Arsenal slated for weak mentality – so praise this win

Date published: Sunday 7th February 2016 3:36

Petr Cech: Helped Arsenal to crucial win at Bournemouth

Petr Cech: Helped Arsenal to crucial win at Bournemouth

Arsenal are regularly criticised for an apparent weak mentality so deserve praise for battling their way to a win at Bournemouth, writes Mark Holmes.

After four games without a win in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger will view three points at Bournemouth as a success – regardless of his assessment of Arsenal’s performance at Dean Court.

The Gunners have progressed to the fifth round of the FA Cup in recent weeks, while draws at Liverpool and Stoke City were pleasing in some aspects, but a defeat at Chelsea and then home draw against Southampton last time out left confidence “not as high as it should be” going into Sunday’s game, according to Wenger.

If every setback the Gunners suffer is a sign of their apparent weak mentality, then surely they deserve praise for toughing it out on the south coast to get back to winning ways?

That isn’t the way it works, of course. When certain teams win despite playing badly, it is said to be a sign of champions. But when Arsenal do it there is never a shortage of people to explain it’s why they won’t win the league.

The reality, however, is that the Gunners’ much-discussed title drought has a lot more to do with a lack of quality, in particular outside of their first-choice XI, than it has the lack of any required mental attributes. To claim they have been held back by a weak mentality is simply a well-worn cliche.

Little to get excited about performance-wise

What, then, to make of their performance at Bournemouth because, make no mistake about it, they did not play well.

Fortunate not to go a man down after a two-footed Mathieu Flamini lunge on Dan Gosling early on, there was certainly little to suggest two goals in the space of two minutes were about to come for the north Londoners.

Neither goal, however, was as a result of any great build-up play. The first came from Olivier Giroud knocking down a high diagonal ball for Mesut Ozil to calmly score, while the second, a fine finish from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, was helped in no small part by a Steve Cook mistake.

The rest of the half belonged to Bournemouth. First Petr Cech made a good save to tip over a Harry Arter shot, and then both Marc Pugh and Adam Smith were let down by poor touches in the penalty area when better control would have set up wonderful shooting opportunities.

Hector Bellerin did well to get back and block Pugh on the first occasion, but the ease at which the Cherries created their chances will surely have concerned Wenger. Nacho Monreal’s defending in particular, when ball watching and allowing Smith to take a diagonal onto his chest, left a lot to be desired.

Smith squandered another good chance seven minutes into the second half, but Arsenal to their credit succeeded in shutting out the hosts after that, with Alexis Sanchez twice almost the architect of third goals, first curling an effort at Artur Boruc before beating Smith in the box and pulling a cut back just behind Ozil and Olivier Giroud.

Coquelin return key for Arsenal

Though Bournemouth piled on the pressure in the closing stages, the introduction of Francis Coquelin in the 69th minute certainly helped shore up the visitors in the middle of the pitch. And his recent absence and subsequent return is probably the most pertinent point to explain Arsenal’s stuttering form over the past six weeks. Wenger has increased his spending in recent seasons, but still there is a lack of quality cover in certain positions.

Too often, sweeping judgements are made on the back of teams’ one-off performances, often in the absence of crucial players. Just as Manchester City look a lesser side without Vincent Kompany or Sergio Aguero, so too do Arsenal when you take out one of their key men. As I wrote last month, the destination of the title this season can often be decided simply by which of the contenders suffer the least injuries.

But with Coquelin and Sanchez closing on full fitness and a full week to prepare for next Sunday’s game against Leicester City, there will be few excuses for the Gunners not to produce the vastly improved performance they will need to rein in the Foxes at Emirates Stadium.

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Home Forums Arsenal slated for weak mentality – so praise this win

This topic contains 15 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  TheHulk 11 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    Mark Holmes

    Arsenal are regularly criticised for an apparent weak mentality so deserve praise for battling their way to a win at Bournemouth.

    [See the full post at: Arsenal slated for weak mentality – so praise this win]


    the specialone

    Homzy – Nope homzy I refuse to praise this team just because we won.Why should I.I already know what’s wrong with the team and know what will be the ultimate downfall come end of the season i.e just like you mentioned a weak mentality.Why would I praise the team now,and then
    criticise them next time we lose,that would simply make me fickle.Not like that,I stick by what I think of the team.It was yet again a poor performance today,we got outplayed by a newly promoted team(no offence to them) twice this season.I’m tired of noticing the same things again and again,that most other Arsenal fans don’t notice.We hugely lack leadership.Forget a single leader,but these bunch of players need the guidance of many leaders which we have but they don’t put it into effect.I’m also tired of lack of appeal the referee.Almost all 50/50 decisions go our oppositions way because they’re the only ones that are appealing.Also,we are short on confidence and lack ruthlessness.In a season where there’s no better chance,I think it would take something else for us to win the league.



    Thierry Henry and Graeme Souness agreed after the match that Arsenal ‘did enough’, and that’s basically it. We did what was needed to take the points today so, well done Arsenal. Nothing more, nothing less. The team doesn’t deserve high praise because there was nothing special or worthy of that. But a pessimistic attitude is completely unnecessary too. Let’s be happy we got the result from a tricky fixture and we roll on to the next match.



    The mentality argument is a tired old cliche. Teams like Chelsea continue to beat us because of their style of play and failure to beat them is not through a want of trying on our part.

    The same mentality that sees us lose to Chelsea has seen us beat City and Utd. Can we just all accept that certain styles of play will be more or less effective against certain other teams.

    Instead of laying the blame at the cliched door of mentality, football writers should be analysing the tactical side of the game.

    Why do we constantly beat stoke at home but drop points away? it’s got nothing to do with mentality, it’s tactical. It’s easier for sports writers to opt for the tired mentality angle simply because it’s a damn sight easier to wheel out that reason instead of actually having to interpret what went on in the game.

    Why do stoke usually beat the top teams but then lose to 3-0 at home to Everton? Have stoke got a weak mentality? I wouldn’t say they do, just like all football teams, they’re not immune to losing football games

    Sometime it’s just easier to accept that football teams will lose football games.


    Mark Holmes

    I think you’ve read my piece and are agreeing with it, TTG, but just checking?



    yep spot on, Mark. Wholeheartedly agree with your sentiments.

    I certainly wasn’t lumping you in with the rest of the journalist that are guilty of shelling out the same old rubbish. Your praise and criticism of my team is generally fairly close to what I actually think.

    On another note, i just celebrated a Diego Costa goal, i feel so dirty.


    Mark Holmes

    Ha I thought you had, but plenty comment without reading so just wanted to make sure the headline hadn’t misled you.


    the specialone

    Tiptap goal – Sorry mate,but you yourself are contradicting yourself there.Football is about tactics but I feel is equally about mentality.Look at what you’re said,that we always beat stoke at Home and always fail to beat them away.And you put that on tactics?how?The fact that we can’t beat them away is precisely why it’s down to mentality.We take the same approach,but facing their noisy fans and aggressive players,we never are able to cross that barrier to block them out.

    I think Mentality is the exact reason why we have not been winning the PL and probably won’t this season,which is why wenger isn’t the manager anymore.Say in the past decade,we must have challenged for the title atleast five seasons approx.In those five seasons,we’ve had a good chance when we enter the new year most of the times leading the table.Yet always always be seem to bottle it.Yet,when we are not really int he race and are 5th or 6th,we give a hell of a second half of the season performance and somehow make top four.Obviously it has to do with mentality.Wenger has created a reputation of Arsenal as a top four club,and not title challengers over the past decade.

    If you look at Chelsea,Obviously tactics are important as well.But if you look at chelsea,they have players who constantly appeal to the ref and win decision,show aggression and wind up Arsenal players every single time.And every single time Arsenal let it happen.It’s got to do with lack of a do anything to win attitude on Arsenal’s part.And it’s one of the most disappointing things to see as a fan.



    It’s tactics. I’m not going to grant you the pleasure of a long reply but I’ll say it is simply to do with tactics. To beat Stoke away we need to control the game.

    Our tactics allow us to do this at home but Stoke away is a different game so the emphasis needs to be on clinical counter attacking football, with a player like Giroud up top it’s always going to be hard to pull off.

    Our squad has been strong enough to win the league over the last 2 seasons, but not the previous 8, that’s why we failed in the end.



    Thread/thought of the week and right on cue Mark.

    This is a professional performance and victory that puts the Gunners back on track and sets them up with an incentive to close the gap on the leaders Next Sunday should they beat them at the Emirates.

    Consider what the reaction might have been had Arsenal lost or even drawn.



    we did what we had to do, it wasnt pretty and I would have liked to see more but the win was the important thing and i really think Bournemouth played very well and deserve some credit



    I disagree Steve, only slightly. I think Bournemouth played well but it was only because as soon as we scored the second goal we took our foot right off the pedal. Had we of kept up the pace we could and should have added a 3rd to kill off the game. Like others have said we did enough but isnt that typical of Arsenal in general we always seem to do enough, enough to finish top 4, enough to scrape through the CL group stages. We dont seem to ever do more always just enough (and we do less than enough in the transfer windows) i would put that more down to the mentality of the manager and most of the players, not all but most.


    Al The Gooner

    Hulk – spot on mate!


    the specialone

    Hulk – I was going to start a thread about how Arsenal lack ruthlessness.But you pretty much summed it up there.When was the last time we won by a four goal,five goal or six goal margin.I don’t even have to go back to the invincible,a team consisting of Bendtner and denilson did that for us.This current Arsenal side,we’re doing enough to win but we’re not finishing teams off.I always compare Arsenal to the greatest teams,such as Barcelona.Had they gone through a winless streak of four or so games(they would never but hypothetically speaking),then they would have absolutely finished off the game winning 5 or 6 nil if they were in our position yesterday.There’s something just bothering me about this current Arsenal team.People said we put in an amazing performance against Southampton are so wrong.Stats wise we made up the numbers but how many clear cut chances did we have.It’s been poor performances for most of the season.I can single out 3 games which I really enjoyed as a fan,Man united and stoke city at home and palace away earlier on in the season.But otherwise,we’ve been lucky.



    what are you talking about…? We made a lot of clear-cut chances against southampton. The performance against bournemouth was poor, and we have had our share of boring games, but there has been plenty of good ones as well. I agree it is frustrating that we put our foot of the pedal, but i won’t shed a tear about it. We won by two. this is btw not la liga, but PL and everyone can beat everyone.

    But let’s hope we “do enough” this year to beat tottenham to the league. Like we always do. just enough. But that might mean we’ll win it!



    Joey, i really wish i could share your enthusiasm. I said at the start of the season to win the league we would need, along side cech a physical athletic DM, there is plenty out there, Wanyama, Bender, Gustavo, the guy from sevilla. And we would need a top top striker, Giroud blows hot and cold far too often and he wont reach the magical 20+ league goals needed from your main striker. We didnt do either, that would have been the going beyond the realms of ‘doing enough’ I dont se us winning teh league i can actually see spurs winning it though, and even if they dont and were to finish above us, Wenger has to go no matter what. There is no excuses for that, to be fair there is no excuse for not winning the league this season.

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