in walked Arsene Wenger and his assistant, Pat Rice. I ordered the best bottle of wine available (charging it to Sir Alan's account, obviously) and sat with them for half an hour of quiet, yet jubilant, celebration right in the heart of the enemy's back yard.

'How do you follow this?' I asked Arsene. 'I have the right team now, we can keep winning,' he vowed. And I believed him. Because, as so many banners proudly decree at the Emirates Stadium: 'ARSENE KNOWS'. But we didn't. Arsenal have won precisely nothing since then. Not even a Carling bloody Cup.

And it's beginning to seriously inflame my intestinal epithelium. I've supported them since 1971 (I remember hearing the chant 'Charlie George, Superstar, looks like a woman and he wears a bra,' and being instantly smitten) and it has brought me some of the greatest, and worst, moments of my life: I was at Old Trafford when Sylvain Wiltord scored the only goal to win us the Premiership in 2002.

I was also there when Giggs scored that sickening 1999 FA Cup semi-final wonder goal against us at Villa Park (and celebrated by exposing that even more sickening chest hair), when Gazza and Lineker played us off the park at Wembley in the 1991 FA Cup semi-final and when Nayim lobbed David Seaman from the halfway line in the last minute of the 1995 Cup-winners' Cup in Paris.

So I fully understand that being a football fan can be both an ecstatic and horrific business. But I've always entered a new season brimming with over-optimism. Until now. Because, for the first time since Wenger took over, I have absolutely no expectation that we will win anything.

We didn't last year, and since then we've lost Alexander Hleb (our best technical player), Mathieu Flamini (who ran our midfield) and Gilberto Silva (who ran it when Flamini wasn't playing).

In their places we've signed Samir Nasri (who's good but will take a season to adapt), Aaron Ramsey (just 16 League matches ever) and some injury-prone bloke from Werder Bremen that nobody's ever heard of.

Eduardo and Tomas Rosicky are still crocked, Abou Diaby's out for a month, Cesc Fabregas's hamstring is playing up and Robin van Persie's only ever three games away from doing his leg in again. So our squad's got weaker, while Chelsea, United and Liverpool have got stronger.

And as Jose Mourinho rightly says (not a phrase I ever thought I'd write), we're just too young. The 17-man Invincibles squad had a combined age of 480. The 17 equivalent players in this season's Arsenal squad - excluding Rosicky and Eduardo - have a combined age of just 389.

That's a difference of 91 years. Now, I'm all for a bit of youth, but this is ridiculous. At the risk of sounding Hansen-esque, you can't beat billionairefinanced, money's-no-object clubs with kids, however talented they are. Arsenal will doubtless delight and dazzle again this season, in the scintillating attacking style that Wenger loves so much.

But come March, when it really matters, and when key players inevitably get injured, we just won't have the experience, stamina or the collective footballing brain to win a major competition against massively better resourced, significantly older opponents. Wenger's strategy of going younger, younger, younger has made us a club in seemingly permanent 'transition'.

And we need to stop transiting and actually arrive somewhere. He must take that bulging chequebook we keep being told he has and buy some older, experienced players.

We need a third centre back (Philippe Senderos is a perennial liability), a big, nasty Vieira-style midfield general and a proven striker of the no-nonsense, Ian Wright variety. Oh, and while you're at it, Arsene, buy Usain Bolt and stick him on the wing. At least, unlike Theo Walcott, he knows where's he going., kindergarten at Emerates? :rolleyes:

· Proto-Hipster
49,169 Posts
hes right
last year those arsenal kids couldn't handle the pressure of the tittle race and so they lost their position in the league
with such a great captain Gallas who cries after loosing instead of cheering and telling his team mates that its not the end
and with the great lehmann who was showing his support and the right attitude for the team by slagging every one

God arsenal are a damn too good :D

· Moderator
26,045 Posts
I have the deepest respect for Wenger.

He has always been operating under strict budget and truly sticks to his guns for developing and then actually throwing the youngsters to the fore.

I do honestly think football needs such a manager for its future.

· Registered
3,171 Posts
Zense_United said:
they won westbrom only 1 nil, wont survive wit other big teams at all im sure
It was only the first game of the season. That doesn't mean anything.

Arsenal were unlucky last season. They were totally decimated by injuries to Rosicky, Eduardo, Van Persie....
They do need another experienced player or two. But lets wait and see. They were written off at the start of last season and they took it all the way to the last few games.

· Registered
2,628 Posts
Can;t judge them off the 1-0 against West Brom they had something like 7 first team players out didn't they ? But i agree with the article, there squad is too young to win the Premiership and i don't think they will get anywhere in the CL either, no experience at all.

· Registered
3,218 Posts
Arsenal - 3 points.

United - 1 point.

We are in no position to judge Wenger atm so let's just see what happens. Nobody, not even Wenger, knows whether Arsenal can win the league this season yet so this is all opinion. In a few weeks we'll be able to give better, more informed opinions. :rolleyes:

· Im not fat... im sex.
8,712 Posts
piazza said:
They need 2 center backs, imo. Then again, Gallas is usually just covering for the mistakes made by Senderos.
gallas is clearly a clown but he does do a good job but for them to mount a strong challange they really need to get someone as strong as him cause he must get tired being the only defender with a his head screwed on, but arsene wont spend so thats fine by me, good point piazza

· Registered
743 Posts
i think arsenal will do well this season, prob 3rd again but pushing the whole way, they have a quality team, when Fabrigas, Rosicky are back in midfield they will do very well together and Nasri looked lively vs WBA. Once Eduardo gets back their front line will be one of the best around Eduardo Van Persie and Adebayor all quality. Arsenals only worry is in defence their not in great shapes at the back.
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