How To Measure Quality in Football? 10 points off top – 12 points from relegation zone

Aston Villa 2-2 Arsenal

You may have noticed from the lack of posts that the world of Arsenal FC now really just irritates me. Yet I still manage to keep myself watching every second of every game. Today’s game marked a significant point in this season.

Let’s be honest – if we were Aston Villa, we would be annoyed that we didn’t get all three points from a game that was dominated by the home side. The first half statistics say it all: Villa – 7 shots and Arsenal – 1 shot, 1 goal. How often has that happened to us in the past? The whole game was Villa’s apart from a 20 minute spell at the end of the first half and beginning of the second. The story of the game was:

Woodwork 3 times…lucky bounce…nice finish Denilson… a moment of brilliance from Diaby to offset his general pathetic performance to make it 2…back to Villa pressure…Gallas penalty…Barry 50th goal…inevitable Knight equalizer in injury time. All we had to show for the game was a determined goal keeper and a world class right back. Well done to Villa, they showed they are a real side today.

The title of this article is not to suggest we are going to get relegated, but simply to illustrate how far off we are from the top. The quality of the side has been weakened season after season; players have left and have not been replaced. People blame the centre of defence for leaking goals but fail to mention that the creativity of the side is as weak as anything else nowadays. We have never had the best defensive players in the world (under Wenger’s modern teams) but we used to defend well as a unit. A lot of that comes down to the midfield. Wenger’s philosophy has always been that the best form of defence is attack, keeping the ball means the opposition cannot score.

As much as I want the likes of Song and Denilson to succeed and do not want to put blame on them personally, it is obvious to see that they don’t do enough to be playing week in week out. The centre of midfield in my opinion is the most important part of any team (apart from Bolton) since it’s the only part of the team which defends and attacks as well as being a source for inspiration, creativity and is one of the only positions that can set the tempo of a game. Flamini is a perfect example of this last season.

Fans boo Eboue yet do not boo Wenger who plays him on the left wing. They do not boo the manager who last season had three very solid defensive midfielders in the team (Gilberto, Flamini and Diarra) and yet did not replace them when they left. I am not at all saying to boo Wenger, I was one of the first to say boo-ing Eboue was disgusting – but please stop pointing fingers at individual players when Wenger is the man in charge.

I love Wenger as much as any other Arsenal fan but he is only human. He has made mistakes yet a human still has the ability to correct his mistakes. But Wenger is as stubborn as any manager in world football, he is the president of our football club and makes all the decisions and therefore should shoulder most of the blame. The board let him do as he wishes and that has been rightly earned over an amazing Arsenal career as manager. However, every human is fallible and if Wenger again refuses to sign players in January there will have to be a point where something has to be done. Yes we drew with Liverpool, beat Manchester United and Chelsea…but losing to Hull, Stoke, City and Villa means something is not right.

People say that our results against the big four show that we do possess enough quality. However, that is not enough to measure overall quality. Consistency is quality in a league. Unfortunately, our Arsenal team is looking more and more like a poor version of the Liverpool team that won the Champions League but needed Uefa to change the rules to allow them to play the next season over Everton.

Quality in football is consistency, collective drive and a winning mentality as well as talented players throughout a squad. I will leave it up to you, the reader, to ponder as to what extent we possess any of those characteristics as a collective squad.

Merry Christmas. Santa bring me a defensive midfielder and a sane manager for Christmas.