So let’s dive straight in. Arsène laid himself bare to significant criticism at his press conference yesterday, with the one-two applied by Pep Guardiola at his.
Before I start though, I do acknowledge he is particularly sensitive to football’s morality, and understandably so when you recall his time in France. Marseille’s corruption was very real and not perceived.
Oh, for God’s sake; I know it was cod psychology,
“We have two leagues. For example we had to fight very hard at Stoke and Southampton but some teams once they are safe just have a breather, which didn’t happen 10 years ago. The league has changed mentally. Morally it has changed a lot.”
No. No, it hasn’t. Stoke and Southampton, according to their respective managers, were on the beach. Clubs have always been on the beach for decades. West Brom and Watford are like West Ham; they aren’t there to do your job for you, Arsène.
We won’t finish in the top four because you weren’t good enough at your job. Pep reckons Bayern or Barcelona would have sacked him for third place.
You knew the score when you decided to stay at Arsenal all those years ago.
The Oldest Profession Has Better Morals
The morality of clubs has changed; they care only for money and don’t like it when fans judge them. They want the opera crowd as supporters; customers who pay through the roof no matter how poor the product.
Despite his claims that “we have done our job well to the end”, Wenger is horribly wrong. We were on the beach every time we travelled to a big game. We were on the beach in the second half in Munich.
It’s no good claiming that results meant we qualified at half-time in both matches. Only the bookmakers care about half-time scores. The reality is that yet again, we were found wanting on the big stage. Horribly so, as the record books show.
Guardiola has experience of the maletin. He dismissed the notion that English football is unique in its’ competitiveness:
“Every club is different, every manager is different. Football is 11-v-11, the same pitch. Of course in every country, the weather conditions are different, the referees, it can be more physical.
“But it’s the same with football everywhere, when Chelsea won it’s because they played better, more consistent. But I’m here to [be] helped so maybe you can tell me why it’s so special. You English guys – why is it so special? I’m not from here, I don’t know the answer.”
It’s only another three months until we’re told to judge Wenger in May. That’s as specious as his arguments yesterday and only slightly more irritating.
Time Is Tight, Points Are Tighter
Arsène had the money last summer to invest in the squad and didn’t do so wisely. Per Mertesacker was injured in July and Mustafi joined more than a month later. Our defensive weakness cost us three points on the opening day of the season.
And now we face Sunderland and Everton, knowing that most likely, six points isn’t enough to reach a basic target. If there was one because as he told us, Arsène isn’t set targets by the board.
Sunderland are down, Everton can’t improve on seventh or be caught by eighth. Two opponents who have nothing but pride to play for. Two opponents who are now utterly motivated by Wenger’s jibes. David Moyes can’t inspire the Black Cats squad; Arsène has done his team talk for him.
Loose talk, Monsieur Wenger; loose talk. And it’s tiresome; everybody else is to blame.
We get a hint of the future tonight. Koscielny is probably out, the same for Alexis. I’m sure the Chilean wants to play but give the man a rest.
It means a return for Alex Iwobi and Kieran Gibbs, with Nacho shifting to the third central defensive slot. No issues with either, to be honest. It’s, on paper, still a good enough team to beat Sunderland:
Cech; Mustafi, Holding, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Gibbs; Özil, Iwobi; Giroud
Yes, Giroud up front. He’s in a scoring vein so best to keep him leading the line until the barren spell hits once again. Three points rather than the usual stalemate, if you don’t mind.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.