Is Arsène on the Verge of Pulling Off One of his Habitual Escape Acts?

It’s one of football’s most sodden cliches: the table never lies.

Well, it does. Teams can give up and, to ensure this cliche-ridden opening continues unabashed, can be on the beach once they know there is nothing to play for.

If you disagree with that, ask yourself this: were we really second best in the country when Leicester romped to the title? As much as it was funny to watch Tottenham’s thrashing at Newcastle, it flattered us and we didn’t learn the lessons. Spurs then were a better side than us, with nothing to show for it. They are still a better side than us and still have nothing to show for it.

At least they have hope.

We continue to pay the price of the folly now but might well nick fifth place. Five points isn’t a big gap to overcome although we’re running out of games. Achieve that and win the Europa League? Let’s be honest, that would be a better season that most of us expect it to turn out.

Everything is relative before you say anything.

Winning the Europa League isn’t beyond us. We’ve got a tricky tie and let’s be honest, Atletico are clear favourites. They are the only one of the eight teams left that I don’t think we’d beat in five times or more if we played them ten times. I don’t even know if we’d beat them once. Probably, but not many more.

CSKA shouldn’t be underestimated but let’s be honest, we’ll be disappointed to lose to them. Not surprised, I suspect but disappointed nonetheless. I don’t think this Arsenal side can surprise us in a bad way anymore. Their depths were exposed already.

However, winning the Europa League and fifth? Would Arsène have any problem spinning that as an improvement?

Sliced and Diced

‘Judge me in May’ proved as flippant as it sounds. Patience has worn thin and judgement came in March with empty seats. It hasn’t hurt the club financially much but there’s no pride for the owner and directors in seeing a half-empty stadium; it’s a sign of failure.

When the best team in the country spank you twice inside a week, you can explain it away but supporters losing faith? Never something a manager at any ordinary club can survive. Is it Arsène’s kryptonite? Empty seats make a new(ish) stadium look like a white elephant. That might not be the truth but looks can be deceiving.

Look at the situation if we finish fifth and win the Europa League. Whichever way you cut it, on paper reaching two cup finals, winning your first European trophy for a generation and finishing fifth represents a step forward from finishing fifth and winning the FA Cup.

It doesn’t matter how lowly you value the cup competitions, or whether you prioritise the league, you’ve added another final into the mix. Presenting that as progress doesn’t take a god-like genius.

The flimsy nature of the claim is such that once you look below the surface, it all falls apart. Or does it? Wenger might argue that this is a transition period. The club itself is morphing into something new with executives arriving and impact of the tribulations of Alexis and Özil on his team.

He might argue that he deserves the final year of his contract to see if he improves the side with nothing but first-team matters left for him to concentrate on. Which, on the face of it, is not an unreasonable request except I wonder if that card has been played before, possibly in 2014? Maybe last time around?

Fresh or Stale?

Who knows what is being discussed at the moment. We don’t, that’s for sure. The little leaks here and there for whichever hipster manager is available or wants to manage abroad are like a saline drip, keeping change breathing instead of becoming a corpse.

Tuchel is only talking to PSG because Wenger’s staying but it’s alright because Max Allegri wants to manage abroad when he leaves Juventus. Carlo’s keeping the Italian FA waiting in case the Arsenal job comes up; they all fancy a piece of the easy life.

Except the current incumbent isn’t leaving without a fight.

And the easy life is how the club must be viewed. Managers don’t miss comments from directors which tell the world they keep quiet when the manager doesn’t know how to solve football problems. They take the view that it is a board ripe to be bullied into their way of thinking.

It’s why Enos baulks at making the decision over Wenger’s future. He knows Junior wants to take over as chairman or CEO when that change comes; Ivan’s got reason to be fearful as well.

The wind changed direction a long time ago but is Arsène the reed which keeps swaying or the wind itself? If he is, it isn’t a fresh breeze blowing through Arsenal.

’til Tomorrow.

27 thoughts on “Is Arsène on the Verge of Pulling Off One of his Habitual Escape Acts?

  1. Good morning Yogi, the most telling indictment of Wenger’s steady decline is the empty seats in all sections of the ground. Excuses about it being Easter Sunday, pissing with rain and the poor quality of the opposition just don’t wash.

    The style of play, or lack of, is the turnoff for the casual attendee, the tourist, who would normally buy the otherwise unsold tickets.

    Even the half-time boos were half-hearted, the fans are apathetic, they are resigned to watching the lacklustre fare offered up by an uninspired, and uninspiring, group of players who can barely bring themselves to run around for the duration of the game. The fans are just bored!

  2. Really good write up today YW, thanks.

    Yup, the peasants are revolting. In the one way that they’ll make people that actually matter will actually start to take notice.

    In ways that hurt the bottom line and the brand image.

  3. Good morning all. Great post as usual YW, I salute the season ticket holders who are voicing their disgust by staying away from games. May is the month of decision: the annual contract review.

    I do not want to sound pessimistic, but we cannot win the Europa league. Not because we don’t have the players, but because when we play against a side with better organization, we will crumble.

    I went to read the article, dropped by C on 7am kickoff and I respect the writer as someone who spends a lot of time analyzing Arsenal. How some people can read all the intelligent analysis and still tout Arsene Wenger as the best thing after sliced bread is shocking.

    If there is a word to describe a situation worse than stagnation: depreciation or regression are better words to describe the state of Arsene’s team.

  4. Your right, your article was much more entertaining.

    Empty seats, that speals volumes and even the talking heads have taken notice how Arsenal tries to spin the attendance; can’t remember who it was but when I was listening to the match the talking head said something like, ‘Arsenal will say attendance is 59000 but thats only because they count tickets sold and not actual people in seats.’

    As for Europa, we most certainly can win it and its not just us who have a tricky fixture, Athletico have one in Sporting who won’t be a push over.

  5. Yogi’s right, if we get to the final, then Arsene can spin that as progress. But it is a big If. I know it seems we are getting lucky, and Arsene can muster a winning run of the last 6 or 7 games, Lacazette is back and Welbeck is injured.

    I sincerely cannot live with another F.A. cup final situation, with some praying the team loses so the manager can be exposed. Or the heartbreak of getting to the Europa final and losing after getting high hopes. It doesn’t sound decent but that is how far Arsene has dragged supporters.

    Well there’s the matter of visiting Old Trafford on the 28th of April.

  6. Great post yogi. Everything you say is spot on. You mentioned that we are a club in transition after hiring Raul and Sven and some might argue Arsene should get a chance to show what will happen when he is allowed to concentrate on nothing but first teams matters. The reality is that some of us have been arguing that transition has been needed for the last 10 years. The reason the transition has not happened before now is because Arsene used his charisma to impose his massive ego on the board so he could maintain control of every aspect of the football operations of the club

  7. C from yesterday

    Interesting article that you linked. The writer seems to suggest that Wilshere and Ramsey’s positioning and lack of movement are a big part of our problem. However that argument completely falls apart when you look at last 2 1/2 calendar years when we have played just as poorly or perhaps even worse when Wilshere was playing for Bournemouth or injured and Ramsey was out with another one of his soft tissue injuries.

  8. Bill,

    The writer was highlighting the fact that neither Ramsey or Wilshere were taking up the best positions nor were they keeping to their allotted roles. If that is the case, then it is for the manager to clarify their roles and make sure they stick to them. In fact it seems that Wenger’s laissez faire attitude to coaching ignores those failings and has always done so.

  9. Bill,

    Actually Bill it is spot on if you think about it when we have talked about poor positioning and a gung-ho approach without actually going gung-ho. Again, the author was highlighting that match and the poor positioning that we have discussed for years in our midfield. I think the other thing that it highlighted that me and you have discussed and you have told me Im wrong about is because Ramsey is bombing forward it forces Ozil to drop deeper to receive the ball.

  10. Afternoon all,

    I was at the game on Sunday (free tickets from a pal) and just couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The weak performances on the pitch in the first half were equally matched by the apathy of the crowd. It didn’t really get much better at the start of the second half either when you would have thought that a team really needing a boot up the butt would have received one at half time. At any other club they would have.

    Without a doubt, the introduction of Lacazette and then Mkhitaryan gave us much more of a threat up front and we were finally able to show that we were not quite as two dimensional as Stoke.

    Wenger tried a two-pronged attack on the empty seats by claiming it was Easter (as it was at Chelsea), but that maybe there was a lack of interest as we had nothing to play for in the league. He promised the crowds would be back on Thursday. Given that it is Wenger’s leadership that led the club to this sorry state in the first place, it would be hoped that the Board consider carefully the future impact he may have on their bottom line.

  11. Orson Kaert,

    I seem to remember that over Easter empty seats was not an issue when Henry was weaving his way through the Liverpool back line and scoring the comeback goals. If you put a good product out people will put their bums on seats,simple as that.
    Wenger is painful to listen to with all the excuses sounding old and stale.

  12. Well, surely it is simple.

    The players had a meeting. Decided that they needed to sort it out themselves as the coaches woudn’t. So, they go out and try it their way. The problem is that no one apart from Özil actually has a clue what to do.

    Result? What we are seeing. Manager abrogating his responsibility to organise the team and players incapable of doing it themselves.

  13. I went to Brighton v Leicester on Saturday, what a nice little ground with a good atmosphere. Now who was it again who designed the Emirates with that big hole at the back of the stands where any sound that is made just escapes straight out.

  14. consolsbob,

    True but I actually think, at least the attack would be able to ‘sort itself out’ if Arsene actually played Mhkitaryan, Aubameyang, Ozil and Lacazette together and, no offense to Welbeck and Iwobi, but those two don’t have the futboling IQ to play with the likes of those 4 when your manager isn’t instructing you exactly what to do and not to do.

  15. I see that Max Allegri is favourite to take over at Chelsea this summer. Just think, we could have appointed him last summer but decided to stick with Wenger. On what planet was that a sensible decision?

  16. andy1886,

    On a minute frozen asteroid in a galaxy far beyond the known universe. In other words a tiny lump of ice-bound brain matter lodged in the otherwise vacant space that is the skull of Stan Kroenke.

  17. andy1886,

    Have to say though mate, if it works out with Tuchel at PSG, Allegri at Chelsea and we end up with Luis Enrique…I for one will be a really happy man.

  18. This blog speaks as if the EL is a foregone conclusion.
    I am sure CSKA will have something to say about that.
    And Athletico Madrid most certainly will.
    Then what will Wenger’s get out of jail card be?
    The sixth place trophy?

  19. Me,

    I don’t think you can have been following the blog very closely, as nobody on here is taking the view that winning the Europa League will be anything like a foregone conclusion.

  20. Didn’t even read the blog today properly, Orse.

    “Winning the Europa League isn’t beyond us. We’ve got a tricky tie and let’s be honest, Atletico are clear favourites.”

    Not sure where that says this is a foregone conclusion. Got a feeling someone skim-read the piece.

  21. YW,

    Try looking at the comment by “Me” 3.26 pm. The first line will explain my comment as that’s what I was referring to.

    Did you just skim the comments today?

  22. Against Stoke City we won 3:0. Not satisfied? Maybe you don’t know goals win football matches. 3:0 no complaints. Tottenham better than us? By what measure? Where are the trophies?. Max Alegri best for Arsenal? Got beaten 3:0 at home yesterday. Football is about goals and trophies. No one remembers who played well without winning for more than few weeks. That’s football. You don’t like that? Change to another sport

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