Sunday, 6 April 2014

Arsene About Again

So, here we are once again contemplating how utterly dreadful we've been in yet another 'big game'. The only surprise is that I keep getting surprised by how incredibly inept we perform.

So before I rip in to the side today let me take you back to Friday. Wenger commented on our result against City.

But at least [we had] to come out with a strong performance. We feel we have done that so I think we have turned the corner and we have an opportunity to show that against Everton.

turned the corner, turned the bloody corner he said.

Now what he didn't say was what was standing around the corner. I knew fine well that far too many people (fans and staff included) were clutching to the fact we played so well against City. I even saw some on twitter describe our performance against city as our best performance of the season. That despite the fact we were completely hopeless in the first half. We were kidding ourselves into believing we could compete.

So to Everton...

The thing with Everton is they aren't actually that good. Yet we made them look like Bayern Munich. They are a tough nut to crack at home but I thought we were more than capable of beating them. However, our hapless players had other ideas.

The first area of focus is our formation. There are a lot of 4-4-2 believers out there but lets just focus on 4-3-3. It has been nearly 5 years since we adopted our current formation (coincidentally against Everton) and you know what, it's done absolutely nothing to help us. It has more weaknesses than strengths and we simply don't have the players or the tactical discipline to pull it off. This formation has killed our full backs for years. They get exposed and yet nobody alters their game. Now surely we don't set up with in the knowledge that we are going to leave Sagna 2v1 for the duration of a half. I couldn't work out who was supposed to be right wing for the first half. Was it Super Tom, was it Cazorla or was it someone completely different. I couldn't really tell. The fact is though that nobody defended the right hand side with Sagna and it was one of our many weaknesses. Despite the lack of support Sagna he was probably one of, if not our best player in the half. The side lacks rhythm and the personnel to take charge of a situation. In terms of formation we tried to copy the Barcelona blueprint but we've failed. We've had our moments over the years but overall this formation has been nothing but a disaster, especially considering we lost our best player two season ago. Now, we have Giroud. Teams are reverting to 4-4-2 and yet here we are stilling getting our arse handed to us on a plate.

The second is our tactics? Do they exist? I'm not sure. From what I could see we wanted to stand off them, allow Baines plenty of time and room and Arteta must at all times suck the life out of any potential counter attack. If Wenger believes that if all his players play to their potential that we'll win the game then he's incredibly naive. Even if this side plays to it's full potential it doesn't mean we'll win. We aren't that side anymore. We don't have Bergkamp, Pires, Henry etc anymore. We can't go on with this arrogant attitude.

The last issue is a particular position that is really infuriating me - Defensive Midfield. Now the clue is in the first word, or maybe it is an ironic title. We can go back to selling Song and not acquiring a replacement but when the chips are down the players need to offer protection and see out periods when we are under the cosh. Arteta has gone from a promising centre midfielder (in front of Song) to someone who quite frankly is no better than Denilson ever was. Did Arteta kill Denilson? He doesn't have the pace nor the discipline required to play DM. He wants too many touches, sucking the life out of counter attacks, which lack pace anyway. I also found his last minute strop a touch embarrassing. He's supposed to be our vice-captain. He is our second in command behind Vermaelen and people say we lack leadership...

So back to the game and the second goal. Oh the second goal. If you were within about 15 metres of me at the game, I was the one shouting.


Absolutely dreadful. Lukaku is a handful but could we have made it any easier for him? Monreal (Spanish International) got too square and basically showed him inside and in turn passing him onto Vermaelen. Now surely, his international team mate would wise up but no, on he goes. Then he pulls the trigger and it's 2-0. Pathetic. Why couldn't anyone show him outside? I just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was embarrassing. It was another Arsenal Sunday League Special. From that point nobody on the field believed we could get back into it. We reverted to potshots from distance but barely threatened.

2-0 Half Time.

Initially after the break no players appeared until Ramsey came out and trained on his own for several minutes before being joined by the others. Then it got me thinking, what could Wenger be saying to his players. Whatever it was would it motivate them? Surely it's all be said before. In the last couple of months he's been faced with the half time team talks at Liverpool and Chelsea, so would his words today strike any chords? I don't see how they could have. Surely Wenger delivered the heavy artillery in those games? You can see it in the players, they don't believe in themselves or their team mates.

I'm led to believe that Arteta scored the 3rd despite the PA announcer claiming Miralles got the final touch. Altogether another fine chapter in our calamitous defender, which has returned with a vengeance.

3-0 Full time

So where from here? How many back to basic strategies can one side go through? I haven't heard any apology yet, maybe that will come tomorrow. We'll be promised that the side will work harder, like Arteta said after Chelsea. Since we've drawn two and lost one. Quite the response Mikel. We just can't hack the bigger games. Take a quick look at the games amongst the top 5. The mini-table looks like this:

Chelsea 16 points
City 10 points
Everton 8 points
Liverpool 7 points
Arsenal 5 points

We've played a full complement of 8 games as well and have a nice tasty goal difference of -14. It is worth noting that despite not picking up so much as a point in any of those away games, City, Everton and Liverpool have only picked up one point in total from those same games. Moral of the story - Win your home games.

So here's the question. Imagine the headline "Arsene Wenger parts ways with Arsenal", what's your first reaction? Mine is relief. He took us to a new level, which I am wholly appreciative of but now coaches like Martinez and Rodgers are running rings around him. When it comes to the big games we are nowhere to be seen. It can only be resolved with new ideas and different methods. The FA Cup allows us to part ways on a high, this needs to end on a high but if he stays we'll face the same issues next season because the belief has gone. Even if we blazed a trail at the start of next season, you know what would happen and if you don't think I can possibly make such an outlandish assumption just look at previous seasons. We are stuck competing for 4th and I don't want 4th, I want to compete. Instead the best of the rest is good enough for us, we're just very lucky that the best of the rest = 4th.

So I'm off to wait for yet another apology from the players. I fear I may be some time. If only they cared as much as all of us eh?


  1. Wenger is the problem. So the board better get rid of him before he sends Arsenal into the relegation zone if he stays.

    1. We don't really need to over exaggerate. He would never get us relegated.

  2. Brilliant write of the most agreeable I've ever read.....and I've been a Gooner for 43 years.

  3. I read the history of the Vietnam war. President Johnson had been bombing North Vietnam for 3 years without success. When his defence chief told him to change strategy,the latter was forced to resign.Later the president's comtemporary told him of the need to change strategy. The rest is history.
    Similarly Wenger won't listen to his subordinates and Arsenal are suffering.His repeated defeats against the top 5 shows he has lost the plot but he won't change.
    Well he is too arrogant for Arsenal and must go for his repeated failures.

    1. Look at Liverpool yesterday. They changed formation and won. When did we last do that? I honestly can't remember deviating from 4-3-3.

  4. Unintelligent use of transfer windows, tactical ineptness, inability to motivate players, arrogant belief in his outdated methods, won't buy or select leaders on the pitch because they would stand up to him in the dressing room, thinks he's bigger than the club and is stealing a living, should be offered a new PSG.

  5. I think he is bigger than the club as he will never be sacked. We have to hope he doesn't sign. Lee Dixon said he gets too close to his players and finds if difficult to drop them. That is a massive weakness on AW's part.