Manchester City Preview: It’s All About the Manager (Again)…

If London’s weather is anything like here, an already thin crowd will be sparser this evening. Highbury’s record low of 4k isn’t under threat but comfortably, if tonight’s match goes ahead, the attendance will be the lowest at the Emirates.

That’s no surprise. Arsène gave his usual line of defence at yesterday’s press conference. Basically, Arsenal owe him a living because he turned down everyone else down through the years. No names, no pack drill but we all know with whom he flirted every time a contract was due for renewal. He stayed for two reasons: control and security, neither of which came elsewhere.

So we reach the regular weekly convocation at London Colney. The questions came and the language is florid and evocative. Nobody expected him to resign but a little mea culpa goes a long way. We’re beyond that now.

Arsène quelled his Wildean spirit long enough to call for perspective. “We have lost a final”, he said, blaming those pesky fans for being used to “going to Wembley and winning.”

Wilfully obtuse or noodling into his dotage? It must be the former otherwise the players wouldn’t respond to him.

The pressure on him is immense and under these circumstances, media activities are surely unpleasant. That’s part and parcel of the £12m salary he is unable to walk away from. He gave Kroenke an out: “My job is to focus on performing and my job is to perform.”

It entwines with Ivan’s 2011 mantra about the relationship between Wenger and the fans. To paraphrase, the manager will be out if his relationship with us breaks down. No amount of superglue to repair it. Twice he’s ignored the opportunity to walk off into the sunset with a trophy tucked under his belt; there isn’t likely to be a third time lucky.

Sap Our Strength

The perspective Wenger wants isn’t one he is prepared to publicly agree with. Our form is awful this year with six defeats in 12 against opposition – Manchester City and Tottenham aside – which is distinctly average. Losing to Östersunds at home didn’t impact on the aggregate but it reinforced the negative aspects of our form. Another defeat to a team we shouldn’t lose to.

Gary Neville gave Sky what they wanted when he savaged the team on Sunday. It provoked the social media activists who proclaimed the former United man was a pundit because he was a crap manager. Or he loved City because of the money they spent. Basically, anything but admitting he was right when he criticised our style of play.

That was always Wenger’s Get Out of Jail Free card: Wengerball. We didn’t win much silverware but we looked good losing. The media had his back; they do now but only for stabbing practice.

It’s the reality of his situation. Tetchiness about journalists job security doesn’t stop the questions being asked. Wenger can feel the walls closing in on him and knows results are the only way to stop it happening. There isn’t an accomplice to help him. We face the consequences of our electronic echo chambers, he has the same with the coaching staff who are afraid to take his methods to task.

The result is a more ‘direct’ style of play. Simple passing and movement are no longer effective. Where we once laboured but eventually broke sides down with pass after pass, we now labour. The ‘out ball’ is a defender putting his foot through the ball and asking Cat to chase. It’s not an ‘out ball’ if he doesn’t get to it; it’s just a ball that is coming right back at you.

Lose the Truth in a Complex of Lies

Arsenal is a club in desperate need of revitalisation. We need fresh blood. Chips talking about breaking the club’s transfer record twice means nothing when the money isn’t spent wisely. A squad with gaping holes all over the pitch is not going to be repaired by two £50m strikers. They help but you still need goalkeepers, defenders and midfielders to come in.

And underpinning it all, you need an effective managerial philosophy.

Someone talked out of school later in the day. Jack Wilshere rejected the contract offer on the table and inevitably is heading for the exit. Tough-talking through the back pages by club and player. It’s the way of the world, mirroring the brinkmanship of the Brexit negotiations. How talks between Jack and Arsenal are going is anyone’s guess and within that, everyone has a view on whether the club’s stance is right or wrong.

Wilshere holds the whip hand. Arsenal staved off disaster with Mesut Özil staying but the England midfielder presents another problem. Not only for the midfield but in being homegrown. Reliance on youngsters to fill those quotas continues the problems of a dual-stream squad; we lack the depth when injuries and loss of form strikes. There’s a balance to be had and we’re heading in the wrong direction at present.

Anyway, to tonight’s game if it goes ahead. Sunday’s team with Mkhitaryan coming in. Defensively, we’ll switch to a four with Chambers making way. We’ll either put in a performance which makes you wonder why we play so awfully most weeks or get shredded.

The line-up:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Ramsey; Wilshere, Özil, Mkhitaryan; Aubameyang

Enjoy the match (if it goes ahead) wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

 

219 thoughts on “Manchester City Preview: It’s All About the Manager (Again)…

  1. consolsbob says:

    agunloye seun,

    Not at all amusing. This is football. Killing? No. Not here, just plain silly talk.

  2. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    We are like practice cones that they run around. So much for being fired up after the abysmal final eh?

    I thought they did look more up for it at the start, worked hard and tried to show some pride for the shirt. But that faded fairly quickly and then same, same.

    Lots of empty seats and lots of booing. This isn’t ok, in fact pretty far from ok.

  3. HenryB says:

    Having seen the Citeh goals again, C, I just do not know that Arsenal could have stopped them even by giving away a foul — Sané, Bernardo, et al are just too fast for them.

    Just don’t know what to make of that half — it would be wrong to ignore the brilliance of Citeh, but it is also impossible to ignore the fact Arsenal have some very ordinary players, and are being torn apart by losing the ball, and doing too much sideways and backwards passing. Poor.

  4. Bill says:

    This squad looks decent on paper but not on the pitch. A new manager can help but we need more then that. First we need a new manager and then a significant squad overhaul.

  5. C says:

    Bill,

    Sure Elneny didn’t look good against Nottingham Forest (but lets be honest, nobody did and a large part of why we lost is because our CB’s couldn’t handle their young CF) but your pointing out 1 match, FFS we have 2 full seasons of Ramsey and Xhaka to know that together they are shit defensively. I mean Elnney would at least try defensively and be in position and give a fuck. I’m sorry, I can’t agree with you there.

    Maitland-Niles against Ousterands problem wasn’t defensively it was his passing and how nonchalant he was on the ball leading to losing possession.

  6. Nickerless Bender says:

    Three nil down. Emirates half empty and we are supposed to be part of the elite

    Irony is that we played well… Shitty are about three thousand leagues better.

    If you don’t laugh you will cry!

  7. consolsbob says:

    What makes you such a fraud, Henry, is your taking us here for idiots.

    We have experienced those with your supposed ideas but not your hypocrisy. We have opposed the continuance of Wenger’s reign since before the split with the deluded ones while you try to play both ends against the middle. Do they ignore you over there because even they can spot a fraud or are you just trying too hard?

    You are taking the piss. How do you get your kicks? You obviously don’t give a fuck about football or, you know, holding an actual opinion.

  8. C says:

    HenryB,

    I don’t believe that they are quicker, don’t get me wrong, Citeh look like they have gears they can still go through, but FFS make a tackle midfield when Sane is storming through you, how about WTF was Cech diving at for Sane’s goal because Bellerin was standing there.

    We have quite a few ordinary players and those that I think need to go immediately. I mean lets be honest, Citeh lose Sterling to an injury and replace him with Bernardo Silva; Arsenal have an injury to Lacazette and he is replaced essentially by Welbck and Iwobi

  9. Ras says:

    Good Evening All. I see Nada changes. I’m not going to torture myself and watch this charade.

    The noose tightens slowly but surely around Arsene’s neck. ………

    After all We are lucky to have him….

  10. C says:

    Bellerin to Mhkitaryan and he draws the penalty.

  11. Wavey says:

    HenryB,

    But we are playing into their hands. Ramsey surges forward and slips it to Xhaka with both being deep in Citeh’s half. Xhaka plays a poor ball to the edge of the box which is headed away. Luckily Kos (also a fair way inside the Citeh half) heads it back up the pitch. If he had missed it they would had half the pitch to go with only Mustafi to beat.

  12. consolsbob says:

    Another player shorn of confidence and so quickly too.

  13. Adam Singh says:

    Aubameyang’s gone shite then. Didn’t take long.

  14. C says:

    When it rains it pours.

    I mean Messi and Ronaldo miss their fairshare(more than you would think) but we needed that.

  15. consolsbob says:

    C,

    Only that Henry, so keen to engage you in conversation is a wind up merchant who posts on the positivistas site in support of Arsène and here against him.

    He is a fraud.

  16. C says:

    Cech again almost cocks it up and the only thing that saves him is luck.

  17. Bufallo says:

    Think somebody should show Aubemyang a Shearer penalty…..psyched out by the goalie and looked as if he’d miss. Very weak penalty. No conviction, welcome aboard, didn’t take him long to learn the basics of Wenger’s Arsenal….

  18. Adam Singh says:

    Is Welbeck turning into Sanogoals?

  19. Wavey says:

    Everything about that penalty was wrong. Telegraphed where it was going, too close the keeper and perfect height.

  20. HenryB says:

    Wavey @ 8:55

    I know – you are right., of course, but we do not have anyone on the bench to change things.

  21. consolsbob says:

    He looked nervous. His eyes were not right.

  22. C says:

    consolsbob,

    I don’t venture to the positivistas site as I went once and got into it and never went back. That is interesting, I have just seen you having a go at Henry recently and didn’t know if I missed something.

  23. C says:

    Anybody think that Arsene tried to wind up Pep and Pep told his players, “Go out there and bury them and make Arsene pay for having a go at me”?

  24. HenryB says:

    We are really trying in this half — but we are not getting the rub of the green.

  25. Ras says:

    HenryB,

    Hello Henry this team under performs in many facets. Wengers teams have primarily been the teams that has dominated possession.

    This current has no clue about what to do when not in possession of the ball. Another glaring weakness is that when the ball goes out of play the Players switch off. The number of goals we have conceded because of this is terrible.

    There is virtually nobe to very little in ‘game management ‘ on or off the field.

    The assembled squad is top heavy in that there is an over emphasis on midfield at tacking no 10s. There is not 1 true CDM of quality. There are to many players whom are constantly injured, Ramsey and Wilshire instantly come to mind.

    There are no Leaders, fighters, nobody whom you would go into the trenches with.

    Not one of the current défense would have got into the Arsenal team when Lauren, Sol, Kolo, Winterburn played. They are ALL to nice.

    Bergkamp, Anelka, Wrighty, Henry, Adams, Sol, Kolo, G Silva ALL knew how to look after themselves and Tesm mates on the pitch. It’s an assembled group of ‘ Nice’ players in the image of AW.

  26. Bufallo says:

    Myaybe Wenger should try changing something…….i mean rocket science isn’t it….

  27. Bufallo says:

    HenryB we are not really trying….we are heads down beaten, having a vague go….just doing enough so their isn’t total mutiny from the fans

  28. Bufallo says:

    Rub of the green…..make your own luck. Don’t miss penalties. Capatilise when ManCity go off the boil in the second half. Rub of the green my arse

  29. consolsbob says:

    C,

    No reason why you should but I sussed Henry a long time ago. You notice how he doesn’t respond to my posts calling him out?

    He is a wum. Plain and simple.

  30. Bufallo says:

    Sideways pass sideways pass back to keeper…..doesn’t even feel like we’re trying to get back into this game….no urgency whatsoever

  31. Dukey says:

    Well it looks like Auba doesn’t offer a lot.

  32. HenryB says:

    Buffalo,

    Can’t argue with that –but even a little more effort is better than the first half efforts.
    Grasping at straws, I know.

  33. Dukey says:

    We are missing giroud and wallcott.

  34. Dukey says:

    The jumble sale has left us worse.

  35. Dukey says:

    Deary me we are ordinary now. Just plain old mediocre.

  36. HenryB says:

    Ras @ 9:11

    Salut, mon ami, I agree with everything you say. There is too many same/same players and even the attacking midfielders are just not too good.

    In the second half Citeh have taken their foot off the gas, otherwise it could have been an even bigger rout.

  37. Bufallo says:

    How can the ownership of the club be happy with all of this…..baffles me. They seem to be
    determined to go down with Wenger all playing in the band together. They must ignore every single person they meet saying time is up for Wenger. Collective madness.

  38. Dukey says:

    We’re unbalanced, we’re lop sided. I can’t see where the goals are coming from, I can’t see where the threat is coming from.

  39. C says:

    consolsbob,

    Yea, I was trying to follow and I did notice he doesn’t respond which is also part of the reason I asked.

  40. Bufallo says:

    When did anyone last see Steve Bould or anyone from the Arsenal bench stand the f@ck up…..as limp as the team, the perfect reflection of the wimps on the pitch

  41. Wavey says:

    After tonight we need to win all of the remaining games to match last season’s points tally. So having dropped out of the top 4 last season, we have to play out of our skins for the rest of the season to match a total which was only good enough for 5th.

  42. Dukey says:

    Mickytaryan looks like another utd dud.

  43. Wavey says:

    Bufallo,

    Josh picked the perfect time to carry out his review. Ivan has to be loving it. He’ll be saying, “see, I told you he’d lost the dressing room”.

  44. Wavey says:

    Can you believe the crowd are singing “there’s only one Arsenal Wenger”? Is it the Citeh fans?

  45. C says:

    Wavey,

    Yes it is the Citeh supporters but it could also be Gooners having a go at thr AKB’s as they have done a couple times this season.

  46. C says:

    On the bright side, I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post😂

  47. lari03 says:

    2 games same score, predicted outcomes materialized. Wenger Out!

  48. lari03 says:

    C:
    On the bright side, I can’t wait to read tomorrow’s post
    Same here.

  49. Wavey says:

    C,

    YW has dodged the match review again. It’s Darius tomorrow.

  50. MikeSA says:

    Wenger will insist we came back well and drew the second half, ignoring that Citeh hardly let us touch the ball in the second half and we had 9 outfield players in defense.

  51. consolsbob says:

    It’s just a bit sad, we don’t even moan much now,. We expect no better.

  52. Nickerless Bender says:

    Did anyone notice… no substitute’s? Or did I miss summing?

  53. lari03 says:

    I think for the next game resign now should be the slogan. My thoughts are with Pete, who went to the Emirates, hope you get back home safe and early enough.

    At this rate, some irate bugger might begin to think of murdering Mr Wenger.

  54. HenryB says:

    Wavey,

    I cannot believe anyone would be singing that after dreadful losses to Ost, and the two Citeh games — except for the Citeh fans rubbing it in.

    We could have played until midnight and never scored – and if we did then Citeh could have moved up to 2nd gear and scored another.

  55. MikeSA says:

    consolsbob,

    True, I can’t even feel upset even when I do bother to watch.

    The only thing I was wondering this evening was whether Arsene had begged Pep at half time not to get him fired.

  56. Wavey says:

    consolsbob,

    It’s sad when no one expects. And the only bit of credit you can claim is that they didn’t score in the second half.

  57. Ras says:

    Wenger Post match press conference is going to be fun.

    What excuses is Arsene going to invent.

    There is a first time for everything in life. The Josh Kroenke visit may just turn out to be timely. The results this season and the continuing decline are evidence that it’s over.

    He’s going to be gone this summer.Ive no idea how it’s going to come about but he’s a Dead Manager walking. It’s just a matter of time. The Boss knows it, the players know it, the Board know it. Everybody knows it.

  58. Bill says:

    I actually thought we might be able to pull off a shock result tonight. Yeah right.

  59. lari03 says:

    No moaning, because we are used to this tragicomedy. It does feel like the beginning of the end though, like the soundtrack of this movie has shifted to some ominous music signalling the worst of the works, about to happen. In our case things won’t get worse than Wenger.

  60. C says:

    consolsbob,

    Yup, I am normally optimistic but everything just feels……sad, stale and like its at the end but because one thing won’t change(Arsene), we are stuck in an endless loop

  61. consolsbob says:

    Wenger ducks it.

    Is Josh here?

    God help me. I am looking for a saviour in the spoilt brat son of an American millionaire who doesn’t know anything about, or care anything about, our club, our history and our sport.

    Arsenal, you have brought us to this. My Grandfather and father must be turning in their graves. Proud Arsenal men as they were.

  62. Ras says:

    MikeSA,

    I think they had a conversation Pep and Wenger.

    Pep said I resent your comment that I’m a cheque book Manager. Take it back or well put 6-7l past you.

    Wenger to Pep of course Pep anything you say..

  63. MikeSA says:

    Ras,

    I wish I could believe that.

    He’s been a dead man walking for several seasons but old Lazarus Wenger is still there.

    I tend to believe that some who have suggested he’ll still sign another extension are likely to be depressingly correct.

    I’d love to know how the fun bus are spinning this one.

    Actually, on reflection, I don’t.

  64. lari03 says:

    Feel like listening to Stan by Eminem and Dido.

  65. Dukey says:

    Them divas really need taking out the back and shooting. Fukin wet fishes.

  66. consolsbob says:

    Ask Henry. He is one of them, the wet fishes, I mean.

  67. andy1886 says:

    Any word yet from Arsene? Goodbye maybe?

  68. Alex Ice Cream says:

    When did we last lose 3-0 at home in the league?

    I can’t think of many times we were 3-0 down at home at HT. The 6-2 Rumbelows Cup defeat to Unted in 1991 is one but not in the league.

  69. consolsbob says:

    Never conceded three goals in the first half at home in the PL before. Never lost twice to Man City in the league for 42 years.

    Wenger keeps breaking records.

  70. andy1886 says:

    No sign of him going then, still thinks that he can turn it around. Utterly deluded, painfully so in fact.

  71. Alex Ice Cream says:

    Wenger continually outdoes himself and finds yet more ways to heap further humiliation upon us.

  72. andy1886 says:

    Quotes:

    Arsene Wenger told BBC Sport: “I feel we put a lot of effort in tonight. We played with low confidence, you could see that at the start of the game and we paid for it.

    “We needed the penalty to go in, but that was another negative. We lost to a team that is the best in the country at the moment.”

    Wenger, when asked by BBC Sport if Arsenal can compete with City: “It doesn’t look like that for you at the moment, but we have to put things in perspective. The players have been through a lot of difficulties. We have to accept that City are above us. The difference in the league is no coincidence.

    On the crowd: “You cannot be euphoric after what happened on Sunday, and again tonight. The weather explains it as well.”

  73. Wavey says:

    The players have been through a lot of difficulties. I agree, it must be difficult to be paid a fortune every week. It must be difficult to play for Wenger.

  74. MikeSA says:

    andy1886,

    I don’t think he actually thinks he can turn it around at all.

    At this stage I think he simply doesn’t want to go, that’s all.

  75. consolsbob says:

    So, what exactly have the players been through?

  76. Wavey says:

    “It was soft defending on our side.”

    If he has actually set out a team with the aim of initially frustrating them, rather than a free run at our defence.

  77. andy1886 says:

    Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Sky Sports: “I knew the first half would be difficult for us after Sunday. We needed at least to come in level at half-time but City took advantage of our lack of confidence. The team put a huge effort in but they’re going through a different period and their quality made it a difficult game for us.

    “The goals were preventable. I don’t think we can take away from the individual quality of the goals but it was soft defending on our side. After half-time we needed the penalty to go in to have a slight change to come back so that was a blow to us.”

    More Arsene Wenger: “It was tough but that’s explainable by the fact of what happened on Sunday and the consequences of the hype about our performance. It hits you. The players put in a huge effort today but unfortunately we had some weak defending.

    “We focus on performances and when the pressure is on like this you have to show that strong organisation and unite, not divide. You have to stay together, focus and work even harder to get the confidence back.

    “You don’t expect fans to be euphoric after losing 3-0. We have to earn the fans by the quality of our performance. It has to come from us.”

  78. andy1886 says:

    “the consequences of the hype about our performance”

    No, we were rubbish, no hype, no excuses. Are they so weak that if they are told they played badly they go to pieces and cry in the corner?

    Feeble manager with feeble excuses, no wonder we struggle.

  79. andy1886 says:

    And concludes with the usual nonsense about focusing on the next game, we can improve, blah, blah, blah….

    More from Arsene Wenger: “We want to focus on the next game and continue the effort we put in tonight. We’ve played twice against the best team in the country and it’s difficult for us, especially when it was not a good performance in the first game, but we have quality and want to show that.

    “I’m confident we can improve because we’ve done it before and I have confidence in the quality of the players.”

  80. Alex Ice Cream says:

    How about – I am utter shite as a manager and have been for some years. I can no longer pick or prepare a team and as a result we will keep getting battered.

  81. Wavey says:

    And another little gem from the AKB crowd:

    Sean: Too harsh on Wenger. Look at all he has done for the club over the years. A perennial contender, alway top 5 (not this year, obvs), promoted a great style of play in a long-ball league. Owners need to give him more money to keep up with the Manchesters, Chelsea, etc

    And this is one of the reasons why he gets the nod from the BoD all the time, idiots who believe he can do no wrong.

  82. Wavey says:

    Love the way he’s tweaked the narrative just a little as well:

    “always (sic) top 5”.

    I bet his mantra used to be “always top 4” until last season.

    Wenger apologists who just make me sick.

  83. Dukey says:

    Oh question time, about brexit! no doubt Jonny will be watching!!

  84. Wavey says:

    When you look at the table you have to assume that the 8 point gap to Chelsea is a bridge too far, as the 8 point gap we have over Burnley should be as well. The disturbing thing is our goal difference. Whilst everyone below us has a negative goal difference, Chelsea’s is over double ours. And when you look at it we have only scored a couple of goals less than United and the Spuds, but we have conceded nearly double the number of goals United have and are not far off that compared to Tottenham. So why does our focus remain on trying to score goals at any cost, when it’s our defence that so obviously lets us down?

  85. Phil says:

    Well, I did hope that by the time I got home, Wenger might have done the honourable thing and resigned.
    Another pathetic performance.
    Bereft of ideas, and zero confidence.
    Didn’t see Wenger out of his seat all night. He was as lifeless as the team.
    We just pass side the side with the occasional pass back to Cech.

  86. Phil says:

    Underwhelmed by PEA. He looks as though we overpaid .

  87. Phil says:

    Losing Oz, Theo, Giroud and even Perez, has left us with zero attacking depth on the bench.

  88. Phil says:

    An absolute chasm in class and tactics between the 2 sides.

  89. Bill says:

    Wavey

    Our defense is by far our biggest problem. There is no debate about that. This is the probably going to be the worst Arsenal defensive team since before George Graham.

    However, our goals scored is highly misleading. We have scored 35 of our goals in only 9 games. We are pretty good at taking advantage when the opposition defense is poor. However, we have only scored 16 goals in the the other 19 league games.

  90. C says:

    Bill,

    With a better and more disciplines and coached up defense we could have won 10-13 of those matches 1-0 and it wouldn’t have mattered because its 3 points

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