Well, errr, this is getting painful.
Arsenal clogged out a depressing 0-0 draw against a bang average Sunderland side. Our season is like watching a wildebeest dragging itself out of a river with 5 crocodiles hanging off the back of it. It’s painful. Can someone just put our season out of its misery?
I think what’s clear from today is the manager has bigger problems than we initially thought. We’ve gone from title contenders at the front of the season (JANUARY!), to a squad that looks like it needs a machete this summer. Players aren’t playing for the manager now, and that sort of attitude cannot be allowed to continue into the next year.
I think outside players just not being good enough, we have a real problem with Mesut Ozil. He’s switched off. On his holidays. He can’t be arsed. What’s he done since Christmas, 2 assists? Next to nothing. He’s a half-season wonder. I really am starting to wonder whether you win a Premier League with him in the setup? A sniff of things not going his way and he hides. He’s been sauntering around the pitch like a man preserving his legs, but even worse, a man who thinks he might not be around next season.
You can slate the rest of the team, but I think most of them at least give a shit. Sanchez is frustrating, but he’s running about. Same for the rest. Ozil, well, he’s a problem. If Arsene was offered £60m this summer and we could swap him out for Mahrez, you wouldn’t hear me complaining. For all the sublime skill, you don’t really have the leadership qualities you’d expect for one of the best creative talents in the world.
We also have issues with Ramsey. Love him to bits, but we’re, what, 8 years into his career and we still haven’t found a role for him in the team. He really showed himself up earlier on in the season when Cazorla dropped out of the side. He couldn’t adapt. He couldn’t identify what he was doing wrong and he didn’t seem to mind that he was impacting the team negatively. Really, I think it’s fair to say he’s not been much of a player since that purple patch a couple of seasons ago.
Then you have Theo Walcott. I think he’s basically the poster child of failure. He’s always been the player we talk about for next year… and he never comes good. Interesting to hear Wenger say that Theo realises he needs to work. This isn’t a kid he’s talking about, this is one of our highest earners… and he’s learning at 26 he has to work for a living.
It’s all lamentable. It also sits with one man. Arsene Wenger.
When you look at the brutal facts of this season, you can’t look at anyone other than him for the blame.
3 games stand out to me. The Southampton game, where we couldn’t convert in a 90mins that we dominated. Man of the match awards for their keeper aside, that’s a game that a title challenging team dominates. That’s a game you look at Arsene Wenger and say, jeez mate, what were you thinking not having a world class striker at the club? Bless Giroud, but he’s not scored in 19 of the last 20 games. That’s appalling. Look at the talent in Europe, why are we not going hard for someone? Why was there no backup plan when Benz was off?
Next game, which was a joke, was the Swansea game at home. Joel Campbell opens against a really poor team. Then we make a mistake in midfield from a goal kick and let them back in. Eventually conceding another soft goal to Ashley Williams of all players. Where is the in-game management to shut up shop? Why are the players not more tactically astute at that moment in time? How are we dropping points at home under such limp circumstances with so much on the line?
Finally, the big one, we drop 2 points at home against a shocking Palace (I know I missed West Ham here, but at least they’re a good side). We manage to break down their bank of 8 defenders. Then with 10 minutes to go, ill-discipline that is a consistent hallmark of Wenger teams, sets in and we concede a soft goal. Tactinaivetyvity at it’s worst. Poor in game management by Wenger. No response.
That’s two points out of 9. If we make up that 7 points before today… and had a striker who could have finished his dinner today, we’d be joint top of the league.
This is the issue for next season. These points we’re dropping aren’t really about the players, it’s about how they’re trained and deployed. I mean, the glaring miss for Arsene is the striker. But that aside, look at the in-game stupidity. Who is taking care of that? If we can’t take care of basic in game management, like ‘shut up shop’, how are we going to outsmart a manager who drops formations like 2-3-5 on the regular?
We’ve lost the league this season because we’re a sloppy team that lacks discipline. Arsene Wenger lets players like Ramsey and Ozil do what the hell they like. There’s no real structure to our play. We have a standard formation that the manager rarely deviates from. We’re set up for failure. It doesn’t need to be that way.
I hate to say it, because it feels very disrespectful, but Arsene Wenger just isn’t a good manager anymore. He’s not really managing. If he was, he’d be nailing this season. Then next year, order will be restored… The master is coming to the league, in Pep Guardiola. Jurgen Klopp will have a summer to prepare his new Liverpool. Pochettino will still be about. Slaven Billic will strengthen West Ham. Maybe Mourinho at United.
What are we doing to progress the club? Eyeing up another 3 year deal for Wenger? Please. This is insanity.
On the coaching front, Pochettino is now sniffing around his pal Arteta. Can someone please make an offer for him? Two of the best managers in the game are pushing the boat out to bring him in. I can understand it as well. He’s apparently a super smart guy, he’s La Masia trained, he speaks a whole bunch of languages, he’s a leader and he’s played in a whole bunch of countries. So let’s not make the Patrick Vieira mistake here, let’s make him an offer and see what he can bring to the table.
Thing is though, who’d work under Arsene Wenger? What are you really going to learn vs heading over to get tutored under the greatest manager in the game?
Such a shame. Arsene would be an absolute force if he brought people in who could tighten up his weak points. He’s victim of his own ego and it’s painful to watch.
So what now? Well, we’ve got to hope we beat Norwich. We’ve got to hope the mighty Leicester City spank United next week and we’ve also got to hope Manchester City struggle to juggle Champions League and the game with us. If we can’t beat them inbetween their Madrid game, we really are stuffed. I think us losing out on Champions League would be a message to Stan, but it’s not one that I’d be happy to take, because I know it won’t force change. It’ll just force a rethink on 3 year contract they probably have waiting for the manager.
Anyway, have a thrilling day. It’s 20 degrees out here and I’m going to drown myself in sausage and misery. BBQ sausage you animals.