Man, I really have to give up the role of goading fans of other clubs. I rarely do it, but I thought, fu*k it, we’re 2-0 up and I’m in the mood. Dropped some savagely arrogant messages before the game, dropped some more during it… THEN BOOM. Arsenal let me down…
Only us, eh?
I mean, on the face of it, we did our job. We exploited the back three setup Bilic went for with precision (KIND OF, OK?).
Ok, too far. We actually let West Ham in early, we gave Andy ‘the giant donkey thing’ Carroll enough space to fire a bicycle kick across goal, the ball was bundled home, but ruled wrongly offside. I mean, no pressing from our fullbacks for the cross, a defence that was ridiculously deep and no one pressing a man that takes 15 minutes to run 7 yards.
We turned things around. Iwobi slipped Ozil in for the opener… not too long after that, he did the same for Sanchez with a delicious ball over the top of the West Ham defence that the Chilean finished superbly.
2-0 up… windows down, system up. Then we had our usual defensive implosion.
Cresswell on the right is given 32 seconds to tie his shoelaces, send a couple of banterous text messages to his pals, then float a ball onto Carroll’s head. Embarrassingly easy. Where was Sanchez offering protection? Nowhere. Playing the role of the luxury wideman as usual. He gave zero shits about defending all afternoon.
After dropping one unnecessary goal, you kind of hoped we’d regroup and see out the half with the lead. Oh no… not Arsenal. We concede a corner that I think started from a Sanchez lapse further up field. The ball is cleared, we’re not first to the ball, they slip a cross into the box, our defence lose their minds, the ball is first headed, it deflects back at Carroll where he gears up for scissor kick number two that flies past the keeper.
Oh my days…
Second half starts, we go to sleep again, Monreal is roasted down the right, the ball is floated to the back stick where *Carroll is on hand to nod through the hands of the ever so weak Ospina.
*Also worth mentioning that Carroll should have been sent off for his numerous indiscretions
We took a battering from there on in. West Ham wanted the game more in my opinion. They were first to more balls, they showed more guts and they looked more interested.
We clambered a goal back from a superb Koscielny finish. The Frenchman tucked away a low cross from Sanchez that looked like it brushed Welbeck. So that was nice.
We tried to throw the kitchen sink at the game in the last 15 (70min subs), but our attempts flatlined because we don’t have the players to change games and we didn’t have enough to steal a last-minute dream winner.
Our season over. West Ham’s bid for top 4 done. Bring on the summer.
Start with the major positive. I LOVE IWOBI. He’s strong, creative, a hard worker and he’s very mobile. Another productive day at the office for a young man who is clearly going to be a massive talent! The most exciting Arsenal thing of 2016 in my opinion.
So here’s the deal. Arsenal are going to spend big this summer and sell hard if they can. This is the story at the training ground. It’s happening. No doubt about it.
… my worry, is that the players aren’t the problem here, it’s the manager. West Ham had fire in their bellies today. They came at us full throttle. They didn’t give up despite going 2 down. They powered around all day to find a way to kill us.
Not sure I felt the same vibe from our boys? We lost our edge in the second half. The interest fell out the team. It’s such a familiar thing to see with Arsene teams. If we could show as much passion as the West Ham players, with our ability, we’d be flying.
Wenger doesn’t have to worry about success, and by proxy, nor do his players.
*Worth noting that West Ham had a manager everyone was saying they should be grateful for. The media warned it was a mistake signing someone new and daring to have ambition… look how it paid off for them. Players that care, a system that works, a top 6 finish. Amazing job.
If Paris come knocking with £50m, you’d have to consider it. I love his flair, I love his work rate and I love his goals when he fancies offering them. But he doesn’t want to play for the team. He’s all about himself. He leaves us so exposed with his lack of interest in defending. We need 11 players powering for the same cause. You simply can’t afford lazy attackers in a league of power pressing teams. He let himself down today and hasn’t been particularly good this second half of the season.
Again, part of this could be down to Arsene… part of this could be down to the player. Barca didn’t keep him around for long, did they? Wasteful and uninterested in team play.
Wenger just doesn’t learn his lessons. Petr Cech is the best goalkeeper in the goddamn universe. He was fit. Yet he didn’t play. Now, I’m not saying Ospina had a terrible game, I mean, by his standards, he had a great game… but those standards are low and we know that. For the first Andy Carroll header, I wonder if Cech would have stayed rooted to his line? For the third Andy Carroll goal, the ball was lofted over the defence to the back post, again, I wonder if Cech’s positioning would have been so bad that he was caught behind his line resigned to flapping at the whilst not looking at what he was doing? How about that moment where Kos and Carroll were in a tussle and Ospina just flew out for no reason and wiped everyone out resulting in a goal (that was disallowed).
He’s just a shite keeper, we learnt this in the Champions League, yet Wenger insisted on playing him in an important game we needed to win again, and Ospina’s decisions probably cost us 3 points. Well, not him, it’s not his fault… but it’s Wenger, again, making weak decisions based on who he likes rather than what is right for the team.
From start to finish, we’re pretty poor here. Wenger generally plays the same way, every time, regardless of what’s going on. It makes us predictable and susceptible to smart planning by opposition managers. It also means we don’t exploit opposition weaknesses hard enough, nor do we exploit our advantages, like leads.
2-0 up, away from home, we change nothing, we fuck it up, we kill our tiny title aspirations.
I hate to say this, but how do you think Ranieri would have dealt with that game? He’d have murdered it and shut it down straight away.
Even when we’re chasing it, we aren’t doing anything smart. It’s ‘throw on the big man’ or ‘thrown on the fast one’… it’s not changing our style or doing anything that’s intelligent.
So next year, when we buy a bunch of players, what does it matter if we’re not agile or intelligent with our on pitch approach? Another tidbit, apparently Arsenal didn’t expect Carroll to start today… when he did, we had no answer to him. Embarrassing that such an average striker can be made to look so good… but one thing for sure, you don’t defend deep against a guy like him! Just another example of Wenger not having a team that can adapt confidently to a curve ball (not even a wild curveball).
A lot of Spurs and West Ham fans giving it to me today that it’s a player issue. Spurs have better players. That’s why they’re ahead of us.
Absolutely wrong. The problem is the manager. We don’t have a great one anymore.
Players and their on-pitch approach is an embodiment of how the manager behaves. I’ve worked in places that don’t care about the work, as a result, great people do average things. Now I work at a place that is all about the work and they will slay you down if you do something that resembles average. My mindset, and the mindset of the people I work with, is completely different because the expectations are defined and forcefully implemented.
Spurs players have expectations they have to meet. Hard work, relentless pressing and falling into a system. Same happens under Pep. You play for the team, you learn multiple systems, you fight for everything. Simeone, a great manager, who is all about the system and smart pressing. What are the expectations of Arsene Wenger? Express yourself? Just look pretty? I mean, really, there isn’t one. He tolerates mediocre, he doesn’t punish failure and he doesn’t have a vision to fix what has gone wrong.
Football will go the way of NFL and basketball. Gregg Popovic (San Antonio Spurs) and Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) prove you don’t have to be young to be a trailblazer. Smart systems, sharp fitness and tactical flexibility are king with these guys and it works. We don’t have a manager who can do those things, so why are fu*king around?
Makes no sense to me. We need to move to the next level, but we’ll waste another year of life watching a stale man half arsedely (it’s a word) possibly consider a revolution he’ll never deliver on. It’s boring. But we have to wait, throwing up a few polite banners about the owner who gives zero fucks and the manager who also gives zero fucks outside himself.
Football purgatory… get used to it and pray to the good lord it doesn’t get a new contract.