The arrogant way Arsenal has run the ship over the last 10 years appears to be heading for a nadir. The club are entering the perfect storm of hell and they’ve hardly said hello to the new season. The shameful drubbing they took at Liverpool was a swift announcement to the Premier League that Arsenal are no longer a top 4 powerhouse, they’re a top 7 side, and have backed that reality with a 2-year extension to the man overseeing the decay.
Wenger’s 10 year death row walk has been a slow one, but to date, not so damaging. However, we’re entering a new era of competition, and the foundational rot is starting to reach a tipping point of immense reputational and financial damage that might set the club back 10 years if it’s not addressed quickly.
The output of yesterday’s result started months ago when we switched up our formation to three at the back and went on a run of results against teams that had nothing to play for. The misguided sense of achievement peaked when we dropped a spectacular performance against Chelsea in the Cup Final and hoped the corner had been turned in terms of belief and big game performance.
It wasn’t to be. Yesterday was the luke warm hit of reality. The sort that comes when a whole club takes their eye off the ball and starts to believe their own rhetoric.
From start to finish the game was an abomination. We started a right back at left wing back. We started a full back as a centre back. We started a central midfielder as a right wing back. Alex Oxlade Chamberlain was given the nod to play, despite three days prior telling the manager face-to-face he wanted to leave the club for a rival. Alexis Sanchez started his first game of the season despite it being abundantly clear he’s been faking illness. We opted to play Mesut Ozil against a team that aggressively presses, despite him showing no desire against Stoke. We left Lacazette on the bench with Kolasinac, our two marquee signings dropped already.
That’s before a ball was even kicked. The performance was quite something else. It had all the tropes of a typical Arsenal capitulation. The manager had no plan. There was no pragmatism. We went to Anfield to play Liverpool at their own game. No assessment of their high-intensity approach. No alteration of the formation to nullify that threat with stability in the middle of the park. Just a pound-for-pound punch up we were always going to lose in poor form.
The defence was a total shambles, but the real horror show was in the midfield. Watching Mesut Ozil saunter around like he was playing with the under 11s as a favour was horrendous to watch. Watching Aaron Ramsey elect to play as a number 10 was him all over, not even looking at the ball for Liverpool’s first goal was gross negligence, but hey, he’s a massive fraud of a player and I have no idea why we’re always so excited to see him return. He plays for the misguided hope he’ll get to join Bale in the elite echelons of world football. No chance.
Then we have Xhaka, another of the hipster favourites, who really struggles to deliver past a good post game spreadsheet. For the third game in a row he aided the opposition with a preassist. A stupid chipped pass started a move that’d end with an unchallenged Firmino header. It was so typical of the errors that have littered his career. He also picked up a booking early on, and he consistently demonstrated why he’s not suited to the league with his weak physicality. He was brushed off the ball with ease all game, and at one point, he had a 5 yard lead on Henderson chasing back to our box, and was still beaten to a parried Cech shot. When is time to call this guy a failure? 3 pre-assists in 3 games. All those sendings off and errors last year. Any other manager would have him on the bench for a month.
The Ox played with all the vigor of a man desperately trying to convince a troubled manager to just make it easy for him to leave. His game lacked intensity to almost criminal levels. He simply didn’t care. I can’t for the life of me work out how that wasn’t obvious from his last game.
The game was so easy. No one from our side wanted to take the match to Liverpool outside maybe Danny Welbeck. Bless him, but he’s another that can’t cut it at the highest level. His early miss through the middle has been absolutely typical of his career at Arsenal and United.
There’s no real point in going through the rest of the goals that took us apart yesterday, it’s too painful. Our midfield doesn’t look good on paper and it looks even worse on the field. The manager even gave up on his new formation and opted for a 4-something-something.
Wenger is the worst of the top 7 managers and based on our performances so far this season, it’s pretty clear that that’s where we are. A top 7 side. The gulf between us and the rest has widened dramatically over the past 2 years. We’re not there technically, physically, or mentally. Those aren’t my words, they came from Wenger. Horrendous to know we have to go through the season knowing that he’s overseen this and there’s no accountability for it.
Arsenal should take drastic action. Wenger should have his contract terminated right now whilst the club can do something. We should fire sale the contract rebels and try and make some last ditch attempts at fresh blood based on the recommendations of the young scouts we have at the club. This season should be a write-off, we should use it to rebuild the club anew, and the board should sanction a part refund to the fans in exchange for their faith for this season.
Thomas Tuchel needs a job to redeem his reputation. Whatever you want to say about him last year, he still won a trophy, took Dortmund’s game to a new level, and only missed out on the CL after a bomb hit his team bus.
Point is, we need a philosophy at Arsenal. There’s no vision for the club. There’s no masterplan of how to reach previously unscaled heights. You can see that because there’s no logic to how we hire players, staff up behind the scenes, or seek to play the game. If players don’t know how you’re planning to hit the next level, they switch off.
Nothing good can come of this year. The board should understand that and make aggressive moves to restore our status as a sporting entity. That means total accountability from top to bottom, and I include Ivan in that mix. We need to bank the money for the wantaways. You’ve just seen first hand what happens when 6 first teamers are out of contract. Sanchez, Ozil, and Chamberlain were an absolute disgrace. However, if you had a manager who knew what was going on, it would have been clear this was going to happen.
Their lack of interest was cancerous yesterday. Watching Alexis snigger from the sidelines made me feel sick. Not because he wants to leave, but because this problem has been one that’s been brewing since February. The manager didn’t take decisive action, despite highlighting the issues of uncommitted talent last year in the shape of himself. Factor in he has that x6 in his squad, and it begins to look like the club is caught up in some sort of cruel satire.
Stan K needs to end this nightmare. The players showed that there’s simply no respect for the manager. They don’t believe in him. They have no desire to play for the red & white of The Arsenal. He needs to realise that he’s damaging the relevance of his prized asset through blind loyalty.
This cannot be solved with last minute panic buys. If Ivan Gazidis was a real CEO, he’d see the writing is on the wall for Wenger this season and he’d pull the plug on any sort of record breaking bids for players, because let me be absolutely clear here… this is not a personnel issue. It’s a manager issue.
If we’re heading into next year, bank account empty because Wenger was allowed to spend freely under duress and let our stars leave for nothing, we’ll be facing a disaster for the next man in charge. £150m worth of talent will leave the door, and the new man will have spent money selling off expensively assembled dead wood worth nothing to anyone.
This year is the one the club deserve. It won’t get better. It’ll be spectacular if we finish inside the top 7. Wenger is done. A proof point that sporting values need to be met in the modern game, and if you disrespect them, you might dodge the bullet for a while, but in the end, the game will catch up to what you’re doing and destroy you and your legacy.
This isn’t an exaggeration here, this is the culmination of 10 years telling the world that Wenger is finished.
There is so much work to be done at Arsenal, let’s hope at the very worst, we only have to suffer one more year of this.