I kept my own counsel yesterday with matters pertaining to The Arsenal, partly due to the nature of the defeat on Sunday, but also because I felt rough as an old pair of boots.
Said ‘roughness’ was partially of my own doing; I wasn’t really that well on Sunday but I decided I was going to have a few beers in the pub beforehand anyway. That exacerbated my problems yesterday but given how shocking Arsenal were on Sunday I stand by my decision. Watching on Sunday through a beer-infused haze is far more palatable than watching sober these days.
With more than 24 hours elapsed since the cup final there has now been plenty of time to settle, but the frustration of this Arsenal team to not raise their game for a cup final still burns bright in our memory.
We used to compete for the league.
Then we were top four certainties every season.
Then we were labelled as cup specialists, able to raise our game for one-off competition.
As our various identities have been stripped away we have been left more and more disenchanted with the club and more and more disillusioned with the manager. It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs but it’s one that we are in right now.
The malaise at the club is well and truly set in and until something is done we’re going to get performances like Sunday from this team.
The inner circle at the club know this, which is why they are leaking stories about manager change. That’s all well and good but are we not experienced enough in these leakings? Have we not seen enough of the ‘transfer war chest’ stories around season ticket renewal time to suggest that this is. Just some sort of off-the-record but of PR to show the fans that the club understand their sentiment?
It all feels too obvious to me but then again this is Arsenal we’re talking about here. We do this stuff like it’s as easy as riding a bike. Leak here, leak there, the fans are stupid and goldfish-like and won’t remember that we’ve been doing this for the best part of ten years.
I’ll still have hope though because Wenger isn’t getting a tune out of any of these players any more. On Sunday Mustafi and Chambers were horrible. Jack and Xhaka offered little. Auba was isolated and absent, Ramsey did little of note, Özil didn’t get out of second gear. It was an embarrassment and to hear that Gary Neville was absolutely laying into the team was not a surprise. He would have only been saying a non-sweary version of what was said in the stands at Wembley.
Speaking of which, that was the flattest I’d seen us in ages. The belief is gone. At 1-0 and 2-0 myself and Dave tried to start a chant or two but it fell on deaf ears. Like the players themselves there was just nothing in the crowd to suggest they believed in the team and that is one of the most worrying and troublesome situations of all.
The fans have already been sleepwalked into this malaise. Arsène used to say how the relationship between fans and the team was symbiotic and of true, never was there a more obvious sign that something radical in the management needs to happen, than this weekend just done by.
The fight has gone and this Thursday could be just as worse. It’s going to get very toxic very quickly if we concede to City. Especially if it happens early on. There is little real goodwill left in the supporters’ tank. It’s been running low for a while now but Sunday saw the rest used up and evaporate by the time we’d hit 70 minutes. We’re now down to just a few fumes.
In the next two weeks we could see our season completely derailed if the players don’t do something. There will be a talk of a reaction but I’ll believe it when I see it. Jack Wilshere took to Insta to tell us about how the team feel like they’ve been hard done by on Sunday but if that’s where the anger and frustration is directed – towards officiating – then it’s going to get a lot worse for us all.
The reality is that the goals we concede are soft, we aren’t scoring enough in return and nobody believes in this current project, yet we’re not even close to being rid of this horrendous season. We still have two and a half months left!
Imagine if you could do what they do in the Premier League Fantasy Football game and take a ‘free hit’ and replace players in the team. How many would you keep? Bellerin? Monreal? Özil? Auba? Ramsey? That’s probably about it, right? That’s five players out of a squad that seem to be able to put any kind of form together and with Ramsey it’s questionable because of his injury record.
It’s just not good enough. We’re just not good enough. And that all falls on the manager. People are talking about him going but if we get knocked out of the Europa League in the next two weeks I’d suggest the club announce his departure in the summer as soon as possible. The rest of the season would be irrelevant anyway and It would also mean we can all just focus on who is coming in, how the team is strengthened, as well as at least giving the Arsenal manager a farewell, which I would probably do if I knew he was off.
Shake it up Arsenal. This is now not a case of if, but when.