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Sunday, 19 February 2012

Sunderland 2 - 0 Arsenal - Wenger will be gone if we lose to Spurs

Bound to be a square pass available...

Another season is over before the end of February. I do not count a battle to finish to fourth in the Premier League as being anything to play for, as such. Arsene Wenger may have created a false economy in the eyes of the Arsenal Director's, and for those who still wish to back him, but in the real World finishing in the top four really is no measure of "success."
The performance yesterday was listless and clueless. I saw little heart and even less desire. I thought Alex Song battled manfully as he, once again, played all alone in Arsenal's midfield. It says it all for Arteta and Ramsey that Song was still our most attacking ball player even when he went to play at centre-back. The disgraceful excuse for a pitch (the FA really should be taking action against Premier League Club's who produce such a shocking playing surface - Mertesacker, Squillaci and Ramsey have all suffered injuries as a result of its state) certainly didn't help Arsenal in any way. However, the Manager and the players should have realised they couldn't play their football on that cabbage patch and adapted their style accordingly. They can't say that the state of the pitch surprised them as they had to play on it only seven days earlier.
Arsenal were so outplayed again yesterday that the cheating of Howard Webb (he denied Van Persie two stonewall penalties - yet again) has largely gone unnoticed. This is because, as against Milan in midweek, Arsenal were so abject that the result of the game could not be argued with. I felt sorry for Song, whom I've already mentioned, and Oxlade-Chamberlain for the fact that they were surrounded by a bunch who seemingly went through the motions.
I said above that we didn't attempt to adapt our style of play. I have become increasingly frustrated watching Mikel Arteta. I hear all the stats monkeys telling us how he has more passes this season than anyone else, and how his completion rate for those passes is 157% and all that nonsense, but when you only ever go back or sideways, and never pass the ball more than ten yards it's no real surprise. Arteta slows us down something chronic and never goes forward. It's like watching a combination of Ray Wilkins and David Batty. His "effort" to dispossess Sessegnon in the build up to their second goal was simply embarrassing and lazy. The way he threw himself on the ground, rather than chase his man was a disgrace. Arteta is not alone, however. Sadly Aaron Ramsey is unable to hit the heights. In Ramsey's favour is the fact that he still a youngster, but his lack of pace is a massive issue. I have heard rumours that a new dance has been invented in honour of Arteta and Ramsey where the steps are very simple: Slow, slow. Slow, slow, slow. Then simply move sideways and repeat over and again. I apologise for jesting over something so serious, but if we didn't laugh...
In a more serious point I have to question our substitutions. When Coquelin got injured I expected to see Song move in to the back four with someone else coming on in midfield. As it was I didn't think Sebastien Squillaci did too much wrong, and he certainly was not at fault for deflecting the ball in for Sunderland's opener, but Arsenal gained nothing from that change - it was a wasted substitution. The double substitution in the second-half was just bizarre. Firstly I couldn't work out why, at 1-0 down we bring on a midfield player who hasn't scored in two years (though at least Rosicky tries to play forward) and even less why Chamakh stayed on the bench. I know Chamakh is in woeful form, but his height and the outlet it gives might have got us the odd chance at goal. Walcott was even more anonymous than ever when he came on, and not necessarily through his own fault. It was simply the latest in a long line of inexplicable Wenger decisions, and each one seems to be more costly than the last.
I don't know how many out there still have their blind faith in Arsene Wenger, but his inability to now motivate his players is the most worrying thing of all. George Graham and Terry Neill both "lost" their dressing rooms. Both men were then dismissed from their role as Arsenal Manager. There can be little more room for doubt that Arsenal can not recover without massive change. That means the Manager must be replaced. Next week we play Tottenham at home. As it stands I think our only chance of a result in that game is with someone else in charge of the team. Without this change I can see only another humiliation on the cards. If that happens then not even Wenger could survive - a hammering at home by Spurs and he would surely be gone. The poisonous atmosphere such a result would elicit within the stadium could not be ignored by the Board. I hope it doesn't happen, and part of me still wants Arsene Wenger to be Arsenal Manager, but I fear things have simply gone too far.


  1. You wildly overestimate the likelihood of change at Arsenal.A sleepy board,absentee owner and the club still in with a chance of Champions League qualification all mean that any change will take place a he end of he season and will probably be initiated by Wenger himself if it happens.
    Don't mistake me I would like change on a widespread scale but I want a new owner before a new manager.Frankly if Usmanov comes back with Dein he will not sack Wenger so your article is wide of he ark...and by the way who would you get in mid- February to try to get us into the CL?
    I trust you take my point.

  2. I absolutely take your point, but I feel a heave home defeat against Spurs would be too much - and it could even see Arsene fall on his sword. In terms of a replacement mid-season I would either promote Steve Bould in the interim, or even ask George Graham to step in for a couple of months. Whoever it is it would have to be someone who could have half a chance to sort out the defending.

  3. I'm sorry but I don't take your point!! There are plenty of managers out there who Arsenal should approach and NOW !! I have always been a big supporter of Wenger, but on reflection he has overseen the decline of this club since 2006. The author of this blog has stated that some of the players who are now in the squad are not good enough for Arsenal, that is subjective, I agree with some of his views but disagree on other. However, who buys these players, who year on years states he will only buy players who are better than we have!!! Well lets be honest currently apart from a keep, rightback, 2 centre halves, 2/3 midfielders and 1/2 attacking players the rest of this squad could be dumped and replaced if Wenger were to stick to his word. I wouldn't wait until next Sunday, history shows that a new manager lifts a side, so lets act now get a new man in, consolidate for the rest of the season, sorry to say this means securing 4th and the have wholesale changes to the squad come June/July and then start afreash with a real challenge for the EPL next season and not have to suffer this '4th place is an achievement' ITS NOT !! Winning is all that counts and we haven't won anything for SEVEN YEARS and that decline has been overseen by the same man who built the greatest EPL team ever, remember when we brushed aside all teams for 49 games and then were only denied of a 50th win by the cheating MANCS!!

  4. Yes let's improve things by bringing in a guy with no managerial experience at senior level to get us into the Champions League or someone who hasn't managed in the EPL for ove 6 years! Get real there are NOT managers guaranteed to outperform Wenger's record who are available and who could handle a club like Arsenal with all the scrutiny.Wenger has too much power but that is because the board give it to him and Kroenke doesn't care.Last summer was a disaster for which I blame equally Wenger and Gazidis but we still signed some quality in AOC,Mertesacker,santos and I think Arteta who is a better player than your article suggests.We didn't sign enough ,we didn't sign them early enough and we have suffered terribly from injuries,especially Wilshere.We have brought in Sagna,Koscielny and Vermaelen in recent seasons as well but I agree that we need better defensive co-ordination.Wenger is far from perfect but it's folly to suggest that there are myriad potential successors.Be careful what you wish for

  5. please do slate me down or shoot me right out, i've found your article and comments an interesting read, may i also add that i do not get to watch arsenal each week. added to that, i follow another team from not too far down the road...

    you have one of the greatest managers in living memory. a man you assembled a side that will go down as one of the greatest of all time, with a style brand of football that has captivated and inspired more that a few. he's one of the finest developers of players in the game, how many of the your recent greats did he take from something and create into world class players.

    losing two excellent players that may up a part of the heart beat of a team pre-season would knock the stuffing out of any team & moulding fine replacements with immediate effect is impossible. it took some arsen's finest a season to adjust. you've mentioned the injuries that haven't helped to smooth this transitional period...

    in recent seasons (11/22) excluded the premier league has produced 3 of the top 5/6 teams in europe. yours one of them. european teams are now more adept, whilst two in our own league broken the balance. you've been mixing it with europe's elite for 15 seasons, semi finals and finals, and may well do in the next. champions league again next season will give arsene more time to blend and sweeter lure for new players.

    it's been a tough week, martin o'neil is a wily old fox and there's been more than a few games where a howard webb decision, it shouldn't although he can make a supporter feel slightly grieved.

    arsene's got some good young players. he, them and it need time and you were unlucky against birmingham last year.

    sunday's huge for both teams.