Arsenal News
Arsenal News

Arsenal News


What’s the matter with Wojciech Szczesny?

By Avenell Dave

Three points in the bag and we can look forward to the North London derby after a fine five game unbeaten run in the Premier League.

It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t a vintage performance, it doesn’t matter that we were five minutes away from what would be considered to be a disaster.

What matters is that we got three points, we are maintaining the pressure on those above us and after the Ch*vs defeat on Sunday, we could possibly catch them as well.

Santi Cazorla took the plaudits for a fantastic performance and even beyond his two goals.

We can lament the fact that we made some bad choices offensively – shooting when we should have passed and passing when it was easier to shoot.

That’s what happens when confidence is low. You could see in the way that Olivier Giroud continued to win everything in the air, his hold up play and flicks into the path of team-mates all neat and clever, and yet when he was close to goal, his desire for a goal meant he snatched at chances that could have ended his mini-drought.

It’s amazing to think that we have the joint third-best defence in the Premier League.

We look shaky whenever any side attacks us, a sigh of relief when we clear danger and nerves that someone will drop a clanger that will gift the opposition a goal.

After the farcical era of Manuel Almunia and brief s[ell with Lukasz Fabianski, Wojciech Szczesny seemed to be a breath of fresh air when he first got into the side.

His kicking was indifferent but he was brave, bolshy and had the air of someone who wanted to show the world he was good.

He was excellent against Sunderland a few weeks ago and probably won us the game, as was he at Anfield earlier in the season.

But all too often, he has looked a shadow of his former self, shaky, uncertain and lacking all the traits that got him to be elected Arsenal number one in the first place.

It could be argued that he made a couple of good saves on Saturday, even if on both occasions he parried the ball in an area where it was still of danger rather than away from the area.

His kicking continues to be lamentable and you do have to wonder how much he is practicing it – Manuel Neuer gave him a lesson in kicking when Bayern visited last week.

A couple of times he could have caught the ball when it came over – continuing to put us under pressure when a calm and competent goalkeeper could have taken the sting out of a Villa attack.

Of course, the worst mistake was the goal, which he should have saved with ease all day long.

Yes, someone should have made a challenge on the Villa attacker and the fact that we got caught from our own corner shows how vulnerable we can be.

A Brentford director once told me that Szczesny was the best goalkeeper they had ever had and that he would become world class at Arsenal.

That may well be the case.

Some of my fellow Addicts have suggested that he needs someone with experience and quality to put the pressure on him or even take his place, so he can learn from a better keeper rather than the sorry excuses who have previously had number one status in recent years.

Some are convinced that we’ll buy a new keeper in the summer – Begovic perhaps? We’ll see.

But if Szczesny wants to prove that he rally is a young superstar in the making, he needs to keep calm, keep focused, stop making silly errors and practice his kicking, catching and shot stopping for at least double the shifts he’s currently putting in on the training ground.


Time for the players to repay Wenger and justify his faith

By Avenell Dave

It's so easy for us to point the finger at Arsene Wenger.

He's the manager, allegedly the most powerful man at any football club in the world with a huge salary and only interested in getting his financial bonuses for making the club a profit every season, right?

He's old school in a modern world, the game has passed him by and his refusal to listen to anyone is at the heart of Arsenal's demise.


I don't deny that some of his purchases, some of his team selections and the lack of transfer activity sometimes leaves me confused and frustrated.

We can all be managers from the sidelines or the sofa, we can all pick players the club should or shoudln't sign.

We can all be experts. We can all suck in what we hear from 'experts' with an agenda, pundits trying to make a name for themselves or the media looking for a headline.

But none of us really know how easy or difficult it is to manage a football club, particularly one as high profile as Arsenal.

It's clear that at the very least, Wenger had his budgets constrained for five to six years after we moved into the new stadium with the need for upfront, uncompetitive deals and to repay the stadium debt hampering his plans.

Only now, as new commercial deals are coming in, will we be able to compete in the transfer market and resist sales of our best players.

We simply cannot be a club in transition forever.

For all his faults, Wenger has battled to resist the competition from clubs who have thrown much more money at their transfer budgets and ever season he has managed to get us into the top four.

It is not enough. But it is something. And it is something Liverpool and T*tt*nh*m would dream of doing and have not been able to emulate. It is a credit to the manager.

After losing quality players like Flamini and Edu on free transfers, we overpaid on wages to players who did not justify it and hopefully the club have learnt from that naivety. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and that some players have not lived up to their reputations or grown into the players we would have hoped they would become (Arshavin, Gervinho, Chamakh, Squillaci, Bendtner) is as much down to their own shortcomings and lack of determination as it is the manager's coaching, selections and their pay packets.

It speaks volumes that Arshavin and Squillaci, for instance, refused to take loan moves that would have given them some playing time. Their attitudes stink.

And personal and professional pride is what it comes down to, to a certain degree.

We have some decent players.

Yes, some are not performing to their potential and we all know the squad needs strengthening but that can't happen until the summer now.

What really gets me angry is seeing players not giving their all, not chasing down every ball and not realising that 60-odd thousand fans in the stadium and millions around the world would give anything to swap places with them.

Only Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey consistently show the fight that every Arsenal player should show.

You can argue all you like about the virtues of some players but pretty much all of the first team are capable of world class performances.

Arsene Wenger has made the careers of so many players and this curent crop - especially the younger core who could be the future of the club for a decade such as Walcott, Szczesny, Gibbs and Jenkinson - need to follow Jack's example and realise that without exerting every drop of sweat and fighting for every ball (see Bayern, Barca), they will never be more than good players. And they're capable of being so much more.

They owe that to Wenger, the Club, the fans and themselves.

Villa have such a decent record at our place and despite their recent slump, will no doubt put in a decent performance. Anything other than three points will be a disaster.

We have 12 games left this season and I still feel we can aim higher than fourth, however much of a consolation prize that may feel right now.

Addict XI


Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Monreal


Cazorla Wilshere 

Walcott Giroud Podolski


Were Arsenal sloppy or Bayern the best team we've faced at Emirates?

By Avenell Dave

It comes to something when you get messages after a game from M*nure, T*tt*nh*m and Liverpool fans saying that they feel sorry for you.

I can take banter, I can take mockery but I can't handle pity from my rivals.

I had another look at the Arsenal Facebook page last night and the vitriol directed towards the club, the manager and even the players was nothing short of a disgrace.

Where is the class? As @Arseblog put it this morning, it was great that the real fans drowned out the chorus of boos as they echoed at the end of the first half and the end of the game.

We all had reason to lambast the referee but the fact that thousands around me applauded both Arsenal and Bayern speaks volumes for the class that too many on social media seem to have forgotten.

Some people said to me that they thought Bayern were a better team than any of the Barca sides we have faced - and while it's a tough call, I know what he meant.

They have some superb players, make no mistake, but they also work incredibly hard, they're organised and they know how to suck the life out of opponents without wasting their own energy. And they're clinical.

The sad fact is that in the cold light of day, we have some really good players, but we lack the organisation and strategy to help them work well together.

Arsene Wenger sides will always have an attacking focus but stopping the opposition from playing and making it hard to score has to be a priority and too many sides in the past few years have torn us apart with ease.

You got the sense last night, apart from a 15-20 minute spell in the second half, that Bayern were even playing within themselves, chipping away and waiting for openings.

It would be easy to lament the fact that we looked vulnerable on the left, that Thomas Vermaelen never looks comfortable at left back and additionally that he didn't get the support he required.

It would be easy to look at Wojciech Szczesny's performances and wonder if the Pole is not going backwards. Just looking at his kicking last night and even when under pressure, he rarely found a team-mate, let alone the halfway line, when Manuel Neuer could get the ball halfway into our half even when being closed down.

Szczesny could certainly have done better on the second and third goals as well.

All focus now has to be on getting fourth place and I believe we can still do it but the Club needs to start working on addressing the inherent problems we can all see before we really are a fallen giant and part of the also-rans.

We need fresh blood, new ideas, new routines and new players.

Then, let's hear from the owner, not just Ivan Gazidis, about the strategy and back it up with signings that will galvinise the players, excite the fans and make us contenders for all the trophies once again.

We are not far off, and the 'crisis' could be far far worse, but we need to start going forward because for far too long we've been going backwards and fans are starting to vote with their feet.