Newcastle United: There’s Only One Man Baffled By It All…

Congratulations to Manchester City, the best team in this country by some distance. I’m not going to be churlish and draw attention to unbeaten seasons; it’s unbecoming.

Were Manchester United were humiliated more by yesterday’s events? Being the victims who hand over the title in defeat must be a deeply unpleasant experience. But watching your team lose at home to the hopelessly inept team at the bottom of the Premier League, knowing that defeat handed the title to your local rivals? Surely that’s worse?

The astute will note that it’s a case of anything but talk about Arsenal’s defeat at Newcastle this bright and sunny morning. It won’t last, of course, and as I type this, the dark clouds provide a momentary interlude.

Honestly, I’m beyond knowing where to start. I’m a lot less emotionally eviscerated by the result and performance this morning. More phlegmatic, which is why I am grateful for the moment of sanity which prevented the anger spilling into a vitriolic post, ranting against the manager. No purpose is served, beyond making me feel better for the briefest of instances.

Those who defend the manager always laughed at the hyperbole of ‘we’re the worst team in the land’ type comments. Well, it’s a fact. Arsenal are the only one of the 92 professional clubs without an away win this year. Even Chesterfield who prop up the Football League have won away from home in 2018.

To those hardy souls who carry the baton at away games, my sympathies. Hopefully, the social side of the day makes up for it all. It always used to back in the day when results and performances failed to materialise. And that’s quite a frequent occurrence these days.

Where’s the Three-man Defence Going to Gestate? You Going to Keep it in a Box?

So, to the reason we’re here today and where to begin? For a brief spell, the hope of a victory filled the air. Alexandre Lacazette’s fine finish hinted at a potent partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Credit Shkodran Mustafi for an exquisitely weighted raking pass into PEA’s path.

Not that there was much design on Wenger’s part for the partnership. PEA was the square peg pushed into a round hole, played on the left albeit moving into a more central role whenever he could. The manager doesn’t have a plan to play the pair together; there’s no semblance of a tactical overhaul which makes the best use of his assets. Sigh.

Before I take issue with the performance, a brief pause to commend Chris Willock for a solid Premier League debut in testing circumstances. Plenty of promise for the future in what will surely be better Arsenal sides.

But the rest. Wenger tried to blame the trip to Russia for the poverty of some performances. According to the Frenchman, “you could see that some players had played on Thursday night, especially late in the game.”

That’s why you have substitutes; when a player is tired, replace him. It’s the sort of thing you expect a manager to be acutely aware of; Elneny might be knackered after his exertions, keep an eye on Mustafi and Monreal while you’re at it.

Yesterday’s bench had a centre-back, right-back and left-back. OK, Maitland-Niles is versatile, but the point is that two of the players seemed specifically picked to accommodate tiredness in colleagues. Wenger didn’t react to that, instead being left to chase the game long after it was over.

He’s not the Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy

It’s hard to take your eyes off Mustafi, a walking defensive disaster area. While Perez finished well for the equaliser, I can’t escape the feeling that a centre-back ought to be stopping that goalbound shot.

Shelvey had already played the pass for his forwards to chase a couple of time before the goal and they were willing runners, just like Shane Long. Ball-watching, Mustafi found himself unable to force Perez wider or react to the shot.

As for the second, if there were a criminal court for defending, Arsenal were guilty. Monreal didn’t clear well at all, and Mustafi gawped as Slimani headed back across goal. Ritchie’s determination was such that he was never going to be stopped from equalising.

Ultimately, none of this matters. We lurch from one bad performance to another, unable to find any consistency. There’s no point in looking ahead because we are such a Jekyll and Hyde team, no-one can tell how we will play, least of all the manager.

He told Sky after the match that it was “baffling how we lost this game”, that “It is a little bit of the story of the season away from home: we went 1-0 up, we don’t put the game to bed and we made mistakes defensively.”

If it’s the story of the season, why aren’t you addressing it? Because it’s a trifling matter, the stuff a visionary such as Arsène can’t be expected to deal with. That’s for lesser mortals and their teams.

He offered little proof that he is the man to save the day.

“How do we address it?”

Do tell, do tell.

“By not making the same errors we have up to now, it’s quite baffling because traditionally we have been very strong away from home.”

Jesus wept.

’til Tomorrow.

47 thoughts on “Newcastle United: There’s Only One Man Baffled By It All…

  1. “Were Manchester United were humiliated more by yesterday’s events?”
    Understand this, I do not.

  2. Good day all, and well done to Man C for winning the league with some emphatic performances. Less said about the result on Sunday. We got what we deserved (nothing!).

  3. Have to agree YW: the thousands of loyal Arsenal fans that follow Arsenal away from home have had a terrible season. Stacks of Sunday games with very little to cheer. Can’t be much fun.

    It feels that Wenger is sucking the life out of the Club with every week that passes.

  4. We played our usual game and we might have scored some more goals if we had direct players on. As usual, Wenger OUT: as soon as possible.

  5. Morning YW the madness and mayhem continues. I cant physically watch AW give any kind of interview. It’s to much.

    There is absolutely no chance at all that this Manager has the ability and capacity to put together a cohesive pragmatic system and style of play that becomes a template for the Team.

    Arsenal have no chance of getting close( you note I use the word close and not challenging) to City next season for the PL.

    This morning as He enters Colney He knows and is fully aware that The Squad he’s amassed is not in sync. It’s a Team – Squad that has gone as far as it can under his tenure.

    AW for a very brief period had everybody playing and performing to the same Score. The various sections of the Orchestra knew their roles.

    The Rhythm Section allows the Imporovjsers to go and do their individual thing. Its become more like Sun Ra rather than Duke Ellington chaotic a cacophny of Sound with very little direction and substance

  6. With hindsight it seems clear that the root of our subsequent decline lay in the 2006/07 season. The season that we left our historic home at Highbury for the souless bowl of the Emirates Stadium.

    That summer we lost DB10, Pires, Campbell, Cole and in January Lauren amongst others. For a man who constantly states that bringing in more than 2 or 3 players is disruptive that was just crazy (interesting to note that every one of those players was superior to any that we have in their positions now).

    Later David Dein left the club and eventually we finished fourth some twenty-one points behind winners ManU. In Europe we lost our in R16 to PSV. In the FA Cup we lost to Blackburn. The only bright note was an appearance in the League Cup final but in his arrogance Wenger sent out the youngsters and we lost to Chelsea.

    Bar the brief promise of project youth in 2007/8 the seasons ever since have been ones of mediocrity, poor wage control and a misguided philosophy whereby to entertain was deemed more important than actually winning. Where financial prudence was celebrated and investing in the best players considered vulgar. Winning football matches was no longer the first priority and it showed.

    Wenger was never a great coach. He introduced modern dietary and fitness approaches to the English game it’s true but that advantage has long since gone and he has little left to offer. He should have gone years ago but if it’s to be this summer then better late than never. Then we can get back to being a football club again.

  7. I know Mustafi is getting slaughtered but why does it seem impossible for Holding to track balls played over the top? Where was Nacho and why can’t Cech come off his line and help his defenders ever?

    Fuck it, Im taking positives. Lacazette and Aubameyang seemed to be able to play together as they regularly swapped positions and looked for each other. Aubameyang had so much space on the left flank but we were unable to get him the ball enough, with Ozil I think its a different story.

  8. Phil, maybe Burnley and Leicester can sell some of their better players. Would give us a better chance, let’s hope they don’t buy better players..

    Oh the netball final was rather good wasn’t it!

  9. Great review yogi.

    This season we are on a pace to concede the most goals, collect the fewest points and have the worst goal differential of the 20+ Wenger era. Arsene needs a change of scenery or to retire.

  10. We paid £35 million for Mustaphi and he plays for Germany for God’s sake – why can’t he perform for Arsenal?
    Was anyone actually surprised by yesterday’s loss? I wasn’t expecting us to win.
    Anyway, the top 6 is like a trophy, isn’t it?

  11. Since the departure of Sol Campbell, the list of CB horror shows has been long and distinguished.
    Stephanovs
    Vermaelen
    Silvestre
    Schilacci
    Djourou
    Senderos

    How do we manage to pick some many duds?

  12. Dukey:
    Disappointed that our new makelele got out shone by Jonny Jon Jon Jo shelvey.!

    Elneny is not a bad player but he should be an early round cup team and squad player but not a regular starter . The idea that we are a better defensive team with him in the line up or the things he does somehow bring balance to the side are misguided. IMO.

  13. We were on a winning streak and the feeling of warmth was returning to the experience of watching. Then cruel reality bites back.

    The good news?

    One less game he will be in charge of has done nothing to argue for prolonging the torture.

  14. I didn’t see the game, I long gave up watching Arsenal teams that are managed by Wenger, it irritates me too much now, but I am waiting, hoping, that one day Wenger will leave and some optimism can return about the future of our great club that I have watched since the late 60’s, following a family tradition since the Woolwich Arsenal days at the end of the 19th century…this is NOT Wenger’s club…
    but I have to disagree with most of the comments though: to me, and I’m not a footballer, just a construction lawyer, but this looks like a good squad if managed properly. Sure there are some upgrades required, but it should be competing for a top 4 spot just as it is. If Wenger stays next season, we will be looking at a season that really resembles 94/95. Lets hope he wins the EL and leaves on a high.

  15. Right so its on Elneny, funny because last time I checked Shelvey was hitting those ball over our midfield and not only that but Shelvey plays basicallly as their deeply playmaker. You lot sure do know how to latch onto one player and ride it out

  16. Why was Chambers starting at RB against Kenedy who is a quality young pacy Brazilian winger who is highly rated but a bit of a headcase when Chambers maybe the slowest player in the squad not named Mert? If he does play RB then why have him play like Bellerin minus Bellerin’s pace.

  17. C

    It’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that our defense would have improved with Bellerin on the pitch. The whole defense has been especially bad this year and the right side of our defensive formation has been the weakest link since Sagna left

  18. Bill,

    Sorry mate, have to disagree with you. Bellerin at least outpaces Kenedy which helps but that wasn’t the problem for the goals nor was it the point that I was making. The point was, why tactically would you put Chambers at RB when Kenedy is starting for Newcastle.

    The right side being the weak link, I would beg to differ but I think there is a lot that goes into that but its not something I care to discuss as there will be plenty of time for that over the summer.

  19. Dukey,
    Typical, you avoid all the other golds, and hone in on the netball !
    But yes a good win by our your women against the World number 1.

  20. Bill,
    Mustafi plays on the right.
    Bellerin had a slow start, but I think he is getting back to the form that made him a great talent

  21. MOTM: Chambers. No one found an open Newcastle player as often as he did. Newcastle could not have done it without him.

  22. Phil

    When Hector first came up he looked like a top prospect just like Iwobe and dozens of others like them. Unfortunately just like almost all of the rest of our other highly rated u21 players he has dropped off significantly and appears to have hit a plateau that is no where near as high as we had hoped. That pattern has been almost 100% predictable.

    When Hector first arrived he was a decent defensive player but looked really dynamic on the attacking end. Unfortunately his defense dropped off so dramatically that he became unusable and Arsene actually had to drop him last season. Over the course of this season his defense has improved to being closer to a reasonable baseline but his ability to have much positive influence on the attacking end has fallen off to the point where its no longer any better then his defense. What we are left with is a player who is no better then average on both ends of the pitch. I don’t think he is a liability anymore but he is certainly not worth anywhere close to the high dollar transfer fees we have heard about. If no one wants to buy him then he will be our RB. However, if someone is really willing to pay a $50M transfer fee for an average full back then we would be absolutely crazy to say not to sell him. Liverpool got Andy Robertson from Hull for $8M and there is not doubt we could take $50M and get a good fullback and still have a lot of money leftover to spend on the GK, CB, DM and wide forwards we need. That seems like a no brainer.

  23. Anyone who has watched Hector play for the last couple of seasons as much as we have would never even consider spending the huge amounts we have heard about to buy him. We have to hope that someone uses u-tube and reputation to scout him. I suspect the stories that we have heard about how much he is worth are probably rubbish. It would make more sense to keep him if his value is really $25M or less.

    We claim to be a club that has to make smart decisions with its money but if someone actually offers us $50M for Hector and we refuse it would mean that we will have spent about $120M on Xhaka, Mustafi and Bellerin and look what it has bought us.

  24. C:
    Right so its on Elneny, funny because last time I checked Shelvey was hitting those ball over our midfield and not only that but Shelvey plays basicallly as their deeply playmaker. You lot sure do know how to latch onto one player and ride it out

    Totally agree .

    I’ve got to the point where I just often just skip over particular comments because they’re a bit like Wenger: stale, clueless, repetitive, and unimaginative.

  25. We can go on about how poor our defenders are as much as we like but IMO there is no way we can judge them until they actually get some decent coaching and play in a set up that realises that football isn’t just attacking like school kids, defending is an important part of the game too.

    Crap players aren’t part of World Cup winning squads and Hector is probably our best full back prospect since we lost Ashley Cole. If we fuck them up there’s no-one to blame but ourselves.

  26. I see Merson must be back on the sauce again.

    Apparently if Wenger leaves he will get another job in 2 seconds flat and will probably come back to haunt Arsenal.

    No competitive club with a board whose collective IQ gets into double figures would hire the deluded fraud in the first place, and thus he wouldn’t luck into meeting Arsenal in a competitive match with a team capable of beating us despite his “management”.

  27. MikeSA,

    I for one would be happy to see him move on and try his luck elsewhere!!! Sadly, as you say, no top club would be stupid enough to hire him now. His only role now would be at the international level, the type of role where coaching is done by others day today and he receives the players from their clubs every few months for a week or two.

  28. Even the positivavistas know now that another manager would be able to drill these players to better results. But as ever they are so camped in behind Wenger they cannot and will not except anything other than its cazorla being injured or the refs fault we are playing like utter cunts. The players look like they dont give a rats arse…haven’t for ages. Question for the divas is , if Wenger is no longer able to motivate a bunch of players to run properly what else other than him going can we do..

  29. Bill,
    Think we will need to agree to disagree on Bellerin.
    I think he can be elite.
    Just needs a coach to assist with his development.

    And if we go down the path of selling our younger talent for big coin to a bigger club, just because the cheque is big, there is no turning back. We are no longer a big club.

  30. MikeSA,

    I would rather be haunted by Wenger being successful elsewhere , then to have him currently haunting my dreams at the Arsenal.

  31. andy1886,

    Spot on about the defenders, remember when everybody said Gabriel was shit (and I tried to fight the good fight saying he wasn’t just no-nonsense) well he has been the anchor for Valencia who until recently were 2nd or 3rd in la liga.

    I don’t understand how people like my friend Bill can call Szczesny and Bellerin overrated because no big clubs want them yet Juve, Barca and Madrid have come calling for one (Szczesny to Juve) while the other one has had all 3 trying to get him on several occassions. We bang on about not having quality but its difficult to judge until we get a new man

  32. Congrata to our U18’s who reached the FA Youth Cup Final after putting Blackpool to the sword 5-0. They will face Chelsea in the Final.

  33. I agree entirely YW
    Why on earth blame tiredness when you are playing them
    I was hoping for back 3 with Mert to shepherd chambers holding again so we could play Kol and even Nelson as attacking right wing back
    I prefer a 0-0 to keep Burnley at arms length

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