Tuesday
Apr252017

Off-colour City beaten, Guardiola needs time

In the FA Cup semi, Chelsea beat Spurs 4-2 in an exhilarating match, where Tottenham once again showed resilience but made elementary defensive errors that can only be attributed to their inability to handle the pressure of expectation. Although they’ve done magnificently well to close the gap on Chelsea to just four points, you get the feeling that should Chelsea falter again and an opportunity present itself, Spurs will not take advantage.

Whether on the pitch or in the coaching setup, Pochettino needs a couple of old hands that know what it’s like to taste success and can transmit that to the players. Even Leicester had Robert Huth. With such a young squad, there are presently few calming influences able to help push Spurs over a winning line. For Pochettino, it appears the last piece of the jigsaw is more mental than physical or tactical.

Arsenal beat Man City due to a combination of factors, few of them to do with Wenger’s newly-adopted back three. Against City, he threw all his principles out the window and went long ball, which didn’t work because that was not the reason Man City were beaten. After a typically exhausting season, Guardiola’s players lacked energy and struggled to sustain any sort of collective press. The fact is, too many players are struggling to adapt to Guardiola’s tactics and are incapable of concentrating for 90 minutes.

Having said that, Guardiola’s side did have a perfectly good goal disallowed and didn’t have much luck, hitting the woodwork twice. David Silva was knobbled by a bad tackle early in the game, as was Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho who barely made it into extra time. Not that Guardiola looked for any excuses. Arsenal showed fighting spirit, which once again demonstrates how Wenger is unable to motivate his players; they turn up when they feel like it.

Most people haven’t got a clue what Guardiola is trying to do at City and how difficult it will be for him to accomplish his objectives. His side are clearly not comfortable playing the ball out from the back and he has players like Bravo, Clichy, Otamendi and Navas who make stupid defensive errors in almost every game. Yaya Toure can still create a chance or produce a moment of magic, but he couldn’t press a lemon and his overall contribution is pitiful. China beckons.

Personally, I don’t think Guardiola’s side will even begin to come into its own until the season after next. At the moment, Man City is nothing like a Guardiola team, where the players dominate possession with purpose, use fluid movement to open up space for each other and hunt in packs to win the ball back. His tactics are complex and go well beyond Tika Taka - a terminology Guardiola dislikes and relates to having possession for the sake of it.

Yes, he has some supremely talented technical players like Silva and De Bruyne, but he doesn’t have deep-lying intellects like Xabi Alonso spraying pinpoint passes like he did at Bayern or technique freaks like Xavi and Iniesta to control the midfield.

At Barca, Guardiola created a collective of players so comfortable and intelligent in possession, and so well-drilled out of it, that traditional positions almost became meaningless. That was his genius. However, at Man City it’s obvious that a disproportionate amount of players do not have the technique, temperament or intelligence to adapt to Guardiola’s tactical instructions, and at the moment it all looks completely  dysfunctional.

It’s much more difficult to recreate Guardiola’s brand of football in the Premier League than, for example, Klopp, whose tactics are more often predicated on sheer blood and guts and motivationally driven. Guardiola will need two or three years to get things right, but he will – given time.

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In the PL, Man Utd brushed Burnley aside with goals from Martial and Rooney. Mourinho is slowly weaving durability into his squad, building the club up from the back as we knew he would. They are now in a position to leapfrog Liverpool and claim a place in the Champions League, but Ibrahimovic and Rojo are out for the season with ACL ligament tears, joining Pogba, Mata, Smalling and Jones on the injury list. Ibrahimovic could have kicked his last competitive ball.

Liverpool have similar problems. They have the weakest squad of the so-called ‘big’ teams and have been hit by key injuries to Mane, Lallana and Henderson. Like Man City, Klopp’s side are only able to play their pressing game intermittently and are vulnerable because of that. Klopp’s well aware of this and has had taken some big gambles recently. He put out a shadow team against Stoke recently but still managed to turn the result by bringing Coutinho and Firmino on in the second half.

Ultimately, however, they don’t have enough in the locker at the moment and are finding it tough going with so many physical demands being placed on a small squad that can’t cope with injuries. But Liverpool only have four games left, and with one weeks’ recovery between each could still find the legs to mount a late charge and take advantage of Utd’s busy schedule.

The fact is City, Man Utd and Liverpool are working their way back to being strong clubs again. They have great managers who are trying to mould the players in their own image. With only one season under their belts, all have made advances (albeit Guardiola’s have been minimal), but all three managers need more time to bed in last summer’s signings, adapt new and existing players into their tactical setups and start bringing in the final pieces of the jigsaw.

Antonio Conte had a head start over all those managers because he inherited a former title-winning team with a deep squad that had a collective understanding and winning mentality. Over the next few years, I predict a bigger gap opening between the current top five and the teams below them. During this transition, City, Utd and Pool regularly drop points against teams they ought not to, but they will become more consistent against lower place sides, meaning the matches against their direct competitors will start to become crucial six pointers.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Tuesday
Apr182017

Wenger’s lame tactical gesture is utter desperation

How stupid does this cretin think people are? Under pressure to change his obstinate ways, and in fear of his job, last night Wenger switched from a flat back four to a 3-4-2-1 formation against Middlesbrough. Explaining the pitifully transparent tactical adaptation in his post-match press conference, Wenger said: “For the first time in 20 years, that shows you that even in my age you can change.”

It’s hard to conceive that anyone is likely fall for Wenger’s dumb arse tactical gesture or conclude that he is actually willing to make anything other than the most superficial of changes. Ultimately, it’s a political/dogmatic response, albeit a particularly patronising and desperate one designed to swindle supporters into subservience.

Indeed, Wenger only made the change because he knew his team were playing a relegation-bound side that’s scored a feeble 22 goals this season. A calculated yet cynical gamble, Wenger could have predicted there was a very high chance that Middlesbrough – a team that has only won 4 of 32 matches and is in terrible form, would create very little regardless of Arsenal’s formation.

And yet, just to prove how benign an effect it had on Wenger’s moribund methods, having the extra man at the back made absolutely no tangible difference to Arsenal’s defensive stability with the home side reportedly creating 13 chances and missing a catalogue of sitters. Once again, Arsenal had to rely on the individual brilliance of Alexis Sanchez to help steal something from the game.

It will be most amusing to see if Wenger sticks with this formation against Man City in the FA Cup semi-final this weekend, because – let’s face it - you can bet the players have not and will not be sufficiently well-drilled enough to carry out Wenger’s brainless instructions. Forget formations, their only hope is blind hope.

City will be also boosted by the return of the perennially injured Vincent Kompany – the defensive rock they have so sorely missed in recent seasons. A natural leader, he is a crucial cog in the wheel for them who will likely calm their jittery defence, making City a different proposition to the mess Arsenal managed to steal a point from on April Fools Day. 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Friday
Apr142017

Kroenke not to blame for Wenger's serial incompetence

This article is not written by Arsenal Truth.

Raskolnikov writes:

Another surgical dissection there AT. Theo Walcott is such a useless waste of sporting oxygen that I’m surprised you afforded this talentless twerp more than a paragraph of your time. As with all things Arsene Wenger, again, the total incompetence comes shining right through. This clown (Walcott – I’ll get to the key jester Wenger in a sec) earns over £130k a week. To put it in context, it is higher wages than Dybala of Juve, you know, that kid who single-handedly demolished Barca the other night.
 
Let’s also remember that according to almost every Arsenal fan that has seen the Gunners spanked every time they’ve drawn Barca in the last 16 of the CL, you are simply not allowed to beat Barca! It’s impossible right? You are just supposed to “go out and enjoy the day”, just as Scunthorpe would if they were drawn at Old Trafford in the FA Cup quarters. It therefore shows just how brainwashed and unambitious Arsenal fans are, especially when a manager on half of Wenger’s annual wages can face up Barca – with a Juve team that has a much smaller wage bill compared to Arsenal – and demolish mighty Barca with such ease. 
 
It’s simply a confirmation of everything AT has repeated ad nauseum since 2011, when our embarrassing legion of apologetic fans continued to claim you “couldn’t compete with oil money”. Football is not, and never has been, about having more money to win. It’s always been about managers, tactics and inspirational motivation. Sure, money definitely helps. 
 
But which imbecile wants to continue to justify Wenger’s pathetic trajectory in a season where Jardim of Monaco has taken an actual 'Project Youth' team (one that doesn’t have a £135m wage bill, as Wenger’s vanity project had as far back as 2012), and is top of the French league against the richest club in Europe and one foot in the semis of the CL? There are SO many examples everywhere that show you just how easily Arsenal fans have been brainwashed and manipulated by Arsene Wenger’s deception, lies and lack of ambition. 

The chickens always come home to roost, so 13 years after the long con began it is all unraveling. Who can ever forget “Arsene had to build a stadium and one cannot compete when constrained by finances”? There’s some chap called Pochettino over at Spurs. Last time I checked, he oversaw back-to-back title challenges with an actual team of young players. Not one Spurs player earns Mesut Ozil’s swindled wages.

Oddly enough though, that manager has got them hungry, focused and every single player knows that if standards are not maintained, they will be canned. Adebayor, Kaboul, etc. all the lazy, rotten apples from Spuds were rooted out and it took Pochettino just two years to build a youthful team (on the cheap) that challenges for the top prizes. 

Even more embarrassing is that when Pochettino was asked how he felt about finally finishing ahead of Arsenal this season, his response was “I am aiming for bigger things”. This is how ambitious managers think – contrast with our muppet fans who pay £1,400 a season on tickets celebrating scraping past Spurs on the final day, despite having twice their budget. How small-time, how pathetic. Another oddity is that I doubt Pochettino will ever attempt to take the credit for “building their new stadium” either. That was funded by the fans investment, just as Arsenal’s was.

If we focus on Walcott again, it didn’t take long for Wenger to demonstrate just what a sinking ship he is overseeing. His press conference have become a weekly laugh-a-minute. On Monday of this week, he was waxing lyrical about Theo Walcott claiming “He is a leader and can captain England one day”. One 3-0 thrashing at Palace later, and Wenger comes out to the media in his Friday presser and openly lambasts Walcott. Why? Because Theo “Captain, Leader, Bellend” Walcott had the audacity to contradict the 'mental strength' bollocks by openly stating that the Arsenal players “weren’t up for it” at Palace. 

Wenger’s anger wasn’t because this comment was incorrect btw, it was because “quiet boy” Theo exposed him. And this is what Wenger FC is about: protecting his ivory tower and buying loyalty and silence by shelling out extortionate money. Let’s expect Aaron Ramsey to be our next 'leader', he always has lovely things to say about the regime in his media outings eh?

I think there is one particular thing I want to refer to that you have often talked about AT, and we need to nip this in the bud here and now: Stan Kroenke. Now, let me declare this – I have no love for Stan and, yes, his sports franchises in America are mediocre. Yet I am mystified and amused at how quickly Wenger’s latest apologists are attempting to deflect all blame onto Silent Stan. Let us begin with the “his US franchises are mediocre”. Yes they are, but football is different. Whereas there is no promotion/relegation in America, there is in Europe, and CL qualification is a significant factor financially (despite increased TV revenues). 

When Usmanov was on the horizon, Arsenal fans (hello again the feckless AST) overwhelmingly backed Kroenke by going out and protesting against an Usmanov takeover. When they should have been protesting about their incompetent manager swindling an extortionate salary, they protested against 'sugar daddy ownership'. So they ASKED for Kroenke to be selected instead and waxed lyrical about nonsense like 'class', 'doing things the right way' and 'self-sustaining ownership'. 

So Kroenke comes in. Fine. Arsenal move stadiums. Let us please remember that BEFORE Kroenke even showed up, Arsene Wenger conspired to finish 23 points behind Jose Mourinho in the PL. Was that Kroenke’s fault? Oh right. Thought not. Let’s conveniently sweep that one under the carpet. 

So after Kroenke took over, when it became obvious for a few years that Wenger was failing in exactly the same way on the pitch, the narrative changed again - this time to: “Stan Kroenke is really letting Arsene down. The board are denying him funds and we are not competing because Kroenke is tighetining the purse strings. Once FFP kicks in we will be in a position to dominate.”

I always found this narrative odd, because if you were working for an awful employer, who was denying you the opportunity to really be good at your job and your rep was taking a massive hit, and if you were as 'in demand' as Wenger continues to remind us he once was, surely you would take one of the other lucrative job offers available?? Oh right 'loyalty'. Yes. The same 'loyalty' the likes of Almunia, Diaby, Denilson, Bendtner, Chamakh, Squillaci, Senderos, Djourou once showed by refusing to leave Arsenal and sitting on enormous contracts. Arsene sure led the way there! It is the same 'loyalty' currently being showed by Theo 'due a testimonial' Walcott, Carl Jenkinson (wouldn’t join Palace as they would not match his ridiculous wages), crappy Coquelin, joke Giroud and of course, Lala-Yaya Sanogo! 

So Wenger continued to happily manage under Kroenke as he steadily earned bigger and bigger salaries as the Arsenal wage bill went higher and higher, year after year. The evidence is there in black and white on the balance sheet - only deluded fools ignore it (so at least 80% of the Emirates crowd then). And as the directors awarded themselves bigger and bigger salaries each year “we were constrained by stadium finances”. 

Funnily enough, the one time that lucrative top 4 spot looked to be under serious threat, Arsene miraculously managed to find £18m down the back of the sofa and signed Arshavin – a highly sought-after player at the time - in January, a time where, apparently, you can’t sign anyone. Must be a “coincidence” eh?

Let us zip things on Kroenke here: Kroenke is definitely now a problem because he still has not sacked Wenger. This does not absolve Wenger of his special incompetence though, and never will. Stan Kroenke let Wenger spend £100m last summer. He has given Wenger total freedom of the sporting matters at Arsenal, he has not interfered a la Mike Ashley/Abramovich in player recruitment (I wish he had tbh as he would sign better players than Elneny, Xhaka, Mustafi and Giroud). Wenger has been given dream conditions that NO other manager in Europe has. However AT, this is the key point: to all those idiotic excuse-makers now deflecting the blame onto Kroenke. What was he supposed to have done? Sacked Wenger back in 2008? Can you imagine the outcry if after blowing a league that was there to be won in 2008, Kroenke had come in and sacked a manager who had at least 90% fan backing?? Stan Kroenke has simply taken his lead from the Arsenal fans. Arsene Wenger has retained overwhelming majority fan support for 12 of the past 13 years and THAT is where the blame lies. 

As I mentioned before, the AST were giving Wenger over 80% backing as recently as 18 months ago! Wenger lost 8-2 at Old Trafford and the away fans held up a banner saying “In Arsene We Trust”! In 2010ish, after a few searching questions were asked in the media, Arsenal’s embarrassing Imbecile Collective (known as “Red Action”) went on a pro-Wenger demo march! So the only protests seen up until that stage were pro-Wenger ones! There has not been a single dissenting voice against Arsene Wenger for 12 straight years.

Anyone that tried to bring it up would be shouted down and treated with hostility and disdain by Wenger’s sheep (i.e. the Emirates crowd) and the mainstream press. Remember the AKB abuse you used to get AT?
Wenger has always maintained a significant majority of support from the Arsenal fan-base: the first sign of any serious dissent has only taken place THIS year! So frankly, Stan Kroenke has listened to the will of the people all this time. He’s basically guilty of not doing what Leicester owners did with Ranieri (look how that’s turned out eh!) and ignoring the majority of Arsenal fans (who it turns out, have been 100% wrong about Wenger and like rats fleeing a deserting ship are now trying to deflect onto Kroenke).

So next time some idiot tries to blame Wenger’s inability to set up a team with World Cup winners and a PFA POTY nominee up to beat WBA, next time you see Sam Allardyce giving Wenger a total tactical masterclass (even though Moyes managed to smash Fat Sam 0-4 at Palace); next time you see Arsenal humiliated 10-2 at Bayern (even though Wenger spent far more on summer recruitment than Bayern did), next time you see yet another shit player getting a Galactico contract extension (Giroud, Coquelin), next time you see a wage bill of over £200m but you don’t understand how managers everywhere are outperforming Arsenal with far less resources... look to the real matter here. 

Yes, pressure now needs to turn to Kroenke to sack the muppet. Let us be crystal clear here though: Wenger’s incompetence pre-dates Kroenke. Just because Kroenke has no professional sporting pride, it doesn’t mean Wenger has to be the same. If anything, as an “elite” (LOL) sports personality, he should be the one striving to win. All the other big managers do. Instead, this tit Wenger talks about “share price” and nonsensical “values” (what, like refusing to piss off when nobody rates you anymore?). 

Wenger would love nothing more than to hear the discussion turn to Kroenke than apportion blame where it is due. All of this Kroenke deflection is just a further example of what a spineless bunch of fans Arsenal truly have. It’s quite possibly the only club in Europe where a 10-2 thrashing and years of habitual sporting humiliations are blamed on a financial investor who doesn’t pick the team and lives thousands of miles away. 
 
Kroenke should be sacking Wenger absolutely and the focus should be turned to him once Wenger is gone. But honestly, imagine going into your work appraisal and blaming your repeated shit performance on your CEO’s refusal to sack you? 

Farcenal FC.
 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Tuesday
Apr112017

Captain Walcott - the latest dolt to represent Wenger's crumbling empire

I had to laugh at Arsenal’s horror show against Crystal Palace last night. Didn’t watch the game, but kept tabs and when Arsenal went 2-0 down I burst out laughing. The fact is, after supporting Arsenal for 38 years I’m no longer emotionally invested in the club. The link was severed years ago by a corrupt regime with a deplorable figurehead.

I don’t mind if other fans claim I’m a deserter for turning my back on Arsenal, not that many have. Guilt trips don’t work with me because I’m not easily manipulated by the will of others. I form my own opinions and have my own set of principles, and when they’re not adhered to I’m unlikely to be swayed.

I knew that Wenger’s empire would crumble because my point of view has always been based on sound evidence and logic, not an irrational emotional addiction. That’s what the last few years writing Arsenal Truth have been about, getting on with life and finding something more meaningful to do while I wait for change.

Basically, it’s Arsenal versus the fans now. Kroenke, Gazidis and Wenger are only interested in feeding themselves off the wealth that Arsenal plc generates. Rich men never have enough money and narcissists never have a big enough ego. When push comes to shove, they would rather stash the cash and sink the club than throw themselves overboard. And that’s what we’re seeing play out right now.

The house is smouldering and the stench of decline fills the air while the board sits in the kitchen drinking Earl Grey tea discussing how they can get to the end of the season in one piece before announcing that Wenger is staying. Meanwhile the reputation of the club is being eroded daily and Arsenal’s underwear is being washed in public, skid marks and all.

But let’s be clear, whatever you think of the board Wenger is the main problem at Arsenal. He is the corrosive, selfish cancer burrowing into every cell of the club’s DNA. Over the past five years, Kroenke has allowed him to spend £306m on players and the club has made a net loss of £215m in the transfer market. Any competent manager given that amount of money should be capable of competing for the PL and CL, and if they don’t they’re entirely to blame for that.

Barring a miracle, only one thing can possibly change that course of events now, and that’s sustained, highly aggressive mass protests and the withdrawal of income from the club’s coffers. But Arsenal fans are, by and large, as witless, arrogant and cowardly as the players they pay stupid money to complain about.

They think Arsenal is a classy club that behaves in a classy way, and that they’re superior to everyone else. But as we’ve seen recently, Arsenal fans - who mostly sit motionless while some mentally ill maniac disguised as a manager rips their club apart - are just as stupid and clueless as the most stupid and clueless fans of every other club.

The funniest thing about last night’s defeat, however, was not the scoreline, it was Wenger’s laughable decision to make that frightened little twat Theo Walcott captain. If that decision in itself doesn’t prove the manager has rigamortis from the neck up, nothing will. 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Wednesday
Apr052017

Wenger-out protests double/new protest/what was said at AST meeting?

The Wenger-out protests organised by the Online Gooner have more than doubled in size from the 400-strong protest at the Bayern Munich home game on the 7th March to over 1,000 prior to Sunday’s home game against Man City.

There have only been two games in between, which shows that supporters are getting their heads round the idea that it’s okay to protest. The bigger the protests become, the more fans will take part as they start to realise it’s the only way to pressurise the board into revoking Wenger’s contract.

Tonight, there will be another protest prior to the West Ham game. Fans will assemble at the old Highbury, Avenell Road, at 7pm, and march to the Two Cannons Roundabout outside the Armoury. Further to that, there will be a protest inside the stadium with supporters asked not to take their seats until 13 minutes after kick-off at 7:58. This is an alternative way of heaping pressure on the manager via the board.

As owner Stan Kroenke only cares about money, any resistance he perceives having a financial effect is more likely to make him sit up and take notice. If there is a repeat of the estimated 10,000 supporters that didn’t bother turning up to Sunday’s game against Man City, then combined with  this protest it shows a very clear and visible sign of dissent. However, with so many supporters voting with their feet, it does make you wonder how big these protests would really be with them on board too.

Some fans might think that 'turning their backs' on the players for the first 13 minutes of a game displays an unwarranted lack of support, but what’s best for the players (assuming they ever want to compete for a major trophy again) is for Wenger to leave, so you’re actually doing them a favour.

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CEO Ivan Gazidis met the AST (Arsenal Supporters’ Trust) on Sunday, but very little of what was said has been leaked out. All we have is a paltry Gazidis quote about Arsenal’s form needing to be a “catalyst for change”. So where’s the rest of what was said at that meeting?

When questioned about Gazidis’s quote at yesterday’s pre-match press conference, Wenger predictably rejected the need for change. Naturally, some have assumed this represents a gulf between the ideology of the board and the manager.

Of course, we still don’t know what’s really going on, but there are three scenarios:

1) Gazidis is spouting any old crap; he just wants to get to the end of the season before announcing a new deal for Wenger.

2) No decision has been made regarding Wenger’s future, but Gazidis genuinely wants change and is trying to implement it in a diplomatic way with Wenger on board.

3) Gazidis wants to force through change and deliberately create resistance between the board and the manager in the hope that he steps down.

One has to hope option 3 is the actionable one, but knowing the way this spineless board operates, it's merely delaying making an announcement on Wenger staying until the season is over and the lights are switched out.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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