Hull City pitch up at the Emirates in a match Arsenal have to win. Not in the sense of being in the hunt for trophies or anything as tawdry as that, but just to relieve the pressure which is leading inexorably to Arsène Wenger’s exit. In Ian Wright’s opinion, that’s at the end of this season and the narrative of a legendary manager being hounded out of the club is already set to run.
I get the impression that that’s it. He looks tired. You just feel that he looks winded. I feel that he will go at the end of the season. He actually mentioned that he is coming to the end. I have never heard him say that before.
While it’s only an opinion, this is someone who knows Wenger and you’d think Wright wouldn’t be shy in asking him about the future. That Arsène reportedly mentioned the end of his reign is an indicator of his current mindset but no more than that; a few wins and he’ll probably think he’s got another season or two left in him.
Wright turned his aim at the players,
The players have let him down badly. If he does leave at the end of the season, there will be a lot of changes. They should have a long, hard look at themselves. He has been so faithful to his team, it has been misplaced.
Arsène’s loyalty to the players is almost legendary. The players have let him down but it is consistent over the past decade or so; we’ve talked about what is wrong with the squad composition until we’re blue in face. Not enough leaders, too nice, etc.; it makes for a pleasant working environment but loses an ‘edge’, a spark and that’s too apparent on the pitch.
Hull City – A test for Arsène Wenger’s loyalty
I suspect that Arsène will remain to most of the side which lost at Chelsea. Personally, I would give Ospina a match to make sure that he is match sharp for Wednesday. If Petr Cech takes that as punishment for the third goal, so be it. Who knows, we may see the perfect response from the rest of the team in those circumstances; the plus side is that if Ospina drops a ricket today, Cech can play in Munich.
The main injury worry is Hector Bellerin. I think talk of Graduated Returns is a welcome step but reading up on other sports approach to concussion, the first game back for the young Spaniard has to be Bayern. Yes, Gabriel isn’t the ideal replacement and some consideration should be given to playing Oxlade-Chamberlain at right back if we’re looking for width going forward. I’ve made no bones about my preference for a back three in Bellerin’s absence but it’s not going to happen, even in a home game where we should have no fear of defeat. Famous last words and all that, I know.
It’s also the only place Ox is going to get a place in the starting line-up today. Mohammed Elneny’s Gabon odyssey is over and straight back into the midfield he will come but beyond that, I look at the line-up last week and in my heart of hearts know that Wenger’s options to shake things up are limited. Perhaps that’s half the problem at the moment? We’re at the point where injury and suspension has limited Arsène’s options to vent his frustration on the players?
The line-up then,
Cech; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Coquelin, Elneny; Walcott, Özil, Iwobi; Alexis
Although it must be tempting to drop Theo with Giroud leading the line.
No, not a reference to the top four again but an attempt at siege mentality. His public demeanour is such that you can’t imagine Arsène imburing a Musketeer spirit in this squad; their character set doesn’t appear to be capable of the typical football response when backs are against the wall.
Wenger was right in when he said, “The team wins and the team loses.” While he may like to defend the Özil’s and Sanchez’s of this world, the reality is that fans look to them to bring the team through difficult times and when that happens, they become the lightning rod for opinion. With their price tags, expectations are higher, fuelled by reputations forged on international success.
Arsène doesn’t like it, as you would expect,
“When you win sometimes some players are singled out as they are treated like exceptional players but when you don’t do well sometimes just focus a little bit more on the team aspect and not try to blame each other.
“The blame culture is part of the perception of people, but what is important is that we have a good opportunity to show that we are a united strong unit and that we bounce back.
And I think both players can perform better. Alexis doesn’t have to beat the opposition on his own while Mesut could score more. I’ll guarantee you though, that the pair lead the way in the club’s Player of the Season awards. Rightly so, when you consider the goal returns, as well as assists. Even at 80%, they are still the best pair in the squad. Bellerin, for what it’s worth, is the only one I think will feature in national awards.
This time we’ll get it right
The final word on today’s match goes to Le Boss,
“When you don’t win you cannot as well say that all is well. You have to analyse that something is not right. It is our job to find where and to have a strong united response.”
And that’s what we need; a win, no more, no less. Go to work, gentlemen, go to work.
Finally, a new playlist appeared on Dad’s Jukebox yesterday. That Was The Week That Was is a selection of tunes for the great and good over the last seven days.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.