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Found this in the Telegraph care of EastLower:

Way forward is to clear the air and get back to basics
By Alan Smith (Filed: 30/11/2004)

If, as suggested, some of the Arsenal players were indeed pointing the finger in the dressing room at Liverpool on Sunday, if one or two biting accusations were flying around, that can only be good news for the team as a whole.

For that kind of reaction is exactly what the champions need right now. A slump in form, triggered by the defeat at Old Trafford, has gone on long enough. It's time to get real, cut through all the niceties and air specific grievances with, as they say, a frank exchange of views. Any more dawdling and Chelsea's lead at the top of the Premiership will start to look daunting.

One target for criticism could have been Robert Pires, who did not seem prepared to put his foot in for the cause. This marvellously gifted juggler has never been known for his tough tackling, but when you jump out of challenges like he did once or twice on Sunday it sends an extremely unhelpful message to the opposition - if one doesn't fancy it there must be others in the same frame of mind.

It spurs an opposing side on, it gives them a lift - the sort that Arsenal, given their form, could ill-afford to grant.

The Pires situation is reminiscent of an incident at Coventry a few years back. This time Marc Overmars was the culprit, jumping out of tackles like he had, and I quote a team-mate, "a pole vault up his a***". On that occasion Tony Adams and Lee Dixon let rip with both barrels, reminding the Dutch winger in no uncertain terms of his responsibilities to the team.

It would be too convenient to say Arsenal miss a leader in the Adams mould, to dish out verbal volleys when things get a bit sticky. Easy, too, to earmark one man, Pires, as the chief villain. On both scores, however, we would be missing the point.

Twelve matches without a clean sheet - therein lies the root of Arsenal's downturn in fortunes. It might hurt but in search of inspiration Arsène Wenger need only glance across town to see how his title rivals have thrived. Jose Mourinho's main philosophy is, and always has been, one of defensive resolve. It has taken this long, the last couple of weeks, for Chelsea to tack on some serious attacking enterprise.

Just like Arsenal last term, all the intricate artwork sits on solid foundations.

The first port of call at Highbury, therefore, in trying to uncork some more of the champagne football that has transfixed the country, should be to start at the back and provide something to build on.

Given Wenger's inherent love of the beautiful game, a more defensive attitude does go against the grain. To the Frenchman's trained eye, swashbuckling attacks have always represented the best form of defence. Nevertheless, you have got to start somewhere and the Gunners have reached the point where a reminder of the basics would not go amiss.

If that represents a change of tack, so do raised voices in the dressing room. Wenger has always preferred a more logical approach. That said, I doubt he would have minded when a heated half-time inquest kicked off at Anfield. It showed that his players cared, that they realised their standards had dropped well below par.

The defeat was all the harder to take after a Champions League performance against PSV Eindhoven that encouraged the players no end. Down to nine men, albeit through poor discipline, they showed tremendous team spirit and willpower to take home a point.

Slumped in the dressing room afterwards, exhausted by the effort, the players genuinely felt that a corner had been turned.

Despite a second-half rally, Sunday showed that this particular corner still lies ahead. Talk of a crisis is silly. It's nothing of the sort. But everyone at Highbury must know - though it is still very early days - that the next couple of weeks, with Chelsea and Rosenborg to face without the suspended Patrick Vieira, could define the whole of their season.

Xtratime's Head of Humour 2007
63,337 Posts
sure we need to fight for the right to play, but i think our worst thing on Sunday was our lack of sharpness when we had the ball, we didn't have a problem getting it we just kept giving it back to them, which is why it was such a scrappy encounter.
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