Arsenal players are trying hard – but they just don’t have the belief

It is an accepted historical fact that Arsenal always start every season strongly, but as soon as it comes down to the nitty-gritty in January and February, they drop down the table like a lead balloon. Arsene Wenger has strengthened the squad immensely over the last few years, but the Gunners are still not able to sustain the challenge for the whole of the season.

The Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn doesn’t think that this is because the players are not good enough or don’t try hard enough, they simply don’t have the confidence or belief that they can actually win the League. The Arsenal Double-winner said in the Mirror: “I played with teams that were used to winning, winning trophies every single season. We had that mentality and belief and that helps so much. You knew deep down that everything was there for you.

“But with this team, they’ve won a couple of FA Cups but they haven’t been that close in the league when it’s come to the nitty gritty of April and May.

“Sometimes you look at the mentality of a player and maybe they are affected by the results too quickly. When you’re confident, you move the ball quicker, your play is sharper and the team plays well.

“I don’t agree with this idea that players are not trying. Players always try. But when you’re not confident, your movement is not as sharp, you make silly mistakes, you’re hesitant, you think about things a lot more. That’s different to not trying.

“Ability-wise, I’m 100 per cent sure that there were a lot of players out there who had more individual ability than I had. But I just refused to accept defeat. At weekends, if I lost a game of football, we definitely didn’t go out.

“It’s hard when you’re not there every single day to understand what they are really like. But they do seem a little frail and I think that comes through maybe not winning league titles and so you don’t have that real belief that you can pull it round quickly.

“We had some strong characters so you definitely didn’t stay down for too long.”

So why don’t Arsenal have these strong characters any more? We often talk about the Gunners not having any leaders on the pitch during the games, and Arsene Wenger hardly ever shouts instructions from the sidelines when things are going wrong on the pitch, so how are we ever going to turn games around?

Winterburn was then asked if he thought Wenger was just happy to gain a Top Four place and get into the Champions League, but he says when he played there was only one thought in their minds, coming top of the tree. He continued: “I’ve done Q&As with Arsene before and been asked about it. From my point of view, finishing in the top four is an achievement that they should be proud of. But as a player when I was at Arsenal, I was only interested in one thing. That was being No 1, winning.

“I wasn’t interested in being second. Finishing second shows that you are consistent but one team has been better than you over the course of a season.”

It seems to me that the only player on the pitch nowadays that just wants to win at all costs is Alexis Sanchez, and it is very likely to be his last season at the club. So where are we going to find the right players with the right winning mentality?

Darren N


  1. Ignasi says:

    If you go on arsenal media player the players are represented as cartoons or comic characters. E.g. ‘paper crochet making with Xhaka’ or ‘pancake tossing with iwobi and cazorla’. Are other players at top clubs involved in such activities?

    I’m thinking this infrastructure allows players to soften ‘too much’.

    1. SoOpa AeoN says:

      Hahahahahahaha……. My precious…

  2. frustrated gunner says:

    our players n fans dont believe we can win epl with wenger in charge. in next season chelsea,city,manu,Liverpool n even spurs gonna play for title. the way things r going now top is unlikely in next season also

  3. frustrated gunner says:

    *top 4

    1. Janssen says:

      I have to agree with you frustrated gunner. The other teams have better managers and as much or more money. There is a stability amongst the top 5 teams now that has not been there for a while. This is bad news if Wenger stays. Do we really believe Pep, Konte or Mourinho will not spend more money than Arsene and be able to attract better players? With CL football will Spurs spend less than us? Liverpool is improving under Klopp. It is going to be very hard to finish in the top 4 next season especially if we lose Sanchez. Top 4 will be harder next season than this season and we didn’t do this season.

  4. dragunov762mm says:

    Arsene has lost his ability to motivate the team to the top. The lads and Arsene himself need change for their own good. I mean for our own good.

  5. Pablo Picaso says:

    To me they are not trying hard enough as much as the moral or belief is low!

    These are grown arse men and not pre-school kids we are talking about, what belief? You can only lose belief when after spending your week being pushed around at work and you look forward to the weekend so you watch your favourite team play and make you happy but only for them to walk around the pitch and get smacked. If this bunch is so fragile maybe its time we brought in real men ready to leave there all on the pitch and a manager who can motivate them.

    How I miss our golden title winning team, I fear we will never have such a great team again.

  6. bran99 says:

    those days we had strong and ambitious players, “At weekends, if I lost a game of football, we definitely didn’t go out”, but nowadays we lose 2 or 3 games and still find new players’ selfies on tweeter every single minute, it’s like they don’t care what happened, what they care is their image and how they look good on the internet.

    It’s true they are trying hard, but that’s top of their abilities coz they are average. If we had 3 or 4 players like Alexis, things could have been different by now. and still the ambitious one is being sold and we get to remain with the same crop of soft average players who fights for 4th every season, and a glimpse of FA cup every now and then

  7. Janssen says:

    I honestly don’t think it is the players as much as the manager. We have the best squad since years, we played some great football early in the season and then we dropped.

    I just don’t think it is possible with a manager who has been around for a long time with some players who have also been around for a long time to not fall into the trap of “business as usual”.

    The manager has said it all before, the players have heard it all before. They players know there are no serious consequences to losing. There is a complaciancy that is impossible to avoid IMO unless you are a SAF who continued to instill the fear of God in his players and who continued to refresh his squads.

    I don’t blame Wenger for not being able to produce a new message at his age and after such a long time but his players see him like a father and are not afraid of him. Unfortunately in modern football I believe players need to be afraid that if they don’t perform there are consequences.

    A new manager (Allegri) with more or less the same squad would bring this fear of losing your automatic spot and this focus on a new message that could result in a different team mentality.

    That’s not Wenger’s fault it is just modern football. Good clubs with good infrastructures refresh their squads and managers often and still win or attmept to win. Clubs like City, Chelsea, Barca, Bayern, Real are all proof of that.

  8. Dog says:

    Right.. I think players get the belief when they do things right. Doing things right gets results, and then when you get results you trust the things you did to get the results.

    What gets the team to get the results ? Presumably training, tactics, having the right players in the right positions, having a game plan … etc , all the things Wenger is responsible for and all the things he is lamentably failing at.

    He is clearly not eating his five a day of fruit and vegetables.

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