Wenger cited fatigue and basically the absence of Santi Cazorla for our dropped points yesterday.
‘When you are not sharp, you lack creativity in the final third. I must say, we gave everything but we did not have the legs today. The energy levels were a bit down but we were intelligent enough not to lose it. We were exposed at times. When you cannot win, you must not lose.’
Well, there we have it.
‘Nah Pete, players shouldn’t be tired in October’
… like playing 3 times a week and busting out 40-50km a week doesn’t catch up sharpish. Anyway, I’ve been moaning on about how we manage our key players during the current phase of games. Mainly because Wenger absolutely has no idea or inclination to rotate in important games (which is every game to him). In December, we’re going to get spanked hard with big games… so if our players are tired, we run the risk of flat performances… and more likely, pinged muscles.
Ludogorets were always going to be a fairly standard affair… one in which we should have been giving Santi a rest and at least one of Ozil or Sanchez. We opted to go hard out of fear (Olympiacos dreads), rotating out players like Monreal and Iwobi… when the real problem positions that could affect our season come with three players who have been blitzed this year.
Wenger doesn’t really look at his team with long-term vision in mind. He takes one game at a time, rather than looking at 6 and a using his squad more broadly.
It’s not just Wenger that has trouble here, Pochettino was complaining of fatigue issues as well… and Leicester didn’t have the same problems because they’re actually resting players in the Premier League to hit the Champions League hard. Which is really, really weird but kind of on point when you consider the prize money at stake and the fact this year is likely their only chance of seeing CL action for the next 10 years. We’ve also seen Mourinho kill his Chelsea career by spanking a first team so hard in a season, they couldn’t recover the year after.
When the stakes are high, it’s hard to be pragmatic and strategic. Pep manages it though, Kompany, Nolito and Aguerro sat on the bench last week against Everton. You have to pick your battles and take a long-term view of the season. Wenger shot for wins and didn’t have enough trust in his squad to deliver them with weaker teams.
Yesterday, there were a few things he might have considered against Boro. Firstly, setting up with two defensive midfielders agains Boro at home seemed a recipe for turgid creativity. Could he not have opted for Chamberlain in the middle over Elneny? Perhaps even suspecting a defensive set up, could he not have rested Coquelin?
Then there’s the front three. Did he need Sanchez on from the start? Playing against weaker opposition, was that not the perfect chance to test out Perez against a Premier League side? Bring Sanchez on after 65 and let him have a go with more energy in the tank? I also wonder about our tactical flexibility in games like that… our set up wasn’t reaping rewards of any sort, so why didn’t we change it up, try and counter their stranglehold?
It is what it is, and as I said in the match report, we’ll have those games. But we can’t afford to have too many and we need to make games against relegation fodder count hard for goal difference as well as squad rotation. Also worth noting the general over the top reaction of fans shitting the bed is a little premature and that’s coming from me. Our football has been better this season, we’ve been on a great run… and we drew. Let’s not worry about this being the end of our season for at least maybe two more bad results. Then we’ll bust out the banners and #WengerOut hashtags.
There’s also good news on the horizon. Hopefully Giroud and Ramsey will give us some exciting options over the next few weeks… and for Reading on Tuesday, we’ll hopefully see a total reserve squad. I don’t want to see any of our core axis of Santi, Coquelin, Ozil or Sanchez. I’d like to see a performance as well. No point in having this fancy deep squad if it can’t decimate a Championship side.
Finally, before I go… what do you reckon Bellerin would do if Enrique called him on his hotline bling?
“If Barcelona contact me right now? I won’t pick up the phone.”
Well played sir. Well played. One more game… if you were Mikitaryan, how would you feel right now about playing under Mourinho?
‘It is understood that Mkhitaryan feels he was fully fit and has told friends he cannot fathom why he was not in the 18-man squad.’
Give me a double LOL. Theo is king.
Also heard through the grapevine that Jack and Wenger are not, you know, like best pals. This from Jamie Redknapp might now be too far from what will happen.
Right, have a delightful day.