God Save The Arsenal Because No-one At The Club Will

Arsenal 1 – 5 Bayern Munich

Where you begin with last night? The officiating “revolted” Arsène; if that was the case, how did his side’s capitulation make him feel?

For an hour, Arsenal played well; a lot better than I thought they would. I waited for the slow down, the cracks to appear but they kept the energy levels up, maintained their efforts. Context must be given; Bayern were in second gear, and with a 5 – 1 lead to defend, there was no sense of urgency on their part.

They still caused problems but Arsenal gave as good as they got. Makes you wonder where that performance was against Liverpool, and in fixtures against ‘lesser’ sides where we’ve dropped points?

It didn’t restore pride but certainly offered promise for the remainder of the season. Theo Walcott scored a cracker while the officials denied him a clear penalty. The assistant on that goal-line had a more pivotal role to play later in the match.

The midfield pairing of Xhaka and Ramsey did well, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was probably our Man of the Match. Picking the turning point in the game is not as easy as you might think. For me, it is the moment that Olivier Giroud’s header glanced against the outside of the post. A two-goal half-time advantage offered the prospect of an uncomfortable second forty-five minutes for the Bayern.

Instead, it turned into a rout and descended into farce.

Pretty Vacant

Laurent Koscielny was rightly punished for a foul on Robert Lewandowski. The red card was the correct. I don’t think Koscielny made any attempt to win the ball and was the wrong side of the Pole to do so, which makes it a straight red under the new rules.

At 1 – 1, the most urgent decision was shore up the defence and close the game out. A 2 – 1 defeat left disgrace on the first leg alone but now, the tie is tarnished. The hard work of the first hour will be forgotten, the aggregate score of 2 – 10 hangs over Arsenal; a pall of ignominy where the club was badly let down by the players. There’s no absolution for Wenger; the blame is not shifted away from him. This is his squad, the way they approach the game is down to him. The habitual collapses, not just now but in season’s past as well, are his responsibility.

Arsène admitted that the players threw in the towel in his post-match interview.  After the capitulation in Munich, all the talk from himself about not being properly prepared and from Hector Bellerin at the weekend, it was time for the players to stand up and be counted. You could count their spines as they walked off the pitch alongside Laurent Koscielny.

A big red towel wafted across the pitch as Bayern picked us off with four goals. Picked us off? We handed goals to the Germans, gift-wrapped with a pretty bow and a tag, “Hope you enjoy your trip to London, Love Arsenal xxx”.

Ever Feel Like You’ve Been Cheated

Only Ox escapes censure for lack of effort after the second. I understand the devastation, to go from thinking everything is going well in one minute, only to find its all gone to Hell in a handcart. These are highly paid professional athletes whose value drops with each passing game. The mental strength the élite clubs engender in players is glaringly noticeable by its absence. That is the manager’s responsibility. He talks about it often enough so he is aware of that aspect of the game.

The malaise doesn’t stop at the playing side. The board often throws the manager under the bus but it’s time for Gazidis to stand up and be counted. His are the words you will probably see thrown around this morning, about how we can compete with Bayern. Ivan, you’ve failed; we are further away from Bayern than we have been at any time since they ruled Europe in the mid-70s. Neither you nor the manager is able to deliver at the highest level of football.

We’re hamstrung with Kroenke, the absent owner. It’s his decision not to invest in Arsenal, to focus purely on the bottom line. Did you see the empty stadium at 1 – 2? Did you hear the shock in Hector Bellerin’s voice afterwards at the fans leaving in droves? This is your mess; sort it out or ship out. Preferably the latter.

Flogging A Dead Horse

The reality stared the board in the face last night with the banks of empty seats as the visitors racked up the goals. If that’s us competing, God help us in the future. It’s one of the reasons I dislike the Champions League on a competitive level. We are so off the élite on the pitch, we should be in the Europa League. We’re not improving and the gap is growing. If the club isn’t willing to try to improve, to close the gap, stop worrying about a top four finish. Accept that on a sporting level, we better suit the lesser competition.

Or do something about it. Get a new manager while putting a new structure in place above him. We need an experienced director of football, preferably one who was proud to play for Arsenal and understands what it means to supporters. You don’t; you’re clueless in that respect.

The thing is, this has to be the nadir. As a club, Arsenal has to take on board the humiliation and respond positively. It’s patently obvious that the board is ineffective in managing the manager. 10 – 2 and the contract offer is still on the table? Seriously? Do the board start meetings by singing the communal hymn, “Reality used to be a friend of mine?”

ENOUGH. Show some pride, some backbone. Take action to make Arsenal competitive again domestically while leaving us with a feeling that the players and manager could do no more as we exit the Champions League. Heads are buried in the sand at Highbury House, in the hope that the danger will mysteriously and miraculously pass. Shape up or ship out, gentlemen.

No Future

I think that’s what gets me wound up more than anything else. I don’t expect the board to be supporters, there’s no pre-requisite for them to do so. Arsenal needs them to be experienced football men, not carpet salesmen or bankers. There’s a disconnect; have a football board and above them a Holdings board. Let them set the commercial targets but let the football board do their jobs and get a competitive team.

Yet they won’t restructure; football always engenders too much ego amid the money. And it’s accountability, the board don’t do that. Not many other managers would take being thrown under a bus as routinely as Arsène. He’s well-remunerated for the pleasure although I sincerely doubt that there is any joy in the job at the moment.

Nothing is going to change. The numbers discontented by the aimlessness will grow, dissent gets louder but their biggest enemy is apathy. Once fans stop caring, none of them will survive. And maybe that’s how it should be, that’s how this ends. Stan, Ivan and Arsène ride off into the sunset, living happily in Texas; Kroenke’s clearing plenty of space on his ranch for everyone.

But right now, Arsenal need action and no-one at the club has the balls to do what is necessary.

’til Tomorrow.

 

220 thoughts on “God Save The Arsenal Because No-one At The Club Will

  1. Dukey,

    “there was nothing to play for… anymore”. Realistically.

    Yes, I hate giving up because it does indeed show weak mentality. Or running out of “mental juice”, at the very least. But it’s hard to believe that (about) six Bayern goals this year would have happened if we had still been in it.

    On the other hand, the PSG players today had no reason at all to give up, but they still got crash-boom-banged.

  2. Anyone know what the in game odd’s were with less than ten to go with three goals needed for Barca to progress?

  3. Damon,

    This is the problem. Conte says do not break up a winning team. He left out Fabregas and Terry to do that. Wenger says – ah we have a champion’s league record for hours without conceding but I will break it up by playing my best team on paper. Who then lost from a defensive error that exposed lehmann.

    And it was not ‘dropping’ them. It was playing the defence that had got us to the final.

  4. Moe,

    So true but even for all of their fortunes at the Camp Nou, the difference between Barca and most clubs is that going in 4-0, you still thought that they had a chance if they scored the first goal; how many other sides including Juve, Madrid and Bayern would you fancy in that situation? Its the fight of not only the front 3 but their desire as a collective group of players and their manager.

  5. phe,

    I would take that in a heartbeat! I think he is an underrated manager in Europe because he manages Barca but even in his first season he won the treble with essentially a couple of tweaks (most importantly replacing Xavi and that everything he brought which is no small task) and no real depth.

  6. C,

    Agreed. The level between Arsenal and the rest of the elite clubs in Europe is astonishing. Even for PSG’s faults, the manager had a clear strong and almost perfect system to play against Barca.

    Arsenal players just run around like headless chicken and get pulled all over the place. If you watch PSG, they moved as a unit, they had clear instruction to be first to every ball and close down faster and more aggressively. Any other day they win this tie but the players let Emery down. Silly mistakes.

  7. phe,

    “Conte says do not break up a winning team.”

    I thought I’d heard that before… somewhere, sometime…

    Confucius says… no, Conte says… that’s it. 😉

  8. Moe,

    Yea, I think that’s the difference, silly mistakes not the actual tactics or team selection but full credit to Enrique who made some tactical tweaks like going with essentially a back 3 but also when you watched Barca play, it wasn’t purely play through the midfield, it was play through the flanks as well.

    Even though we topped the group, people tend to forget that Cavani missed something like 8 clear chances on goal and Ospina’s brilliance saved us. Emery clearly had a plan and his plan was fine until things started getting tense and it was clear the players kept dropping deeper and deeper and that plays into Barca’s hands.

  9. phe,

    Yup and even with all of that he still is by far one of the most underappreciated managers in La Liga history to my mind. He simply understands futbol and even more than that, he knows how to adjust not only his teams but his tactics during the run of play.

    Like I said, Allegri, Enrique, Lowe, Koeman, Tuchel and the manager from RB in Germany (whose name escapes me) would be my list in no particular order.

  10. The Arsenal PR team is out in force tonight. Guardian and co saying the board confident in the manager and expect him to take us further next season.

    Reports also coming out Ox,Lucas and Ospina want out of the club.

    Interesting contrast of stories.

  11. C,

    If Enrique is not kept as he may be if they win a lot this year, then I would put him at the very top. He has been coached by Bobby Robson, (and Mourinho was the assistant manager) as was Guardiola, Gascoigne when we (England) so nearly won the world cup again, (Gascoigne also scored the winning penalty in shootout against Spain in Euro’s when Enrique was in the team) Brazilian Ronaldo.

    He has a great depth of football knowledge and success.

    He seems very knowledgable and has

  12. Moe,

    Arsenal under Wenger have absolutely no identity of theme.

    Alexis, Welbeck, Lucas, Ramsay, Ox, Theo. These guys are all greyhounds. Klopp or Pep would have sent them out to crush sides with their pressing. Indeed, it looked like that was the direction in which Arsenal was heading at the beginning of the season with Alexis as CF. Alexis is the best forward-defender in the world. Remember how he picked Gary Cahill’s pocket and scored the first goal against Chelsea? Arsenal were really doing well at that stage.
    Then what happened? We went back to having Giroud up front. Yes, seriously. Then we basically only had two forwards (forget about Ozil) interested in pressing (Alexis and the winger on the other side) and a huge hole in the middle of the bucket (Giroud and Ozil). No wonder Alexis has been waving his arms about trying to get players to push forward. I’d be frustrated too. No wonder the backline finds itself under so much pressure (because Arsenal are not defending from the front).
    Can someone explain to me why we were winning with Alexis as CF and Wenger went back to having Giroud as CF? It absolutely stumps me.

  13. Lucas Perez is a quite tragic story (for a highly paid footballer!). He fights his way to the big stage. He thinks he’s going to get a chance at Arsenal. But Arsene is more interested in keeping his favourites happy than giving him a chance. If I was him I’d be desperate to leave. He will also serve as a salutary warning to anyone else Wenger tries to recruit.

  14. Arsenal have been easily able to win the League cup and Europa League, but have been unable to get into the top eight in the CL or win the League for ten years, not really close. They have prioritised the latter, but not the former.
    Liverpool have chipped and changed, nowhere near contention, but have won the CL in that time. Chelsea have have been at the top, but only won the CL when they looked out of everything.
    Maybe it is the same consistency that keeps Arsenal in the top 4 or the top 16 (CL) that keeps them from contention in the title races; they are pegged destined to be where their money takes them.
    Passion finally starts to spread from Sanchez and it tips a finely balanced boat probably out of contention for anything, but as the first 40 mins the other night showed, anything was possible too..

  15. Interesting contrast in viewpoints on pages 1 and 3 of Sports Guardian today. Wonder which will triumph.

  16. You say that Bayren Munich was the nadir of our season
    Let me remind you that we now have to face the might of Lincoln City

Comments are closed.