That idiot Mustafi in familiar pose
For me that was even worse than the Bayern Munich capitulations. What we saw at West Brom, from the beginning to the end of the match, was a group of players who didn't want to play for Arsenal. It is utterly shameful for that to be the case. I'm not about to defend Arsene Wenger either, but the players he has trusted and indulged far too much have actually turned their backs on him. With the possible exceptions of Monreal and Oxlade-Chamberlain (and Alexis before he was kicked out of the game before half-time) there was no evidence that these players had any pride in the fact that they are wearing the Arsenal shirt. They used to play a video on the big screens at the new stadium with a voiceover of Bob Wilson talking about the pride of "wearing that big gun on your chest" - well there was very little sign of that from this rabble yesterday. The defending was comical and, yes, Mustafi was blaming everyone other than himself after all three goals.
It says it all about how this team is right now that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was thrown under the bus by being sent out to do the post-match interviews. With Mertesacker and Koscielny both in the squad yesterday that is a genuine dereliction of duty from the senior players. There is absolutely no leadership and no togetherness. When Alexis was totalled by McLean there was no reaction from the Arsenal players. It was an injury that been coming thanks to weak refereeing from Swarbrick who was the only person watching that had no idea what was going on with different players taking it in turns to kick the Chilean. Pulis has form for targeting Arsenal's best player in this way and it has resulted in shattered legs in the past. As the captain of the team Koscielny should have been in the refs face and telling him what he was failing to see. It was almost as though, because there has been an undoubted problem with Sanchez and the rest of the team, that they didn't mind seeing him get booted. Given that he is the only player likely to get them out of a hole, as he proved again yesterday, that is disturbing. Now he is likely to be out injured for a while and we stare ever deeper in to the abyss.
I don't feel sorry for Arsene Wenger, as such. He has signed all of these players, he selects these players, and he has given them far too many chances over the years. What we are seeing is what he has created, or rather destroyed, ever since the Invincibles were broken up prematurely. I find myself longing for the days of Gallas and Denilson and Adebayor - at least we still had Fabregas and Van Persie back then. Ospina was doing a bad impression of Almunia from the minute he came on yesterday. Bellerin has no idea of how to play at full-back, while his attempts to pass the ball in to the middle are embarrassing - Debuchy or Jenkinson should come in. Mustafi is a joke player who should be replaced by either Mertesacker or Holding. Koscielny, normally so reliable, is no skipper. Monreal's lack of pace causes us problems, though at least he tries - with Gibbs incapable of playing more than two games without getting injured there is no choice but to play him. Xhaka is too slow to play in a Premier League midfield. Ramsey seems to think he's a top player while anyone watching him who isn't Welsh will know otherwise. Walcott has got goals this season and, up until November, was more involved and more physical than he had been in the past, but he is now back to the little boy on the pitch that he always was. Oxlade-Chamberlain has clearly been told he is not to take people on with the ball in central midfield, despite this being the only way we will create opportunities against an organised opponent. Sanchez, for all his faults, is the only danger we have. Welbeck was given a real chance to impress yesterday and was awful. Giroud came on and didn't get involved at all, albeit he had no support and no service, as per usual. Ozil, of course, wasn't even there yesterday but if you believe he's been "ill" and "injured" this past few weeks then you must be very gullible indeed. I'd rather see Martinez, Holding, Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nelson etc given some chances in the coming weeks than sit through the creeping death that this lot are subjecting us to.
The fact is that very few Arsenal players over the last few weeks actually deserve to be paid. They are an embarrassment to the shirt they are privileged to wear. I don't really care if they don't want to play for Arsene Wenger anymore, they have a responsibility to the Arsenal supporters to play for us. Thousands pay our money every week to support them as the custodians of those shirts, we were there before them and will be there long after they've gone, so it's us they should be playing for, regardless of Arsene Wenger.
One more thing before I sign off this post; those banners hanging from aeroplanes yesterday were embarrassing. For starters there must be more money than sense, whether you are wanting Wenger to go or to stay (though it amazes me there are still people who can't see the wood for the trees on that one) to actually hire a plane! There is a lot of self-aggrandisement, in my view, going on in this "Wenger Out" protest stuff. I believe that, once he has gone, some people will be wanting to gain the credit and the notoriety for it happening. Certain people still dine out on how they got Terry Neill the sack back in the 1980's and I genuinely believe those involved want a bit of that for themselves - radio interviews on the BBC and TalkSport, taking total joy from the idea of the planes and pre-match protests in recent weeks, it all adds up to something unsavoury as far as I'm concerned. I'll probably get some stick for saying that, maybe even get called some nasty names, but that's how I see it. I hope I'm wrong, but thanks from one of the protest organisers to the "sponsors" smacks of something all a bit fishy to me.
We now have an interminable international break to get through where the only thing likely to cheer me up would be an announcement that Arsene is going in May. That would, surely, bring everyone together in an effort to finish the season well and try to win the FA Cup in his final game. It won't happen, unfortunately. We won't get an announcement and, on recent evidence, we have no chance of winning the FA Cup against City, Chelsea or Spurs.