The fallacy of the ‘Anti-Arsenal agenda’ exposed

It Must have been a Perfect Sunday for the Anti Arsenal Bandwagon By Tinashe Shamuyashe

As an Arsenal fan, every time we drop points, I have to endure the disappointment of things not going our way, and a barrage of negativity from the media, pundits, and some ungracious Arsenal fans (referred throughout this article as the tri-axis of evil). The former is a personal matter to deal with while the latter requires a public response whenever necessary. What is evident from the comments and remarks made by the tri-axis of evil is: “we told you so, Arsenal cannot achieve anything under Wenger, with players like Per, Flamini, Arteta, Giroud …”. The purpose of this article is to expose the fallacy of the tri-axis logic using match facts.

The obvious starting point will be the situation that led to Per’s sending off. Two missiles have been thrown by the tri-axis, viz: Per is finished, and Flamini is useless as a defensive midfielder. The tri-axis argued that Flamini and Ramsey failed to close down Willian, giving him ample time to pick out a pass that exposed Per. The fallacy of this argument lies in the tri-axis’ disregard of the position from which Willian won the ball, and the positioning of our centre backs, and every other player. Willian was just outside the Chelsea penalty box, the first person to try and make a tackle was Aaron Ramsey but Willian went past him. The next person he had to contend with around the centre circle was Flamini, who did not go into the tackle but tried as much as possible to delay Willian from releasing the ball. That was sensible any day because had he gone into the tackle resulting in Willian going past him it would have left the centre backs extremely exposed.

Unless the tri-axis are arguing that Ramsey should not have allowed Willian to go past him, then the criticism of Ramsey and Flamini in the build up to the Willian pass is not only uncalled for but shows lack of football knowledge. In one versus one situations the person with the ball is always favorite to ride the challenge. Probably what should be questioned is the positioning of offensive players like Ozil, Campbell, Walcott, and Giroud. The Full backs were up there supporting the attack, therefore one or two of the mentioned players must have been strategically positioned outside the box to pounce on loose balls, and that would have given Ramsey initial support in trying to stop Willian. In the first 19 minutes Ramsey and Flamini had done nothing wrong in their defensive duties. The two uneasy moments we had were down to a blind pass by Koscielny and Walcott losing the ball when trying to dribble past two players.

The second missile thrown by the tri-axis related to Per’s capabilities at the highest level. The fallacy of this argument lies in ignoring the positioning of Koscielny before the pass was made. Koscielny was too deep in our own half marking no one in particular when Per who was monitoring Costa had pushed up close to the centre line with the view to catching Costa offside. The cardinal principle in defending is for the back four to maintain a proper line so that no one plays onside an otherwise offside opposing player. With Kos deep in our own half Per could not push up to leave Costa offside at critical moments but had to try and retreat to be closer to Costa. Koscielny’s positioning and awareness come increasingly into question when one factors in the amount of time he had to adjust his positioning. When Willian skipped past Ramsey and charged forward, Flamini tried as much as possible to delay the charge or release of the ball. Willian only had one option in Costa who was in Arsenal half and level with Per. With correct positioning and awareness by Kos, the pair would have pushed up with easy leaving Costa offside as enough time to do so had been purchased by Flamini.

The person to blame for that situation, for those who like to target and blame players, was Kos not Per. It goes without saying that this was not the first time that Kos was caught out of telepathy with Per this season. In the Swansea game he was caught deep again playing Gomis onside. In the game against Tottenham Kos was deep again in our own half playing Kane onside. In that game we paid with Tottenham’s only goal that saw us drop points.

With Costa played onside, Per had to make a decision either to jog behind Costa who would have gone clear towards goal, or make a last ditch tackle. Here something has to be said about Kos. When the ball was played through, Kos was the last man but when Per made the tackle the latter was now the last man. This points to Kos trying to push up at the last minute rather than drop further to allow Per to make a tackle without risking a red card for preventing a goal scoring opportunity. In my view Kos did not help the situation full circle. First he was unnecessarily deep in our half when his partner was around the centerline, second he failed to redeem himself by making the right decision to drop further back so that he remained as the last man.

The second port of call is the substitution. Three options were available to the manager: sacrifice counter attacking threat (Walcott), work rate (Campbell), or hold up and aerial threat (Giroud). Each decision had its upside and downside. The manager opted to retain counter attacking threat and work rate. The tri-axis wants to make us believe that that was an irrational decision. For instance Petit and Schmeichel who were match analysts on the channel I watched argued that when you are a man down and a goal down you need a target man, because you cannot counter attack. Clearly a falsehood had to be slipped in to make the argument stick. Arsenal were not a goal down when the substitution was made, therefore it was clear that Chelsea would press in search of an opener. That is what would create counter attacking opportunities but Petit and Schmeichel had to lie to give a different impression. There are many occasions in the past when a team with a man down relied of counter attacks with great success.

With the counter attacking threat removed Chelsea would have had the luxury to move up their defensive line pushing us further back. They could easily have substituted an attacking player for one of their defensive midfielders, and we would easily have been out of the game by halftime. That Chelsea continued to play conservative football was down to their awareness of the counter attacking threat which we posed. That kept us in the game until the last minute of injury time. The fact that our counter attacking threat did not work out does not mean the hold up and aerial threat would have worked either. Speculating about what would have happened to the chance that fell to Flamini had Olivier been on the pitch is plain stupid. First the speculation ignores Walcott’s contribution to the chance. He was involved in the exchanges that led to the pass by Ramsey. Second, it wrongly assumes that Flamini’s presence in the box was down to Olivier not being on the pitch. How many times have we seen Flamini in the box with Olivier out on the flanks? As a matter of fact earlier on in the game when it was 11 v 11 Flamini had a chance in that position, when Giroud was wide on the right.

It is apparent that the tri-axis saw an opportunity to advance their agenda as opposed to analyzing a match as it is supposed to be. The ingredients were there to make the Arsenal family restless. Seven points dropped out of a possible 9 in three games; slipping to third place from being top of the table since 02 January; being only two points above Tottenham; and losing again to Chelsea among other factors. What was needed was the matchstick that could ignite unrest in the Arsenal camp, the Sarajevo assassination kind of, for those familiar with the history of the First World War. In our case this was to be achieved by exaggeration of facts, simplistic but populist analysis, falsehoods, and ignoring facts that would negate the narrative, among other things.

Any person with an objective mind would agree that, despite dropping 7 points in the last three matches, the team put up desired performances in those games. The kind of performances associated with real title contenders. With those kinds of performances it will not be surprising to see Arsenal sitting top of the table again by end of February. One wonders what the narrative will be when that happens, as sure it will. The tri-axis of evil can go hang in shame while real Arsenal fans continue to enjoy and endure the Arsenal experience together with the team and club.

The Analyzer

Tags Flamini Koscielny Mertesacker Willian


  1. This is not a matter of ‘fallacy’ or AKB or AOB…If we want to be champions of England, we should be able to take our chances when we have them.
    Arsenal remains one of the most successful teams in the world, but we have to keep improving.
    Our loss against Chelsea on Sunday was a new low in our BPL record against any team. That’s why it hurt so much…it in no way means we’ve been derailed from winning the BPL. We’re still in the race.
    Why fans complain is because of their passion. It’s only human.
    Arsenal for Life

  2. Can see why admin is loath
    to publish the “Analyzer”.
    2 million words to say Per
    may not have been entirely
    at fault for Chelsea’s goal 🙂

    1. Well he wasn’t. Same reason we conceded against Liverpool their first 2 goals came from Walcott and Koscielny making mistakes but some fans decided to blame Ramsey even though he saved us from another humiliation. Fans should learn to analyze a game before coming to conclusions that a player was at fault otherwise we would start to sound like plastic fans. No one noticed that Costa was running down our RW, Bellerin and Campbell should’ve been tracking back to help Per but instead they were in the opposition’s box.

  3. Completely agree with the article..
    Lets not forget that we have the luxury of analyzing what went wrong AFTER the match has been played…Wenger had to take the decision of whether to keep Walcott or Giroud in the heat of the moment..Sure he is paid 8mill/year to make these decisions but he is still human.
    Had the gamble paid off, am sure most of you would have commented something along the lines of ‘i would have done the same thing….’
    Also, Giroud’s record against the Chavs is quite poor(played 8, scored 0), whereas Walcott has scored quite a few goals against them over the years .
    Anways, we have to put this disappointment behind us and look to bounce back against Soton..!
    Onwards and upwards..COYG!

    1. Are u serious mate.. Record against ? What was Vardy’s record against any premier league team b4 he played dem. Shame on u..

      1. No, going 2 games vs s team without scoring is acceptable, Giroud has gone 8 gamed without a goal against that team. Costa has played against Arsenal 3 times, he’s scored 2 goals and gotten 2 players sent off. Not insinuating Giroud should be like Costa by any means BUT our problems vs Chelsea run deeper than a poor performance here or there.

  4. This is Wednesday and we are still debating about who was at fault in the Chelsea game.

    Whether it was Kos, Per, Gabriel, Flamini or whoever faults facts remain Chelsea got the 3 points and we have been unable to beat them in years now in the league. Rather than pointing fingers at players its better we focus on the next game or access the season so far as a whole and the chances we have missed to run away with the league.

    I noticed after the game Wenger and the players looked disappointed BUT not devastated as most of us here, do they know something we don’t? Its probably because there is still a lot of points to be played for and this is no time to break down.

    Lastly PLEASE fellow Arsenal lovers lets embrace the spirit of having different opinions on a subject matter and try to look at each opinion both ways. Each time someone here gives a personal but honest assessment about a player or situation others jump on so negatively or are now recently referred to as ” tri-axis of evil”. We all joined this platform voluntarily to blow off some steam and share views with others alike so no need to take things so personally each time.

    That’s my piece!!

    1. players and manager know that they are secured, they will start the next week again, and they will earn the same money over and over again, with performing for it or not.

      whats even better, the manager will make sure during the time at arsenal to increase the wages high sky, for players and himself.

      they are having a good time. winning trophys is a thing for fans and not directly for players.

  5. By and large the writer has been spot on. There is perhaps one invisible ingredient in games that sometimes determines the outcome and that is luck. It was not our lucky day and we lost the game. However our bad luck has also been facilitated by insensitive match officials. I watched the capital one cup match between Liverpool and Stoke last night and there was an incident very similar to the Mertesacker vs Costa one and the ref only gave a free kick and a yellow card. It is all down to the referee’s discretion which is highly a subjective matter. Any sensible referee who knew the recent Costa antics at Stamford bridge which led to the false sending off of Gabriel and then Cazorla would have thought twice before giving an Arsenal player a red card over the same Costa. However since common sense is not always common English referees will continue to defy logic and get away with it. Perhaps it is these bad referees who have contributed greatly to the deterioration of home grown players more than the presence of foreign players. Imagine how much benefit England would get if players like Wilshere, Welbeck, Sturridge were getting more protection from referees. The England team would be one of the strongest in Europe and would be among those tipped to win EURO 2016. However because of poor refereeing and bad decisions those players have been condemned to being permanently in the treatment room. Instead of protecting such hard working players the referees fall over each other inprotecting cheats like Costa! Sad indeed!

    1. Points to ponder on: How come Arsenal has not scored a premier league goal against chelsea since January, 2013. How many DECISIVE matches has Arsenal won in the past ten years? How come Arsenal dont win matches with one man down? In tough and decisive matches, why does Arsenal keep receiving red cards or conceding own goals? If you ponder on these questions, you will discover the problem is not Ramsey, Flamini, Kos, Per or even costa (the cheat). The problem is there and very constant. And this is the reason we keep repeating similar patterns over and over again.

      1. Refs don’t like giving us the advantage because we’re difficult to play against, they let the likes of Stoke play as rough and dirty as they can to make the game more “entertaining”, most of the challenges you see here would never be accepted in Spain or Germany hence why their teams are on a whole other level when it comes to technical ability. Why do you think young players there never get injured as much as young players in England ? Ox, Wilshere, Welbeck would’ve all been fine playing in a less physically demanding league.

  6. I stopped reading @” In one versus one situations the person with the ball is always favorite to ride the challenge.”
    Because that’s a load of bollocks ???
    Hahaha. .. That isn’t the case when Walcott has the ball.

    More often than not, the player without the ball has the advantage of moving more freely than the player with the ball and obviously it depends on the quality of the players involved. ?

    The know it all arrogance from this author,
    isn’t fit to wipe my ass! … Next!..

    thats if I don’t get banned ?

      1. No admin don’t ban Fatboy, his one of the few who speaks the truth here or at least give us a good laugh. His good for the site just a strong warning will do.

  7. My problem firstly with flamini is that he points a lot and against Chelsea his stats were poor. For our defensive midfielder to be the one in the box getting chances begs the question where the cover for defence is its not as though flamini is lightning quick and cover back in time from there. But again this is not his fault with having to play against matic either chambers or eleny should have been deployed as dm. Again with per Gabriel should have been in against Chelsea he has pace and would have recovered I think his sending off against Costa in reverse probably reason we didn’t do that. The fact is this was a tough game in a tough run of fixtures. The other clubs have some to come too so this hasn’t cost us title. Southampton up next in league and I would like to see eleny or chambers used in midfield to overcome wanyama and co we no saints will press and Harrass so we have to be clever and bypass midfield occasionally use giroud get him to hold up and start playing from their third. Personally I think mertsacker can still be a useful asset to us I seem to remember people labelling Adams a donkey he wasn’t quick but could read the game per is slower but reads the game well. My first thoughts were penalty but having watched several replays I’m more convinced Costa dived and there was no contact or minimal contact.

    1. Are you serious? An article that says Ozil should not have joined Arsenal because we are stifling his progress….
      He is the assist king of the premier league. How does that make sense?

      1. In addition, his stats show he’s become a better player in England than he was at Madrid, the old Ozil would never have been able to play 90min let alone carry his team or try to score goals. He won the WC as an Arsenal player and surpassed Messi to become the leading assist maker when playing for Arsenal. #NuffSaid

  8. my son, you are duluding your self, the world is not against us, the world just name us by our name, and dont care about it.

    grow a pair of balls and see things how they trully are.

  9. Another logically structured article to justify mediocrity in Arsenal. No matter how you analys the circumstances that lead to Merts red card, it still not change the fact that Mert is slow and a liability in counter attack situations and that is a known fact. If we had a faster and stronger CB in that situation it could increased our chance of getting out of that situation unhurt.
    And secondly no matter how you call the true Arsenal fans who have decided to be less sentimental and face our issues the way they really are, evil, or draft this kind of well scripted article to defend Wenger and his philosophy, it will not change the fact that we have not won the EPL in over a decade and Wenger’s approach has not worked and there nothing more factual than that.

  10. Let’s put things into perspective shall we? Would top clubs who actually win top honors, like Madrid, Barca, Bayern etc ever consider having players like Mertesacker, Flamini, Arteta in the team? The answer is no. It’s nothing personal against these players, but this is football – you buy and play your strongest players when possible. Arsenal have the money to do so. There are better players out there than these three I mentioned, in fact Arsenal has bout 5 players that we could improve on dramatically – players that are better and far less injury prone. It’s so blatantly obvious that Mertesacker’s speed is a major handicap to our defense – we have conceived many goals because of it.

  11. I Think Flamini should hold his hands up when it comes to the red card. He was too far up he was looking for the glory of a goal. Even right before that when he was in the box he had a chance to pass to Ozil/ Walcott who were less than 3 yards away from him on side. Instead (with his back to the goal) he thought he could turn and shoot.
    The red card itself once again to far up the field, Coquelin would look for the glory of doing his job staying back (in case of a counter) instead of trying to score. And lest not forget we as fans praise him more at times for doing his job something Flamini clearly does not know how to do.
    The goal itself where was Flamini?? Walking around the box pointing at guys to go in certain position instead of supporting the backline and being a wall in front for them. Costa literally walked passed him and he didn’t notice?? We are a man down MARK UP!!!!! And especially Costa keep him as far away from the box possible.
    Let me not also remind you of his chance in front of goal (why he was there don’t know but he saw a decent opening when we needed to press) he had more than enough time and space to head the ball instead of that stupid flick. IF you want go for the glory then do it properly!!!!!!

    I miss Coquelin so much we need him back and Eleney should be our back up simple!! Flamini and Arteta (who is still don’t get why his our main captain) should either retire or play against division 1 or lower teams.

  12. @ fatboy…u jus spoke my mind..the ‘know it all’ of the writer is embarrassing…
    We are all entitled to our opinion…something keeps happening every season and we still think its bad luck or something??? Hmm…

  13. How many times does Mertesacker have to be outpaced by strikers for us to realize he is too slow for the premier league? The man can’t run to save his life its high time he gets replaced by someone who can. He only cost us £8m I think so there wouldn’t be that much to lose if we decided to cut our losses on him.

  14. The red card was bad BUT the goal conceded was worse. Costa was 1v3 in our penalty box and has managed to waltz through our defence to score at the near post. That hurts more than anything else, poor defending

  15. This guy is a real analyst, unfortunately many people here dont like reading very long articles but he really covered the game well. My only worry is I wont be able to get in touch with him when the season ends while we are fighting for 4th place again. We struggled against Stoke and Leicester City ddnt…Surely you should be worried!

        1. Kinda besides the point, innit?
          You pointed out how “We struggled against Stoke and Leicester City ddnt”, same way I pointed out how Us and the sp*ds are the only teams to have won at Leicester.

        2. Kinda besides the point, innit?
          You pointed out how “We struggled against Stoke and Leicester City ddnt”, same way I pointed out how Us and the sp*ds are the only teams to have won at Leicester.
          Also, note the manner in which we won.

  16. Kudos to everyone who made comments, including those who are averse to logic. I will be back again at the end of the season with another article on how we would have won the league. A few responses to some comments are due. Flamini was not in the Chelsea box when Willian won the ball but was around the centre circle; if you want to test the claim of who is second best in cases of one versus one try play football yourself rather than try to abuse Theo Walcot; there is a guy called Boateng playing for Baryen and another called Pique playing for Barcelona for comparisons with Per. By the way Vamelem a player who could not dislodge Per in the Arsenal line up plays for Barcelona.

    Otherwise as writer of the article I should not have made comments to allow free flow of debate.

  17. This article just makes me angry. Too many words, too much time to over analyse a decent forward pass that resulted in a red card.

    So what. It’s football. The real sad part is that our manager had no positive answer to provide, and ended up gifting the game to Chelsea through his strange and somewhat negative substitution choice.

    That, and the fact we have a technically limited team choice at this time..

    Get over it. We are in a tight and tough league this year, so no game is easy and not every game is winnable or even drawable.

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