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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Ipswich 1 - 0 Arsenal - how many wake-up calls are needed?

Another disgraceful embarrassment of a performance. Arsene Wenger says the players have had a "wake-up call." What, another one? What about West Brom, Tottenham, Newcastle, Wigan, Leeds? How many wake-up calls should this squad of players need? Apparently they were also struggling with "fatigue." Grow up Arsene. With the exception of Jack Wilshere (who is still a boy remember) and Johan Djourou (three games in a week for the first time in about three years) that is the most lazy excuse Wenger has ever made for the below-par efforts of his overpaid prima-donnas. Arsenal's problems are not of fatigue, but of attitude. When you have Arsenal's level of ability (and last night's team was not a weakened one if we're being honest) then you will beat almost anybody you play against, provided you work harder than the opposition. If Arsenal can beat a team for effort, they will surely then beat them with their football. With the exception of Barcelona I think this applies to any team Arsenal might play, anywhere in the World.
I have always defended Nicklas Bendtner, Eboue and Denilson. Not any more. Bendtner finally got his chance to play at centre-forward last night, certainly his strongest position. Not only that, but he was up against a defence that sits 19th in the second division of English football. He was awful, disgraceful. Arsene Wenger should forget about loaning Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to anyone else, but should promote the boy to the first-team squad on a weekly basis. I'm sorry Nicklas, but you've had your chances and you've failed to do the business. The same thing goes for the other two whose lack of effort is becoming sickening in these types of matches. Do they think that playing in these games is beneath them or something? Eboue has returned to the diving, cheating and general nonsense that punctuated the worse period of his Arsenal career a couple of years ago. His on-field behaviour is not befitting of "The Arsenal" and I would like to see the Board making this clear to the Manager.
I'm fed up of writing about Andrey Arshavin. I don't rate Carlos Vela but surely he is more deserving of a proper opportunity than the Russian. Arshavin looks like a man who would rather be almost anywhere else than on the pitch in an Arsenal shirt. The Club should cash in while they still can because he is running short of charity from the fans and the derision is only going to get more audible with every lazy flick or awful first-touch. The really frustrating thing with Arshavin is that, unlike Bendtner, Denilson, Eboue etc, we KNOW he has the ability. He is a World Class footballer when he wants to be. The problem is he seems to not want to be a World Class footballer at Arsenal anymore.
The second-leg is two weeks away and Arsenal have three massive games before we even get to it. When we do play Ipswich again we have an uphill task. I remember well the last season at Highbury when we trailed Wigan 0-1 in the semi-final after the first game. A strong Arsenal team went on to dominate the second-leg but found an inspired keeper who kept his side in the tie right up until the last minute of extra-time when a long punt caught out our defence - just like the goal last night (and seemingly numerous other occasions). The Manager of Wigan that night was, of course, Paul Jewell. Fabregas has compared Ipswich's style as being like rugby because of the high-ball - I would call their style intelligent as they could see the obvious Arsenal weakness and knew how to exploit it. We can expect much more of the same in a fortnight. Any game that you start with a one goal deficit means that you have a hill to climb. This Arsenal side is more than capable of destroying Ipswich in the same way that Chelsea did on Sunday afternoon, but I fear they lack the temperament required to do that. Ultimately that is this squads major problem - they have plenty of ability, but not the correct attitude and that is why the silverware suddenly looks a long way off once more.

There'll be a preview of the West Ham game tomorrow. It goes without saying that a better performance will be needed, but I'm beginning to feel like a scratched record in saying that.

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