It should have been a chance for Arsenal to bring their game back on the tracks. It should have been an opportunity for Wenger to show that he’s attuned to his side and their needs. It should have been a mauling.
Instead, yesterday represented everything that’s wrong with Arsene Wenger and his merry group of past it sycophants. Sure we took the three points, but like I’ve said so many times before, in football, you have to look at the warning signs. You have to look beyond the end result. You have to see that we’re essentially a very damaged outfit.
Arsenal lined up without Aaron Ramsey in the starting line up again. He hasn’t been great of late, but one has to ask why after three games back in contention he’s still not commanding a start as one of our best players. I mean, it’s not like there’s a tactical reason to leave someone who has the best engine at our club out of the side. Especially when our performances have been so flat. Resting him? Surely there are others more worthy of that at the moment? He’s not like Theo returning, he had a full preseason?
Anyway, we had enough to ask questions of Sunderland who are quite frankly, an awful side.
It wasn’t to be. Commentators and pundits say things like, ‘it’s unusual for Arsenal to lack fluency’ or ‘there doesn’t seem to be much energy about them today’… these aren’t unusual observations. Arsenal looking flat and lifeless is par the course. The added ingredient to the shit mixer at the moment is a lack of confidence and as Per said, ‘real belief’.
Thankfully, we could rely on calamitous play from Sunderland to bail us out of a lack-lustre hole. Alexis Sanchez, the one man pressing machine seemed to play a lot of his game through the middle yesterday. He chased down a pass to Wes Brown, put him under pressure, the defender tried to craft a back pass, he duffed it, Sanchez bombed on and chipped past Mannone who dropped far too early.
Kieran Gibbs typically added to our defensive woes when he tapped out of the game with a hip injury. Wenger claimed he’d mentioned it at half time but he let him carry on. When your only option is putting an 18 year old right back at left back, you can understand the reasoning behind a kamikaze decision like that. Anyway, it didn’t pay off, Gibbs rolled off. I don’t mean to pour doubt over the guy, but it does seem like he’ll take any excuse to hit the showers. I’d go as far as referring you to the Chelsea game where he was sent off for something he hadn’t done and he put up absolutely zero fight to stay on the pitch. Sad, but he’s a young man and he never plays.
Our game in the second half was as poor as it was in the first half, Sunderland started to ask questions of us, which wasn’t a surprise. You could see that our players were shot to pieces. Welbeck stopped making runs, Sanchez wasn’t pressing anymore and Santi looked totally bollocksed. Did Wenger make a sub? Of course he didn’t. He doesn’t have a clue sitting on the sidelines. It completely defies logic that a manager, under pressure for his fitness decisions, would sit on his hands in the face of a team tired from three games in a week and not make a change until the 86th minute. Absolutely baffling to me…
Anyway, he made a change and thankfully, Vito Mannone, the worst keeper in the league, gift wrapped us our second… again from pressure from Sanchez who challenged a back pass Vito fluffed. One of the worst keeping mistakes I’ve seen since last weeks catalogue of bloopers.
What did we learn?
I know I keep banging the drum on this, but fuck me, it destroys me inside every time I watch Arsenal turn out and the players perform like they’ve just run a double marathon. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chelsea boys play today. Our players don’t look in peak physical condition and I wonder who inside the club is asking questions of this?
You’ve a group of players you must know are broken. Sanchez, Santi, Per and Welbz are playing all the games at the moment. Our starting line up has been pretty much the same for the last three games. That ain’t right. We have a game against Sunderland, the most broken team in Europe at the moment. Why isn’t the manager taking the opportunity to bring in some new blood? Why doesn’t he trust the players he has on the bench?
Tomas Rosicky, one of our best players, doesn’t get the nod. Joel Campbell, so on the outside, he might as well sit on the team bus. Lukas Podolski, might as well give him a loan move right now. We have players perfectly capable of coming in and shaking up that first team, but instead, Wenger prefers to hammer his favourites.
It makes no sense. It’s psychologically damaging to the players on the bench because they get into that ‘I don’t give a fuck’ mode like Vermaelen did last season. It’s damaging to the players on the pitch who’ll know their fitness is being jeopardised because they’re being treated like machines, not humans. It’s just ridiculous all round.
Players are coming back into the fold. The teams that are coming up are confidence boosters. We’re being saved by the fixture list. Ultimately, we have a good group of players who’ll pull us through this mess regardless of how they’re organised or trained. Theo is back in the mixer, Aaron will hopefully start finding his match and mental fitness. Giroud should be back for December, Koscielny will be back around that time, Ozil will hopefully be back early…
We also have a good run of games to get stuck into. Burnley next week should be a cake walk (what the fuck is a cake walk and why is it easy?), Anderlecht at home should be a game we totally dominate, then we have Swansea who are good side but you sense we have enough for them and that all tees us up for United at the end of the month.
Ok, so I just purchased a TV bigger than a shoe box and I subscribed to all the sports channels. Guys who have big TVs, I get it, it totall acts as an extension of a small manhood.
Anyway, I watched Elche Valencia last night. They have a player called Andre Gomes, he’s a total beast. 6ft1, technically gifted, and a total baller. He has it all. He’s 21 years old and he’s on loan. Why aren’t we aware of players like that? He looks like exactly the sort of player we might have picked up on back in the day. Then there’s Morgan Schneiderlin. Another beast of a player we should have gone harder for, currently, he’s top of the tackles made league. Young, powerful, a touch of class about his game. Could really add something to our midfield that looks quite thoughtless at times and certainly lacking in power.
I also had the pleasure of the El Classico. Real Madrid remind me of the brilliant United teams. Total brutality in the power stakes, combined with finesse and vision. They were spectacular going forward yesterday. Rodriguez is a total dream player. Ancelotti has them playing disciplined counter football. Watching Ronaldo get into line to help out defensively was interesting. They play with purpose, they play with vision and they play with unbelievable power and pace. They have a great squad to pick from, but the energy levels are off the scale… all the time. That’s not an accident.
Also another point worth noting is how Sanchez plays. He’s a monster player who presses all game, well, until he kills himself. Arsenal need more players with that attitude and engine. I don’t mean to pick on Ozil… but a couple of summer ago, we went from potentially landing Suarez, an intense attacker who presses all game, to buying Ozil. Can you see how strategically, that makes no sense? If Wenger wants to play Barca light, why doesn’t he sign players that match up to that vision?
How can the manager get all the players playing like Alexis. One man pressing works against Sunderland, but it’s totally ineffective against the Chelsea’s of this world? We have loads of technical trickery going forward (when people are healthy) yet in midfield, we have slow, sluggish play that blocks the flow of our play. The squad is imbalanced in a big way at the moment because our recruitment is a complete joke…
Look at the Hammers. I know they’re flavour of the month, but look at how smart their recruitment has been. they’ve brought in the class of Alex Song (who isn’t for Arsenal, but ultimately, probably better than Arteta and Flamini), they’ve snapped up Sakho who looks an incredible steal and they’re playing with a pace they lacked last season. Smart signings, fit players, better results. It’s that simple. Get the basics right. Look at Southampton… again, smart recruitment, smart fitness, smart approach to tactics… great results.
What I’m getting at here, is our excuses with regards to fitness and recruitment are weak. Smaller clubs are managing perfectly well on smaller budgets. Bigger budgets should mean smarter approaches that deliver better results.
So where are our results? Where is the massive differentiator? Why are we being outperformed in so many areas? All that keeps us marginally above the chasing pack is expenditure.
Not good enough…
Anyway, have a great day! x