It’s really difficult to keep moaning on about Arsenal. You look at the Sutton game one of two ways.
#1 A game we should have won that we won. So shut up and look onto the next round where we play a team 17 places higher than them
#2 You looked at that game as one in which we should have been dishing out a ‘we really do care’ spanking but we didn’t
I sit in the #2 camp. Sutton really are a poor team. Fighting relegation in the Conference League. A team like Arsenal shouldn’t be giving them anything, and we certainly should be winning by more than two goals.
Sadly, we played the evening in 2nd gear. The Arsenal players barely woke from their slumber. We suffered similar issues to those we did against Bayern, Chelsea and Watford. We weren’t interested in pressing them when they were in possession and we were dispossessed time and time again in midfield.
The night was never in threat, but really, you’d kind of hope the players would do a little more to make amends for what happened in midweek. Sadly, all they did was pile on weight to the narrative that they’re unmotivated and unprepared.
The only shining light for me was Lucas Perez, anything interesting that happened through the evening went through him. He’s fast, he works hard and he creates. For our first he picked up a low diagonal ball from Xhaka, he made his way to the byline, cut back onto his left and fizzed a ball at Theo Walcott, it looked like the central man had dinked it in with a fancy back heel, but he missed it so the Spaniard took it.
The second started with Perez again, his fast interchange with Iwobi found Nacho out left in the second half, the Spaniard slipped a ball across the box where Theo was on hand to slot home for his 100th league goal. A very weird moment when firstly, you’re hitting that number against Sutton in a durgy game, second, it took 10 years to land that. For a player Wenger said could be the new Theirry in 2012, that really is poor going.
We gifted Sutton two or three very good chances. Our calamitous keeper everyone loves (the small one) played a shoddy backpass to Sutton in the first half that resulted in a chance a real pro would have netted. He also flew out for a cross he was never getting and missed. Sutton also hit the bar late on, and missed a glorious header.
Our midfield truly did look lost. Iwobi shouldn’t be playing every week. He looks clueless at the moment and should be used sparingly. Chamberlain came on and livened things up, but still managed to give the ball away and let them break on goal. A now classic move associated with him. Xhaka looks out of form and off the pace. The midfield is just not balanced and it has no vision for what it wants to be. Our club, under Wenger, has zero identity. Really sad, especially when you consider what the football looked like when Wenger arrived.
Wenger threw Sanchez on for the banter. It tells you a lot that he’s willing to risk his star man to show a non-league sides fans a good time. Some call it classy, I’d say it’s the sort of behaviour a manager who gives zero fucks engages in, or a manager who knows the season is over. Either way, I’m thankful he didn’t pick up an injury.
The only other talking point was their keeper eating a pie for a newspaper PR stunApparentlylty you could have placed a bet on that before the game. Not sure how ethical that is, especially considering the scrutiny the worlds game is under because of player gambling.
The team now has a 14 day break. Next up is Liverpool. That’s a worry, the giant killers of the league, back in form after some dodgy results. Watching that today, you have to wonder what’s going to happen there. The only thing Wenger will be thankful of is that the team don’t play at home for over a month. Game after that is Bayern and I think us qualifying means the Leicester game will be moved.
I was listening to the Football Weekly pod earlier, interesting to hear Sid Lowe breeze over the idea of Wenger taking on the Barca job, he said…
‘Some are saying maybe Madrid dodged a bullet after going hard for him in 2003’
He also said the problem at Barca is they have no identity. Not sure you’d be heading to Arsene for that. He reckons the front runners are Valverde (Bilbao), Sampaoli and Tuchel. All managers with exciting visions, all managers you’d be pleased about at Arsenal.
Anyway, dreams. Two weeks until the next game. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jardim does for Monaco when they play City this evening!
See you in the comments.