Palace Review: It’s Over

There won’t be a happy ending to this fairy tale. Arsène Wenger’s reign at Arsenal is disintegrating in front of a global audience. If it were an animal, it would be put to sleep lest the owner face a charge of cruelty.

Stan Kroenke, safe from opprobrium on his ranch or penthouse, should be charged with reckless abandonment but he has form in wrecking sporting teams. Alisher Usmanov is no better, declaring Wenger the best person to name his own successor. If he can’t name a side good enough to win at Crystal Palace; what hope is there for him to find his replacement?

Not that anything will be done in that sense. Wenger’s slip post-match was quickly glossed over but did it indicate he knows the game is up? The board, cowardly and without heart to this point, must now make the decision for him but they have never show courage in their decision-making before so don’t rely on them to find it now.

The players bear their share of the blame as well. As Carragher said last night, the club is rotten from top to bottom. Wenger’s instructions to the team aren’t being followed or if they are, the gameplan is tired and weary.

Everything you want from an Arsenal side, Palace displayed. 3 – 0 was a fair reflection of the game. We were just awful while they were energetic and had the heart, desire and pride in their shirt. The vocal disenchantment with this squad manifested in a second during which we didn’t manage a shot on goal. Physically as well, with the Hector Bellerin sideshow at a throw-in.

Ambitions Are Low

Arsenal, Allardyce said after, were easy to unlock; full backs playing like wingers and centre backs left exposed. The third was a dive but at that point, it was beyond relevant or material. We weren’t coming back into the game at 1 – 0 down. No 2 – 1 up heroics for this lot and there never will be again while Arsène remains in charge.

The depths to which we’ve plummeted are apparent. Our third choice goalkeeper bailed the side out. Where were the experienced professionals doing that? A team of leaders? Wenger’s private joke just became public knowledge.

Nothing any of the players says carries any meaning. They are as culpable as the manager for the performances. The squad won’t fight for each other and if they don’t care about the club, why should we care about them?

Cosseted by their millions, money has driven their personal pride away. The next paycheque is more important to them than the next match. Theo Walcott as captain? Only because he speaks to the media politely and toes the party line. No hint of dissent lest he wreck his chances of another bumper contract.

The club we love is being torn apart by men without the heart or courage to make a decision. Businessmen who care about the balance sheet not the Premier League table. Failing to qualify for the Champions League is a plus for them. The savings made in wages mean better profits, adding kudos to their cv whenever the next non-exec role comes around.

Resentment Rides High

Where do we go from here? Putting off the announcement is no longer an acceptable option but leaving that decision to Wenger is equally unpalatable. Gazidis can tell his pet paper whatever he wants but now he has to earn his pay.

The question is, do you trust this lot to make a decision which is in the FOOTBALL CLUB’s best interest?  Not financially but on sporting merit. They don’t have a clue about football, that’s patently obvious, yet they must appoint someone to rebuild from the rubble left behind as the Wenger era collapses around their ears.

There is no way back for the Frenchman, nor his backroom staff. He can be as loyal as he wants to Boro, Gerry and Bouldie, but this isn’t ending well for any of them. And rightly so. We need a clean sweep, fresh insights and a different approach. It’s too easy, too comfortable. No-one is pushed out of their comfort zone.

Just Can’t Function No More

Arsène likes the players to be mature and professional but they need to be torn into, the niceness provoked so that they are out of kilter instead of looking listless at every restart. They should be good at kick-offs with the practice they have had. Last night was the 7th time in 2017 that we’ve conceded 3 or more goals. SEVEN! Nothing about the Frenchman’s philosophy is good enough any more.

And still we limp on, with those in charge maintaining their vanity project. They hope against all the evidence in front of them that Wenger can dust off the magic hat and lift the FA Cup once again. It won’t happen and even if it does, it has to be his parting gift to the directors whom he has so loyally taken flak for in the past.

But it is over. Going now or at the end of the season makes no difference whatsoever to me. Nor judging b performances, do the players care. They just know it is coming.

’til Tomorrow.

138 thoughts on “Palace Review: It’s Over

  1. Wavey,

    I dont think he is going for Ferguson’s record.

    Its rather that he clings to this job because outside the arsenal this fraud will be on his ass unemployed. No self-respecting club will hire him. His record is average at best, shabby at worst:
    – Shit before Arsenal (1 title, 1 relegation)
    – Couldnt cut it in Japan.
    – 3 titles in 20 years with Arsenal (thank George for the backbone of those winning teams).
    – Turned arsenal into the laughing stock of world football.

    He’s a fraud and he knows it.

  2. Wavey,

    Can’t compare PSG’s backline with Juve’s.
    Chiellieni, Bonucci and Barzagli vs Thiago Silva and no one else.
    No contest. Juve has this in the bag.

  3. Reminds of Inter Barca from 2010. Classic Italian defensive resilience. Very dangerous counter-attacking.

  4. Just spent the last hour or so catching up on the ‘Rocky and Wrighty’ doc. What a time, what a team, what a great club we were.

    I just can’t be arsed with the current shambles to even talk about it. That documentary shows what we were, what football was, why we loved it and the Arse.

    Now? Fuck it. They can all go and do one.

  5. CorpFinG,

    I know what you mean, but it’s Barca at home and they don’t know how to give in (maybe they should watch an Arsenal game for lessons). I think Juve still need more goals and they could get them.

  6. Wavey,

    I agree with you. Camp Nou is the toughest ground to play in Europe. That said, I think Juve have it in them to go through. A couple years back they beat Real Madrid in the semifinal when the was ruling the roost in CL.

    This Barca got lucky with PSG’s shit defence. But Juve’s a different beast. Probably a better organised defence than Atletico and thats no mean feat.

  7. Wavey,

    I agree with you. Camp Nou is the toughest ground to play in Europe. But Juve have it in them to go through. A couple years back they beat Real Madrid in the semifinal when they was ruling the roost in CL.

    This Barca got lucky with PSG’s shit defence. But Juve’s a different beast. Probably a better organised defence than Atletico and thats no mean feat.

  8. Hmm, organised, disciplined, with a game plan. Why would we want Allegri? Let’s just stick with the make it up as you go along approach that has served us so well.

  9. You can why all top clubs were after Dybala. Great vision, passing, shooting, movement, tackles, workrate. Kids got everything.

  10. Bob,

    The bit where Wrighty said he stayed up all night with rocky just talking about the arsenal and what it’s going to be like playing for them. I mean that’s just pure passion. And I think you’re right we might not ever see these types of players again. To all those wengerites who have or will slag off Ian Wright when he criticises any of these current players who are clearly not showing the spirit that he did can all piss right off.

  11. Can’t see Barca appreciating the introduction of VAR. Yes they play some great stuff but it’s all spoiled for me by their constant cheating. Surely half the dodgy decisions they get would be overturned.

  12. Dukey,

    I have a photo on my shelf of Bergkamp, Henry and Wright together. Three great players who all love the club. None of them are involved in coaching at any level at the club today.

  13. Dukey,

    Absolutely, that’s why I get extremely pissed off when the Wengerites slate Graham’s teams when they clearly don’t know WTF they are talking about. They just lazily take the old ‘boring Arsenal’ thing and run with it even if for the most part it’s complete bollocks. Now crab passing sterile possession stuff, THAT’S boring.

  14. Yeah I see a wengerfan put a stat up about how many times gg finished behind spurs! I mean Cmon. For almost all of Wengers reign spurs have been shit or we have had double their wealth. Under George we were both pretty level in terms of wealth. And spurs always had top players then.

  15. Graham’s teams were almost always greater than the sum of their parts. You cannot say the same for Wenger, usually when we did win the title we had the best players, in fact the last time Fergie won the title man for man we had a better side but didn’t even get close.

  16. Dukey,

    With you Duke. That was football, real sport and what times they were. Watching that really brings home what we have lost, all of us.

    It is just impossible to now have such moments, such emotion-fans and players- now. All gone and gone for good. We were lucky to see it, experience it and share it. Not many have and very few since.

  17. Barca have never won in Turin. ‘Little Club’ Arsenal have – RIP Paul Vaessen – but that was of course pre-Premier League so maybe it doesn’t count.

  18. Oh, yes, and while I’m complaining does anyone think that Bellerin and Walcott can play together? I don’t. They are both right-footed out-and-out wingers. They just get in each other’s way. Bellerin needs to play with an inverted winger (e.g. Lucas) who will play fetch with Bellerin (the way Alexis does with Monreal). The team also needs a left-footed player on that side who will be more inclined to drop into the midfield and help out.

  19. Get Allegri on the phone Ivan, a few weeks back he was virtually inviting a call. If Stan thinks that Wenger is a better option then he needs a mental health assessment.

  20. Been reading up on todays posts. I used to post on a different Arsenal blog before I got banned for critizing AW to much and I had to educate alot of them about the Graham years cause as soon as his name were mentioned it was boring boring Arsebnal. In fact they were one of the highest scoring outfits in the old 1st div during the Graham era. Only the last 2 were things were falling apart di they have poor goalscoring years

  21. For those of you waiting for Kroenke to interject himself…don’t bother. He has little to no interest in The Arsenal as a football club. Consider our club just another investment vehicle. We were simply a diversification of his portfolio. The success of the EPL alone guarantees his investment so why would he bother. It’s been said many times before. He has no interest in sport, which is the worst thing that could happen to any sports franchise.

  22. Wavey,

    I also believe it is the board likely holding on the announcement, not Wenger.

    Wenger is the face of the club and presents himself to the media several times a week. He can spin or imply matters as he wishes and we all (yet) take things at face value.

    However, I am re-assessing the views I (we all) have taken and finding some things do not add up -I might write a post later and explain further.

    I now think it too simplistic a take the board is simply waiting until the end of the season to announce Wenger is staying. It might be the inevitable outcome, but I do not believe the board has been quite as pliable as people presume.

  23. More ‘War Chest’ bullsh*t in the Mirror today (they actually use that term, do these people never learn?). Yes, it’s Wenger spending it, the sum? £200m apparently. Are they mad? Probably. Would the club be mad? Definitely, mad as a box of, er, crickets. 100% barking.

  24. DFS – The board will have absolutely no sentimental attachment to Wenger. They want a quiet life and if Wenger doesn’t offer that, he is toast.
    You’ve got to wonder how the board feels about a player like Alexis wandering out the door and Wenger, presumably, telling them he will need at least 50 – 60 million just to replace him (if he can).

  25. From Arseblog. I think it is really telling:

    [And if you look at Elneny’s defensive line today, where he made just one tackle and had just one interception along with Xhaka who had 3 tackles and 0 interceptions, while Wilf Zaha completed 8/11 dribbles through Arsenal’s soft as a sow’s ear midfield, you can’t help but wonder if Arsenal are crying out for a player who is 50% Elneny and 50% Coquelin. And hopefully the 50% of each player that isn’t the shit bits.]

    In other words, Arsenal’s pressing really sucked. It’s great to keep possession, but possession-based sides are always wide open to the counter-attack when they lose the ball (just ask Fat Sam). That’s why they must step forward and press very quickly the moment they lose the ball (Pep’s six seconds). Opponents must be pressured so they can’t fire out a telling upfield ball. That is why Coquelin is so important, I’m afraid (in the absence of pressing from Elneny, Xhaka, etc etc). At the beginning of the year, he was getting into advanced positions and shutting down counter-attacks. Nobody does that now.

  26. Or to put it another way: possession based sides like Arsenal have a big advantage over a side like Crystal Palace that parks the bus. If Arsenal loses the ball, it loses it far from goal. So if it counter-presses and recovers the ball, it can catch counter-attacking teams when transitioning to attack and therefore disorganised. Arsenal basically just doesn’t bother. And that’s why Sanchez waves his arm about telling everybody to push forward.
    Tactically, at least, I think that’s Wenger’s biggest failing as a manager. He only understands half of the possession game (the easiest half).

  27. Freddo

    Elneny and Xhaka are both ball possession players. Elneny does not bring much to the table other then that and if he is not working his socks off to defend then he is not helping the team.

    Xhaka is a conundrum. He can make some eye catching passes and spray the ball around and he is very good at maintaining ball possession but those skills seem to be the main focus of what he does. He is not a good defender and he does not have the positional sense or the mobility to be able to cover the flank when the full backs go forward. Our best run of form in this decade happened when Le Coq was at his best covering the deepest part of the midfield in Jan – March 2015. We need top quality defense form our deepest midfield much much more then we need someone spraying passes around and Xhaka is just not a good defensive player.

  28. Freddo

    With Pep’s Barca teams their midfield that did a lot of the work to regain possession. With Xhaka and Ozil we have 2/3 of our starting midfield who are not very good at defending and that will make it very very difficult to press effectively.

  29. Bill I absolutely agree with all of that. If Arsenal has the ball deep in their opponent’s half (as they often do) and they lose the ball, Coquelin is the only player with the ability to step forward and close down any opponent with the ball to kill or disrupt the counter-attack early. And, if that doesn’t work, he has the range to cover the flanks.
    At the beginning of the year, Coquelin was getting forward and shutting down opponents on the edge of their penalty area and I thought: this is fantastic from a holding middie. But that’s what Busquets will do in that situation, though he’s nowhere near as mobile as Coquelin. In fact, if Arsenal’s structure is right it will be playing a high line and Coquelin won’t be all that far ahead of the centre-backs anyway.
    But if the opposition does manage to shift the ball upfield, then Coquelin will shield the back four.
    Too bad we didn’t get Kante. He’s Coquelin with technical skills.

  30. We need our deepest midfield to be a defensive player and not try to be a playmaker. Le Coq has the mobility and the engine the Xhaka does not have so in theory he is the best player on the roster to play in the deepest midfield spot. However that leaves no where for Xhaka to play and you don’t usually leave a $35M player sitting on the bench.

    The other problem is Le Coq has fallen prey to whatever has hit the whole team and he has been poor most of this season just like everyone else. He was great during his break out season in 14/15 but he was not as good last year and he has regressed this season.

  31. Bill – In Barca’s heyday (early Pep) even Messi was a ferocious defender. I don’t think Barca were ever really as effective a unit when Messi lost interest in defending. Just created another hole in the bucket. That was when Pep saw the writing on the wall.
    Who knows why Kante went to Chelsea. I hope Arsene was prepared to pay a king’s ransom if necessary. But I can easily imagine him thinking he’d rather have a Swiss chap who can hit lovely long passes.

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