You can put a player on the pitch, but you can’t make him play.

Before the game on Saturday I felt surprisingly positive – Arséne had put out a strong side filled with players of real ability. Players that would make the first 11 week in week out, with perhaps Coquelin being the only exception. Pre-match I struggled to find anyone who could knock the line-up. Relief was almost tangible across the fanbase – Arséne was taking the match seriously and named a decent line-up as the graphic below indicates.

Nacho Monreal
Vermaelen (C)
The Ox

Looks impressive doesn’t it? How many times have we seen this line-up, with perhaps the only changes being at right full-back and right midfield. Last season this pretty much got us up into the Champions League stages. So what happened?

Player Mentality and a huge lack of Professionalism happened.

Regular readers know I am a super-positive person and I almost always back Arséne because I see in him someone who wants to win as much as I do, someone who also tantrums a bit when we lose, like I do. I want a manager that cares and Arséne cares. Think what you like about him and his salary, but you can’t say he doesn’t care. Look at the line-up – we started Premier League games with pretty much that same set of players – and WON. They are all talented players in their own right and player for player I struggle to find a player that I don’t think is good enough. perhaps Gervinho, but even then he’s not far off and a year or two and he will see his best form.

He also kept the bench strong with Theo, Cazorla and Jack all itching to get on. Sensible decisions that any manager would have made. All three needed a rest. You cannot argue the fact that all three have been over-used and a breather was required.

The game started with a speed and tenacity driven by Coquelin’s sharp snappy tackles and I thought it boded well for the match. There was a focus about Arsenal – get the job done. That didn’t get through to some of the players themselves though and Diaby was a particular culprit in this regard, languidly strolling about the pitch, not really showcasing his real talent. He was missing a bit of his “burst” and it showed up the weaknesses in his game. He played within himself, trying not to get injured and he was often caught in possession, failing to offer much going forwards. One man doesn’t make a team though, so there was still plenty to play for.

The problem is that for all of their shouts of encouragement between them, the players all played with an eye on Tuesday night and you can’t do that. There was an overall lacklustre feel about Arsenal and an assumption that a goal would present itself to us. It did, but only late in the second half when we were chasing the win. It also went in at the wrong end, but we know how the result went.

I guess the big point to come out of this is that top-top players don’t miss the big chances and Gervinho missed a sitter and so did Arteta. Top-Top players turn up every game. Too many players didn’t.

I feel sorry for Arséne, the venom that has spilled out towards him when the players didn’t turn up for him, the manager is always responsible – but a manager can only do so much. He affected the change too late, but then how often this season has a different Arsenal side stepped out of the changing rooms and changed the game after a few stern words? Arséne was right to give them 20 mins to redeem themselves, but they let us all down.

There should be a serious amount of anger in that squad. The players need to look at themselves and come out and say it wasn’t good enough. They need to stick up for Arséne and take the blame. You can bang on about the organ grinder all the time, but if the monkey’s keep buggering off to pick their own bottoms, you need to get new monkeys.

There are players across the squad that mentally or physically were not good enough. They have until the end of the season to prove themselves, Arséne has been more ruthless in getting rid of players that aren’t up to scratch and I don’t expect that to stop in the summer.


20 thoughts on “You can put a player on the pitch, but you can’t make him play.”

  1. Arsenal were beaten by a shot hit into the ground that could have gone anywhere the press love dragging arsenal down and bloggers are like hyeners

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for commenting. Unfortunately the manner of the goal is irrelevant. We failed to score over 90 minutes of football against a Championship side.

      There can be no counter to that.


  2. You sir are really what has kept this club from moving forward. AW has made so many mistakes in the past that it is ridiculous he still has the support of the fans. Yes it is the duty of a player to play on the pitch, but the manager must be one like mourinho(who took off SWP on 30mins when he was pussyfooting around), ruthless and eager to win.If a player cant cut the mustard, cut the losses and sell him instead of playing him every week at the cost of results, hoping that the player will come good.What chance of silverware do we have when our team cant score from corners,freekicks, cant create enough without wilshere and cazorla, dont have a proven backup striker, the backline is wobbly and we havent won anything in the last 8 yrs. Now you tell me that AW is still to be given a chance and not worthy of the anger?You sir are an AKB….

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I am interested to hear that I am wholly responsible for the lack of forward progress. I didn’t say that Arsene was unfallible, I didn’t say he hasnt made mistakes. But Saturday wasn’t down to Arsene, it was down to the players not playing to their potential because they are too worried about getting injured, or worse, just don’t care.

      Is Rosicky a bad player? Last season he inspired the 2nd half of our season. Diaby has had some really good games this season, but underperformed. Gervinho did extremely well at the ACN, is he a bad player?

      You can’t be so bullish to believe everything is down to Arsene and you cannot be foolish enough to actually believe any of this is my fault.


      1. Yes WG,
        I agree that rosicky,diaby and arteta are good players.On that day they didnt perform.but as a manager AW has to atleast change the tactics.Why did he wait till the 67th min to bring on the change? You say gervinho is a good player.For me hes a headless chicken. How many chances has he created for his teammates.I dont care if he performed well in the ACN.Does he perform for AFC?No. Then there is a responsibililty on the manager to get him to do that.Only an inept manager can make a good player play consistently badly(playing out of position,playing irregularly or playing a style that doesnt suit him,etc). Now AW is guilty of all the above issues, not just with gervinho but many others-AA(great player is russia,pathetic for us on the wing), ramsey(good in central mid, but asked to play many times in the left), denilson(was the brazil youth captain and turned Mr.Crab for us)…the list can go on. Add to this, AW’s continuous harping on about 4th place as a trophy-come to think of it, what was going through the minds of winners like rvp,cesc,th14 when they left this club.They all loved it, but losing, unfortunately like winning, is a habit too. and right now AW is in the losing habit. They too had to stick to losing or leave the “ghetto” to win.They left and have won things.More things than we could dream with our beloved arsenal right now. To change this, a change of the manager is a must. To keep the club from falling further down we have to sacrifice the man responsible for taking us this far, coz the tree that gave the shade all these days threatens to fall on us. To repeat the same actions and expect different results is a sign of stupidity and unfortunately our fan base is currently in the stupid denial mode….rant over…

  3. The failings in this squad should have been rectified in January.

    The same players have been letting Wenger down for years, but, nothing has been done about it.

    How is squillachi still being paid for instance?

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I agree, there are areas in the squad where we are light and things should have been done. Arsene doesn’t do the negotiating with clubs though, that is down to Dick Law, someone who Arsene isn’t responsible for.

      Squillaci has a contract, Arsene doesn’t get involved in contract negotiations, again he suggests that he wants a player and what he thinks they are worth and the staff at Arsenal negotiate the contracts.

      I think you need to understand where his responsibility lies, it is with the performance of the players he has and the results he gets. Neither of which have been brilliant for a while now, but like Squillaci he has a contract. I think he can turn things around with the right players and I’m sure if we get a good result on Tuesday the whole blogosphere will be much happier.


  4. Sorry WG but Ican’t agree with everything you have said.
    I was taught that you always start with your strongest team, win the game in the first 30 minutes and then think about resting players.
    How many games this season have we sat at The Emirates and wished we hadn’t turned up until half time because the team doesn’t start playing in a fast and postive manner until the second half.
    My question is ‘What does AW say to them before the start of the game, because whatever it is, it must be ignored’.
    We are too inconsistent this season and the players either have no belief or are over confident and appraoch the game in a casual manner.
    Its seems we win two games on the trot and the club’s web site is spouting out player interviews with quotes of ‘we are going to keep our feet firmly on the ground’ and ‘The FA cup is important to us’.
    There were a number of players out there on Saturday returning from injury or playing to state their case for a first team slot.
    Besides Rosicky, who did you see busting a gut to stake their claim.
    The team lacks a stand out captain on the pitch who rallies the team and gives them a kick up the arse when they need it.
    You can see it everytime the opposition score, heads drop and they all look around at each other!
    I’ve sat through bad games over the years and endured lean times since my first game in 1968 so this isn’t the ravings of a Johnny come lately who has jumped on the AW bandwagon!!

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks for commenting, don’t worry about not agreeing, that’s why I run the blog, to reach out to like-minded folk and discuss things Arsenal.

      I agree, the pre-match talks need looking at because far too often we do not put in the appropriate effort, or show enough professionalism. It is frustrating to watch and it makes me feel like the players don’t care. That is all I want to see really, that they care as much as I do. I want them to leave nothing behind in the changing rooms and touch every blade of grass.

      I agree with most of the things you say to be honest, so at least we aren’t at complete loggerheads it seems. 🙂

      Thanks again


  5. I think the problem is how you frame the question. Is Gervinho a bad player? No.
    But has he massively underperformed over the the span of two seasons in the EPL, showing time and again a lack of finishing — not to mention an inability to accurately cross — since joining Arsenal? Absolutely.

    And that’s the problem with the squad fielded on Saturday. Diaby can be really effective, but he’s had little match action since October and is always wary of getting injured. Rosicky is similarly rusty, and Arteta could only control the tempo, he couldn’t effectively set up anyone in the final third.

    Ox was determined to make things happen, but it was all sound and fury since he connected on few of his crosses and wasn’t able to penetrate the back four. Giroud got almost no service and was largely absent from the match. Given that he and Gervinho almost never play together, Giroud’s little flicks weren’t met with the same intention as when Santi or Jack are on the receiving end.

    Are they all bad players? No.

    Should Arsenal have won 3-1? Yes. But the X1 only looked good on paper, failing to take the match seriously and play as a team.

    In truth, I think Podolski should have been subbed for Gervinho in the second half. He and Nacho can work well together and they’re both good crossers, which would have helped out Giroud plus put another creative player and striker on the pitch.

    But the deadwood needs to be cleared out. Diaby, for all that he’s been through, can’t be relied upon anymore to regularly make the starting X1. And for whatever reason, the combination of Mertesacker, Koscielny and Vermaelen have been leaky since the start of October. That can’t be all on Santos.

    And Arteta, while superb, is unnecessary if Arsene signs a competent DM. And if at all possible, he should look into bringing in Isco if Malaga are still desperate for cash. A Santi, Jack, Isco and DM rotation would be splendid.

    Also, I want a pony.

  6. You say it was not AW’s fault…. then why did he wait till 76′ minute to make a sub?? i have issues with the team he picked,it simply wasn’t good enough, but he picked it. so after 50 minutes or so why didn’t he make a change to try something new??
    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results… how many times have we played with the same formation even after seeing it doesn’t pay off in all games??
    AW and some of the players are to blame.

  7. I watch all the Arsenal games on TV in South Africa. After watching the poor/disgusting performance on Saturday and many others this season I must conclude that Arsenal will NEVER win any title with the current squad. There are just too many weaknesses in the team. I could go on for a long time but in short 1. There is no LEADERSHIP – Vermaulin? is not a captain (and his performances have been worse since being made captain). 2. Defensive weakness particularly on the flanks 3. Players that seem to be highly rated in the club but in reality contribute nothing to the team other than passing the ball sideways and backwards – they are also the ones that casually jog back when the team loses the ball and the opposition attack at pace -no names mentioned! 4. When Arsenal do attack they cannot seem to cross a ball into the danger area at pace – it is always intercepted at the near post by the first defender corners are also shocking I would have thought someone should have learned from RVP how to whip in a corner. 5. Arsenal never seem to get enough players into the box they seem content to hang around the fringes and play short little passes that almost always sees the ball being conceeded to the opposition for a quick counter attack. Ever notice how many players ManU get into the box area when attacking? One can go on further but enough said

  8. Wenger is a real shit. He lost his touch. He is not confident anymore and this is transferred to our players. Bayern is going to rape our ungird command

  9. Though the defeat caused so much pains but i don’t put the blame on Arsene Wenger. The 11 players are experienced and good enough to win Blackburn, i blame the blame the players Gervinho miss was so absurd

  10. FINALLY people are realising the obvious. It doesn’t matter how good a player/team is on paper. In reality there is no set FIFA ranking for a player. Gervinho IS a bad player as he plays badly consistently for us – it doesn’t matter if he has the potential (should be referred to as the ‘p word’) to do better if he doesn’t do it. Wenger has brought in far too many poor players in recent times and isn’t looking to change so he has to go. Probs will get a new contract though Ramsey style.

  11. For me, AW has lost his mojo.
    He is a stubborn man who is reluctant to change his formation, accept that he has bought a dud and sell him on and is reluctant to make a substitutuion before 60 minutes even when 60,000 fans can all see whats needed.
    Ferguson would have played 3-4-3 v Blackburn and killed the game early but oh no! we play 4-5-1 with no one supporting our lone striker.
    How many times were we trying to cross the ball to one player in the box – countless!!
    I fully expect us to come out of the traps v Bayern and get a result tomorrow. But fully expect the usual hype and promises from the players only for them to bottle it in the second leg.
    Generally, our first 11 are only comfortable playing mid and low table teams. Our record against teams above us is terrible this season and when you throw in what used to be the odd banana skin but is a more common slip up against lower opposition I think we will struggle to qualify for the CL.

    The club has frozen season ticket prices but what will they do if we (God forbid) end up 5th or lower.
    I’m not paying £1,150.00 to watch Europa Cup games against teams from Latvia and Belarus!

  12. Rosicky had a good game and got subbed. What he should have done was just to replace Gervinho. If his first 11 lack hunger to win, give someone like Eisfield a chance. Also, AW needs to seriously relook at his training. The poor finishing let us down too many times. What shooting practice do they do at London Colney? If it is shooting at crossbar, its not working. C. Ronaldo is reputed to spend long hours on his accuracy. Also lack of bodies in the box for crosses.

  13. AW & team have lost control of the whole plot. Happy we lost much early to Blackburn. We could have right now started our normal past time of building skyscrappers in the air with our overbloated confidence of overrunning Milwall and then get a shock ala Bradford. However if we luckily get past Milwall then MANU/CHELSEA, MANC/EVERTON will lie in wait. Is it not better to cut our losses at this stage than to wait for the quarters/semis/finals. Remember we have this season not beaten any team above us in the table. So either way, we may have been postponing the evil day. Looking at our performance last Saturday AW fielded a very strong 11 all internationals. But they got the tactics all wrong. Players on the day were content tossing the ball all around the centre circle. When crosses come, our players are in short supply in the 18 yard box to attack the ball. Rather they are all lying in wait outside the box to resume their normal tossing of the ball sideways, backways, upways. While this tossing around is going on, the Blackburn players just relax, conserve energy ready to pounce if any stray ball meant for our lone striker comes into the 18. That was just the pattern all day long. Their goal in as much as it was fortuitous, was destined by Providence to punish Arsenal. It was a wake up call that our days of Grace in topping the 2nd Half league is over. AW and players should now re-strategise so they can start winning remaining games in 1st half.
    Maybe we can still win 4th place trophy or even the CL (ala Chelsea)

  14. There is something fundamentally lacking with the team leadership – both on and off the pitch. eg Why was it that not one of the players knew who was going to take the first corner from the right on Saturday? They were all just waiting in the penalty area for it to happen – until they heard the supporters shouting to them to take the ****ing corner! Eventually the Ox jogged over the the corner flag and took it. It could have been comical if it wasn’t so farcical.

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