Sunday, 23 March 2014

Arsenal Let Their Fans Down Again

The life of a football fan can be tough at times and the life of an Arsenal fan has been very tough on a few occasions this season. The 6-3 defeat at City was bad, the 5-1 defeat at Liverpool was worse, but they stooped to a new level on Saturday when they lost 6-0 away to Chelsea. Those three teams are the three teams Arsenal were meant to be battling with for the Premier League title and on each occasion they performed like a team fighting against relegation.

Jose Mourinho is unadventureous in his approach as a manager, but he will take credit for his team's 6-0 win. They didn't have to do anything special to humble Arsenal though as yet again Arsenal pressed the self destruct button in a crucial game. I have no doubt Mourinho didn't set out to pulverise Arsenal and his players just reacted to events as they happened.

I thought it was a mistake to leave Mathieu Flamini out of the team and the centre of midfield is where Arsenal lost the game early on in my opinion. Players were closed down in possession by Chelsea and lost the ball in dangerous areas before paying the price for it. The same mistakes they made against City and Liverpool were all too evident again and they obviously haven't learned from those mistakes.

It was like a carbon copy of the Liverpool game as Arsenal were already out of it inside the first 10 minutes. Even so they continued to pursue the same tactics which had cost them so dearly and the outcome was almost inevitable. Once they went 2-0 down there can have been very few Arsenal fans who thought it would end in anything other than a disaster.

In three away games against the other teams in the top four this season Arsenal have conceded 17 goals and that is simply not good enough. There's a statistic being bandied about at the moment which shows in the last five seasons Arsenal have taken four points from their 15 away games against the other teams in the top four. They have lost 13 of those 15 games and this season they took the defeats in those games to a new level.

Some Arsenal fans would have you believe it's all the players' fault and they have let the manager down, but Arsene Wenger has to take this one on the chin. Of course the players bear some of the blame but they're his players playing the way he wants them to play and attempting to implement the tactics he chose. When it was obvious Arsenal were getting it all wrong where were the changes to tactics to stop the car crash which was being played out in front of us yet again.

I get that I have to support my team and I always will but that doesn't make the players or manager immune from criticism. I love my kids but I certainly let them know when they have done something they shouldn't have done or when they haven't bothered to even try to do something. I will still support Arsenal in every single game they play and always want them to win, but I retain the right to point out when they just haven't played well enough or tried hard enough.

That 6-0 win for Chelsea was their biggest win under Mourinho and they have played an awful lot of teams who are a lot worse than Arsenal. Arsenal failed to do the basics on Saturday of defending properly and not getting caught in possession. Chelsea aren't on top of the league because they are a bad team and their unbeaten home record tells a story of it's own. 

For Arsenal to go there on Saturday and try to take the game to Chelsea was an awful mistake considering the quality of the attacking players Arsenal were missing. If they were to have a chance they had to keep things tight and make sure Chelsea didn't get the chance to run at their defence at speed. They did the opposite though and time after time they lost the ball in front of the back four who were then cruelly exposed as Chelsea ran straight at them.

I don't have the time or the inclination to go through the Chelsea goals one after another, but what I will say is that not many of them were as easy as the chance Olivier Giroud missed at 0-0. He was played in behind the Chelsea defence but he couldn't hit it well enough to beat Peter Cech and it's blatantly obvious he just isn't good enough at the level aspire to compete at. In my opinion the club have to spend big this summer to bring in a proven goal scorer if they are to have a genuine chance of competing next season.

Arsenal are still in a great position to finish in the top four and some might even think they still have an outside chance in the league. There's still an FA Cup semi final to come and with the teams that are left in the FA Cup Arsenal are strong favourites to lift that trophy. At the start of the season I probably would have been happy to see Arsenal in the league position they are in now and with a semi final to come too. 

Maybe I'm being greedy in expecting more from the team but they're the ones who have raised our hopes by spending so much of the season at the right end of the table. I can take a defeat to any team if the team give their all but it's very hard to take the capitulation against Chelsea. The manner of the defeats to City, Liverpool and Chelsea cannot be taken in isolation and it's obvious there's something fundamentally wrong with the team.

In each of those games the team as a whole defended awfully and the tactics deployed in each game were simply wrong. When it was obvious the game was gone from us on each occasion the reaction was to continue playing the same suicidal football and increase the embarrassment to the fans. We're the ones who will go to work on Monday morning and be asked "what the hell happened to Arsenal on Saturday ?". 

The "one off" excuse is well and truly gone and despite missing some of our best players we still had a better team out there than at least 16 other Premier League clubs. Just ask yourself how all of those teams below us haven't been absolutely pasted at Chelsea and the only reason can be because they prepared for the game so much better than Arsenal did. No matter how poor the players performed the reason for the lack of preparation has to come down to the manager.

The big question now really had to be is Arsene Wenger the man to lead Arsenal forward or should we cut our losses and replace him in the summer. There are those who say we could never replace him and ask who could possibly do the job he has done. I can understand their sentiments but there are plenty of managers out there who could come in and get the players to play the way we want them to play and still compete.

Nobody is bigger than the club and everybody has a right to question the manager and his tactics if they wish to. I love Arsene Wenger but I love Arsenal even more and I want the very best for them. I'm not sure if he is the very best thing for Arsenal any more and that doesn't change my love for the club in any way, shape or form.

There are plenty of challenges to come in the next few weeks and the first of them is a home league game against Swansea on Tuesday night. It is an absolute must win game for Arsenal with both Everton and Spurs winning at the weekend as any points lost will give huge encouragement to their hopes of catching us. After Saturday I am far more worried about our ability to hold on to fourth place than anything else and I think any thoughts of an outside chance of winning the league are folly. 

With City to come next Saturday and Everton the week after we have to beat Swansea or we could open the door to a whole heap of trouble. I want Arsenal to head into the cup semi final against Wigan in a stable fourth place in the league and with their pride restored. If they don't beat Swansea I would be very worried they would be turned over by both City and Everton.

It's a very pessimistic outlook but it's hard to be optimistic after Saturday's debacle. It's a scenario I don't want to happen and I don't think will happen, but there is no doubt that it's one which is possible. I'll be watching every minute of every game as always, but it's more in hope than expectation at the moment.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. Wenger shd go asap. His time is up . He never seems or doesn't bother about the previous heavy defeats.Any manager would have taken note of the adversary's strengths. No,he carries on playing as usual.
    I am afraid he aint the Wenger we first knew. He has now become arrogant and thinks he shd be the one to decide how football is to be played.Football is a simple game . The fm has made it into along series of passing frenzy/orgy.. Arsenal will get gold for this.
    Unfortunately football is about goals and how you stop the other side from scoring.I am afraid Arsenal will have to move on without him.

  2. The big German defender said the 3 defeats came at the lunch time ko.These are flimsy excuses.The defeats came about because the manager wants to play all out attack instead of anti soccer which could have at least limited the damage or even get a draw.
    Wenger is too conceited and arrogant to be the manager.It's his attacking style and no compromises on this. He is sorely mistaken. He shd study how Wigan beat MC,Sunderland beat Chelsea and even AV beating Chelsea.
    I believe many fans have lost faith in him.

  3. Agree with your post EA,

    Sad thing is, all the doubters were predicting this would happen,
    When at that time we was 5 points clear at the top.

    Sad times are here and it's about to get even sadder.

  4. According to one article,flair must be accompanied by strength. Tell that to Wenger. He is too obsessed with flair and skill.The epl is the toughest league in Europe,if not the world. There are many hatchet men aka as thugs who will not hesitate to maim/hack a fellow player who is the danger guy.If Eduardo were as robust as Berkamp,I doubt he could have been so seriously injured.
    Most of the flair players are on the small side ie Walcott/Wilshire/Silva etc. If you are big and heavy,it reduces the skill level,etc.Until Wenger gets it right for the remaining games,Wilshire,and others of similar built could be easily outmuscled in 50/50 tangle.
    Wenger has called for a response against Swansea.If he carries on the smme vein ,don't be surprised the gunners lose.

  5. Wenger may not want to admit it. The top 3 managers know how he plays and adjust their tactics but not the fm.He carries on in the same way week in week out,season after season.No wonder Arsenal have the worst record among the top4 teams.
    He hails the big german . I say he is a liability in a one on one and prone to conceding a penalty.
    Wenger was lucky the defenders he inherited from GG were reliable and lasted until 2002 or 2004..Since then the defence with the gk has been a problem.
    I must say he has flattered to deceive. Inspite leading the epl some time ago the bookies had made mc epl favourites and it is beginning to be realistic.
    If he doesn't incorporate changes now until May,the danger is the gunners could be 5th.4th is without risk because Mu could win the cl .You never know.As for the FA cup,failure to beat Wigan will be hard to swallow. These are the worst scenarios.