Well, we seem to be making a habit of completely embarrassing ourselves in Europe, don’t we?
Yes we do.
Last night, Arsenal went down to an Olympiacos that had an ancient Esteban Cambiasso pinning their midfield. We conceded an unbelievable 3 goals at home against the whipping boys of our group. We became their first scalp of an English team in 12 attempts.
… and look, we didn’t even have injuries to blame. We had a pretty awesome team that stepped up to the plate.
The pace in the side was blistering, we had two very capable full backs in the line up. The front line of Theo, Chambo and Sanchez was enough to destroy most sides.
The keeper with foresight was a stupid decision (anybody of sound mind not complaining about that?), with hindsight it was a complete car crash moment. It’s hard to pin the result on him though. He made a hash of a looping shot early on when he took the ball falling backwards, nearly taking it over the line. I’m pretty sure he did something similar in the league cup as well. For the second goal, from a corner, he rushed out past his 6 yard line, he misjudged the whip of the corner, tried to get back and pulled the ball over the line with his momentum. Pundits tried to say this indicated he didn’t trust his centre backs. A nonsense. He’s just not a very good keeper so making bad decisions is part of his game. But the fault of the game was in our attitude to defence.
The first goal was another shambles. Again, from another set play, Olympiacos found their man on the edge of the box, Ozil was asleep, the ball was swept in off Chamberlain. Real basics.
We did creep back into the game twice. Theo Walcott equalised first when his tame shot dropped under the keeper. Sanchez popped up with very good header from a Theo cross.
The goal that summed up the attitude of the side perfectly was the one conceded straight after we drew level for the second time. I think we managed to keep our concentration for about 14.5 seconds. The Greeks marched into our box and Fortounis was on hand to tap home unchallenged.
We came to life after that, like we normally do. We huffed and puffed. We made some nice runs. We did a good job at looking concerned. But it was to no avail. We flunked out our second game in a couple of weeks to weaker opposition.
Things to consider:
It was amusing to watch all the #TeamPositive muppets Championing ‘A great keeper’ coming into the fold. It was apparent even when David was playing well last year, that he wasn’t the full ticket. He should have been bombed out with Chezzer this summer (incidentally, all those calling for him to be reinstated should take a look at the clanger to Pole dropped). Instead, he was kept on in some sort of sympathy pact that came with an agreement he’d take the Champions League and League Cup games.
Can someone please explain, how a keeper no better than Almunia, is given a Champions League pass? It’s shite management again. It’s a guilt pass. It’s a pass that makes you wonder how much involvement Wenger had in bringing in Petr Cech. Because if I was Arsene, I’d be keeping Cech in every single game. He was a Mourinho invincible for 8 years. He’s better than anything we’ve had since David Seaman. Why are we dropping him out for the most prestigious competition in Europe?
Probably one of the few bright sparks from last night. Popped up for the second time in a number of days scoring from the middle. For me, he has the fight Theo doesn’t have. He has the aggressive play you need in that central role and he has a better repertoire of goals and far more magic. Shouldn’t he be playing that central role? Wouldn’t that make us more dynamic up top? Wouldn’t that give us more of a chance? Make us more of a threat?
Arsene cited luck. Bloody hell, have we fallen back on an intangible this early on again? Amazing how lady luck is always there with a gimp mask and giant rubber sex toy, ready to go all Pulp Fiction on us in Europe.
Last night wasn’t about bad luck. It was about bad preparation. We went out thinking we’d won the game and we failed miserably. We were arrogant with stupid decisions like bringing in Ospina into the fold, a decision I’ve no doubt impacts the rest of the squad. We defended badly, which is a discipline thing. We didn’t concentrate, which feels like a management item. The players have to shoulder some of the blame here. But when you’ve watched the manager fail with very good teams time and time again with the same problems, you have to wonder whether you can keep blaming the players? Answer me this. Do you think we’d suffer the same problems under a Mourinho or a Guardiola?
This is, what, the 3rd time we’ve conceded 3 goals against totally average teams in Europe? Anderlecht and Monaco spring to mind. There comes a point, which I’ve been over time and time again, where you say… the manager hasn’t got a fu*king clue in Europe.
He’s the most experienced Champions League manager having played the most games. He’s never won the competition and he’s still getting tanked by shite teams.
It’s not good enough, is it?
People were quick to tell me that last night had nothing to do with the summer. For me, it had everything to do with the summer. We don’t have a squad that’s good enough. If you think the players don’t 100% believe that notion, you’re totally kidding yourselves. If you head into a season underprepared, that impacts the mentality of the squad. It gives the players an excuse. They know they’re not expected to win anything and they play accordingly.
‘If the manager doesn’t care, why should I?’
There’s no pressure on Wenger, so by proxy, there’s not pressure on the players. So you end up with this very half arsed approach. When it suits, we play well. When it doesn’t, well, who cares?
Arsene is great at pulling together a great half season that gives you hope he might have an understanding what to do the next year. But look, the time has come to stop believing in him. He knows how to pull a capable squad, but he doesn’t know how to make them Champions. So we’re left with a capable deputy captain who can sail the ship while the real captain is out catching fish on another boat.
Wenger is not a Champion. He’s an arrogant fraud who hides behind glories he secured over a decade ago. He keeps his job because he keeps the cash pot brimming for an owner who doesn’t care about the club. It’s a poisonous loop we’re stuck in. One that doesn’t break until the manager leaves the club. But will he ever leave? No. Because he doesn’t need to and the management of the club don’t have the power to do what they want to.
Because get one thing straight, everyone knows the way Wenger operates is a joke. No one will be sitting in that boardroom watching that celebrating what’s going on.
So, next up, two games against Bayern Munich. A club that’s run the right way. With the right mentality. They’d have shipped Wenger off about 6 years ago, because that’s what owners with foresight do.
We’ll probably win one of those games, as we always do… but there you go. Wenger is the Champion of Hope, that’s all he’s good for. We’re perennial no-hopers. Fans tolerate it because it’s unbelievable that a man with almost quarter of a billion at his disposal doesn’t spend… I mean, he must have a vision, right? Wrong.
Reality is, we’re not even good enough to be a fat bridesmaid these days. Four seasons dropping out at the last 16. This season we’ll likely drop out at the group stages? What is this? A sports club happy to just exist with no real purpose?
Makes me really sad.