Arsene Wenger’s Lost Team

August, 2007. Life after Theirry begins at Arsenal. It was supposed to be a transitional year for the club. The invincibles had all but been disbanded and there was a crop of new players waiting to make their mark at the Emirates. Preseason predictions for the Gunners were gloomy with many media outlets expecting them to miss out on a top four finish. Once again, Arsene Wenger’s side would prove the doubters wrong.

Arsenal played some astonishing football throughout the 2007-2008 season. They were the best team in England once again and looked headed for an unlikely Premiere League title. Then they travelled to St. Andrews at the end of February. It may have only been a draw on the scoresheet, but it meant so much more to the club. That game cost Eduardo his Arsenal career. It cost William Gallas his captaincy and respect at the club. It seemingly altered Gael Clichy’s career trajectory. And it signaled the beginning of the end for Arsenal’s title bid that season.

Following that match, Arsenal went on a run that saw them win just one of their next eight premier league matches. That run included two losses, five draws, a heart-breaking champions league exit to Liverpool, and culminated in a defeat to United after leading 1-0. That result truly ended Arsenal’s chance of being crowned champions. It was a gut wrenching period for everyone at the club, and one that’s become all too familiar.

But when the season ended there was reason for optimism. The team had exceeded expectations when they were expected to struggle. The new crop of players had proven themselves capable of playing at the very top level and seemed poised to challenge for trophies like the group before them. Eduardo proved a classy finisher and another great Arsene Wenger buy. Emmanuel Adebayor picked up where Henry had left off. That season he bagged 24 league goals. Mathew Flamini showed there could be life after Gilberto Silva and Cesc Fabregas continued his development into one of the world’s best midfielders. Thomas Rosicky and Alex Hleb weren’t exactly Robert Pires and Freddy Ljungberg but they were adapting well and had solid seasons on the wings. Overall, there was reason to be encouraged.

But that team never won the Premier League. That team never won the Champions League or the FA Cup or even the Carling Cup. That team never had a chance to create its own legacy. Because that Arsenal team, the one that Arsene Wenger had assembled to replace the invincibles, vanished. Before most fans could even buy a shirt, and before the pundits could even reassess their trophy chances, a combination of injuries and premature departures eviscerated that team. Arsene Wenger was forced to tear up his blueprint and start over again, with precious little funds for the transfer market thanks to Arsenal’s beautiful new stadium. There wasn’t even time to stop and think what might have been.

On any given match day during the 2007-2008 season, you might have seen this starting XI playing for Arsenal:

Eduardo, Adebayor, Rosicky, Cesc, Flamini, Hleb, Clichy, Toure, Gallas, Sagna, Lehmann.

When the 2011-2012 season starts, it is entirely likely that Barcary Sagna will be the only remaining player from that 2007-2008 squad. And as you examine the details, it’s almost startling how quickly the team fell apart.

Lehmann lost his starting job and his Arsenal future in the early part of the season. He was replaced by Almunia, but he’s not going to be around this season either.

Eduardo’s Arsenal career essentially lasted a whopping seven months. His leg injury kept him out of football for an entire season and he returned a shadow of his former self. The promise he showed in 2007-2008 would remain unfulfilled.

Eduardo’s strike partner, Emmanuel Adebayor was the real star of that promising season. He had bagged 24 goals and looked set to be the perfect replacement for Theirry Henry. He had pace, control and was better in the air than the Frenchman. But Adebayor let one season’s worth of success go to his head. That summer he flirted with other clubs, made conflicting statements about where he wanted to play, and completely lost the fans. He ambled around the pitch the next season and was sold to Manchester City the following season for a king’s ransom. Now he’s weighing up the options between France and Russia.

Alex Hleb left immediately following the 2007-2008 season because he apparently didn’t like life in England. That was the end of his professional career as he knew it.

Like Hleb, Matthew Flamini departed at the end of the 2007-2008 season so that he could sit on the substitutes bench at AC Milan.

Thomas Rosicky had looked a quality player but suffered a muscle injury in 2008 that shortened his season. What no one could’ve expected is that the injury would keep him out of football for 18 months. When he returned, like Eduardo, he suffered through set-backs and lost form. Now he seems set to leave the club, his Arsenal career lost to the realm of “what if.”

The defense didn’t disband quite as quickly but it suffered all the same. Kolo Toure couldn’t get along with William Gallas and had to leave after the 2008-2009 season. He wanted to leave in January but lasted until the summer. William Gallas was never the same player at Arsenal after his strop at Birmingham. He lost the captaincy and the respect of teammates and fans alike. He played well in spurts the next two seasons but eventually had to be sold due to personality conflicts in the dressing room.

Gael Clichy lasted through this past season. But his form suffered. At one point it seemed he might develop into a better player than his predecessor, Ashley Cole. But that never happened. Whether coincidence or reality, the Birmingham game in February 2008 saw his career take a turn for the worse. He became more prone to key errors that cost the team dearly. Now he looks set to be sold.

But the most significant member of the 2007-2008 team, and the one that would prove to be the most important player at Arsenal over the next few seasons, was Cesc Fabregas. If you want to be a top side in world football, you need one of the top players. And Fabregas has certainly proved to be one of the best midfielders in the world. He went on to become captain of Arsenal by default after the Gallas debacle (a fact that many forget when criticizing Wenger’s choice of captains) and the fulcrum around which the attack pivots. But now, he looks set to return to his boyhood club, Barcelona. And with him, go essentially the last vestiges of the 2007-2008 team that looked set to challenge for trophies for seasons to come.

Arsene Wenger built a team designed to succeed the invincibles. It was a team with a good mix of young talent and experienced players from whom they could learn. In 2007-2008 they nearly won a title and at that time, it seemed clear that Arsene Wenger’s new version of Arsenal was positioned to be as successful as its predecessor. The unforeseeable way in which that team disbanded left Wenger rebuilding his squad again, but with meager resources. People criticize “project youth” but rarely put it in perspective.

Alex Song should’ve been the backup to Matthew Flamini. Young players like Wilshere and Ramsey should’ve been learning from Hleb and Rosicky. While players like Denilson and Diaby would’ve been further on the periphery. And Arsene Wenger probably never envisioned Robin Van Persie playing as a lone striker. Surely the sudden loss of Eduardo and Adebayor had some impact on his setup. I also doubt that Wenger’s master plan was to chop and change the defense repeatedly. Gallas and Toure were important figures whose Arsenal careers ended abruptly.

Despite all the problems caused by sudden departures and injuries, and a severely limited budget, Arsene Wenger made some fantastic purchases. He bought Nasri. He bought Vermaelen. He bought Arshavin, who has been dramatically under appreciated and single-handedly saved our champions league place in 2009. And he did all that business at a time when transfer fees and players’ wages were sky-rocketing.

Wenger also had the courage to trust some of his young players. Alex Song proved the doubters wrong. Jack Wilshere dominated in midfield in a season when most thought he should go out on loan. Johan Djourou came back from injury to have three-quarters of an excellent season.

But Arsene Wenger’s luck continued to get even worse following 2008. RVP hardly played. Cesc started to become an injury concern. Vermaelen lost a season to injury. Djourou lost a season to injury. Theo lost most of a season to injury. Aaron Ramsey became the third Arsenal player to suffer a broken leg in five seasons just as he was emerging as a first-choice player.

Arsene Wenger must wake up some days, look at his team sheet, rub his eyes, and wonder where his players went. Whether by premature departure or injury, he has been robbed of much of the talent he expected to be the foundation of his new Arsenal side. He’s done his best to keep the team competitive in an environment of unexpected change but finds himself increasingly under attack from fans who don’t consider top-four finishes good enough.

Perhaps he’s a victim of his own success. Had that 2007-2008 side slipped out of the top-four, most fans would’ve understood. At that time, many were prepared for a rebuilding period. And had that rebuilding period taken a few seasons, then our current predicament would be considered an outstanding success by comparison. Look at Liverpool for example. They slipped out of the top-four and down the table. Now a top-four finish would be considered a raging success. But the 2007-2008 team’s unexpected success left fans believing that Arsene could continue to deliver title-worthy, champagne football every season. And now, despite all the extenuating circumstances, there is no excuse for failure.

So here we are. Entering another season of uncertainty, with the possibility that we’ll be missing some of our favorite players. Just like the 2007-2008 season. And just like the 2007-2008 season, many fans and pundits are expecting a rebuilding year filled with frustration and a fall from the champions league places. But Arsene Wenger has proved the doubters wrong on more than one occasion. Were it not for a terrible tackle and awful penalty at St. Andrews, Arsenal might have been champions in 2008. Perhaps this season, Arsenal will fulfill the promise of Arsene Wenger’s lost team, and finally end the trophy drought. If nothing else, the great man deserves our belief.

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About Yankee Gunner

Loyal Arsenal Supporter, Obscure Television Personality
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43 Responses to Arsene Wenger’s Lost Team

  1. A very insightful but sobering article. Here’s to hoping the next season will be successful and not one to chase away all but the most loyal of gooners.

  2. afrogoon says:

    good write up…a lot of criticism is without perspective….i think it is because a lot of those who continually criticise are young, ie below 30 so cannot appreciate the herculian task not AW, ie project youth the club undertook whiles building the stadium….others just lack the brain so just follow like zombies because they cant comprehend….anyway up the arse…we all get frustrated bt one has to be able to sit and understand external factors have also conributed to the quagmire we are in…..i just hope AW is brave enough to give some of the young guns such as bartley,ramsey,frimpong,coeuquilin a chance to supplement whoever is left after the newspapers are done with the transfers….we need more local talent in the team.a core tht grew up us gooners to add to rvp,verma,jack and sagna….hopefully we win something the coming season to appease the baying mob.

  3. D-Ghouxt(Arsenal Fc Ghana) says:

    wow am stuntd mate.
    great piece of work

  4. afrogoon says:

    dghoux…..u mean brekum arsenal?lol…..@yankee i can understand ambition…ie…u want your club to be the best….but you have to temper it with reality and have a plan to actualise your ambitions….the path the board(previous) have set us on is a good one.short term pain(lack of financing) long term gain(we will rival the biggest clubs financially)….hpe when the fruits of project youth are being harvested, which will sustain the club both financially and supplement the 1st team for years to come, the people who were criticising will realise hw short sighted they were……Up the gunners

  5. Jack Straw says:

    Really great article, yankeegunner! Beyond the injuries and player departures, I think there are a few other factors that Wenger and the club couldn’t foresee which has made life more difficult for us, some of which started long before 2006. Specifically the constant and unsustainable rise in player wages and transfer fees, and of course the emergence of Chelsea, City and their money.

    When the plan to build the stadium was made (right around 2000) the footballing world was vastly different. United still operated on a different level than any other English club, but beyond them Arsenal were part of a second tier that had similar financial capabilities. As plans for the new stadium were being made, the budget needed to compete while the stadium was being paid off was certainly discussed, and whatever was decided at that time quickly became outdated. As we’ve seen, without player sales Arsenal are capable of making a small profit each season. That small profit is what the board and Wenger were planning on using to bolster the squad for the 5-10 years after the construction. What we realize now is that the profits we make each year couldn’t even buy one of the players United, Chelsea, Liverpool or MCFC have purchased recently.

    Was it short-sighted? Perhaps a little. But before Abramovich came to Chelsea the sugar daddy benefactor model didn’t really exist in English football, at least to the same extent, and the impact Chelsea had on the market can not be understated. It was at that point that AW realized that we had to invest in youth and rely (at least partially) on player sales to remain competitive. Then as soon as we are starting to come to grips with the post-Abramovich world, Sheik Mansour comes in and eclipses even the Russian’s spending, and once again artificially inflates the market.

    I’m not saying Wenger is blameless. His in-game tactics and personnel decisions often leave me baffled, and he has certainly made a few mistakes in the transfer market. However, the constant critique that Wenger is simply experimenting with a new “youth-only” philosophy willingly is so myopic it defies belief.

  6. jamrockrover says:

    Absolutely fantastic stuff and a real insight into how great Arsene Wenger is and how he has kept Arsenal at the top of English football against all the odds.

  7. Joss Bennett says:

    Hi Yankee Gunner,

    Firstly – great post. Absolutely agree that the trophy drought and constant re-shuffling of the squad has been largely unfortunate and (for the latter at least) through no major fault of Wenger and his staff.

    A couple of things stand out, though. I think Fabregas and Van Persie were probably always being considered for a 4-3-3 (or variant formation). From a young age, Fabregas showed that he had far more to his game than being a simple box-to-box player whose primary job was to sit deep in the midfield and get countless assists every season – he liked scoring goals, and was incredibly effective in and around the edge of the box. A 4-3-3 formation gave him more attacking freedom; the team was built around him and he excelled – 15 league goals and 13 assists is, by far, his best return in an Arsenal shirt.

    Same goes for Van Persie, I think. He had the potential to be a terrific goalscorer, but the goalscoring stats pre, and post 2009/10 show that he’s more effective in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 than he is in a 4-4-2, where he performed a similar role to Dennis Bergkamp; primarily assisting a strike partner.

    Also, I think that “Project Youth”, or the “10 year plan” wasn’t just a reaction to losing these players as you seem to suggest. It WAS planned, and started in around 2002/03 (More here: http://www.arsenalreport.com/2011/03/the-mighty-transition-why-arsenal-havent-won-anything-in-6-years/) – coinciding with the building of the Emirates Stadium for some £470m. We’re still in a period of transition, but as you rightly say; we’ve come very close on a number of occasions to winning another trophy (2007/08 being the perfect example of how quickly our season can implode due to unforeseen and horrific injuries etc.) and the departure of players like Hleb, Adebayor and Toure who decided they basically wanted a bit more glory and a bit more money didn’t help at all, combined with the aforementioned injuries.

    Anyway – just some opinions! Great read and well-written 😉

  8. Wenger is the best, Wenger knows best, Wenger will be the best!

  9. Illinois Gooner says:

    Wow. Great article. Really puts things in perspective. I wish every Arsenal fan could read this.

  10. Willie says:

    Blind criticism and blind faith are not any much different…the log in your eye,anyone?
    I think it’s come to a time when we need to know where we expect the Arsenal to be. If midtable/europa, then we are even overachieving. If we really are a top club(which I think we should be) then we are retrogressing.
    It’s a great piece though, but it can’t overcome a sense of impending doom fortified by the last 6 years.

  11. Willie says:

    Comment 2 by afrogoon begs a few questions:
    Is it criminal to be under 30 and support Arsenal?
    Is it wrong to have high expectations for the club you love?
    Should we fail to mind World War III just because there’s been World War I and II?
    That said, I admit criticism without perspective should be ignored. Which means constructive criticism should not be shunned away blindly…

  12. ad min says:

    But who is responsible for selling all these players? And who has neglected to buy in positions that all can see we are short in? It seems Arsenal are the most unluckiest team ever or more likely that Arsenal lack true leadership and wilt at the slightest problem. All these players that are now being called greedy moneygrabbers, are in the main players bought and developed by Wenger, yet the developing youth are largley ignored and not given a chance.

  13. ukaogo says:

    Good article. And, just as important, great contribution from Willie above. Isn’t it patently silly, asking fans of a hitherto winning club to be content with a top four place? Where’s the ambition? The stuff that separates a Milan/Inter/Juve/LPool/ManU/Real/Barca/ from the Wolves/Cessena/Livorno’s of this world. Yet again, where’s the income from the transfers of Toure/Ade/Flamini (surely these were extra-budgetary and subject to the managers discretionary use. It makes as little sense to sell players to pay for a stadium as it does to sell a car to pay for petrol.)
    Don’t let the passion of the argument fool you. In reality it doesn’t make much sense.

    • Dannytheoldhamgooner says:

      Couldn’t agree more arsene’s almost blind faith in youth development has cost my beloved arsenal dear. Flamini went on a free in exactly the same manner he arrived but arsene has had money to spend £10m for kocielny £8m for rosicknote to name but two. Whilst the youth policy is admirable it has only produced clichy who in my opinion is now average and jack. Even the Barcelona youth system doesn’t provide for all the teams needs; villa,alvez,pique,abidal and dare I say it fabregas all brought in to bolster the squad. I make absolutely bang on.

      • arun says:

        Not at all mate, plz just check villa, abidal, alvez, and dare i say fabregas transfer value and just think for one min that do we have that much money to spend for the last five years… if you got time then check our transfer spending before 2006 and after and you will find out how we spend the money.
        http://www.arsenalreport.com/transfercentre/

    • arun says:

      When you compare our club with others, first you have to check their background as they are all European champions and we aren’t. before wenger we barely made champions league qualification 24 times out of 90 seasons.
      Like yankeegunner said, he became the victim of his own success, he was winning silverware every season and in a beautiful way and competing for the league title every season that most of the fans forget that we don’t have a single champions league trophy. Actually we were slowly becoming like them like one of the teams in the world but for that you need to have a big stadium like other top teams do, so we started building one. so we had to restrict our spending even more( his highest net spending in a season was 2008/09 £17M, that gives you the idea how he spend before stadium project) even with that challenged for the title twice, reached the champions league final for the first time. That doesn’t mean wenger is flawless, but saying he don’t have any ambition is pure nonsense. We are going through a rough time like every club have to, so support him there is no one who can do better than what he is doing now.

  14. Gavin says:

    Brilliant Article mate and really makes you think about things logically. I have to admit recently I have been losing my faith in Wenger especially after the media circus today around Nasri but reading through that has made me appreciate the obstacles Wenger has brought this club through in the last few years and really does deserve our support for that.

  15. Yourgunnerbuddy says:

    Loved your article and still does. You must be a very big fan with an even bigger sadness and disappointment eh? Cause i too felt it in the article.

    All i really wish is for them to have the same belief that we still have in them. All the other fans and players themselves. I’ve been Gooners since i knew football and that will never change even if the players does.

    Very emotional article, very heart-felt article. Please keep writing stuff like this. Keep my passion growing as an Arsenal fan. Love them then, love them now.

    Cheers Mate,
    Your Gunner buddy.

  16. GTB says:

    Excellent article, very well written. Only disagreement would be Adebayor having good control !

  17. SA_Gunner says:

    Just curious what actually happened at st.Andrews 2008? I think if we somehow happen to hold onto Fabregas + Nasri (unlikely though it sounds in the media) we have a decent chance of silverware this season at least an FA Cup / Worthington Cup.

  18. Lewis says:

    great article. Unfortunately, so long as we flirt with success but dont win trophies, the best players will always want to move on, and it becomes very difficult to keep a team together. The top money and winning trophies keeps the best players.. And we cant deliver on either qt the moment.

  19. Never read a better and more insightful article about our team. Kudos and as you said – Perhaps this season, Arsenal will fulfill the promise of Arsene Wenger’s lost team, and finally end the trophy drought. If nothing else, the great man deserves our belief.

  20. Danny the Oldham gooner says:

    That is a damn fine piece of writing. Unfortunately whilst emphasising the fact that the 2007-2008 team disbanded so quickly; you forgot to mention it gave arsene three years to rebuild something close to the masterpiece he created in the invincibles. I only fear that team was his “Sistine chapel”. You have to ask the question how long does it take ferguson to rebuild a title wining team; admittedly with more financial firepower, but it isn’t 3 years let alone the 6 years we are staring at, without even a carling cup! It isn’t as though he has had no money to spend £40m for toure and adebayor to start with. No, I’m sorry but the excuses have to stop. If the team is ravaged by injury because players arsene bought with a history of injury problems surprisingly get injured ie Tomas rosicknote then buy in fresh blood. We are the one of the highest earning clubs in the world with a wage bill most of the other top ten clubs in Europe or elsewhere would kill to have. You cannot win the most prestigious trophies in the world of football by penny pinching. For me arsene has one more season left!!

  21. afrogoon says:

    what i cannot fathom is how people interprete ‘project youth’ to be arsene’s pet project…which other way could we have gone whilst building the grove? I believe it was the best decision to find a way to sustain the club with playing material and also to generate funds from players that dont make it a la bentley,penant and co….’project youth’ can never be considered a failure as there are still kids coming out…..how many years has it taken la masia to ‘produce’ a messi? Yes AW has failed us with his tactics in some games which has contributed to our trophylesness but to say he embarked on some ego trip just to prove a point to the whole footballing world how much of a genius he is, to me is utter stupidity….we swalloed a neccesary pill…it is bitter right now but we will be better off in the future with or without AW because him and the old board took a very brave and bold decision.The Arsenal is far bigger now than it was.We were no footballing super power but because of the decisions those ‘crazy men’ took we stand on the threshold of greatness….this is why there are fans all over the world who feel frustrated when we lose because all they have seen with AW is success…….as much as it hurts to say we are no madrid,barca(until recently were not that big even in europe),united…….we are planning on getting there….we have no one but ourselves to survive
    @ willie…..it’s not criminal to be under 30 just like it is not criminal for the daughter of a broke man to want the finest clothes money can buy eventhough he cannot afford it.If you see how hilarious and frustrated AW looks on the touchline, i fail to believe he has all this money stashed away that he is not using because he wants to ‘show the footballing world’…….having said all that, some people are definitely wise beyond their years and some people are also immature….goes both ways.

  22. afrogoon says:

    i do believe eventually we will get an outstanding crop mostly produced from within and start winning again, attracting the best of the best and being able to pay top notch…..football is in cycles…look @ liverpool…they were the equivalent of utd in the 80’s……..believe me we had more titles than utd before old fungus took over but they had a bigger capacity stadium for years so raked in more cash and also their dominance of the prem era has helped their marketing……we will get there…we have built a good foundation so let us not get overly critical and throw the baby out with the bath water….the foundation is strong and for that the old board and AW deserve our respect instead of all this abuse and innuendo

  23. sdfsdfsd says:

    Great article. That great it leaves me a bit speechless. Every gunner should read this one, it makes you think a little.

  24. elliot says:

    A good article but I can’t agree with the sentiment. 2008 was a season when all of the guys I sit with and many many others believed that unless we bought in the January transfer window we would not win the league. The squad was never strong enough either in depth or mentally. This failure was repeated again this season and last season. You make some great points but I can’t help feeling that AW is not the manager he was. Sometimes great leaders are supported by a team or one or two great people. Keith Edelman is reported as saying Dein was able to get Arsene to spend. Someone needs to do this now, there needs to be some challenge to the way things are. Too many of the squad are average and/ or don’t seem to care. If you tell people it is ok to come second, they wont come first. Football is about winning. I have never seen the crowd more disinterested in Arsenal than last season, almost every fan knows what is wrong with the team and yet nothing is done about it. Wenger has commented that the defence let in too many goals for seasons 2008,2009 and 2010 yet we do not sign players who would do better. Would any other manager in the top four have put up with Almunia for so long?

    • Jack Straw says:

      The only thing I’d say is that fans almost always want new signings in January. United certainly did last season, but still ended up winning. And there’s no guarantee that signings at that time would have changed anything.

  25. John says:

    Fantastic article really enjoyed it, and the points you raise are precisely why it annoys me so much when people criticize Arsene Wenger with baseless statements.
    But apart from that great read.

  26. Karthik Bala says:

    What a well written article…..thumbs up mate…. hope is what fuels the world and its the same for the gunners as well….

  27. I haven’t just known Arsenal under Arsene Wenger – I have seen teams under Bertie Mee, Terry Neill, Don Howe, George Graham and Bruce Rioch as well as ones chosen by the Cone Man and Steve Burtenshaw so I’ve been with the club through highs and lows.
    We all agree that M Wenger is a great manager and I like the fact that Arsenal don’t sack their managers after five minutes (Mr Rioch apart) but M Wenger has made many mistakes including one similar to Bertie Mee in breaking up a winning side too soon. We sold Pires, Ljungberg, Vieira and Petit to name but four far too early.
    Do we expect success? Yes we are Arsenal. We now haven’t won anything since 2005 and that is plainly unacceptable. United would have sacked Sir Alex Ferguson had he gone two or three years without success yet M Wenger is not even in danger of losing his job. Roman Abramovich sacked Sr Ancelotti a year after he won the Double which is plainly ridiculous but we do need to make changes.
    Arsenal are or seem to be always a nearly club. I remember a game about 20 years away to Nottingham Forest when we were brilliant and one report said that Arsenal look set to dominate English football for years to come. It never happened. We have never managed to retain the Premier League – second is just not good enough for the Arsenal.
    Will next season be different? I fervently hope so but am not optimistic. We need a goalkeeper, central defenders, a left back, a striker who can score goals and a captain who can inspire the team. Cesc Fabregas is great but he is no Tony Adams in terms of fighting for the Gunners. (It speaks volumes that he preferred to watch the Spanish Grand Prix rather than go to Arsenal’s last game of the season.) Who has M Wenger bought so far? A kid who can’t even get a game regularly with Charlton… the signs do not look good.

  28. What Arsenal needs is primarily defenders who are at the peak of their footballing cycle, to remain competitive. The attacking mentality means that the Gunners will always manage to threaten the opposition, but often find themselves exposed. To be perfectly honest, I think Djourou is crap. He should be playing for a bottom-half team.You need leaders in defence, like Vidic, Terry, Carragher. To inspire the players in front of them. You need a rock in goal, like Van der Sar, Cech or Reina, to have that last line of defence that won’t screw up at the moment that seperates silverware from disappointment. Until Arsene Wenger temporarily suspends his “project youth” to bring in established, proven, leaders into the team, Arsenal will go nowhere. Which is a shame, given the potential they have. But that’s all they’ve been for the last 6 years. Potential.
    If he doesn’t do that, and Gooners keep going on about “In Arsene we Trust”, and go another couple of seasons without silverware, well, you know what they say about blind faith.

    Regards,
    A respectful Man United fan.

  29. @Azeem at 9.03pm

    It’s called unconditional love……….. no matter where your team are!
    Nice to see a united fan giving positive feedback on a Arsenal blog. good on ya!

  30. My friend, the transfer season brings out the best and worst in people and throughout this crazy time we all read a lot of material … from the absurdly shock-value Daily Mail to some east Uruguayan fortnightly post claiming the newest starlet to be brought into England on a yet-undisclosed deal. But this has been one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time.

    Your spirit, and most of the fans commenting thereafter embody the Gunner spirit that we’ve loved for so long.

    My journey started with a young swedish upstart called Anders Limpar, and his unspectacular yet cultish history at the Arsenal. I was just a lad , but I knew that this team was going to be with me for some time to come.

    Your article should be read by some of our want-away players and they should do a bit of introspection.

    Like someone commented, pre Wenger we weren’t the pride of European football, and since Wenger we haven’t stockpiled endless trophies but we’ve (biased) probably been on average the pick of English football, and have a startlingly good record to at least reach substantial rounds in the Champions League for the last decade. This doesn’t result in us showing off our trophy case, but this passion can be seen in the words of everyone listed on this page.

    We can talk about formations , and budget and whatever … the long and short of it is that we need to wake up and realise that this club does things a bit different. We aren’t a billion Euros in debt, we aren’t going to fork out E 40M for Neymar or Torres or Pastore or whomever. We have got a work-ethic and a culture that isn’t going to pay a player with half a great season 120,000 (or 180,000) per week. We believe in talent and the nurturing thereof, as well as recruiting players that make a difference. For every Denilson there is going to be an Alex Song (or Frimpong hopefully). For every Pires or Lauren there will be a Reyes or Sylvinho .For every greedy Ashley Cole, Adebayor and Nasri there will be a Bergkamp, a Van Persie (ignore the papers) and Winterburn.

    Imagine if Bendtner struck that shot into the Barca goal … what would this article have read ? Imagine if Eduardo didn’t break his leg ? Football is defined by ifs and maybe’s (Terry scoring the penalty, Baggio not blasting it over, Maradona’s hands being at his sides) , and we’ve got to live with that. I’m not even going to comment on Lehmann and RVP’s sending off in probably the two most pivotal games in our club’s history.

    But things like that will just make us stronger. Without the sugardaddy factor, without the exorbitant transfer budgets, without the “now-we-are-a-big-club” fanboys from our neighbors and other nouveau riche clubs in the EPL.

    Arsene sees the badge , but he also serves the stakeholders and shareholders , and I believe he has done a sterling job of it. Being in a country where politics play major roles backstage and behind the curtains I can understand the motions that happen behind the scenes in football , but we are the fans , we don’t care , we want to see the results.

    Therefore just as we dealt with losing Petit, Overmars, Henry after years of awesome service, or Cole, Adebayor to greed or Hleb, Flamini and others to perceived opportunism, again we’ll deal with losing Fabregas (Thanks for the service, thanks for the memories) , Nasri ( hope your calves don’t hurt from carrying the bags to the bank) and Clichy.

    The next generation might include bigger names like Mata, Cahill, Vertonghen, Gervinho , or they’ll include lesser known names like Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alvarez, Lukaku, Matuidi. What will count is how they pull the jumper over their heads, how they’ll love the badge, how they’ll buy into the culture, the passion.

    One of these generations will have the headstrong ambition to give us glory. And I’m right there waiting to bask in it. This year, next year or the one thereafter. I’ll be waiting with my (Limpar, Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Fabregas ….. Wilshere / Afobe / Jebb / etc) jumper and badge clutched across the heart.

    Arsene(al) knows Best

  31. dj says:

    I think that they played more of a 4-4-1-1 that year no? Eboue or Walcott on the right, Hleb central behind the striker.

    Would have been THE greatest title win in Premier League history if they’d pulled it off.

  32. Die Hard Gunner says:

    Great article, but this is the 2012/2013 season and it’s going from bad to worse, if i wrote the article, i would have titled it “BEFORE YOU JUDGE ARSENE WENGER” lolz. Hope we can reclaim our glory days soon. Up Gunners till eternity.

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