This match report might be a bit all over the place, you’ve had the structured argument over the past three days… this morning, I’m just totally drained by it all. I feel like a Wrestler whose been in the Royal Rumble for 2 hours… tap me out, I need a glass of water and a cry in the changing rooms.
Sadly, I can’t help but feel a deep depression after every collapse like the one we’re currently going through. I can imagine the pain is even sharper for the fans that let Wenger back into their circle of trust. Being let down by that man isn’t a ‘thing‘ for me anymore. I know what’s coming. It’s the fans that say things like, ‘I’d give him another year’, why? There’s no answer unless it’s the fabled ‘but who?’, or ”we owe him’.
Yesterday I gave you a list of managers who would have approached that game with more passion and ingenuity than Wenger could have over the last 5 years. We don’t owe anyone a £7.5m a year living.
Our leader put out basically the same side that capitulated against Chelsea. He did nothing to the formation. He’d clearly done nothing to fire them up. There were no visible instructions on how to break down the Swansea defence. There was no pace in the side. There was nothing unusual or surprising. Just the same old Arsenal, playing the same old football.
We went down early after we lost the ball in midfield, succumbed to a quick counter and Vermaelen, in the side for the foreseeable, failed to out muscle Bony for a header which the Ivorian buried.
Swansea had a plan after that. Sit back and soak up the pressure. Arsenal had no runners and no real threat going forward. Giroud was painfully inept, even by his normal average standards. Also, note that when I say sit back, Swansea weren’t even interested in possession. A team highly praised for their deep lying keep ball tactics were hoofing the ball. We had nothing.
It was the worst home game of the season. The guys around me were as exasperated as me. People on the web critiquing the home fans have no idea what it’s like to sit in the ground, year, after year, watching the same old sh*t. You know what makes it worse? The collapse always happen around now, usually a bit earlier… and the nagging voice in the back of your head is saying,
‘Pedro, you’ve got to fork another £1000 quid out in a month’
I’ll pay it. Arsenal are my life. I need it to sustain my addiction, doesn’t mean I like handing that cash over knowing it’s going to be more of the same. If I could hibernate and come back when Wenger goes, I’d do it. Fans don’t demand success. They demand progress. Trophies are the cherry on top. Arsenal aren’t progressing, we’re consistently flogging a tired philosophy year after year in the desperate hope teams around us will regress and we’ll capitalise. It’s not going to happen. Business doesn’t work like that, sport doesn’t work like that, life doesn’t work like that. Unless you’re talking about actual life, like, when the dinosaurs were wiped out allowing us to flourish. Like with anything in life, I don’t mind failure as long as there is effort and thought behind it.
At Arsenal, we’re stuck in purgatory. It’s top four mediocrity. Never challenging, never failing so bad anything actionable can happen. It’s groundhog day. It’s being stuck in an Arsenal induced coma. It’s horrible and I CAN NEVER ESCAPE.
… and back to the game.
Then when the first sub came, it was to take our only pace on the pitch off. Chamberlain slipped off for Podolski. Some life was finally injected into our game. Some Gibbs and Rosicky interplay outwide ended in a mazy run into the box and a perfect cut back for Lukas to tap in.
Barely a minute after kick off, Santi released Podolski down the left, he smashed a tantalising low cross into the six yard zone where Giroud was on hand to tap home. We all went nuts, maybe this was our reprieve?
It wasn’t to be, instead of capitalising on Swansea shell shock, we allowed them back in at the death with calamity defending that saw Chezzer swiped the ball at Flamini, it bounced in off him.
What a joke.
Things nearly ended in deeper embarrassment when Swansea broke in the last minute, De Guzman clear on goal, but the ref blew up! Amazingly dodgy decision. Maybe he’d had a flutter one 2-2? A total life saver.
So if you thought our League chances were still alive before the game, it was time to hang up those dreams after.
Do I have to do this again? Really?
Arsene is done. Sure, he might win the FA cup, but don’t let people tell you that’s a kick start to him building a new team. It’s not. The kick start to a better team was last summer (and I’m being so generous here because all the hazy excuses were lifted). He failed. His second wind was the January window when he was somehow at the top of the league with no striker and all he could muster with a dead squad was Kim Kallstrom (who looked heavy footed and clunky last night). He failed. Arsene has spent the last 5 years indulging his own fantasy of usurping the big guns of the Premier League on a self imposed budget more akin to a Championship side. What about thinking about the fans Arsene?
The fans don’t pay to watch the books get balanced. We go to see out club try their absolute hardest to achieve something amazing. The stadium move was wondrous. But you can’t dine out on that ten years after its opening. A simple glance at the numbers over the last 5 years shows that Wenger hasn’t spent all that’s been available to him. This summer, he panic purchased a £43m player… and failed to land a striker. We’re a top flight European Champions League side and we have one striker.
That’s should sackable offence in itself.
The point is, an FA Cup win in itself will lift the fans, but it won’t shield the reality of the situation. We’re in a deep stagnation. The manager is acting petulantly in press conferences and no one behind the scenes seems to have the power to pull him to one side and sort this situation out.
Arsene is conceding that it’s not the league we’re chasing, it’s top four. Something I said a few weeks ago when the tower began to collapse. It’s shoddy, we’ve contested the league all season, now it’s falling down.
Our first team is decimated as well. How obvious was it that Koscielny was going to get injured? How many times did I… of no sporting background or expertise… say that we were brutalising the two centre backs? Now he’s out for a while. Ramsey still hasn’t returned. Ozil is out. Theo is out. Jack is out (admittedly, this isn’t anything to do with Arsenal). Nearly all of this is Arsene’s doing. Nearly all of this I’ve predicted all season. Am I a football genius? No. So how did I know? Because Wenger isn’t performing the basics. It’s so easy to see that he’s overplaying players. It’s so predictable they’ll eventually break. It’s so obvious he doesn’t have a game plan. It’s obvious his scouting network is shot.
Paul Scholes took an axe to Wenger last night slamming the way we play, saying something like, ‘does he just tell the midfield to go out and do what they want. Don’t worry about defending’ and he went on to say, ‘ Jack Wilshere looked a player at 17, he’s not come on. He needs a Vieira to play with’. Then you had Leonardo on the box at the weekend saying that our failures are down to poor preparation. Something most Arsenal fans have seen in Wenger sides for years has finally slinked into the mainstream press.
How can Ivan Gazidis look at the shambles that’s going on and sanction another deal? The very fact it’s down to Wenger decide is embarrassing in itself. He said he’d decide on his future based on performance. We’re now in a situation where Everton, if they win their game in hand, will be 3 points behind us. Then we’ll likely lose to City. Then we have to play Everton. Then it’s game on. Everton are fresh, they have a game plan, they have a manager who has explosive players built into his starting 11. Barkley is an absolute monster, Lukaku is a green Drogba and Delofoeu is a dream of a winger. Not to mention players like Seamus Coleman diving in with the goals as well.
… and on the goals. As my work pal just said to me, ‘Arsenal simply aren’t capable of scoring goals like that’. And he’s right. The explosion of power Barkley showed for his goal was Thierry like. Incredible.
Our FA Cup chances feel in danger now. We’ve been rumbled. Teams know how to play against an Arsenal with no pace or power. Our top four chances are under threat. Because we have two very hard games coming up that are against form teams. Why isn’t Wenger blooding Gnabry? Why has he stopped blooding Sanogo?
‘When you go through a difficult period like that, you need a bit of experience. To put young players under massive pressure at the moment like we are… It is easier said than done.’
As someone said on Twitter, ‘says the man who debuted Sanogo in the Champions League against the best team in Europe’…
If we don’t make top 4 and win the FA Cup, can the manager stay on? I’d like to think not, because that’s an utter shambles. Harry Redknapp was sacked for a far lesser offence, because his Spurs side were never contending the league. If Wenger goes, it’ll be because of inaction. Failure to address his squad deficiencies over two windows, failure to address his old fashioned approach to fitness, failure to manage his starting 11 and total failure to address his embarrassingly weak approach to tactics.
Lay it all on the table, outside of sentimentality, why would you keep him?