Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Arsenal are spineless

By 1970’s Gooner

As in every competitive situation in life you need to have a strong spine to be able to withstand the pressure that you will undoubtedly face.

In football you need it so that the team can be built around it. And you need it so that the balance of the team, so important in winning games, can be held together.

The players making up the spine should not only be capable but they need to be strong, confident and above all leaders.

And these characteristics assume paramount significance when most of the players are youngsters….

The spine begins with the goalkeeper and moves on through the central areas of the pitch from the centre back through to the central midfielder and finally the centre forward.

Previous Arsenal (and Wenger) teams had it in abundance.

The 1970’s double winning team had Bob Wilson, Frank Mc Clintock, Peter Storey and John Radford.

Earlier title winning teams under Wenger had Seaman, Adams, Vieira and Henry.

Chelsea now have Cseck, Terry, Lampard and Drogba.

Manchester United have Van De Sar, Vidic, Scholes and Ronaldo.

Hell even Liverpool now have a strong spine. Reina, Carragher, Gerrard, Torres.

Where’s Arsenal’s spine? Almunia? Gallas? Fabregas? Denilson? Adebayor?

I listed above the four characteristics of a “spine” player. Capable, strong, confident and a leader.

The current Arsenal spine unfortunately fails miserably on all but one of the above qualities. They are only capable but lack distinctly in terms of strength, confidence and leadership ability.


Nearly all the Arsenal players are highly skillful with high technique levels but they are relatively small, fragile and almost meek players who rely too much on their skill to get them through the game. Then they cry like babies when they get roughed up a bit.

But it’s not really their fault is it? They have been brought together by a manager who simply refuses to acknowledge that the team is actually spineless and in desperate need for at least a strong defensive midfielder and a centre back.


When the average age of the team week in week out is between 21 and 24 then you are dealing with kids who, as with any youngster, in any walk of life, go through ups and downs in whatever they do due to lack of confidence.

That is why Wenger is always building them up trying to improve their confidence levels. And that is why they sometimes perform excellently but at other times when things don’t go their way they fall apart.

Another characteristic of youth is overconfidence and complacency; and we have seen this also a lot of Wenger’s teams. The latest example being the game against Hull where they thought that by just turning up that victory was assured…


This is the last but the most important characteristic that can qualify someone as a “spine player”.

Who is Arsenal’s leader on the pitch? Who is the one that when things go wrong he gets everyone else going, leads by example and takes the game on his shoulders?

No one. Not Gallas, the captain, not Sagna, not Clichy (though he tries), not Toure, not Denilson, not Fabregas, not Nasri, certainly not Walcott, not Van Persie and certainly not want away Adebayor!

Get a spine Mr Wenger…..


ZZ said...

You've eloquently hit the nail on the head sir.

Anonymous said...

Agreed & there's almost a perverse symmetry with the end of the Graham era working here. Graham left us with a spine (of sorts - a horizontal back four of a spine) but little else - no quality players to play alongside the back four & no decent youth players coming through the system. Wenger, on the other hand, could now be in danger of coming to the end of his current contract having helped deliver us world class facilities & infrastructure, a top youth set-up & a good amount of quality first team players but no spine to give us the platform to be successful.

Anonymous said...

You said it we have no spine. But we have team spirit. If we had the two it would be better. We are lacking leaders which boosts confidence but I still feel we have a chance. Lets just take it a game at a time.

Joe_@** said...

I do not agree that Gallas is not a good leader. His styles of leadership is akin Roy Keane. He used to be very vocal and could bulldoze a player if they made a mistake. Keane used to keep those prima donnas of MU in check and that had won them a lot of titles. Unfortunately, our prima donnas here are untouchable. When he vented his anger against the team for their lapse in concentration against Birmingham he was criticised severely. This season, he chose to keep his mouth shut and look what happened? He shouted at players because he has won a lot more than them, he has more experienced than them and more importantly he is the only one who has the winning mentality that the whole team lacked. He has been advocating that we must learn to play ugly to win since his arrival but no one cares. All these made him an oddball in the team but not necessarily that he is wrong

Anonymous said...

agree totally. if we can all see this then how come the master of excuses wenger cant see it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ill add cowardly, no guts ,yellow and big time charlies who when the going gets tough cry and hide. stand up adebayer who has all the above in spades

Anonymous said...

in simple words. we all know these stuff and why as fans do we continue to critise when we could as well encourage and hope with time they will grow in confidence knowing that even if the whole world doubts them but they have the fans on their side.

Anonymous said...

I really think supporters and fans need to stage a protest against the way the club is run and the direction its being going towards for the past few years.
I hate to admit it , but i think Mourinho was right after all when he said Wenger is no under any pressure to deliver trophies.
For goodness sake Mourinho was sacked despite winning at least 4 trophies and Wenger was never able to beat him...says a lot if u think about it.
Also i think the fans need to boycott at least one match and not pay for the ticket for the match so the board would know and feel it where it pinches ..cus i feel the board doesn't give a damn so long as they keep making money from the fans...
Arsene Wenger is a golden goose for the board who lays the golden such it would be crazy of them to sack him...cus they would not be able to find another manager that can spend less and less amount of money every season.

Anonymous said...

Wenger playing players out of position! Might as well put Adebayor as Goalkeeper, tired of the bad tactical decisions n all.

Prabal Rakshit said...

Agree with almost everything that 1970's Gooner says. However Arsene Wenger's predicament can be gauged from an ESPN Soccernet article that was written a few mmonths back. It said that Arsenal will continue to become a sellers club which buys young talented players at rock-bottom prices and sells them at a premium. The new stadium at Ashburton Grove is taking its tolls on the club finances and no wonder Wenger has to deliver a healthy bottom line while ensuring at least a Champions league finish. I think one anonymous poster was right about Wenger not being under pressure to win trophies. Had he been at helm of a certain egomaniac named Roman Abramovich, well things would have been well night different.
Vulnerability to set-pieces, inability to break down physically tough teams, not having the mental fortitude to grind their way through tough situations, these have been plaguing the Gunners for the last 2-3 seasons.

- Gallas is no longer the single minded defender that he was. Captaincy and age has taken its toll on him. Toure, unquestionably talended, is still no John Terry or Ricardo Carvalho. Some bloggers in many sites have pointed to the lack of tall players as a reason Arsenal are weak at the back, but I dont think that is entirely true. Toure, Gallas, Silvestre are all reasonbly tall (close to 6 ft), but they severely lack the anticipation and the quick judgement to thwart set-pieces.

- Youth is fashionable, fast dazzling passes are the fad of the season in Arsene wenger's team now. While this is slick if you make promotional videos, it is too apparent that a couple of experienced terriers like the good old Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Patrick Vieira or even Mark Van Bommel etc. are what Arsenal needs. Quite rightly as some bloggers are pointing out, Arsenal can't afford to become the nursery for other top clubs. It would surely and certainly go the Ajax Amsterdam way. Past perfect - Future tense.

- Robin van Persie's stupid behavior while picking up a red card showed exactly what the team lacks in the mental conditioning department. Short tempered prima-donnas all of them, they can't digest that the opposition is playing a better game than them and disrupting their natural flow. Instead of digging down and gritting their teeth they wail and cry about the situation. and where do they get the inspiration from? A genuinely talented manager, who prefers to blame everyone but himself.

- Adebayor's is a reasonable prolific goal-scorer, but even the die hard arsenal supporter would agree that, had Torres, Drogba, Berbatov, Rooney or even Dirk Kuyt had got similar number of chances, the number of goals would have been more. Match after match the same old story. Adebayor's competitions in the team are: a fragile and inconsistent van Persie, an underprepared Bendtner, a very young and learning Carlos Vela etc. etc. So much for the much hyped bench strength.

waht the team desperately needs is a strong leader like John Terry, Steven Gerrard etc. who can be tough on his team mates if they underperform. Unless the mean-mindedness is reintroduced, the team would continue the downward slide.

Israeli Gunner said...

You're 100% right in your analysis.

Shiri said...

Wenger will not see??

How on earth he bought SILVESRE only the lord knows. This team is going nowhere

leon said...

i do agree the strikers have been inconsistant so far both ade and rvp have been very inconistant,ade has been very disapointing at times,we need edardo badly.

the fact is arsenal have struggled since sole cambell have left,it very difficult to find top quality physica;l defenders,which is why it is must that arsenal get dm no matter what the price,toure right now is shodow of the player he was whne sole cambell was there,he looking to lacking in confedence in a big way,i think sylevtsor was a good purchase he cost less than 1 million and is very experiened, i dont think you can point the blame at him,the fact is niether toure or gallas are playing very well, i know this sounds a bit roofless but i would sell bretna and toure ,i realy like toure but quite frankly he has not been good enough for sometime now.

Joshua Flint said...

I think you left off inconsistency, which is the hallmark of young players. I don't think our striker department lacks. Ade and RVP can put it together but they are not the finished product yet. I actually have way more confidence in Ade being a world beater and not RVP based on health, ability, and taking his chances. Plus we are getting goalscoring from all over the pitch not just a main go to striker, like Henry. At the back I want to see Djourou more and less Toure, who has been rubbish since coming back from the African Cup of Nations last year. I'd rather have Gallas in there. He brings more right now than Toure, like goalscoring and being vocal. Silvestre does bring something different and am not entirely upset with his performances unlike Gallas and Toure. Wenger should buy a new CB and force these guys to fight for a place, raising the level of our squad. So we are left with the midfield where it has all gone wrong for us this year. Why? Because our average age has been 19 or 20 which just doesn't cut it at this level. All four midfielders can't be so inexperienced. It doesn't matter who the player is at 19 or 20, Zidane, Vieira, Makalele, Pirlo, Gattuso these guys weren't the players they turned out to be at such a young age. I believe as our midfield fails to produce week in week out it will make our forwards and defence look worse than they are at the moment. One strong minded experienced( maybe expensive) player would help Denilson, Song and Diaby push on to become better. With so much riding on their shoulders right now it could actually do more harm than good to their development. Which is what we are currently witnessing. As these players ride the highs and lows of maturing so will the rest of the Arsenal team fluctuate between the sublime and the ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

dont be stupid man...almunia has never win anything and he will never win nothing as first goalkeeper...ger rid of him mr wenger

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