Baffling selection decisions =Arsenal Groundhog Day at Stoke

So we’re two games in to the new season and already the hope and sporations of a new season appear to be in the sh*thouse, after a performance that seemed vintage Arsenal 2011 – 2016. Once again it was Stoke, once again we fell apart defensively, once again there are questions about the manager’s decisions, because what he decided on as a starting selection was baffling.

Mertesacker was back fit. Holding is fit. Chambers is fit (but clearly on his way out). Yet we once again persisted with playing a right wing back at left wing back, a left back in central defence, a left wing back on the left side of central defence. And whilst Stoke barely created any chances in the game, they still got that one moment where Monreal was turned too easily as Jesé slotted home. Xhaka was once again at fault for a poor pass when we had the ball, but Monreal allowed Jese to turn him too easily and its Groundhog Day once again.

Arsenal lose to Stoke away. It’s what we do under modern day Wenger. We also get nowhere near a title challenge and that is exactly what is going to happen this season with this team and this manager. Especially if he keeps playing players out of position.

Yesterday’s defeat was entirely avoidable if the right players were in the right positions. But actually it could have been a lot better, had every ball in behind not seemed to have fallen to Danny Welbeck. We all love Welbz for his pace, power, movement and drive, but by golly when he gets to the ‘keeper he can’t finish his dinner. A header off his shoulder, two or three one-on-ones hit pretty much at Butland and an evening kick off where you’re looking at the reason why Wenger is prepared to run down Alexis’ contract, because he knows the Chilean has a hat trick today if he was playing in Welbeck’s position.

Danny just simply isn’t that great as a finisher, which is why he isn’t leading the line, it’s a shame to say. 

We had the possession. We had the control. We created so many chances to get in behind. Yet the familiar failings existed. Sure, we can be aggrieved that Andre Marriner missed a penalty on Hector and Lacazette’s goal was onside, but we had enough to beat this Stoke team which, if I’m honest, was the least impressive or imposing Stoke team I think I’ve seen at the Brittannia. They essentially sat back and waited for Arsenal to shoot themselves in the foot. They were lucky it was Arsenal because I think seven or eight other teams in the league – at least – would have turned them over. 

But Arsenal are a team that has problems and unfortunately whilst I don’t want to seem like I’m beating the Wenger Out drum so early in the season, it’s a problem that lies squarely at the manager’s feet. He picked a team of players not suited to their natural positions. He did it last week and we got away with it. I have no idea why he thought it would be a good idea to do it again. 

Perhaps it’s because he’s trying to accommodate the Ox by playing him in the team to try to get him to sign a new deal? That’s what it feels like to me. A bit like how Theo suddenly got a load of games as a striker before he signed on. That’s not the Wenger I fell in love with as our manager. That guy would just bin off people like Wiltord and Kanu as ‘injured’ when they weren’t signing a new contract. This current Wenger placates his players running down. Özil has barely featured in this blog because I’m trying to mirror his performance from yesterday. 

We were promised change. We’re getting more of the same. Next weekend it’s Liverpool away and a chance for redemption for the team, but hands up here, who’s looking forward to that? Anyone?

About the Author:

Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.


  1. Tom 20th August 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Whilst I wasn’t happy with the team that Wenger picked yesterday, I don’t think we lost because of it. I actually think Monreal played well yesterday. He did hesitate for the goal but to be fair to Stoke it was a good move.

    If we’re going to single out anyone it is Xhaka. He is a complete liability. He was caught in possession on a number of occasions in the first half and we got away with it. For the goal, it wasn’t that he gave the ball away – it was a simple pass he misplaced – it was that he went chasing after the ball after he did it and left a gaping hole in the middle of the pitch.

    What annoys me about yesterday is that it was the first time in ages that I thought we were unlucky to lose a game. My biggest complaint with Wenger is that he won’t pick on merit and he doesn’t want to upset players. Here’s the team I’d like to see at Anfield next week





    Won’t happen though.

    • Tom 20th August 2017 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Sorry, that should have been “it wasn’t a simple pass”

  2. Peter12 20th August 2017 at 9:49 am - Reply

    There has to be a ‘law’ that you must play players in their natural positions. Yes, yes, yes, playing Monreal as centre back, playing a right defender on the left side, etc, etc, has to be a CRIMINAL offence in which case the manager ought to be locked up, or the result of deranged thinking for which the manager sectioned to a mental home. That is my view. A terribly, terribly obstinate man who learned nothing from the Leicester debacle. Shame but This is my opinion. Shame that he didn’t go, shame that his is still allowed to manage in the EPL let alone Arsenal – this great club now a laughing stock!

  3. drew 20th August 2017 at 10:27 am - Reply

    You forgot to mention Iwobi a player so one footed he should be playing in The Long John Silver Eleven !!
    Add to this a Buffoon of a Manager who now wants to make the club Bankrupt By signaling to his players to
    Get Free Transfers !!

  4. Emmanuel Chukwuma 20th August 2017 at 10:30 am - Reply

    After all the turmoil of the last season around Wenger one had thought he was about to throw in the towel until he won the fa cup and signed a new 2-year contract. Then we thought he would change his ways and ensure arsenal did the necessary things required to enable them seriously challenge for title this season. First, we thought he would go out there and strengthen the squad. Alas, he brought in kolasnic for free and bought lacazette and then closed shop. Yet, he is still hoping to challenge man city, man united and Chelsea for the title. A big hopeless dream! Then he set out against stoke city by playing at least 6 players out of their natural positions. At a point I thought bellerin was the centre forward. Two left-footed players, Montreal and kolasnic were played at centre back, thus robbing the latter of his great strength of going forward from his natural left back position for which he was bought. Oh Wenger, Wenger, Wenger! Back at causing us fans same heartache as he is used to. Wenger will never learn, now I’m not sure if we would make first six this time around.

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