I landed in the stadium 5 minutes before kick off and only realised Diaby had started 5 minutes into the game.
Seriously? A player who had a whole 60 minutes of U21 football under his belt was starting against the Champions? What a nightmare decision. If anything says you don’t trust Coquelin, it’s ignoring him for a half fit player who averages 13 games a year…
I wasn’t particularly excited about the game as a whole, I didn’t think we’d turn up with a game plan, which is a bad approach to take against a Mancini side who’ve been working on their’s for a month. I was also given the jitters when I saw Koscielny had started alongside Vermaelen, usually a sure sign a disaster is round the corner.
How long did that disaster take to happen? 9 minutes this time. If Laurent Koscielny is good at anything, it’s picking up red cards and scoring own goals. He managed a red card this time. A long ball came into the box, Dzeko seemed to have gotten the better of him positionally. gave him a little shove, so Laurent did the only thing he could… wrapped his arms around Dzeko’s midrift and wrestled him to the ground in a manner so obvious, he’d have probably been reprimanded by the WWE for bad technique.
There was a bit of a melee in the box, the red card was shown, some say it was harsh, others say he was the last man so there was no decision to be made… Dzeko stepped up for the penalty… he smashed it centrally, Chezzer left a trailing leg, the ball flew left off his shin, hit the post, flew perfectly across the line for a simple-ish catch.
An absolute gem of a moment. A shame everyone knew the game was over.
Theo through the middle against a good team once again looked like an exercise is futility. It was like he’d forgotten the basics of football intelligence. Two quite obvious things I noticed…
1) If you can’t play with your back to goal, don’t back into one of the biggest and best defenders in the league. He’ll pick the ball off you with ease all game long.
2) Playing long balls over the top against big, tall, fast defenders generally doesn’t work. Arsenal resorted to this. Like the Liverpool of the Owen years. It was painful to watch. So simple to defend against.
Why weren’t we hitting the flanks. Why weren’t we taking advantage of what Theo is good at? So poor… so apparent how average a player his is when he plays against players who have more hunger and ability than him.
Anyway, City took their chance to go one up after a quick freekick from Silva found Tevez, the Arsenal boys were napping, the Argentinian threaded a ball through 5 players, found Milner who wrapped his foot first time around the ball and sent it flying past Chezzer.
So very poor… here are some pictures…
Honestly, how does that ball creep through 5 players… and reach a player who looked so average in the summer, I actually weeped. Terrible. The sloppiness and lack of accountability was so unprofessional.
The second goal, the killer, came from more horror show defending. If I balls up this description, it’s because I was there and don’t have the benefit of Sky replays… Podolski lost the ball out left, Gibbs made a hash of the clearance, the ball found Milner… Diaby, who was ahead of Tevez, failed to track his run, the ball came in, Tevez steered it at Chezzer, he palmed wide into the dangerzone where Dzeko was on hand to slot into the empty net.
Another tragically poor goal borne out of defensive weakness throughout the side. Abou Diaby, failing to track anyone, Vermaelen looking like he’d fluffed the clearance… the keeper not doing enough to hold onto the ball. Awful.
At 2-0 down… you felt the team had all the excuses they needed to give up, roll over and take it like a team that didn’t deserve a top four finish this year.
Both sides rolled off at half time and boo’s reverberated around the ground. Some people comforted themselves by pretending they were for the ref… they weren’t, they were for the team and their rank average attempt at performing.
The second half was slightly better. We at least attempted to attack City. Well, they literally attacked us, physically. Mike Dean didn’t seem to care too much about the obvious waves of attack City put on Wilshere. Not hard to see why they were doing it. He has the worst temper on our team and in the main, he’s the only player who looks like he cares. Take him out, you take out the heartbeat.
Giroud and Ramsey rolled on to help the cause, but nothing seemed to work. City picked up 2 yellow cards… then a red when Kompany lunged at Jack… followed by two more yellow cards.
Arsenal managed a fair amount of possession, but it was mainly littered with poor finishing. Giroud looked very solid, but he just doesn’t ooze the class we needed in the wake of a Robin departure. He’s quite Sunday league at the moment. He’s a brawler. Throw a ball in the box and he’ll smash through anyone to get on the end of it. I love that. I love the fight. Especially from a Frenchman, he’s more English than Gibbs, Chamberlain and Theo combined… he just doesn’t have the composure or class we need at the moment.
… I guess, generally speaking, quite an English trait when it comes to football.
Our first shot on target came from a superb Ramsey pass of the reverse slide variety… Theo latched onto it, fired past Hart but someone from City cleared on the line. Rambo was quite solid, not surprising he plays better when he’s played centrally eh?
The game rolled out… City kept their discipline… we dropped two points.
Once again, we let ourselves down and dropped needless points in the main because we don’t have the quality needed to compete at the top level. Laurent Koscielny looks more and more like a Ligue 2 defender every time I see him. Clumsy, lacking in confidence combined with bad decision making. The penalty he conceded wasn’t even about technique… it was about using your brain. So, so bad… but par the course when you consider the season he’s had.
Our midfield was missing Arteta, who, after being run into the ground he has picked up a calf injury. Noth that it mattered too much, he’s not the solution as our holding midfielder. We need more energy, a Flamini like player. We’re so bereft of depth, we had to opt for a woefully unfit Abou Diaby. The manager had the cheek to complain about a lack of quality players on the market… forgetting he’s been promising us Coquelin is the next big thing. If he’s so good, why wasn’t he playing? If he’s not good enough, why have we not snapped up the £8m 22 year old from France who goes by the name of M’Villa… he has 20 caps plus 100+ top flight league games. Why haven’t we invested in Capoue? If we want Premiership proven, why haven’t we activated Fellaini’s release clause? 3 midfielders that are all attainable.
There are players available. The whole of Europe is bankrupt… Arsenal have circa £100m available for transfers. How can we possibly accept Wenger telling us there aren’t any players exceptional enough to usurp what we have? It’s embarrassing.
Interesting that Steve Rowley was sitting in screen shot of Mourinho at United yesterday. Who was he looking at? Suarez? In you dreams! He was most likely looking at Reina…
As for the midfield, outside Jack… what the hell have we done to Cazorla? The man was a shambles. His passing is out of sync, his movement was lazy (because he’s clearly knackered) and his vision was lacking. He’s mentally ruined. Diaby was tired after about 20 minutes, his passing was predictable and he lacked the match practice to deliver anything other than mediocrity.
The real disappointment of the day was that we had no plan. Even with 11 men, there was no strategy. We just turn up, Wenger chants the belief stuff and we play ball. We ignore the opposition. We don’t react to tactics used to counter our strengths. We don’t adapt or show intelligence.
Those are worrying traits. What exactly is Wenger doing for his money? I don’t think £7m a year means you have to have all the answers. I do believe it means you should at least have a plan. I do think it means you should be able to see things the fans can’t.
Am I asking too much?
I don’t think so. Wenger has lost his touch. He’s lost the trust of the fans, he’s lost the pundits, I know he’s lost the faith of the top people at Arsenal, it’s apparent the players no longer believe… hell, he’s even lost the mainstream bloggers who banged his drum far longer than was acceptable to anyone who watches the same dross week in week out.
The Arsenal board need to make a decision, do we base our end of season decision on his future on sentiment? Or do we base it on the realities of the situation.
It’s over for him. He’s never coming back. He’s dead as a top flight manager… at any club.
Or do we give him one more year. A lap of honour as it were. Losing out on Guardiola, Laudrup and possibly Mourinho.
Do we let him have one more year managing his pet projects. Attempting to steer his pals… his children… maybe up to the level that would make them entry level players at better clubs than Arsenal. Because let’s not kid ourselves here, this whole Arsene Project thing is all about him. It’s not about the good of the club, if it were, I’m highly doubtful we’d have a £150m wage bill with 70+ players on board.
Jack Wilshere clearly loves Arsenal… but he also clearly loves winning. We’re already failing him. He’s not getting the platform he deserves. How long will he accept what’s going on? He cares what’s going on out there. I’ve seen him shout at players more times in the last 12 games than I saw Pat Rice do in 15 years. I love that passion. However, I know that will spill out into curiosity at some point… the curiosity that there’s something better out there for him.
What Wenger fails to understand is this…
Project Youth didn’t fail because the players were foreign and didn’t understand what it meant to love the club. It failed because it was missing a key ingredient. Success.
Barcelona have one of the most successful youth systems in the world… not because of love. Because of success.
Don’t ever forget this… Cesc left Barcelona to come to Arsenal. When he did that, he left to join the greatest Arsenal team of all time. He eventually went home. What fuelled that? The greatest Barcelona team of all time… with his friends. If there was no success at Barcelona, he’d still be with us. Or Madrid.
All football progress is wrapped firstly in investment, then in success. We have neither ingredient, which is why we’re floundering.
Until we get one or the other injected into the way we operate, we’ll forever be in free fall.
Nothing changes until Wenger goes. That I can assure you of…
Right, enjoy that, join me at the AST this evening on Twitter… and have a fu*king great day.