Anyone who is a regular reader of my opinion articles would know that usually I see the positive side to our club. This includes Arsene, the players, the board, the signings and generally all things Arsenal. I have been blurting out all season around that I believed that something special was happening and that I can see this team producing something spectacular.
As you can see it has taken me 2 full days to calm down from the crud that I witnessed on Saturday afternoon and to be honest I really couldn’t stomach much football yesterday and I actually started to contemplate whether the amount of time, effort and love I give to football and more importantly to Arsenal was in any way justified or seen as a productive use of my time. As always though, I soon talked myself out of it and came around and now I am looking forward to the vital Champions League game Wednesday evening against Anderlecht.
Ok, so I feel there is so much to discuss and I am not sure even what order we should go in, or even how to do it. I know I need a rant and I hope that after this I can straighten out my life again as I have been severely pissed off. The fact that in general most of the points I want to raise have a certain linkage means I may as well start from what I saw on Saturday against Hull. Arsenal for the last 17 years have been a club that by hook or by crook have made the Champions League. One thing is for certain, if we continue to perform like we did Saturday that run will come to an end.
First I will start with the team selection. That defence for a team that has title winning/champions league qualification or any cup success this season just isn’t right. Arsene keeps blurting on when asked about the lack of cover in our defence ‘oh well we only let 2 players go (Vermaelen & Sagna) and we purchased 2 (Debuchy & Chambers)’. This is true yes, in terms of selling players. What he forgets is that a young player he has slowly groomed in the Premier League and Champions League in Sagna’s absence these past few seasons was also loaned to West Ham.
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That player is Carl Jenkinson. He is a player that – love or hate him – had a certain matureness for a player his age. He’d picked up valuable experience and also is Arsenal through and through. But what do we do? we allow him to leave, not only leaving us short at the back but also demoralising the guy who probably felt he had earned enough praise in his time as Sagna’s understudy to continue to have some part to play even with the new players coming in. Who sanctioned this?
Forget Jenks, Wenger says that he believes that we covered the areas that left, what he fails to realise is that we have been a bit short defensively for a few years. Why then he feels the need to allow our club captain to leave without having cover – and Sagna too – is beyond me. These are not players that held the club to ransom. They were players that we knew by the latter stages of last season were going to leave. Sagna was out of contract so there was no stopping him.
Arsene has been a real advocate of clubs retaining power – he wants clubs to win back the power that has moved onto the players these past few years and he has recently mentioned that he is trying to instil these beliefs into the players at a young age at Arsenal. Ok great, this sounds like a good idea. However, then in the same breath what can’t be right is allowing a player like Vermaelen who, remember, was still in contract to leave the club to go to Barcelona when the club is already struggling for numbers in that position. Who has the power there? it doesn’t look like the club to me.
This means that for our game on Saturday we were playing a young lad at right back who before this season has played only in an Emirates Cup match or a League Cup game and yet in the last few weeks has played a Champions League game that we were beaten in, and now a Premier League game against a decent Hull outfit, whilst Jenkinson – whom we’ve played regularly over the last few years as a very able understudy and who has built vital experience – is making assists for West Ham against Burnley. That cannot be right!
It also means that Monreal, who is a decent full back is having to play at centre half, and leaving us with Francis Coquelin as cover who is naturally a centre midfielder. Also just on that point, Coquelin was with SC Freiburg last season and only played 16 times, this guy should be nowhere near North London never mind sitting on the bench. But remember this is Hull we are Arsenal and regardless we need to beat them especially at home.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming Monreal or Bellerin for the goals on Saturday but my point is that surely this cannot be right for a team that is looking to challenge for trophies this season. It just can’t be. In that same point it can’t be right that this is the side that can charge the highest ticket prices in Europe either.
My next point is Flamini, and whilst I am at it, Arteta (I know he didn’t play). These are what we have on offer as our two defensive midfield options. First off, Arteta was never a defensive midfielder in his career yet due to his slowness and lack of agility these days it is really the only place he can be played. But I know what we will do, we will make him club captain almost guaranteeing his place in the side whenever fit. I don’t doubt he is a great influence around the place; but I am also sure that Uri Geller would bring a positive influence to the Emirates yet I wouldn’t expect him then to be asked to do a job that he is just not able to do. Stick to bending spoons.
With Flamini, you can’t doubt the fella loves the club these days now, probably because a big side like AC Milan see that his best days are well gone. I’d love it too to be honest, he knows he’s onto a good thing. His passion however is something to be proud of and he does put it in, but William Wallace was passionate too and he ended up being quartered by the English.
Yes, he is decent at getting in with a nip or a tackle but he lacks any real composure and on more than one occasion recently has passed the ball in to touch when a far easier pass was on to a team mate. A question for the Hull game is that if, when running back he was Yaya Toure, would Diame have got past him and brushed him aside so easily even though it was clearly a foul?
This is then going to finally get me to my point. Strength in this area of the field is required both in terms of being able to put in a tackle, having that raw strength on the ball but also having the agility, composure and importantly technical ability with it all. Look at these players for instance Matic, Fabregas, Fernando, Yaya Toure; and then look at our options – Flamini or Arteta. Then also look at the back up to these clubs, Fernandinho, Mikel. We just cannot compete. We are left way too exposed.
Our players, if we are honest, are not good enough. I am probably more in agreement with Roy Hodgson as he plays Wilshere in the DM role. why? In my opinion for the reasons listed above. He’s a strong lad, he can break up play and most importantly he has top technical ability. Is he the answer for Arsenal? I wouldn’t say so, as currently we need him more advanced. But we are ridiculously short in this area and that doesn’t mean we need to buy 1 player i.e like Carvalho or Khedira we need to buy at least 2 as the current players we have in Arteta and Flamini are mid table players at best.
My next point is breaking sides down. We seem to have some of the most gifted and creative players in Europe in our squad yet we have struggled in the last 3 games (Spurs/Chelsea/Hull) to have any real dominance in creating chances. Why? It seems to me that teams are now well used to the Arsenal Tiki-taka style of football. Hull on Saturday was an embarrassment. The other games due to the nature of the rivalry you can forgive, but Hull and at home? No, not me. We were 2-1 down for the majority of the second half yet we barely made any real chances until Welbeck equalised in injury time. This then was followed with a half chance for Gibbs.
We need a plan B and probably a C too, and my worry is that Arsene doesn’t seem like a man who has any answers. You only need to see his interview with Sky after the game to see an agitated, rude man (in my opinion) answering questions like he didn’t have to give any justification for what had just been served up.
We need to start playing the entire game like our season depends on it, not just the last 10 minutes.
Goals aside, against Hull, I will give the benefit of the doubt that this happens in football. What can’t be excused is the lack of passion we showed after they equalised at 1-1. So many players were off their game. The Ox was awful. Flamini (see above). Cazorla, non existent. These are players that – with the depth (normally) in our midfield – should be busting a gut to ensure they keep their place in the side. None of them should be able to call themselves first choice players. Rosicky must be feeling pretty low as these players have managed to keep him at the sidelines, despite him rarely putting in a bad shift.
The only outfield players that I’d say were worth any cop on Saturday were Sanchez, Bellerin and perhaps Welbeck, and the rest were very poor. If you went to your day job and performed like that you’d be lucky to be paid. It was terrible. Absolutely no urgency, and it was so frustrating to watch. It gets back to a blog I did a few months back that we lack leadership. We literally have nobody in that side that can generate the spark and the kick up the back side that we need in games like yesterday. Please don’t tell me Arteta. Any man that plucks his eyebrows like he does cannot be considered as a leader of men. I’m sorry. Football is a man’s game. WE NEED A LEADER!!
My next point is injuries. Can someone please tell me what the hell is going on? Its beyond a joke. My favourite from last week is that Ozil played the full second half against Chelsea with ligament damage in his knee! Sorry come again?!?! This is not a Sunday league game on a cold morning down at Hackney Marshes, and someone runs on with a bucket and cold water and asks you to run it off. This is a World Cup winning, club record signing superstar who plays for a team with apparently one of the best sports physios in the game that they recruited from the German national side in the summer. It completely amazes me. How did that happen? Where is the answer? Who do you even ask? Its absolutely crazy. This to me was the final nail on a very injured coffin. Yet I have no answers and it seems as usual its nobodies fault at the club.
I feel I could literally write all day on what is currently upsetting me, and yes if you can’t see from what you’ve read I am pretty pissed off. Do I feel any better for writing? Not really. I am not even going to read it back and check my mistakes or errors. I feel that if my side should have no respect for the work it does for the club, why should I have any respect when writing about the club.
I just hope that Wednesday’s game can help me to get over how I feel, lets get a good run in the Champions League at least. I have already been winding myself up all weekend that it would be sods law if a team that gets beaten 8-nil will also get a result against us next week- lets hope not eh.
Thanks for reading…. glad its off my chest.