Tuesday
Dec202016

Thicko bungler Wenger blames the refs again

Damn, I’m annoyed with myself, should have trusted my instincts. I started watching the Man City game yesterday but turned it off as soon as Arsenal scored. In retrospect, I imagine Paddy Power would have provided attractive odds on a 2-1 turnaround.

Shorn of key players including Kompany, Aguero and Fernandinho, and without midfield runners such as Delph and Gundogan, this was the worst looking City team I’d seen for years. Having immediately gone a goal down, I simply could not envisage their garbage defence keeping it tight at the back for the remainder of the game.

But they did. And Arsenal only had one shot on target.

As always, the maniacal Wenger threw the full weight of blame onto the match officials. He even had the gall to retrospectively blame them for Arsenal’s lack of points this season, despite gaining five points against Leicester, Southampton and Burnley from suspect refereeing decisions that went in Arsenal’s favour.

Watching his post-match interviews, with his haunted, crazed stare, I now reckon Wenger actually believes his own delusional thinking.

Yes, it’s true that City’s first goal was marginally offside, but FA rules state that if there is any doubt a player is offside, the official must keep his flag down. That means the advantage should be given to the attacker, and in the case of Sane he was only offside by three inches. From that distance and at that speed, it’s basically impossible for a linesman to conclude a player is offside with any degree of certainty.

This type of human error will always happen until the FA figures out a way to further extend the powers of video technology. Calling out the refs and attacking them in the way Wenger did is pretty disgraceful behaviour, but all he’s really interested in is deflection. I reckon out of the 27 goals Arsenal have conceded this season, 27 of them were blamed on the officials.

City’s second goal was not offside because the shot had already beaten Cech before Silva could be considered to be interfering with play.

Either way, it’s irrelevant. The fact is, to win the title you have to be better than the decisions that go against you. That’s what title winners do - they collate more points than other teams by eliminating their exposure to risk. If you invite pressure and crumble psychologically, the risk of marginal decisions going against you increases exponentially.

Anyway, the upshot is that Wenger has once again proved what a tactical moron he is. Had City had a full-strength side, I would have partially agreed that Arsenal should sit deep and employ a counter-attacking strategy, but against an injury ravaged team, dire at the back, one goal down and clearly lacking in confidence, his tactics only encouraged City to overcome their frailties.

In the second half, Sanchez was screaming at his team mates to push up 10-15 yards to support him, yet thicko Wenger sat frozen in the dugout doing nothing. He is only capable of making like-for-like substitutions, and even then he made particularly stupid ones, like putting Giroud on instead of Perez. A speedy, agile forward coming from deep would have presented far more danger to City than a big slow lump that was never going to get any service.

It is now incumbent on the ‘Wenger Out’ supporters to bring back the banners and start protesting for his removal, and persist until the end of the season irrespective of results.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

Monday
Dec122016

Dear idiots, shut up about pass completion rates

It’s been a while, but not much has changed since I wrote my last blog on November 9. Chelsea are still winning, Utd are still one-paced, City are still struggling to adapt to Guardiola’s tactics, Liverpool are still conceding too many goals, Spurs still aren’t scoring enough and there’s no point talking about Arsenal until March or April – only then will we discover if Wenger has grown a pair of bollocks.

I suspect not, but I’m a glass-half-empty kind of guy - a realist pessimist; it’s been beaten into me. These days, I usually forget Arsenal are even playing, which makes me an increasingly inadequate blogger. I suppose some would say I’ve always been inadequate, but let’s not got there.

Being drawn against Bayern Munich in the Champions League doesn’t exactly bode well though does it? I just read a hilarious article claiming how Arsenal should not be afraid, because Bayern are drivel right now – even though they’ve only lost 1 domestic game this season, scored more and conceded less than every other Bundesliga team and the game doesn’t take place for another two months.

At the moment, there’s only one Arsenal story worth talking about, the elephant in the room with the big trunk blowing chunks of scepticism everywhere – Ozil and Sanchez’ unsigned contracts. As I stated in a previous blog, Arsenal have royally screwed themselves by allowing 15 contracts to enter into the final 18 months. That means big pay increases across the board would result in a points deduction if the amounts involved fall foul of the FA’s newly adopted Short Term Cost Controls.

Ironic isn’t it? Gazidis and Wenger pissed and moaned for so long about financial disparity and the need for regulation, now they’re going to be hoisted by their own petard. That’s assuming either player even wants to stay. If I was a betting man, I’d say Arsenal have no chance in the CL, will bugger up the title and Sanchez will go to Juve or Man City while Ozil heads to Mourinho’s soft bosom.

Wenger claims Arsenal will allow both players contract to run out (stifles laugh).

Finally, I’ve been meaning to say this for some time, but bloggers and commenters, please shut up about pass completion stats – it’s fecking embarrassing. Getting sick of reading about Coquelin or Elneny’s 90% pass completion rate, when all they do is sit in front of the back four, rarely venturing beyond the half way line, playing against teams who play one up front with 10 men behind the ball.

Where else are they going to pass it, other than backwards, sideways, to Ozil or the wide men, who all have 50 yards of space ahead of them and need binoculars to get a clear view of the keeper? Basically, if those players don’t have a 98% pass completion rate, it’s a disgrace (I’m allowing for 2 long ball passes going astray per 90 minutes).

Pass completion stats are only really meaningful if a player has less than 10%, in which case they’re about as much use as a chocolate dildo whatever way you look at it. Leicester won the league with the lowest pass completion rate of any team in the PL last season, which demonstrates how utterly meaningless pass completion stats are. I guess they’d mean a lot to a laptop dunce like Arsene Wenger, but he’d make Ian Dowie look like a tactical genius.

Even for attacking players they’re pretty meaningless if the players in question are not attempting creative or incisive forward passes. Basically, you can’t just look at stats. You have to have to watch the games and see everything through the prism of a side’s tactical set up, the opponent on any given day and exactly where those passes are going.

Please do your duty and pass this blog to everyone you know so we can stamp out this analytical incompetence, and while you’re at it throw into the mix anyone that ever again mentions  that horribly overused phrase: Einstein said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Yes, we know it still applies to Wenger, but it’s time to find more imaginative ways to ridicule him.

Big week for Arsenal, with two away games at Everton and Man City, who will be without Sergio Aguero after his savage death kick on David Luiz. Remember, all great players have a bit of the Jason Voorhees in them – including Dennis Bergkamp. 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

Wednesday
Nov092016

Oops, wrote off Chelsea too soon

The trouble with writing a blog is that it involves making predictions. If you’re a smart blogger, you won’t make predictions, but the trouble with that is you’ll risk coming across as a fence sitter, and let’s face it, football and fence sitting are diametrically opposed.

On September 27, I wrote off Chelsea’s chances of competing for the Premier League based on a terrible performance against the Gunners, yet five weeks later they’re looking a completely different side.

Manager Antonio Conte has demonstrated his calibre by switching to a back three system and allowing lazy bastards like Fabregas and Hazard complete freedom to play an offensive game. This has not only provided Chelsea with defensive stability, but a remarkable attacking transformation has occurred.

Since the Arsenal defeat, they have won all five Premier League games, scoring 16 goals and conceding none. Those victories includes a 4-0 pasting of Man Utd and an awe-inspiring 5-0 victory against Everton on Sunday, which was about as perfect a performance from a Chelsea team as I can remember.

Liverpool are also battering teams out of sight and now sit top of the table. Arrogant Daniel Sturridge, so instrumental in Liverpool’s title charge two seasons ago under Brendan Rodgers, has been humbled. Now, Klopp only brings him on if he's desperate or the points are in the bag.

However, Man City have floundered. Pep Guardiola’s players are struggling to adapt to his nuanced tactics. It could be that his pressing game is negating their creative potential. The Pellegrini picnic is over and, like Klopp, Guardiola might need a season to discover which of his players are willing to match the physical demands placed on them – or maybe they just need to acclimatise.

A similar problem is also haunting Jose Mourinho, who is already calling players out in public for crying off injured, unwilling to put their bodies on the line.

The upshot of all this is that I now have to reinstate Chelsea as title contenders.

For the first time in 35 years, I did not watch the North London derby and settled for highlights. Spurs impress me more than Arsenal because they have resilience, something Wenger has not installed in Arsenal for over a decade. Even when they’re down on their luck and missing key players, Spurs won’t roll over.

If you add up all the points Arsenal have lost in big games due to Laurent Koscielny clangers, it would be very revealing, and he was at it again on Sunday. Koscielny is an accident waiting to happen. Like the club he plays for, he always flatters to deceive and reveals his flaws eventually.

From where I’m sitting, Arsenal have been lucky this season and don’t deserve to be above Tottenham. Against Leicester, they were lucky to get a point when the home side were denied a stick-on pen in the last minute, and at home to Southampton they got a goal at the death that should have been disallowed due to a head injury in the box. Wenger’s men narrowly beat Burnley, but only after Koscielny handled the ball before scoring.

Most of the key decisions in games have gone for Arsenal this season, but they still don’t look convincing. Meanwhile, Wenger is busy destroying his only world-class player, Alexis Sanchez. He plays him up front in every game and never rests him. By February/March, he’ll be ruined.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

Wednesday
Oct192016

Gazidis’ fingers in the till again/Arsenal salary cap points deduction risk

Swiss Ramble has done its annual carving of Arsenal’s full-year accounts. It’s probably too complex and boring for the average fan to read, but here are the highlights:

Arsenal’s cash balance stands at £226m, more than Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich put together.

Chairman Sir Chips Keswick explained it’s his “duty to point out” that after excluding debt service reserves and amounts owed to other clubs on past transfers, the balance is more like £149 million.

I would have thought it also his duty to point out what other clubs owe to Arsenal, but then why paint a full picture when you can obfuscate?

Either way, one has to question the wisdom of leaving hundreds of millions of pounds sitting idle in the bank last season when interest rates were touching zero.

Profit before tax fell to a measley £3m. Commercial income rose by a paltry £4m and match day revenue dipped slightly. Most of Arsenal’s growth has come through improved TV deals via a 63% increase in broadcasting revenues.

Despite generating little income for the club, other than what broadcasters give Arsenal for nothing, Ivan Gazidis has awarded himself a 15% increase in remuneration from £2.2 million to £2.6 million pa.

Indeed, Arsenal’s commercial revenues trail badly behind their peers. Of the top 10 wealthiest clubs in world football, Arsenal have the second lowest commercial revenues as a % of total income.

This could soon become a problem for the club as it is part of the Premier League’s Short Term Cost Controls, i.e. ‘salary cap’ programme. The rules prevent clubs with wage bills in excess of £67m from increasing wages by more than £7m for each of the following two seasons.

Yet Arsenal have 15 players whose contracts expire by 2018. And not any old players: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Cazorla, Monreal, Sanogo, Toral and Campbell (expire 2017) and Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud, Wilshere, Szczesny, Gibbs, Jenkinson and Oxlade-Chamberlain (expire 2018).

Presuming those players want to stay – or the club wants to keep them, new contracts would mean salary increases that would likely push the club way over the £7m limit, invoking a points deduction for breaking PL salary cap rules. Obviously, Sanchez and Ozil's wage demands are likely to be a key element of this.

Rules state that salaries can be substantially increased if funded by increases in revenue from sources other than Premier League broadcasting contracts, i.e. commercial deals. However, Gazidis’ does not seem capable of generating sufficient funds through commercial activities.

This could explain why Wenger has come out in the press recently and started mouthing off about Ozil and Sanchez wanting too much money.

Either way, fans should prepare themselves for that fact that not only do Ozil and Sanchez probably not want to sign a new contract anyway (in which case the salary cap is irrelevant), but if they do, Arsenal have put themselves in a position where they can’t pay them the going rate without dumping a host of other players.

On the subject of the wage bill, Arsenal’s has climbed to £195m, £1m higher than Man City, nearly double that of Spurs and £145m higher than Champions Leicester City.

Any good news? Stan Kroenke has waived his £3m annual fee for “strategic and advisory services”. However, this may have something to do with the numerous petitions against him within the stadium during March and April.

Arsenal’s stadium debt currently stands at £233m; requiring annual payments of around £20 million. However, due to those cash balances mentioned earlier, net debt is only £7m. 

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

Tuesday
Sep272016

Chelsea victory means nothing

Lots of goals across the Premier League this weekend and after six games, champions Leicester City are already trailing Man City by 11 points.

I watched some of the City game and Kevin De Bruyne was out of this world. He prevented an almost certain Swansea goal, running the length of the pitch to make a last ditch intervention, then intercepted the resulting corner and ran half the length of the field again to set up Raheem Sterling who bagged three points for the away side.

De Bruyne would not have done that for Manuel Pellegrini, and I doubt the reprised Sterling would have had the confidence to finish his goal with such aplomb either.

Even at 3-1, Pep Guardiola was going berserk on the touchline. In victory, he was both complimentary and abrasive, suggesting his team is nowhere near the finished article. Man City had a similar start last season and faded badly, but Guardiola will not allow that to happen under his watch.

If they fail, it won’t be for the same reasons that Pellegrini failed, Guardiola’s players are too motivated. Everyone is fighting – not just for their place, but for the manager’s respect. And, of course, Guardiola lives and breathes the game and demands flawless focus and preparation from his underlings. That’s why the mercurial, but idle, Yaya Toure has been discarded quicker than a toilet wipe.

When asked in a press conference whether Man City could win the quadruple, Guardiola’s response was, “what the f*ck?” The question, although not entirely unrealistic, is an insult because it assumes that Guardiola’s meticulous pursuit of perfection is based on anything other than countless hours of surgical tactics and training.

Liverpool continue to batter teams out of sight, but most impressive is how they are now capable of squeezing results out on the road. They’ve already taken eight points away from Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs on their travels, which could be meaningful at the end of the season. Their goals are coming from everywhere and Adam Llalana and Roberto Firmino, in particular, have been rejuvenated.

Top-class managers can squeeze talent out of players that would otherwise be ordinary.  Some managers sacrifice individual talent to create a team that is greater than the sum of its parts, but managers like Klopp enable individuals to sparkle while remaining an integral part of a team’s collective resonance.

Klopp and Guardiola are truly modern managers. Mourinho is a supreme organiser and man motivator, but is currently being made to look one-dimensional by comparison. Still, he’s capable of creating a powerful dimension and there’s more than one way to skin a cat. As Utd proved on Saturday having humbled the champions 4-1, his squad may be flawed but they’re ready to share his ambition.

Having watched Chelsea feebly succumb to Arsenal on Saturday, it makes you realise just how great a manager Mourinho is at squeezing blood out of a stone. Without John Terry changing his diaper, Gary Cahill is a donkey, Ivanovic is a rudderless brute and Edin Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are almost impossible to motivate. They both want to be the centre of attention – in adversity they’re utterly useless. Cosseted by Wenger for eight years, Fabregas has failed to develop any mental resistance, but Hazard’s perpetual refusal to work hard for his team is utterly loathsome.

When Cahill gifted Arsenal a one-goal lead, the Gunners went for the throat and blitzed Antonio Conte’s slothful mercenaries who finished 10th last season because they’re egos would not climb down from the pedestal that Mourinho put them on. I always said that Chelsea made a mistake sacking Mourinho and should have just written off the season and started ditching tossers like Hazard instead.

As for Arsenal, they don’t beat so-called ‘good’ teams very often, and when they do it’s invariably because the opposition plays beneath themselves. Sometimes managers make laughable decisions (Coquelin/Cazorla) and still win.

But let’s be realistic. We’ve been here before – countless times. The pressure for Arsenal to get off to a flyer resulted in five points dropped, but now the pressure is off the handbrake is released. History has told us again and again and again that Arsenal fall apart every season because of Wenger’s inability to inspire or provide a semblance of tactical flexibility. Anyone who’s optimistic that things will be different this season is either naïve or an idiot.

As Pochettino proved again on Saturday, last season was not a flash in the pan for Spurs. They have the best defence in the Premier League, depth and quality in midfield and numerous options up front. They are the most resilient team in the PL.

Last season, I mentioned how much I liked the look of Son Heung-Min, but he struggled to get into a side that was performing optimally with him on the periphery. Now with Harry Kane injured, he has an opportunity to show what he’s all about, and did that scoring twice against Middlesbrough.

The wheat is already being separated from the chaff. After Saturday, I’m throwing Chelsea out of the title race.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.

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Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be unread and binned.

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