There’s always a result in the season that comes with a heavy match report. Not because I don’t have an opinion, but because the situation totally flatlines me. Yesterday, I didn’t expect to lose. I didn’t expect to see a squad fighting for the title turn up and give nothing. I didn’t expect Stoke to be the team who would kill our season.
Yesterday was a surprise, but when you add up all the failings of the manager over the past year, it really shouldn’t have been such a big one.
Arsenal are set up to fail. Arsene, sets Arsenal up to fail. He does the same thing every season. It’s embarrassingly predictable. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result isn’t the definition of insanity, it’s the definition of negligence… but here’s the thing, negligence for me is a failure to act upon something when you know the outcome could be bad. My issue here is that calling Arsene negligent assumes he knows his actions will lead to failure… I honestly don’t believe he knows that. I think he thinks what he’s doing will eventually lead to glory and that’s the tragedy here.
I don’t want to labour on the game too hard, because it’s simply too depressing. The point about yesterday is that Arsene lined up with a rotated team and the performance that was dropped was a disgrace. So many issue all over the park from players who didn’t look like they were interested.
Ok, we’ve been here before, right? Loads of times. Arsenal have the worst strike force in the top 6. Simple as that. We’ve known for two seasons that Giroud is not a world class striker, nor will he ever be. The failure over two transfer windows to land a striker is beyond embarrassing. It’s an utter failure of the club and the manager.
Anyway, back to Giroud. You need strikers. You need more than one. Because what has happened here is that Giroud is pretty bang average on good day. Now we’ve hit the business end of the season he’s unexpectedly been caught shagging anyone who knows where his hotel room is. He’s not only fatigued, he’s now shot mentally. Anyone who has been caught out doing something they shouldn’t will know the outrageous stress it puts on your life. So now we have an average player performing below par. He was totally anonymous yesterday.
… but here’s the joke. We’re chasing a title, Giroud is having another stinker… so we bring on Sanogo. I don’t mean to be derrogotary to the lad, I like his attitude and I like his passion, but right now, he’s not good enough. He’s not experienced and he doesn’t possess the quality to be playing second fiddle for a top 4 team. His blast over the bar at the death said it all.
Who is that situation down to? Wenger.
Chelsea went into half time having played out a 45minute shocker against Fulham. His players went in at halftime expecting the hair dryer. Mourinho walked into the dressing room and said nothing. The players went out for the second half and destroyed Fulham.
What did Arsene do before the game?
What did Arsene do at half time?
Where was the reaction? Where was the fight? Who wanted to cement their reputation as the legend that pulled us out of the hole we found ourselves in? Nobody. They all flatlined. Nobody wanted to stand up and be counted. There was no Tony Adams moment. There was not Patrick Vieira moment. There was no spirit. No passion to fight for the win
… why? Answer me that? How can you send a team out with 10 or so games to play with not motivation? It’s embarrassing. The players should be ashamed, but so should the manager who sat idly by on the side lines and allowed that to happen.
We don’t have the squad to deal with the Premier League. It’s as simple as that. Arteta, I love him, but he doesn’t have the legs anymore. Jack Wilshere, looked jaded and heavy legged again. Maybe he was ill? Maybe he’d had a rough night? Whatever it was, he shouldn’t have started. But the key issue with the squad is we don’t have the ingredients you need to change games.
The worst decision outside of not signing a striker in the summer was the absolute atrocity that was January.
Theo Walcott was out back up striker. Think what you like about his ability but he possesses explosive pace and he delivers goals and assists. He picked up his injury on the 5th of January. Arsenal do not have pace anywhere else in the squad, bar maybe Chambo. Why did Arsene not go all out to purchase a striker to cover off what we lost?
Next issue. Aaron Ramsey is both explosive and powerful. He dominates midfield. He’s one of the best in the league. We lost him to serious injury in December… then we lost him at the end of January to a second serious injury. Why did we not look to replace his attributes? Why was there no plan in place to bring in someone else? What, on any level of logical professionalism, was Arsene thinking with Kallstrom? The Premier League is pace and power… the optimum physical peak for a pro footballer is 29… Wenger goes out and signs an unfit broken journeyman who stinks of average to support our season.
Chelsea signed Matic, why weren’t we in for him? Liverpool went in hard for Konoplyanka? Why weren’t we sniffing around him? Why didn’t we push hard for a striker early in the window? What sort of professional outfit waits to see who is around at the end of a window in the hope of picking up a bargain… when they have £140m available to spend?
It’s quite unbelievable we didn’t move for anyone. But this is the issue, we’re a club built to fail. Our scouting network is beyond repair under the current regime. When was the last time we snared a left field signing? Why aren’t we buying in power and pace… the two key ingredients you need to succeed in the Premiership. What’s crazier for me, is that the teams of yesteryear that used to win things were built on exceptional power and pace! Overmars, Ljungberg, Pires, Paddy, Petit, Adams, Keown, Ashley Cole, Lauren, Thierry… we just don’t have players with those attributes anymore.
Which is why we can’t sustain an assault on the Premier League.
Yesterday was a shock to me, but when you look at the team, the management and the way the club is set up, it’s pretty clear why we don’t win things anymore.
This is where things get interesting. Being realistic, we have to look at top 4 being the challenge now, not the title. Now, if you put on your logical glasses, some decisions have to be made about how we approach the next gaggle of games.
The Champions League is gone. Give up. Forget about it. We don’t have a side built to win that. Even if we somehow create a miracle and qualify, all we’re doing is granting ourselves a stay of execution. So the manager needs to make a decision. Give it up, focus on what’s important.
For me, that’s firstly the FA Cup. The club need a trophy, that trophy is realistic. If we beat Everton, that puts us into a semi final. Two games and we shake the dreaded ‘no trophy for a decade’ noose. The fans will forgive a lot if we win that. Then it’s Bayern. Put out a reserve team for that game because the game after that is Spurs. We need a fresh squad. Win there, that puts us 9 points clear assuming they win today. Lose there, and that reduces the gap to 3 points. Then we’re in trouble.
The Stoke loss couldn’t have come at a worse time… international week… then 5 really hard games back to back. Arsene Wenger sides are notoriously fragile mentally, so he really needs to do all he can to get the club back on track.
Football is a game of marginal gains. Management of a football club isn’t rocket science or wizardry. It’s just a case of taking care of the details. If you don’t analyse opponents you lose 1%. If you over train players, you lose 1%. If you don’t have a great scouting network, you lose 1%. If you don’t rotate, you lose 1%. Add up all the 1%’s… it becomes pretty obvious why we don’t win things. Yesterday was an amalgamation of a seasons worth of missed details. It shouldn’t surprise you, but it’ll always disappoint you, because we deserve better from out manager and we deserve better from our club.
I’m not going to talk about my opinion on his future when I’m so disappointed, but what I’ll say is this… he hasn’t signed his deal. He could have signed that a month ago when he was smashing all that went before him. It’s telling that he’s not put pen to paper. There are clearly doubts creeping into his mind. It’s going to be a very interesting few weeks, especially if this season goes to pot in typically spectacular fashion.
More thoughts on Wenger and the future tomorrow…