Arsenal and Manchester City played out a bit of a mad game at The Emirates, one which showed why Arsenal will never progress under Wenger, and one that shows Pep has a lot to learn about the Premier League before he can truly compete in the way he did with Bayern and Barca.
The game lacked a defensive brain. Arsenal lacked any sort of shape or vision of how we wanted to play. What we did show is that at a very basic level, when we fancy it, there is a bit of fight buried in our guts somewhere. I mean, kind of a given for a £200m a year squad.
Again though, we keep coming back to this. Manchester City came to our ground, played to our rules, and we gave them at least half an attempt at winning. Most of the elite teams in Europe won’t play that naively. Most of them will shut up shop when they nick a goal after 5minutes, or, as we’ve seen of late, many will carry on and rout us.
Arsene will be pleased with the point, it allows him to fight another day and it gives him the narrative that he’s in the mixer for the top 4 and an FA Cup so everything is ok. That didn’t inspire me to think he has anything under control. Our defence is a car crash, looking even worse after Koscielny left the pitch around the midway point for the third time in a month. Bellerin lacks discipline, consistently leaving himself open because he’s using pace as his shield, not his brain. Mustafi continues to look a dud, despite coming to the rescue for two of our goals with a hard fought assist for Theo and a brave header for the second.
As for our midfield, have we ever boasted such a mess? The hipster tweeters out there will spit there slow roasted Hornsey Road basement grown coffee out, but my word, Xhaka looks different level bad. He’s clearly not geared for an Arsene Wenger ‘do what you like’ philosophy and we see the output of that decline every week. His gungho tackles and inability to marshal a shape make him look like an expensive weak link.
As for Coquelin, the man is comedic in how reckless he is. Not just that, watching him on the ball is a tragicom in itself. How can a manager who has overseen players like Gilberto, Petit and Cesc look at the Frenchman with anything outside disgust? Back in the day, in the Church of Tika-Taka, he’d have gone up in flames entering the premises.
Mesut needs a stern talking to again. He loses the ball for their second goal and lets everything play out in front of him like he’s just been asked to take a DVD back to Blockbuster, defending looked like one massive inconvenience. Did Danny manage more than one shot all game? Alexis at least had a go in a weak frontline, but he’s so badly managed he tries to do it all himself. Theo Walcott pops up with a goal, not much else, he’s really not an elite level player. Everton at best.
Credit where credit is due, David Ospina did make some very tidy saves. Hard to cut through the drama he brings to even the most basic of catches, but he got down low a couple of times and did a good job. I mean, bar the Aguerro goal that really shouldn’t have beat him, but this is Arsenal keeping, so we need to be fair.
Anyway, the rot has finally stopped eating away at us. But we still have a mammoth chance. To be honest, my fears weren’t really about City, I’m more focused on the games that we’ll play at Crystal Palace, Leicester, Spurs and United. Those all feel like dropped points… and I really don’t think the performance yesterday gives me any vibes that the squad are in this together.
Watching Alexis frantically beckon players for the muted goal celebrations was worrying. This was Manchester City, where was the excitement?
Something is desperately wrong at the club, and it all centres around one man’s greed. Also, I took at lot of criticism for saying Wenger had a fear of death, which is why he’ll selfishly keep taking deals until he’s told not to. The main man came out and said exactly that the other day, how awful the club would indulge an old man’s mortality insecurities over the success of the club.
I don’t want to drill too harpost-match post match nonsense that occurred outside the ground. But I’ll say this, I think it’s pretty embarrasssing that reality TV has seeped into the post match ritual, this isn’t kids running to say something on a camera after the game, it’s grown fucking men. Grow up. What happened to discussing your views with your mates at a pub? Unreal desperation for a bit of attention.
Secondly, the idea of being so angry about something that you’re willing to disgrace the badge of the club by fighting on the said camera after the game beggars belief. You don’t ever fight your fellow fans. I have a deep dislike of what Wenger has become, but sit me in a bar next to somebody with a Wenger tattoo on his face and I’ll be having a craic in no time. This is football. It’s supposed to be a joy even when it’s not. In fact, one of the things I miss about London is the shared emotion after a game, joy or happiness.
What also left a foul taste in the mouth was this all happened on Rocky Rocastle day, to see fans fighting in the stands and outside the ground, just disgusted me.
Victoria concordia crescit. Victory through harmony. Where is the love?
I don’t want to give thugs any sort of politicised mitigating circumstances, because it’s not down to the club to make grown men behave. But someone has to be looking at this mess in the stands. That mini riot could have caused a stampede and injured a child. This isn’t fun anymore. The baord should take note and certainly beef up security after the game if that carry on is happening around families.
Anyway, more on that when we record the next podcast.
See you in the comments.