Arsene Wenger’s Predictable Pressers

This is my 10th season doing this blog. I started in January 2008 and I know that it sounds crazy to say that this is my 10th season but with 07/08, 08/09, 09/10, 10/11, 11/12, 12/13, 13/14, 14/15, 15/16, and now 16/17 that makes 10. Ok, technically nine and a half. Or eight and a half since we are only heading into the 10th season. But with the way that us Arsenal supporters count, 9.5 is 10.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, I’m tired. Nothing wears a human down quite as much as doing pretty much the same thing for a decade. Quite how Arsene Wenger still does it, I have no idea. But he gave a classic Wenger press conference ahead of the match against Liverpool in which he said everything and nothing at the same time.

By now I could write a piece of software that generates Wenger quotes and so why reporters keep asking the same questions that generate the same responses, I haven’t a clue. Maybe they are conditioned to sit there like rats asking the same questions over and over and not getting any cheese but thinking that they will. They won’t. Not from Wenger, especially when it comes to transfers.

As I predicted on August 1st, Arsenal will not be buying a player before the start of the season. Wenger is predictable in many ways and this is one of them. In the last 10 seasons, he’s only purchased 3 players in the two week build up to the new season. In the presser he said that they are not working on any deals at the moment because they are focused on the match ahead.

Overall I found his tone about transfers seems to have changed and I am now starting to worry that we might not buy any player before the window closes. In the past, Wenger has said that we are looking for two players, a striker and a defender. When he was asked about numbers, he said that Arsenal were not after a specific number of players, that actually, the squad is too big. When asked about positions, he also said that we are not after any specific positions.

Wenger doesn’t like to show his cards (sometimes he doesn’t even play his cards, like last year when he folded after buying Cech) so it’s possible that he’s being cagey. He’s also probably trying not to hurt Giroud’s (or Walcott/Ox/Campbell’s) feelings by saying he wants to buy a striker (or wide player). Though, if that’s the case we’ve done an awful job hiding that we are after a center back and a forward all summer — what with bids for Lacazette made public and with Mustafi’s agent talking about his client linked to Arsenal.

Nope, Wenger refused to be cornered on whether Arsenal would buy going back to the well with his trusty old standby “if we find the top quality then we will still strengthen our squad.”

Oh man.. “if we find top quality”.

Top Jimmy cooks, top Jimmy swings
He’s got the look
Top Jimmy, woo shake it baby

If we find top quality. It’s one of the few things Wenger says that really grates after 10 years because it sounds so inactive, like “well if a great opportunity appears in front of us you can rest assured that we might snap it up.” It’s the kind of answer that I would want to avoid as a reporter. I wouldn’t ask him about transfers at all. I’d ask other questions. For example, “Arsene Wenger, if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” and “If Arsenal were an animal, what kind of animal would it be?” I suspect the answers would be “a Willow” and “a tortoise”.

Back to transfers and the squad. Wenger thinks the squad is great. Wenger spoke about stability. There is a hunger in the squad. There is a huge desire. The squad finished second. The squad is very complete. The squad has ambition. Arsenal finished second. But the squad is also humble. The players want to finish one better than last year.

In the more banal, Mertesacker is out for four months, Gabriel is out for two months, and Koscielny is not fit to play on Sunday. Holding and Chambers are probably going to start, with Holding being tipped as top quality and ready to make the leap up from one of the worst teams in the Championship to a huge battle between Liverpool and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League. No pressure there.

We are also on a 10 match unbeaten run. Just FYI.

And of course, lack of activity in the transfer market brought out questions about Alexis and Özil’s contract situations. Wenger said there is no urgency there, they have 2 years left, and we deal with that after the transfer window closes.

Overall it was a very predictable press conference in which Wenger gave a number of typical and expected answers. Honestly, these press conferences at this time of year are among the most boring. They ask all the same questions every year and it’s always some kind of direct question about transfers or a lame attempt at an oblique transfer question. Wenger never gives an answer to these questions but does smirk and then fans like to think that the smirk means we are buying Griezmann.

If I had the chance to ask even one question it would be about what kind of tactics he was going to use against Liverpool. How is he going to counter their press? What is his midfield going to look like? How does he deal with the threat of Firmino and Coutinho? What did Cech and the team work on in order to stop the opposition from scoring goals from distance? He’s not going to talk about transfers, so why not ask him about the football?

Yeah, I know, he wouldn’t really talk about that either. He wouldn’t want to tell us how he’s going to play against Liverpool. Right, so if we find top quality it is then.

Welcome to the 2016/17 season. I’ll write some guff about the new rules tomorrow. Until then…



  1. I think we will buy at least a defender. When asked about Mustafi, he didn’t give the classic we are not on his case response, instead he said something like no update for now.

  2. When Arsene says “if we find top quality” if I was a reporter I would get specific and ask is griezmann top quality and if he would improve this squad and if yes why not sign him..
    But alas I m sure he will give his “everybody has to agree, the seller, buyer..etc etc..”

    But you are right he has changed his tone today about transfers….can’t be happening again right?

  3. The Willow\tortoise line made me chuckle.
    Sure, it’s all very boring by now.
    Here’s a question or two worth asking: “Arsene, have you ever actively shopped any Arsenal player to other clubs, who wasn’t performing up to your standards?” ,or , “Arsene , what do you mean when you say to prospective transfer targets, Arsenal are a footballing paradise ?”

    ” is it because there’s no real pressure to win and if they keep their noses clean they can keep their jobs until their contracts are up?”

    But of course they don’t ask questions like these because they would never get a straight answer anyways, and they know it.

    It has become so repetitive by now, it amazes me people still get excited about the new season.
    Personally, I’m so jaded I stopped caring.

    Three season ago I went to three Arsenal games, two seasons ago to two, last season to one, and this season I won’t go at all.
    It’s not the distance ( I live in Chicago), or the money , or the hassle of travel, but rather lack of any excitement about this club anymore.

      1. Tim, I just tried to leave another comment, and it hasn’t appeared. Was a bit of a rant about AW and used a bad word, wondering whether it got blocked?

        1. Yep. The blog rating is PG-13. Any cursing gets spammed. If I turn the blog up to R-Rated I think those won’t get spammed but let’s be honest here, this isn’t an R-Rated blog. The trick is to find another way to express yourself that doesn’t use cursing!

    1. I always find these “I’m so bored I’m not watching the matches any more” posts humorous. I’m sure the atmosphere at the stadium will suffer immensely from your absence this season …. If you’re so uninterested in the team, why are you going to the trouble to leave comments on this blog?

  4. Haha that was fun 🙂 .. learned a long time ago the best way to handle transfers is to just let it go and hope for the best. I like most of them anyway.

  5. The whole thing is just pathetic. This whole thing about ‘you have to spend the club’s money like it’s your own’ borders on a pathology. How egotistical is this man? He’s paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake and paying too much, so instead there’s no activity at all. And the whole club remains in a state of atrophy, apathy and complacency.

    The flip side of the refusal to sign anyone is the refusal to sell underperforming players. Why the hell aren’t we selling the likes of Szczesny and Debuchy? Why loan Szcz yet again, instead of selling him for say £10 million? None of it makes any business or footballing sense, it’s just a continuation of this pathetic creche culture, and Arsene treating our football club as his own plaything. Fuck off and give us back our club.

  6. Because it is such a standard answer for him to give regarding transfers it probably shouldn’t irritate but I can’t help be irritated at the top quality excuse. The implication of that statement is that only players who are better than the players we have can improve the squad. I have to call bullshit on that. Sure, superstar signings can improve the squad but so can quality depth. For instance, right now we have Giroud, Walcott, and possibly a re-purposed Alexis as center forwards. Giroud is a pretty good forward and certainly a better forward than him makes us better. But a forward who is perhaps just as good but with different strengths and physical qualities would allow us to play in a different way would improve the squad. A forward who adds real depth and allows us to be tactically flexible would improve the squad. The top, top quality argument is in my opinion a red herring to justify intransigence in the transfer market.

  7. Because it is such a standard answer for him to give regarding transfers it probably shouldn’t irritate but I can’t help be irritated at the top quality excuse. The implication of that statement is that only players who are better than the players we have can improve the squad. I have to call bulls*** on that. Sure, superstar signings can improve the squad but so can quality depth. For instance, right now we have Giroud, Walcott, and possibly a re-purposed Alexis as center forwards. Giroud is a pretty good forward and certainly a better forward than him makes us better. But a forward who is perhaps just as good but with different strengths and physical qualities would allow us to play in a different way would improve the squad. A forward who adds real depth and allows us to be tactically flexible would improve the squad. The top, top quality argument is in my opinion a red herring to justify intransigence in the transfer market. Heck at this point, I’d be happy with a forward who’s better than Walcott. Surely there’s a few of those out there.

  8. So another season is upon us and I was reminded of the Arsene press conference bingo.
    Half a full house there “if we find top quality” “I’m focussed on the next game” “we concentrate on the players we have” etc. All very different to a few weeks ago when he specifically said he was after a defender and a striker.
    Like another commenter above I’m already feeling the ennui about the team and it will affect my attendance this year, although living close to London I have less justification for not going as I’m not coming from Chicago.
    Coincidentally I had a stop over there this time last year on my way to a holiday in Orlando.
    A few hours in the Rosewood/mount centre ?
    I think I need another holiday now.

  9. Wenger these days is like a reunion special of the Two Ronnies in the 90s. You watch and say “This was really good 12 years ago.”

  10. Arsene sounds like the woman you’ve fallen out of love with. Those previously endearing habits are now just plain irritating.

    She’s not “enjoying her food in a refeshing way”, she’s eating too damn noisily.

  11. I fully agree his Arsene’s press conferences are boring and pointless. We’ve been listening to them for 20 years now so they’re bound to be a bit repetative at this stage. It doesn’t help that, like you say, the questions he’s asked year after year are either the most pointless boring questions eg. ‘Are you happy with the win?’ or loaded questions designed to try to get him to say something controversial that can be used against him and the club to sell papers and get clicks.

    The saddest part is that he’s shown time and time again, usually in interviews in France, that if he’s asked interesting questions he’s more than capable of giving interesting answers on a wide variety of topics.

    One thing I found interesting this week was that Arsene gave an interview where he said something like that the transfer market was crazy but you just had to accept it and be willing to pay the prices dictated by the market (I found it on Arseneblog). It’s the kind of statement we all say we want from him but people just shrug it off as spin. It’s almost as if we’ll take everything he says that can be read in any way negatively as a black and white no grey area statement of fact and intent. But as soon as he comes out with something more resembling what we want him to say, then it’s just lies or pr spin. He can’t win either way and it’s made me more and more unwilling to get hung up on what he says in pre game press conferences or post game interviews because at the end of the day, no matter what if says, we’re ultimately going to judge him on results.

    1. Yep, actions. Not words. And so far, his actions have been to buy one expensive player per season and then shut up shop.

  12. Not looking forward to Sunday. Thanks a lot Wenger. I really did think last season that Wenger should go, but then I guess I rode the euphoria of finishing 2nd ahead of Spurs, and then thought, ‘ok, we’ve got the transfer window now, let’s go and get the players we need to make the step up!’

    I’m definitely back in the ‘thanks, but it’s time to leave’ camp again. He’s hopeless. This team is stagnating, and anybody and their dog can tell you how we’ll finish this season.

    1. Yes, there is definitely that feeling of predictability about this season. I didn’t watch one pre season game this year, which is unusual for me. I read two news sites and two blogs almost daily as I always do, but never really got excited about any transfer rumours as I once might have. I figured Wenger would put Nacho in CB before buying another CB . Couldn’t really see Wenger going in on any of the available strikers. I thought Vardy was a half-hearted attempt to placate the fans (“see, we are trying”). I’m convinced that Wenger is such a romantic, a lover of pure and fair competition, that he just can’t buy players to improve the team, like that is somehow an aberration of the beautiful game. Let the oil-rich spoil their teams he just won’t do it. The challenge for him, year after year, is proving his approach can be competitive; that actually coaching your players to be better, to tap into their passion, is better than collecting world class players and trying to make them play together. I admire that, I just wish it would work out a little differently than it has

  13. By the way, Shard, was away for a couple of days, just read your “thought you were better than that” sob story. Sorry, dude. I say what I like, too. I don’t have much time or patience for people who support Trump, and I don’t mind saying so. If you think being a Trump supporter and always painting a rosy picture on Wenger’s motives discredits your comments, well, if you say so. I respond to them as I see fit, and you do so as well. Cheers for the indignant essay, though.

    1. As an expat living in the US, there are 2 common misconceptions here that I understand, but are wrong. I get the perspective, but it’s wrong.

      1) Hillary would be worse because Foreign Policy: yes, she’s awful. But he’s a loose cannon.

      2) Dems and Repubs are the same: no, not at all.

      1. 1) Yup, he’s a loose cannon on Foreign policy….or everything. Except his statements on Russia. Oh and about ISIS (‘Founder’) Technically inaccurate, but correct in import.

        But there was an article in the Guardian by Jonathon Freedman I think, which basically demonized Trump for saying he would sit across the table and talk to Russia and Putin. I mean heaven forbid.
        Also said that he wants to emulate Putin and ride roughshod over human rights and international law. With no evidence, and no sense of irony there either.
        Also, why is the story of the DNC leak the allegation that Russia leaked it, rather than what was actually shown by it?

        2) I don’t follow internal US politics too closely. I’m approaching this just on the basis of their actions in the international arena, and I see no difference between Bush (the war criminal) and Obama (the Nobel Peace Prize winner).

        1. “With no evidence”
          Yeah, except for how he said he’s in favor of torture, and how he wants to discriminate on the basis of religion and national origin. Convenient elisions.

    2. I’m not a Trump supporter, and that’s something you apparently are unable to understand because you just see red whenever you see Trump’s name mentioned as anything other than an a****le, which oddly, enough, I called him. Along with other names.

      Just because I don’t want to resort to calling you names doesn’t mean it’s a sob story.

      Guess we better just stay out of each others’ way.

      1. Hi Shard,

        Here’s what you said:

        “I’d just like to get it off my chest that I have changed my mind, and now want Trump to win.”

        If wanting someone to win doesn’t make you a supporter, then that’s cool, play by your own semantic rules, but it was pretty clear in that discussion where your sympathies lay, and it was with Trump…because, somewhat bafflingly, you imagine a reactionary racist who cares little for educating himself on the dynamics of foreign states will make the world safer.

        But you’re right: maybe “sob story” wasn’t really the right expression for your “thought you were better than that” speech. Self-righteous, then? Yeah.

        1. I didn’t choose the contest to be between Hillary and Trump. I also said ideally, I’d want you guys to vote in a third party candidate, but I know that won’t happen, and HIllary will win anyway.

          If you’d like to accuse me of being self righteous, then I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with in general, is hypocrisy. But a bit of the pot kettle black there no? After all, you jumped on me with your ‘advice’ to visit your country’s rednecks to disabuse or cure me of what you imagined were my political views.

          And pardon me for thinking highly of you. My mistake.

          1. Pardon me for thinking highly of you? Spare me. You sound like a jilted lover, Shard. Get over it. I’m not your friend, you’re not mine. We’re on an internet forum where we share our views. I happen not to like your views most of the time, and so I say so. You’re painfully saccharine, you seem to think you drive the content of the blog posts, and then you act all indignant when people react to you sharing your political views in a sports forum.

            I stand by my comment. As a fellow brown man, I would think it’s highly ironic to support a candidate whose main supporters would consider me persona non grata or worse, a terrorist, simply because of the color of my skin. I’ve experienced racism in the US. It’s not fun, and Trump only emboldens such behaviors. Your glib comments are hopelessly out of tune with the American experience and what it means to support Trump.

          2. But now let me take a more conciliatory tone. I don’t agree with you most of the time, but I appreciate your voice here. It would be boring in this forum if we all agreed. But with that acceptance, and with that openness, comes the chance that tempers will flare. I always endeavor to criticize the comment/idea rather than the person, but that line does get crossed sometimes, and perhaps inevitably so, because it’s difficult to separate ourselves from our ideas. Apologies for the ad hominem. I wish I could promise it won’t happen again, but I often wear my heart on my sleeve.

          3. Bunbury

            I didn’t realise you were brown skinned. Perhaps I should have if you’ve shared that before, but I genuinely don’t see colour when I see people. So I didn’t see that as part of your identity.

            I’m sorry. I realise that must make it even more personally painful for you.The idea of Trump. But I assure you, that is not where I’m approaching this from. The American experience. I even said I have no idea what Trump means for the domestic US population. My approach to this is that Hillary is the first choice for the ‘establishment’, and she is so likely as almost to be certain to cause more wars and misery around the globe. Trump might too. But there’s a chance he won’t because though he’s not an outsider, he doesn’t belong to the same camp. There is a large business network in the US who would prefer NOT to go to war, and I THINK Trump might be backed by those guys at this point.

            His comments on Russia (one of the few things he’s not flip flopped on) suggests him as a better candidate to negotiate peace. Despite his and the Republicans public stance of being ultra macho. The pacifist and humanist stance of Obama didn’t stop or slow down the killing of people. Quite the opposite. I don’t believe the hyper rhetoric of Trump would accelerate the killing either. Geopolitics have little to no relation to the election process rhetoric anymore.

            And less wars make the US a safer place too. Though I can understand that safer from terrorists doesn’t mean safer when you have emboldened racists running around the streets.

  14. Feeling confident about Sunday.
    Can’t wait to see moaninho lose it this year!
    Arsenal will do what is necessary to provide adequate support.
    Very fortunate to be playing at home- especially if the fans can get behind the team, and not whine about a missed place pass, miscommunication amongst players, a shot that is blocked. It is the first game of the season for goodness sakes.
    Go Gunners!!

  15. I agree that the tone was different regarding signings in this press conference. It surprised me and I understand why you would think that perhaps no signings are coming.

    I can only guess..or hope…that it was just because he’s bored of talking about signings, especially just before the opening match of the season. But we’ll see about signings soon enough.

    The criticism about not having a complete squad before the season is a bit weird to me. What we’re saying is we must have bought all the players we want at least a month before the window ends. To give them at least 2 weeks of pre-season. Which would be great. But going to the end of the window and getting what you want isn’t unreasonable or terrible is it?

    Of course, the frustration comes from the past where that hasn’t happened. I can understand that. But this criticism about the season starting and we’re already doomed doesn’t sit right with me. Early season results are often a lottery anyway.

  16. Shard, criticism of Bush’s foreign policy is more justified than similar criticisms levelled at Obama for a few reasons:
    1-Bush initiated a war viewed by many as unjust, thus limiting the next POTUS’ options. While Obama deserves some criticism, he was acting in a manner constrained by his predecessor’s choices.
    2. The decision to invade Iraq was not based on good intel, and there’s evidence Blair and Bush musled, or at least embellished their case for invading to the public
    3. Obama’s FP record has some marks on it, notably not accounting for the power vacuum that allowed for ISIS’ rise, the use extralegal drone strikes and Libya, but all of these are in some way tied to Bush’s choices. Not that it completely excuses him. Perhaps the worst part of Bush FP was the Neocon attitude of “this is all being done in the name of national security, and we can do whatever we want, including torture” as if the American people had no stake in the matter, and couldn’t weigh the possible costs of military action against its ostensible security benefits. There were several people inside the Bush Admin for raising potential lethal and ethical issues with how things were being handled, and they were all banished.
    4. Finally, some of the legit criticisms of Obama FP already mentioned such as lack of foresight and poor planning, are even more serious in Bush’s case. Iraq was, quite simply, a military planning disaster. While I didn’t agree with the initiation of military conflict in the first place, if you’re gonna do it, at least do it right.

    1. I appreciate all that. But at the end of the day, Obama has expanded US overt and covert involvement in illegal wars and conflicts around the world and I don’t think most of it can be blamed on Iraq.

      The (ab)use of R2P provisions to provide weapons in Libya, using Turkey and the Saudis to try to topple the legitimate government of Syria through terrorist groups who supposedly the US is fighting (They have a long history of both toppling govts and using terrorists as foreign policy tools and this is nothing new)

      By the way, the first time I heard about IS was in 2008. I read it in a book detailing the US complicity in Pakistan’s acquisition of the Nuclear Bomb (and according to one of the leaked cables, this is in effect the Saudi’s bomb). I don’t remember all the details now but IS was mentioned by a terrorist jailed in Jordan to a journalist who was also jailed there in 99 (I think), and he wrote a book in 2005 detailing their plan for expansions which basically relied on the US bombing Iraq, Libya, Syria and finally Iran. He didn’t mean that the US would help him, but that they wouldn’t be able to resist and that this would help him and his cause. Oddly enough that route map was followed almost to the T.

      So when I say it is inaccurate that Obama is the founder of IS, I mean it. But the import is that the US created and is supporting IS with Obama’s actions having given them that space to grow. In two months, Russia (who are in Syria legally under intl law) have made more advance against IS, and the rest of the groups who keep changing names and allegiances as politically convenient, than the US made in 2 years.

      I could tell you a whole lot about Crimea too based on direct information, but the Russians weren’t the aggressors there, except that they were forced to move militarily to take over Crimea (but resisted being goaded into going further) The Ukrainian govt fell to a ‘coup’ and the people of Crimea were terrorised by state sponsored goons and the new govt carried out policies against the Russian language (mother tongue for most Crimeans) No education in Russian, no TV shows in Russian etc. The motive is to expand Nato forces right onto the Russian border and destabilize other neighbouring nations.

      Hence why I believe that Trump’s stance on talking to Russia, and his understanding of the situation in Ukraine (which surprised me), rather than the usual Western stance of demonizing them and Putin, is better for the world. Including in the middle east where Russia is going to be a major player now with Iran, Syria and now, perhaps, Turkey. It’s the only way of avoiding major, long term conflict.

      (And I haven’t even talked about the ‘Asian pivot’ and the South China Sea situation. And note, as an Indian, I am no fan of China either and am well aware of their ‘dangers’.)

  17. You all realise that all the teams you think are way above us… will have to play each other. They can’t all win, all the time. Besides, buying players doesn’t guarantee progress. Arsenal only signed a goalkeeper last year and finished second….(1st comment in 3 years of reading)..i know some of you might as well say..let it be ur last!

  18. then again gooners there is an aspect you getting wrong…regardless of how much u think our rivals have strengthened(i got this from a friend hope it can shape opinion on way you see things)

    A lot of the commentators are reverting to the ‘traditional’ top 4 of manu manc Chelsea and arsenal, rearranged to taste. Like the old adage, generals are always fighting the last war, they seem to have missed the sea-change in premier league that is occurring. Apart from the Leicester drama last year, what is evident is that there are very few easy games left to the top clubs. 80% of the premier league will be in the top 25 clubs in the world next year. This doesn’t mean stoke are going to challenge for the title, but it does mean that they can afford a few damn good players – as can ALL of them. My point is that the league has got a lot tougher, and will continue to do so. There may emerge a super team this year from the new management at manu Chelsea and manc, but I doubt it. Liverpool may kick in. Spurs may build on last year. West ham are looking threatening. Then there’s Leicester. Including Arsenal, that’s 8 tough teams. Palace are stronger, stoke are stronger. Sunderland may toughen up under Moyes. One of the promoted teams will probably do ok. Everton are still dangerous. Southampton always seems to manage somehow each year their team is looted.
    There will be damn few easy games. I would expect a very compressed league with points being dropped left, right and centre by the big boys. I predict the lowest premier points total ever for the winner, and very close all the way.

  19. anyone expecting wenger to say anything significant concerning arsenal business in any press conference is sure to be disappointed. while he may enjoy talking about many things, wenger doesn’t like putting his business in the streets. i don’t have a problem with that.

    as for the change in tone concerning arsenal signing a striker/defender from a few weeks ago, it’s wenger saying he’s willing to play the season with the team as is. that’s a bit predictable because his main focus is on preparing for the season. when a manager prepping for the season is also at the cutting edge of transfer negotiations, something is bound to be neglected. after all, he’s only one man. in this case, it’s getting the transfers done. it’s one of many reasons i’d prefer him have a complete (not necessarily finished) squad before the start of pre-season. to risk arsenal beginning a season with only one center forward is derelict. doing that for a second season running is criminal.

    “if someone comes available that improves the squad” is wenger code for if i strike a sweet deal but i really don’t have a plan. in the previous thread, i mentioned that and greg replied that wenger has always paid top dollar for prospects. i’m not talking about prospects. i’m talking about deals for top players that wenger went out and made happen in a timely manner. arsenal used to do just that but they don’t anymore. i’ve deduced that people don’t like doing business with arsene wenger but that’s just something i made up. i’m open to better suggestions.

    1. Sure, but then that begs the question why, and we’re back again to the talk about agents and their demands etc.

  20. I’m just belatedly realising that Mustafi is the German defender who wore number 2 at the euros and who caught my eye for being aggressive, solid and a good passer who handled everything while giving the impression he always had another gear.

    So there’s that.

  21. There is this notion about Arsenal being sluggish and stingy under Arsene Wenger as if Arsenal has not always being like that. The second notion that beats me is the one of “we want our Arsenal back, and if not, i am no longer going to games.” What Arsenal do you want back? The boring one who qualified for Europe an average of once in four years or what? We are where we could have been. The notion that a man who went a season unbeaten and actually pushed his players to do so would suddenly wake up one day and think “hey, i done with winning, and i bet my reputation could do with a little diving, and probably drowning,” He makes mistakes, but i think the saddest thing is that a lot of us, after listening the propaganda from the British press for much of a decade have fallen into their trap and cant see right in any thing Wenger does. Arsenal, i think needs to persuade players to join than say a Man. Utd or City who just throw money at players and Agents. Arsenal might not be where we all want them to be, but dont abuse your and our general intelligence by suggesting we are not in a better place than when Wenger took over, and i doubt taking everything into account, no other manager would have taken us here. NO ONE.

  22. Well said Lanre!

    Posted some positive sentiment here yesterday, was clean, still blocked in spam..hmmm?

    Feel that Arsenal will start the season strongly.
    Like the way the team is set up.
    Arsenal will add a few more names before the window closes.
    Go Gunners!

  23. I’m going to guess that someone who says that disgruntled fans are simply buying the propaganda of the British press doesn’t actually go to Arsenal games at the Emirates.What some seem to love is an ideal — the highly principled Maximum Leader who does little or no wrong. Some of us sit there absorbing the sterile crap that passes for penetrative football from forwards who are simply not that good. And no, we don’t accept that it takes 4 years to sign adequate reinforcements, and no, they do not have to be top, top, top quality. There are players who would improve the team in deficient areas who are not in the class bracket of Suarez.

    I know it’s an imperfect comparison and price is a factor, but John Stones is playing in central defence for City today. He was bought this week. Yes, price is a factor, but determined recruitment of what you really need is possible.

    The most pernicious Wengerian nonsense (accepted too readily by some) is that you have to put recruitment on hold to focus on preparation. Good grief he’s managing Arsenal FC with a large staff, not a kid’s little league team. He can’t plan transfers properly. One of the problems would seem to be delegation.

    And by the way, none of this is new. This is our 6th summer window doing this dance.

    1. Wenger is fallable, and sometimes wrong, but the problem is, if we listen to the numerous voice of dissent we wont be better off. Yes, Stones is a defender, and yes, he was available, but could we have bought him, no. i’m sure he’s now earning more than Ozil and Sanchez and that’s what we are up against – rivals that can easily better the best we could offer, or even treble it. Chelsea themself, it now increasingly seem, can’t compete, and Conte just came out to basically say(almost word for word) what Wenger has been saying for years and for which we’ve called him clueless and unambitious – which is that you have to take your time if you want really good players and the competition can easily outbid you. Good Center forwards were scarce last season, yet Man.Utd bought Martial for whatever they bought him for, and are paid him more than what we paid Giroud. I think the transfer fee isn’t much of an issue for players, maybe for the selling club and agent, but not for the players. The deciding factor, more than anything else, is the wages, and that is where the real problem lies. There are things i blame Arsene Wenger for, but i dont blame him for everything. And you said you don’t listen to the media, yet on the day we beat City using 3 central defenders and City used one, everyone and their cat only talked about Wenger and Arsenal not having enough Defenders and not one actually wrote about the City situation. I get it, Arsene can do no right, and Pep can even convert Hart into a CB, but lets blame Arsene for using Holding and Chambers who are actual defenders. Imagine if Arsenal had Stones last season and he had the kind of season he had, the press would be calling for us to buy a new one, and i bet most afc fans would buy it, yet City bought him and now he’s better than everything we have. Just ridiculous.

      1. The point about Stones, which you missed, is determined and decisive recruitment. Addressing the known weaknesses with alacrity.

        If as he has hinted Rob Holding is the missing defensive piece, I’m fine with that. He addressed a need, not at the price tag and experience level that some expected, but he would have done so. I can accept that he backs Holding to become a great defender, and he’s his big summer centre back purchase.

        But the absence of a striker signing to date is a very poor show on his part, and is vexing. As I keep repeating, this is not a need that we found we had last week. It goes back 3, 4 years. Four things happened earlier this year — Giroud couldn’t buy a goal, Walcott deteriorated before our very eyes, Alexis’ productivity dropped and Welbeck picked up an injury that’ll put him out deep into 2017. Good grief, if Vardy says no, have a plan B and C, and go full court press. If Lacazette is the man, do what it takes to get him in. He didn’t make the France squad. He’s hungry. Why bid 29m, get told to come back better, and then not come back in more than a month with an improved offer? Few clubs would want to sell now that squads are being finalised. We had far more leverage with Lacazette earlier in the window. Let us all pray that nothing happens to Alexis Sanchez.

        This is what Wenger does year after year after year. Two years ago we started the campaign with one fit striker, Giroud. Last year, after some streaky form by Giroud, we waited in vain all summer or striker reinforcements and the window slammed shut with only Cech brought in. Some of us either have very short memories, or bottomless reserves of patience.

        The better off question… Wenger is one of the most consequential figures in Arsenal’s history, player or manager, and he has significantly improved the club on and off the field.

        But things change and people change. He’s not the manager he was. He has stagnated over the past 6 -8 years. I can think that AND be grateful for his legacy.

  24. The comments by claudeivan and Lanre epitomize how Wenger can polarize Arsenal supporters.

    As a long time Gooner, pre-Wenger,I stand behind now one in my admiration and affection The Greatest Manager in Arsenal History – TGMA. This is in stark contrast to my admiration of TGSTEL which is pretty much limited to that one season when a lot of people thought he could maybe, possibly be really good.

    But as I’ve said before Even Great Men like Wenger must call time. Last call for him was two years ago.

    The transfer business of the last two seasons have been shameful. For all his preening about finances and spending the clubs money as if it were his own, he has absolutely faile d in his fiduciary responsibility to our club by NOT being aggressive in a transfer market in which that quality is an absolute requirement for success.

    And I’m only talking about transfers now. I’m sure we will be bringing up all his other qualities and weaknesses as the season progresses.


    1. Lol.

      The reason we didnt win the league last season was down to just one person – ARSENE WENGER, but like i said, i dont blame him for everything, like it seems to be the norm now. Last season was a failure, but what angers me is the lack of respect from most, starting from the media. You may not like him or his decisions, but as long as the board, who i would like to believe, know things we are not privy to, stand by him, he deserves respect. The fans want Arsene to take responsibility for us not winning, yet don’t want to take responsibility for creating a toxic atmosphere that actually makes it easier to get point at the Emirates than in most ground in Europe. We want Ramsey to replicate his form for Wales for AFC, yet we are quick to boo him after one misplaced pass whereas the Welsh praise him for trying and caring. He said as much that he feels confident and less jittery playing for them. I want Arsenal to win, and i’m no AKB, but why i liked AFC in the first was the respect, tradition and Class associated with the Club, and i still believe in that.

  25. Ok, not really a question per se, but I am interested to hear the responses. I’ve heard a lot of people across the internet tell me everything they think is wrong with Arsenal and Wenger.

    Can people who hold that opinion, take a break from it for a while and tell us everything you like about Arsenal?

    1. That sounded more argumentative than I intended and I can see why bunburyist thinks I’m self righteous.

      But yeah, we’ve heard the negatives pretty much non stop. I’d like to hear the positives from those same people.

    2. Good. What i’ve been saying. Recently, i find myself asking people that question a lot. What do you love about Arsenal and why are you supporting the club?

      1. Problem is you’re both conflating Arsenal and Arsene. They’re not the same.

        Arsenal is my neighbourhood club, and I lived close enough to both Highbury and the Grove to hear the roar when the goals went in. It’s about tradition, stability and being a pillar of the neighbourhoods of Islington and Stoke Newington. That’s something deep in my heart, and I will always be a ggoner wherever in the wold I live — or irrespective of who is temporarily in charge.

        Of course we revere all our legendary managers — Wenger, Chapman, George Graham — and all our legendary players — Wright, Bastin, henry, Viera, Rocastle, Smith.

        Most of all I love our fans, a decent lot. I took pride in attending games at “the library” as Highbury was derisively called. That’s fine by me. We’re not arrivistes with a hint of a racist history, like Chelsea.

        We are a very special club. Always have been, always will be.

        (BTW, I refrained from addressing Shard’s surprising views on Trump, which I find hard to square with his support of Arsenal. Trump is loud, showy, vulgar, and is the favoured candidate of racists and Putin… are you sure you didn’t mean to pick Chelsea? Can’t think of a club more in the image of Doanald Trump)

        1. Hi,

          I wasn’t conflating Arsenal and Arsene. My main reason for asking this was because people seem to be saying they don’t feel excited about the new season and I was hoping they might find something that reignites that spark.

          But as for Arsenal not Arsene…I think it’s pretty clear that Arsenal operate differently to most clubs. Wenger would have been sacked by any of the big clubs by this point. But not at Arsenal and I think it’s clear that though the details are Wenger’s, the overall ethos comes from the club. Also a complaint I’ve heard. That’s the path the club have chosen as representing the best chance of getting to the top. And it’s a pretty big part of their identity at this point. I was just wanting to understand how people can spend so much energy disliking what is now a fundamental part of who Arsenal are. Not out of anger. I just don’t get how what makes you so miserable can be your passion.

          As for Trump. Sigh. Just like you can like and respect Wenger and want him out, I can hate his rhetoric and personality and want him in. And it is PURELY because I don’t want Hillary, and that is PURELY because I don’t want a furthering of the rolling war machine. Wars won’t stop under any President, but I know it’ll get worse under Hillary. Yes Trump emboldens all the racists, as did the Brexit vote. And I can understand why the people who live there would be completely against even the idea of Trump. But my single point agenda is the reduction of wars in the world and the US has been the worst offender ever since I became politically aware. That’s all.

          And Putin, whatever the West says about him, is a democratically elected head of state, of a nation which is vast and diverse. They have problems with racism, as also in football, but so does the West (though now to a lesser extent) They also have problems in their democratic processes, as does the West. How shocked everyone was when Trump said the election is rigged, and yet the same people have no problem saying that about any other country they decide to not like. Demonising a nation creates more conflict. The US has much worse partners anyway. And I explained why I think it’s important they talk rather than stay at loggerheads.

        2. And if you recall, I was often on here bemoaning the global rise of the extreme right wing politics, including in my country. It is not where my sensibilities lie personally.

  26. We’ll said Claude Ivan above. But can we pause a minute and give a loud cheer to famous Olympian Gooner Mo Farah? What a performance! Dude stumbles in the middle of the race, gets up and still manages to outrun the field for a gold medal in the 10,000 metre. Absolutely brilliant and I hope he can provide some sort of positive inspiration to the team for the long season ahead.

  27. Back to football but it seems with Liverpool’s gengenpressing and two very inexperienced center backs, this game cries out for central midfielders who are comfortable receiving the ball under pressure combined with the vision and ability to play a penetrative forward pass. I thought that’s what Xhaka was brought to this team over Coquelin?

  28. Well, that’s what we get for fielding a completely inexperienced CB pairing and a toothless attack.

    Thanks for that, Wenger. Embarrassing.

  29. We can’t keep the ball. No one in the back line or midfield showing the necessary composure.

    Chambers, a full back impersonating a central defender has been worse than Holding who ended up holding his man to give away the free kick for the first goal.

    4-1 as I speak. Mane loses the hapless Chambers all too easily.

  30. Mane’s not top, top, quality for 30 M pounds so he couldn’t possibly improve the team.

  31. Can someone please enlighten me as to why Xhaka is on for Elneny and not Coquein who has been a liability in possession?

  32. The gambler leaves us short again. Ah Arsene. For the 5th year running, we have ured you to get as many of your pieces in as early as possible.

    We’ve now won one opening game in the last 7 seasons. Coincidence?

    Positives, though. I liked the look of Holding, even if he was in over his head today. Chambers? Shudder. Backup to Hector. let’s bring in Mustafi, and sell Debuchy who clearly wants out. We can’t shift Jenkinson, who is injured.

    Coq and Elneny as a midfield did not work. It was a high riskk strategy playing midfielders who couldn’t control possession in front of two green CBs. The first 10 minutes of the 2nd half may be the worst I’ve seen is play in many years watching Arsenal. Under the circumstances, we recovered well.

    Did anyone else notice Ox stop playing and watch a dangerous Liverpool move develop down our left?

    Happy for Theo and his well-taken goal showed how mentally tough he was in that moment to forget about the pen miss. Decent finisher, but he has no tricks or surprises in open play. Very preedictable. But he’ll be key for us, and hopefully he keeps on scoring

    1. Dropping the first match of the season…
      A lacklustre transfer period…
      More injuries as players get carted off…
      This IS who are.
      “Meet the new boss
      same as the old Arsene” to paraphrase Roger Daltrey.

  33. I put this up at Arseblog. Thought I will share this here as this really sums up my feelings today.

    There are NO TOP TOP QUALITY PLAYERS in the market. No defenders, no wide players and no Strikers! I am Wenger, I have managed 1121 games for Arsenal. I know what I am doing. NEW IS JUST NEW. I will look in the lower leagues for players because Premier league prices are crazy. It is time to give chance to players from Championship but you all will have to pay TOP QUALITY and CRAZY ticket prices in this TOP TOP TOP stadium where we have lost 3 opening matches in last 4 years. The players showed GREAT MENTAL STRENGTH to fight back. It was one better than last year’s opening fixture when we just got run ragged by West Ham and scored no goals. Today we scored 3.

    It is mystery why our players keep getting injured. It is really SAD. I don’t know what to do. I do get $7 million a year but I cannot solve this problem of injuries and opening day loses. It is all the fault of Euros. If only France and Germany had not advanced to semifinal and finals. I would have had my stars today.

    You ask me to spend. I bought XHAKA for 35 million and see he was not ready! See how the ball bounced of him. So money is not everything. The defenders will learn. By the end of this season, Holding will be TOP TOP defender. Anyway, Europa league is very competitive league. I am sure we will have great Thursday nights next season.

  34. Mourinho identified 4 players needed for his team and he got those four players. How many times Wenger said that he wanted a striker and CB in pre-season? We are still waiting of them. I think it is pretty clear now that Arsenal will spend only to tread water. They got Xhaka to replace Arteta. They will not spend to win titles. Let’s get used to that. We will soon be the NEW Newcastle. Mid table with constant hope of some miracle season. Those glorious misses. Those sad injury crises. We will reminisce about the Invincibles. We will always hope that we somehow Wenger will conjure up magic one last time. Unfortunately, this will be a tragic ending. I am one of those ever hopefuls. Winning the FA cup against Hull was such an affirmation of my belief in Wenger’s methods. But now I see him only as a manager who has been left behind by the game. His dogma of wanting to win without spending big, being a custodian of the club’s money (while supporters pay CRAZY ticket prices) seems like a very cosy arrangement with an owner who wants to maximise the brand value of the club. However, they just don’t realise that ultimately football clubs are valued for their titles. Sooner or later, this brand’s value will diminish if Arsenal don’t win anything. From talk of competing with Bayern and Real, Ivan has changed the tune to not being in the league of big spenders. Well that should have given us a clue as to where things were going.

    Frankly, at 1-4 I was really fearful about the stadium atmosphere. Luckily we were playing Liverpool. If it was Mourinho’s team, we could have been down 1-6 by the end.

  35. well, that sucked. four unanswered goals is pretty poor under any condition but with the criticism directed at arsene wenger and his transfer policy, it was a chance for him to prove that his approach transcended conventional wisdom. i’m left unimpressed but we’ll see.

    cech was only at fault for the lallana goal. with monreal in a position to challenge the shot, he should have remained on his line. had he, it would have been an easy save for him. other than that, he was good.

    prophetically, wenger picked a back four that had played together this summer. considering the players arsenal had available, to do otherwise would have been an even bigger risk. they weren’t good enough which surprised no one but wenger. liverpool simply identified them as the weak links and attacked them. nothing fancy about that approach at all.

    in midfield, wenger went with coquelin and elneny, which i think was sound. on the strength of their performances compared to xhaka this preseason, they deserved to play. while xhaka’s passing was good, he often took up poor positions defensively and was incredibly rash with his challenges. the decision to pull elneny instead of coquelin confused me considering coquelin had been cautioned. neither were responsible for any of the goals liverpool scored. i hoped wenger would start cazorla over ramsey in the 10-spot but wasn’t surprised he didn’t. i can’t help but think if cazorla had been on to take that penalty. in fairness, it’s what mignolet is good at and cazorla has missed a few. you’ve got to take your chances.

    up front, there were no surprises. good for theo, playing in his best position. he looked so much happier and kinetic. likewise, i felt bad for sanchez. wenger’s lack of decisiveness in the transfer window means alexis was forced to play out of position. unlike theo last season, sanchez knew from his time at barcelona that he’s no center forward. he looked just as lost and hopeless as theo did. i’ve gone on for over a year about the clear difference between a striker and a center forward and won’t beat that drum today. i’ll only say if you’re a striker that can’t play either out wide or at center forward, don’t come to arsenal! wenger will likely ruin your career by recruiting you and then playing you out of position. i feel bad for that japanese kid arsenal just signed.

    mustafi and lacazette’s price tag just increased an additional £5 million from yesterday. good luck keeping özil and alexis. i fear calum chambers may not be good enough. as bad as he is at full back, he’s far worse at cb. mane played him like a piano on his goal. that’s not to mention his poor decision making. i know he’s young but come on, man. i’ve got high school kids that know better than some of the stuff he did. we’ll see.

  36. Shame about the game and result, but as much as some might fear ozil and Sanchez leaving, I’m really not sure if they would have joined in the first place if not for Wenger. Arsenal simply isn’t as big as what it is to us fans.

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