Even our own players thought Arsenal lacked a winning mentality

Now I know Arsenal have won lots of trophies, and won many fantastic games, but do you think we have always lacked that killer instinct since the days of the Invincible, and that ability to see out a game to the end? I dread to think how many points we have thrown away after leading in games just this season, never mind in previous years.

And do you remember us always dreading going to play Stoke City when Tony Pulis was their manager? Wenger used to hate the man, and they way he got his players to get in our faces and try to bully our players. Tony Pulis himself was talking about it this week on a podcast with Peter Crouch from the BBC. He said: “I always want angles to get players motivated, to put fire into their bellies and something for the supporters to feed off,”

“When Wenger first said it, called us a rugby team, it was the third time on the bounce we had beaten them at home.

“He was avoiding the question of how could a team with much less talent than Arsenal, who don’t spend anywhere near as much as Arsenal, who haven’t got the facilities and capabilities of Arsenal, keep beating Arsenal.

“Patrick Vieira told me at a coaching conference: ‘We used to hate going to Stoke. You were the only club that Wenger actually talked about and worked on before. We just couldn’t beat you’.

“Wenger came one year and complained about the grass being too long. He wrote a letter to the FA.

“The referees and the linesmen had to come and measure the grass. I know he talked about banning throw-ins and saying they shouldn’t be allowed. That was all music to our ears.”

Wenger definitely had a blind spot when it came to Stoke, that’s for sure. But as I mentioned earlier, we have a habit of bottling games when we are in front. Remember that unbelievable game when we threw away a 4-0 lead over Newcastle? Gael Clichy does, as he was playing that day, and he told Premier League Productions: “Yeah but this was typical Arsenal.

“We could go anywhere and play anyone off the park then all of a sudden we could crumble in just a few minutes.

“We were young, we had plenty of talent but people were talking about what we were missing and maybe that was a bit of experience.”

“We had that team but even today’s team they have that quality to score four goals in 10 minutes,” added Clichy.

“Don’t ask me why Arsenal have always been able to do this, but they can also even today concede goals for fun.

“That was one of our weaknesses of the time, the long ball, the set pieces and getting physical.

“But that shows you what type of team we were, an amazing team but we lacked character if you want.

“Even with a lead of three goals, we could feel the fans pushing and the second goal I could feel that it was going to be difficult [to win].”

So perhaps it was that mentality in the team, that we could be beaten at any time, that stopped Arsenal winning more trophies or dropping down the table when it mattered. As Clichy said, we can do it nowadays as well, like not finishing Fourth last season. Do you think that Clichy is right? Have we always been known as bottlers?


  1. Robert Acedius says:

    You watch to many lousy B-actions, killer. It’s not good for you. Try “Andy Pandy”.

  2. SueP says:

    I don’t know about other people but I’m definitely anxious that Arsenal will throw away a lead. There doesn’t seem to be a killer instinct

    1. Sarmmie says:

      Yeah, but I’ve always been somehow confident since Arteta came on board. That 3-2 win against Newcastle, I was not in any way scared when they were pushing for an equalizer, I really believe things have changed

  3. jon fox says:

    This timid mentality is something that has been increasing in society, in football generally and particularly noticeably in our team for around 13 years. Much of the problem is todays weaker and wimpier youngsters in general. But a deal of it must lie at Wengers door in his last ten or more years, as he was far too willing to try defending the mental weakness that many of our players increasingly showed, not least Clichy, ironically for this article. Wenger had an aversion to any form of confrontation but sometimes this is of vital necessity. He failed to call out lazy players and players basically taking the mick with lifestyle attitudes and/or half hearted attitudes on the pitch. Walcott and Ozil were by far the two worst shirkers , as is also Mkhi and sadly also Pepe right now.

    Contrast this with Sir Alex Ferguson, Klopp , Guardiola, and tougher managers who refuse to put up with spongers and you see JUST ONE OF THE MANY REASONS FOR OUR DRIFT SINCE 2007.

    Other key reasons are/were Kroenke and his absent non caring ownership, Gazidis, the disastrous and single most appalling ever Arsenal decision making employee, by far. Also the lunacy of sacking the visionary and club hungry David Dein. Tghe rot started the day DD was forced out by “traitorous” and idiotic other directors.

    ALL these reasons are key reasons for our fall from the top strata. But lets be honest; all clubs are fighting this remorseless drift into wimpishness in general society, with younger players and kids in general being pampered , spoilt and not made to realy work fiercely hard for the ludicrous money they are stupidly awarded. There are agood number of exceptions but somehow we at Arsenal seem to have far fewer than our fair share if we are being totally honest with ourselves, as I ALWAYS AM.
    When a problem needs curing, it is VITAL to properly identify it first and not to pretend it does not exist, I suggest to all thinkers on here.

    1. AndersS says:

      Well said. You are a hard man :), but I agree 100% on this.

      1. jon fox says:

        AnderS Glad you agree and I am not hard but i am ambitious for myself and for many folk whose lack of ambition and drive means they fail to acheive the potential and sometimes fail to fully exploit the undoubted talent they have.
        OZIL is to me the prime example of a player who HAS achieved but has lost drive and is happy in his personal comfort zone. He could and should have gone down as one of our clubs alltime greats alongside HENRY, BERGKAMP, VIERA, etc but his own timidity and lack ofpersonal ambition to be the very best he could be during his WHOLE career, has let himself , our club and all us fans down bigtime. It is such a waste, as sublime talent like that is given to so VERY few. Sigh!

        1. HRM says:

          Wow… I can’t believe that I’d agree 100% on a point by the mighty Jon Fox…

    2. Jo-Gunz says:

      The hammer missed no inch in hitting the head

  4. Sue says:

    It’s hard to admit that a lot of the time I’m sat on the edge of my seat, waiting for it all to go pear-shaped…..but am pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t! One thing I am happy to admit to though, is how much I despise Stoke and Pulis!! 😃
    I’ve been called a ‘bottler’ on many occasions by scousers, chavs etc…groan..

    1. Sarmmie says:

      The joy I felt when they relegated……….

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