Thursday, 16 February 2017

Groundhog Day For Arsenal Fans

Well that was a bit of a shock wasn't it. There can't be too many Arsenal fans who saw that coming. The way we were playing most of us fans must have thought Arsenal would go to Munich last night and put in the sort of performance us fans believe they should be capable of.

I'm not going to go into a blow by blow account of what happened, but let's just say it wasn't pretty. We somehow managed to reach half time level though and Granit Xhaka even had a chance to put us ahead just before the break. We had hardly touched the ball in that first half and when we did it usually went straight back to Bayern after one touch. The lack of belief in the players was so visible you could almost touch it, but we were level. We have been a team who completely fail to perform in one half of a game far too often recently and I hoped it was the first half last night where we did just that.

As it turns out the first half was our "good half" and what came after the break was almost unbelievable, but yet completely believable at the same time. Bayern didn't even have to do too much to destroy us and I don't think they were battering the door down with us trying all we could to hold on. We simply capitulated as if it was a run of the mill thing to do as we handed them goal after goal. 

The loss of Laurent Koscielny at 1-1 didn't help matters, but it certainly didn't excuse any of what followed. I could run through the goals one after another and lay the blame at individual players, but the team as a whole failed miserably. We will exit the Champions League at the round of 16 yet again for the seventh season in a row and yet again it's as good as over after the first leg.

Groundhog Day doesn't go near enough to explaining the feeling which Arsenal fans woke up to this morning. The excuses of lack of finance as we built the new stadium are gone and still we cannot compete when it matters. It all points to one thing and one thing only for me which is a change is needed at the very top.

Arsene Wenger doesn't seem capable of bringing these players to a level where they can genuinely compete and if he can't do it then it's time for someone else to be given a chance. It might all go desperately wrong and we could do even worse, but we quite simply have to change something. It's not working now and it hasn't worked for far too long to believe he can get these players or any other group of players to perform to the best of their abilities for him.
It will be a sad day when he leaves, but the longer he stays the more he tarnishes what he has done for the club. 

I don't pretend to know enough about the inner workings of the club to suggest I know how those in charge feel about our current demise. I would be surprised if they are happy at yet another capitulation in both the Premier League and Champions League though. They would be fools to think the fans are happy as things stand, but they seem content as long as we continue to fill the stadium and finish in the top four.

There's still the FA Cup to fight for this season, but at this point it's not enough to rescue yet another season of disappointment. I don't think we will win it anyway when you see what teams are left in it and consider how badly we are playing. To be honest I'm worried about going to non league Sutton next Monday night with the way we are playing at the moment.

The loss of our manager will bring an awful lot of uncertainty to the club, but there couldn't be too much more than we have at the moment. His failure to commit either way to the contract on offer isn't helping matters and the inability to tie Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil down is becoming an increasingly large worry too. Both of their contracts expire in 16 months and it's incredibly bad business by the club to let those contracts run to less than two years. 

I have no doubt negotiations have been ongoing, but how have they not been sorted since last summer. I can only assume that both players are running their contracts down so they will be in a far better negotiating position with us and any potential new clubs when the season ends. If they haven't signed on by the start of pre season we will have to sell them and at a cut price too. I can't imagine any new manager coming in would like to see the club's two star players exit just as he enters.

To be honest I wouldn't blame Alexis if he wanted out as he is one of the few players who isn't underperforming and his poor games are few and far between. I'm sure he would like to put a few trophies on the shelf and he probably feels his chances of doing so at Arsenal are at best very limited. I wonder if he feels a new manager is what's needed too.

It looks like change could be the order of the day this summer in more ways than one and any new manager could be on the back foot immediately if we lost both of them as well. There's still something to play for this season though as a top four place is still a very important target. For me it's not enough to save the manager's job though and I don't think anything is at this stage unless by some miracle we win the league. It's been a culmination of season after season of collapses which has led me to believe the only way forward is through change and the sooner it happens the better.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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