This post is going to be a bit long so grab a cup of tea or something a bit stronger.
I got up yesterday with some optimism about yesterday’s game I don’t know why… so I messaged my brother an Arsenal fan who lives in the middle east saying “Arsenal would win today with a clean sheet too” his response was “have you been drinking port?”, because of my new found love of port he assumed I had to be drunk with such Arsenal proclamations. You see I tend to be one of those that err on the side of optimism when Arsenal is concerned maybe too much at times. So when Theo scored I was tempted to send him a message saying I told you so but wanted Arsenal to hold the lead to halftime before I engaged in some boasting although I did send him a message along the lines of “you can see Arsene is not mad he knows what he’s doing” . Shortly after that message left my phone Arsenal conceded that brilliant goal from Coutinho’s free kick then I got his message back saying watch and see them collapse and boy was he right with that second half performance from Arsenal. Then he threw my statement back at me asking if I was standing by my Arsene is not mad proclamation. Of course I am standing by it but ermm let’s see..
For the past 9 seasons I can’t remember a season where It hasn’t been a case of Arsenal need just 2 or three signings and they will be challenging for the title, that has been the talk since the Emirates move and the dismantling of the Invincibles. 10 years on we are still saying the same thing! Graeme Souness said yesterday you move to a big ground like the Emirates to compete in the league of the big boys, but seems to me Arsene wants to eat his cake and have it, earn revenues of the boys in the big league and bleat poverty like he’s still at a small ground like Highbury. As a Tottenham (pretend you didn’t see that Arsenal fans) fan pointed out to me yesterday Arsenal’s matchday gate takings of 3 million pounds is the highest in any ground in the world, add to that the largest cash reserve anywhere in club football it just doesn’t make sense how they have gone about the transfer business in a season that’s looking to be the most competitive. The problems from last season were evident and a proactive club that meant business would have gone out and resolved these issues at the earliest, but it seems to me that since the xhaka purchase which is a good buy but not the highest in the scale of our priorities Arsene and Ivan are waiting for sales and bargains in the closing days of the transfer season. To me that’s just indicative of profits being prioritised over a genuine desire to be competitive in the league.
Yesterday’s result was expected by many Arsenal fans and they were waiting to give Arsene a piece of their mind. I have always backed him to the hilt and a part of me thinks he deserved what he got yesterday from the fans even if I feel sad saying it. He set himself up for that and he is playing an active part in turning the fans on the players so early in the season, those guys don’t buy themselves or pick themselves for the team he does. Considering he was backed by a majority of the fans in that protest game last season, I think he is taking that grace for granted. Arsenal fans are not asking Arsene to make Pogba like signings but to invest in the squad and make it competitive. A defender and a striker was a priority going into this season, with 16 days to go in the transfer window a club with Arsenal’s resources is still yet to secure either of the two positions. There is nothing wrong with trust in your players but there is something like misplaced trust. At times I wonder what has happened to Arsene. This is the same guy that got rid of Ian Wright and Patrick Viera because he had his own vision of what he wanted for his team and was ruthless enough to make the changes when he deemed it fit. Now the same man bought an old decommissioned Sylvestre from Manchester United when Arsenal needed a proper centre back, endorses mediocrity by letting players who have performed below par in the team ahead of players who have performed better when they have been called upon, I am talking of Campbell being on the bench for Walcott and the Ox.
Holding and Chambers should never have been at the heart of the defence yesterday it was all due to indecision and lack of planning. I have always said solving those problem positions is not enough either. The mentality at Arsenal needs to be fixed and the team needs leaders. Why was a team so compact in the first half disintegrate when Liverpool exerted pressure for 20 minutes? I am still wondering if it were Arsenal leading at 4 1 and it came back to 4 3 , would they have held on to still win? The 3 3 result at Anfield last season says no!
I end with this big players who want to win things and not just after a big pay packet will ask themselves several questions when approached by Arsene. Sanchez and Ozil are entering into the final two years at Arsenal and with the knowledge of how rich the club is and a reluctance to invest in the team I am not sure they will be itching to renew their contracts. It’s 16 days to the end of this transfer window and the summer bargains Arsene and Ivan were looking for is certainly not going to materialise now that the whole world is privy to their needs, whoever they approach they will have to cough up an extra 10 to 15 million pounds above what is already an inflated price tag. If you keep doing the same things and expect different result is the definition of what?…
Arsene is not crazy he is just stubborn, like the Tottenham fan said to me yesterday (sorry guys yes it has gotten that bad putting a spurs fans comments twice in my post) Arsene came to England and changed English football, the game has then moved forward since his coming and Arsene has refused to adapt or evolve with it too.
It’s way past my bedtime because I stayed up to watch the Arsenal pre-season friendly against the MLS all stars which ended in a 2 1 Arsenal victory. Joel Campbell with a goal from the penalty spot and Chuba Akpom with a tap in from a Monreal assist the winner with just 4 minutes to go.
It was an opportunity to check out the new boy Holding and I will say I was very pleased. I had a good feeling about his signing and he didn’t disappoint in this friendly, he almost scored a header which would have been the icing on the cake of a very accomplished debut. He played the whole 90 minutes where he was strong on the ball, composed in possession, a good reading of the game, a good header and showed good ball playing skills with how he went about his business. There is just something about him that fills me with confidence even though I know it was just a preseason friendly, but all I can say is the omens are good for this lad. At just 20 and straight from Bolton after his debut season there is perception that he is raw and might find this level a bit too much, but as long as he is not over played like Arsene did with Chambers in his first season I am a believer that Rob Holding will blossom into a very good central defender. If you are good enough you are old enough they say and I think Holding will fall into that category, I can feel myself getting too excited I should calm down.. I blame all the chocolate and sprite I had an hour ago. I look forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses, In my mind I have this idea that Arsene is hoping that someday in the not too distant future Chambers and Holding will the first choice centre backs at Arsenal, time will tell.
Before I go to bed I will also mention Walcott’s uninspiring showing. I am not a Walcott basher and I know it’s only preseason but he needs to get the finger out and start engaging his football brain. His passing and decision making were all over the place and I sense he knows within himself that he is on borrowed time and very replaceable. A section of Arsenal fans also seem to be fed up with him judging by the amount of interaction my post about Walcott during the game got on the Arsenal facebook page. For his sake and the club I really do hope things pick up for him, because a consistent and firing Walcott makes us more difficult to play against.
Granit Xhaka when he came on showed his good passing range with accuracy and let’s not forget that mean left foot, I hope his superpower of taking shots outside the penalty box is not curbed by playing for Arsenal.
It’s bedtime now, need to get some snooze before I am woken by the kids…
Arsenal being true to type their consistent inconsistency was on show today again with a 0 0 draw at the stadium of light. Playing Sunderland at the stadium of light who are battling relegation was always going to be a tough a game but the manner in which a number of the players went about their job left a lot to be desired.
Wenger really needs to ask himself what is important, loyalty to some players or getting results for his team? His misplaced loyalty is one of the reasons why the season has panned out the way it has. After Giroud’s performance midweek I was surprised to see him start today ahead of Welbeck and he didn’t disappoint me with is poor display, that he was allowed to stay that long on the pitch had me bemused to say the least. I was also surprised to see Walcott on the pitch ahead of Campbell who has performed much better than the Englishman anytime he has featured for the team. This idea of playing players when there are better performers on the bench is rewarding mediocrity in every way and in some subliminal way says it’s ok even if you don’t play well you will get picked.
Wenger himself said in his post-match conference that maybe Giroud was lacking confidence, then why play him in this game where a win was necessary and Welbeck had done so well. He was also the same person that said why change something that is working, he confuses me the man.
I won’t be ranting much but Wenger needs to have a long look at himself and see how he has condoned mediocrity and poor performances this season. If he continues with this approach I won’t be holding out much hope for things to change next season. This is the time for him to set the marker that only good performances will get you in the squad.
Arsenal managed their first win in six games beating Hull 4 0 in the FA cup replay. Hull must be sick and tired of seeing Arsenal at any stage of the FA cup now. Three years in a row now that Arsenal have gotten rid of them in the cup and in all of those years Arsenal have gone on to win the cup, maybe they are now Arsenal lucky cup team.
My take from the game; Eleny has a good shooting technique, does the simple things well and is always looking to pass the ball forward, I think the axis of him and Coquelin will work very well the more they play together although he needs to be stronger in the tackle but that will come with time. I am never happy when any Arsenal player gets injured but I think Campbell playing on the right as a result of Ramsey’s injury bodes well. With Sanchez on the left of that midfield anchor of Eleny and Coquelin it gives the team a better look with regards to pace and dynamism and Campbell does have an eye for a good pass! Walcott and Giroud managed to score two goals today, hopefully it will be good for their confidence going forward. Iwobi is a good good player always willing to take players on with the ball always sticking to him, if you ask me I think he has a bright bright future. It was a good professional game by all concerned today and I hope they are ready to go again at the Emirates on Sunday against watford.
The victory was at a cost though losing Mertesacker, Gabriel and Ramsey to injuries fingers crossed they are not out for a long time.
Apologies for not doing any piece on the North London Derby I am sure you all satiated with that by now.
See you guys at the weekend and hoping Arsenal make it two wins in a row any kind of win now is good for confidence regardless of the opposition. Oh yes and if you ask me Chambers is a centre back did well there!
I am resigned to the fact that this Arsenal team does not have what it takes when the chips are down. They faced a very young Manchester United team at Old Trafford and still managed to lose and lose without fight, composure and commitment.
I was speaking with a close friend during the week after the Barca game and I was like if Arsenal played every game in the premier league the way they played against Barcelona in the first 70 minutes they would win the league and would have been topping the table already. The way they hassled and transitioned into a structured shape when they didn’t have the ball was a serious positive a positive they didn’t take into today’s game. Every player tracked back midweek regardless of who in the Barca team was with the ball. In today’s display there was an underlying arrogance there was no need to be that switched on and they would rock up and beat this young United side. Rooney was not in the starting line up and no one in the Arsenal team thought it was important to keep an eye on Rashford including Arsene when he was speaking in his post-match saying Rashford was the surprising one with his movement.
I am a staunch Wenger fan but I think the time has come when he has to begin to evaluate his methods and if he can really take this team any further than he has. Any team to a degree is a reflection of its manager, Oxlade Chamberlain starting midweek and Walcott starting today was Wenger rewarding mediocrity, It’s endorsing the idea I don’t have to be at my best to make the team. The two English men have done nothing this season to deserve starting ahead of Joel Campbell. A mentality that trickles down the whole team “there will always be a next time or it’s ok when I don’t give my best.
It’s tiring when Wenger keeps using the same phrases like; “we lost concentration” ” We were naive” season upon season to describe the same players.
The time has come when he has to begin to think that some of these players are not good enough or he is the problem with his approach. Spurs have a less gifted team player for player but their mental fortitude this season is testament to the new manager in charge and how the team have taking on his mentality.
5 points is not a lot with 33 points to play for but like David Platt said today you don’t see this Arsenal team going away and winning.
What do you guys think? Should the board begin to look for a Wenger replacement because Wenger has taken this team as far as he can? Do you agree with me that he rewards mediocrity?