Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Arsenal v Bayern Munich Preview (Sort Of)

I've supported Arsenal for a very long time and I've seen an awful lot of players and managers come and go in that time. Some of those players were a pleasure to watch and a few just weren't good enough to play at the level Arsenal should be playing at and maybe something similar could be said about some of the managers too. Arsene Wenger most certainly fits into the category of the very best of those managers, but the opinions of many fans on that subject are rapidly changing.

There have been some bad times since I started supporting Arsenal in 1970 and there have been some bad times under Wenger too. I can't remember a time under him where it has been worse than at the moment though. At other times there were dreadful injury problems to deal with and lack of funds too, but we don't have those problems now and still we are playing like a team devoid of confidence, coaching and ideas.

We might not have being playing too well earlier in the season and we developed a nasty habit of only playing for one half of far too many matches. The home defeat against Watford seems to have triggered the real rot though and even the two wins we have had since then were scarcely deserved. I was at the Hull game when Lady Luck gave us three points and the less said about the FA Cup win over non league Sutton United the better.

The defeats against Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Liverpool showed a lack of fight among the players that is just unacceptable. It wasn't just down to the players though with the manager seemingly unable to send them into the games with a game plan they could actually act on and an inability on his part to change things when they were so obviously going wrong. Players weren't even doing the basics properly and yet there seems to be no repercussions when it comes to team selection.

Leaving Alexis Sanchez out against Liverpool was a joke and if it really was for tactical reasons as the manager said then he has completely lost the plot. He could have played wide instead of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain if the manager was so keen on partnering Olivier Giroud with Danny Welbeck. Of course there are few people who think he was left out for tactical reasons and the far more likely scenario is the rumoured "bust up" and his attitude.

You can't go into a game against a team with Liverpool's record against the rest of the top six and leave your most potent (and maybe only) weapon on the bench and expect to get something from the game. Alexis has averaged more than a goal or assist per game this season and has been the only Arsenal player to have come out of the last few weeks without looking like he's not good enough at this level. If they are going to finish in the top four and progress in the FA Cup then he has to play every minute of every game despite how the manager might feel about him.

I think it's blatantly obvious that we won't see him in an Arsenal shirt next season and we won't get his full market value either with only a year left on his contract. Whether we should have agreed to his wages demands or not is a tough question, but I wonder if even that would have convinced him to stay with a club who cannot win the Champions League and continually falter when the pressure is on in the league. At his stage in his career I would say he wants to be part of a team who can win trophies and who will pay him a shed load of money too.

As for tonight in the second leg against Bayern I hold little hope of anything except another pasting. It's hard to see where the players will get the confidence they clearly lack and it could be a long hard night for us fans. I don't think wholesale changes will make too much difference when the malaise seems to have spread to almost every single player.

To be honest I don't imagine the manager refusing to commit either way on the contract on offer to him is helping matters either. He should clearly state he is staying or going and deal with whatever his decision brings. I think he should go myself and if he commits to do so he might just get the room he needs to at least finish the season strongly and make the top four as well try for the FA Cup. It's hard to see him making a go of either of them with the current atmosphere surrounding the club and all the uncertainty he has caused.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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