AFC Bournemouth 2 – 1 Arsenal
38 is the target. That’s how far adrift of Blackburn Rovers we finished in 1994/95, a season continually held up as a benchmark of mediocrity. We’re plummeting toward that, with little sense of the famed handbrake being applied.
Soon to be crowned champions Manchester City, 23 points clear of us, stand a little further ahead than the 22 points Swansea City are behind us. We may not be in 10th but we certainly are mid-table points-wise.
The Alexis saga epitomises the dishevelled state of the club. Did he leave Saturday, Sunday or is it today? Who knows; Arsène doesn’t but then again Wenger barely seems to know whether he’s coming or going these days. A charge which is fairly levelled against the defence as well, after two highly avoidable Bournemouth goals turned the game on its head and the result against us.
Defeat at Dean Court made a compelling case for the manager’s contract being terminated early. Indeed, there’s no footballing justification for keeping him on. Junior, we’re told, isn’t scared to fire coaches but he lacks the power to get rid of Wenger. Daddy doesn’t want it; this is a Kroenke decision alone.
Arsène alluded to football being a results business ahead of this game. If it is, he did himself no favours by leaving his most productive forward at home. There will be no last hurrah for Alexis; slinking off through the side door is how Arsenal want him to leave; it’s how it will happen. Wenger decided on his final ignominy by dropping the Chilean because he couldn’t rely on him having spent six months doing exactly that.
What we’re left with is a squad Wenger can no longer inspire nor fix. He lacks the wit, the guile and football nous to survive in the Premier League.
For the Love of God, Just Go
Wenger can’t even inspire Lady Luck to plant a smacker on his lips. Ainsley Maitland-Niles thumped the crossbar in a lacklustre first half while Calum Chambers blocked a goalbound effort at the other end. Petr Cech was behind him poised and pouncing but there was no guarantee he would save it as we would later find to our cost.
Hector Bellerin’s goal via Begovic’s body gave us a lead we barely deserved before the unsurprising capitulation arrived. Ten points dropped from leading positions is a damning tale of this season and defensively, we are a joke. How bad must Alvaro Morata’s form be to miss the hatful of chances against us that he did?
Cech didn’t read the cross; Wilson nipped into score first. In a familiar scene, there were half-a-dozen defenders making errors schoolboys would be ashamed of. Four defenders chased the ball on the right, leaving two in the middle. Why four were drawn to the ball is unforgivable. Naivety is a familiar name on our teamsheet, while we’re regularly seeing that Petr Cech is ready for the knacker’s yard.
If the first didn’t make you fully cognisant of that fact, the slow reactions to the second surely did. Two goals in five minutes underline the folly of Wenger’s policy of not having a strong leader on the pitch. We don’t have a calming influence or one to grab the team by the throat when they need it. An outdated policy from an out of touch man.
This isn’t giving the team a free pass either. The only one who shows any passion is Jack; the rest don’t get it or are in for a free ride. Some will understand over time but too many of them are freeloaders.
The players have it too easy. As soon as one with a personality or will-to-win surfaces, they are moved on because it upsets the dressing room. We have some bright players whose light is dimmed thanks to the poverty of the training. The photos say they lark and joke around at Colney but the serious business leaves them bereft of ideas.
Early promise fades quicker than ever before. Rob Holding went from the new Cannavaro to the new Canhekickit with a short space of time as confidence ebbed away and was run over by the London bus Wenger threw him under. Chambers, Bellerin, and Iwobi too. Indulged, untrained in their defensive roles; Maitland-Niles as another square peg in a round hole.
Wenger is too fond and guilty of failing to build squads. His summers continually reflect the lack of a plan. Too wrapped up in replacing Alexis last time around, he neglected to build a squad around a back three because he doesn’t believe in the formation. That transmits to the players whose confidence is fading quicker than cheap ink on expensive paper.
Football is a results business and by every benchmark Wenger set down the years – from challenging for and winning the title to the top four trophy – he is failing. There is no plan to return to former glories because the manager does not know how. Every defeat sees him stand like a deer in television’s headlights, unable to cope with the business of football.
He knows his time is up but he is unable to let go. In his ideal world, Steve Bould would take over while he moved upstairs as a puppetmaster but that cannot be allowed to happen.
Cut the Ties That Bind
Sadly, Bouldy is tarnished by the Wenger brush; this club needs a new broom at the top, an experienced interim manager to take charge and shake the players out of their complacency.
It is no country for raw young men. It’s no place for Arteta or any other former player this time around. Theirs is an era to happen two or three seasons down the line. A philosophical change has to happen at the club; ruthlessness on the training ground where cosseted egos from players who are not good enough, are told home truths.
Arsène Wenger doesn’t believe in that and mediocrity overtook his squad, mobbed up and over-ran the club. There used to be a football club over there but now it’s just an edifice of folly.