I have found it difficult to motivate myself to write for the past 4 weeks following my return from vacation. I attempted to write about my holiday last weekend but abandoned the effort after writing one page. You have to praise writers who are consistent and publish their copy week in week out or even daily.
Anyways, Arsenal’s loss to Chelsea yesterday has prompted me to pick up my laptop and attempt a few squiggles. Here goes.
Prior to the 2 matches before Zagreb and Chelsea, I was in a good space as an Arsenal fan. We had sort of turned around our disastrous start in the Premier League with a few points on the league table. By the way, considering, West Ham’s win at the EPL Champion Designate otherwise known as The Unstoppable Manchester City and the comprehensive dismantling of Liverpool FC (that hitherto giant of Global Football) I would not now call West Ham’s defeat of Arsenal an upset. After all Arsenal are nobodies when it comes to football (By the way, that’s what one my senior friends and big brother calls PERSPECTIVE)
Back to other matters. For as long as I can remember, we didn’t go into the international break as the butt of all football fan’s jokes. We also didn’t return with any crocked players. Playing Zagreb while not exactly a ‘gimme’ was not expected to be too much of a worry. I expected and I expect that any Arsenal 11 will beat Zagreb.
Unfortunately football is not mathematic or arithmetic. Clearly the manager had his eyes on the Chelsea match and proceeded to rest many players. The rest they say is history (pardon the pun). We lost and in entirely somewhat unfortunate circumstances we lost the match we were resting players for. SAD. VERY SAD.
Before I continue, I must make it very clear that I am an Arsene Wenger fan. I do not believe he is perfect. Far from it and not even close. At the moment, he is the manager of the club I happen to support. He has done a bloody good job in 19+ years, he has changed the face of the club and Arsenal appears to be well positioned for the future.
I do not believe he is indispensable as I am aware that the graveyard is filled with many who consider themselves indispensable. But I consider myself a realist. From what is in the public domain, Wenger’s two bosses support him totally. One owns the club and is happy with the way the club is run and Wenger’s work output. The other one is the Chief Executive and was supposedly recruited by Wenger. The Arsenal directors love him. So guys / Arsenal fans, until Wenger decides he has had enough or Kroenke changes his approach, Wenger is going nowhere soon.
For those who don’t like Arsene, I have a fantastic idea – GET BEHIND YOUR TEAM. That team includes Arsene and the players you take delight in slating. If your principles are such that you cant support Arsenal the way it is now, please keep your gob shut. If you cant, maybe supporting another team might appeal to you.
Back to our matches versus Zagreb and Chelsea. In retrospect, I think the decision to rest players versus Zagreb was wrong. I was apprehensive before the match as I was worried we will do ‘an Arsenal’. Despite that, I didn’t predict a loss. I however consider Wenger’s decision to res players wrong because you should really be playing the next match, not 2 matches away. It was incredibly important to start our Champions League campaign on the front foot and by resting players we couldn’t do that. Not only that we went into the Chelsea match without the momentum and the feel good factor that a win in Zagreb would have afforded the team.
I’m sure Arsene trusted the boys who played to do the business. Unfortunately Giroud’s bizarre petulance and dissent let his team down. When things started not to go according to plan, I will expect Wenger to do something about it. The manager is very reluctant to take what might appear to be rash decisions. I give that to him. But often, the players he relies on to be matured and calm let him down. From what we saw during the game with Crystal Palace this season, it appears Per Mertesacker had to intervene with the manager before Coquelin was substituted. Last season in Wales, Calum Chambers was crying to be substituted after Jefferson Montero handed him his backside. Bellerin has had some disastrous times in the Arsenal shirt as well with the manager doing nothing about it.
As soon as I saw the circumstances leading to Giroud’s first yellow card, I messaged a friend that he will be sent off today. If I can see that, why cant the manager see it. There was no sign that any of the coaching staff passed on messages to him to calm down. And if the manager knows his players very well as he should, I would have expected him to yank Giroud off immediately after his behavior towards the ref. Similarly with Gabriel, we know he is a feisty lad and we love him for that but why was none of his teammates minding him yesterday as the Costa incident was kicking off.
I know nobody can make allowances for all circumstances in life but it appears Arsenal make the same mistakes time and time again. The more things change. The more they remain the same.
Arsenal FC makes the same basic mistakes time and time again. Forget the mindless incompetence of Mike Dean in the Chelsea match. We conceded a set piece goal to effectively lose the match. West Ham, Zagreb and now Chelsea. That was why we lost those 3 matches. The decisive goal was conceding the set piece. It’s a shame that this is a reoccurring theme. We realize we have problems with set pieces, we fix it and then the problem reappears and we then have to fix it again. At the end of the day, you want to question the coaching the boys are having.
To conclude, a word of advice might prove useful to Arsenal fans and maybe all football fans that are presently despondent with their club (wink wink Man U fans), no team has a divine right to win football matches or football competitions. That is why the word ‘upsets’ was coined. I dare say upsets happen more in football even when 11 school boys play the best 11 in the world. Also no manager can guarantee you they will win any competition from the start of the season. Some managers and teams are more likely to win. In my opinion, fans should ordinarily be interested in the competitiveness of their teams. When you are competitive, with that bit of luck and with a few dodgy referees in your corner like Mike Dean, you will definitely win something.