All last week I spoke to Gooners about yesterday’s north London Derby and despite our fragile confidence and dodgy form, I was told by many that we had a chance because it is a derby match and form goes out of the window in derbies.
My retort to people was “not for Arsenal. Not away. It’s other teams who get up for these types of games. We just tend to wilt”. I don’t know if it was just a self-defence mechanism to be so downbeat, but I never felt that we would throw our recent appalling away form out of the window and turn a new leaf of away form based on this new formation that Wenger has changed to, so going in to this game was as uncomfortable as it’s ever been ahead of one of these derbies.
And sadly I was proved right. I was proved right because I didn’t really see a team who looked like their lives depended on a result yesterday afternoon and I certainly didn’t see a team who looked like it was using the mantra of ‘form going out the window’.
Tottenham were better than us from the first minute until the last. They had more possession, created more chances, looked more dangerous on the flanks, got in behind, mopped up defensively well and won the midfield battles. Arsenal looked a shadow of a team and it seems the three recent victories we’ve had in league and cup have merely been brief respite from what is a team on its knees and looking rudderless once more.
People will possibly say I’m being harsh, that Tottenham are a good team and they’ve been undefeated all season so this was always a hard task. Certainly I agree with you if you believe that, but I don’t believe this team went in to a North London Derby with the view of ‘leaving it all out on the pitch’. That’s what I expect from Arsenal players. I expect drive, intensity and for them to at least look like they want to win. Yesterday I saw a team of bottlers who, when two down, just gave up. But for Petr Cech this could have been a total embarrassment and he’s the only one this morning who can say he put the required effort in. The rest were a joke.
Gabriel was back to his mistake making best. The Ox was overhitting passes again and got done by Son more times that I care to remember. Gibbs started well going forwards, but quickly looked ragged and rusty as Tottenham’s build up cut through us again and again.
In midfield Ramsey looked like he was having a good game but he joined the others of looking like a headless chicken as the game went on. Xhaka next to him did nothing of note other than to avoid getting booked in the first half. Well done to him for that.
But it was the front three who should feel the most disgrace today. Mesut Özil’s only contribution seemed to be to pick up the ball in space, cut in field and hit short square passes. Where is the guy who could slice defences apart? Where is the world class playmaker we bought who is an assist king?
Still, not that it matters, because even if he was putting balls through on a plate it’d be the completely pointless Olivier Giroud who’d be getting nowhere near him. Why is he STILL playing in this formation? Why, when we’ve seen Welbeck make an impact in most games of late, aren’t we trying a channel runner in our formation? Why is Arsène still persisting? I’d like to say it’s bizarre but actually it isn’t, it’s completely in keeping with Arsène 2017. He has his favourites and he will try and try until he’s blue in the face to fit them in where he can. Giroud isn’t working but don’t expect not to see him next weekend because Arsène will keep persisting.
The final joke of a player yesterday was Alexis. My brother asked me about how bad he was playing today and I had to remind him that actually he’s been laying like this for about six weeks. His form has nose dived like the rest of the team and when things get bad what you need to do is start working on solutions to fix it. New formation? Check. Player rotation. Check. Same manager making the same mistakes. Double check.
Arsène is trying things. The switch in formation shows that. But nothing is working because the mentality of this team – which he has cultivated – is wrong. It is unacceptable to play an NLD and look like you’ve given up. It is unacceptable not to have any fight. I didn’t see fight in this team of ours. I didn’t see the anger in players’ eyes. I just saw a team who will drop their heads, trudge back to the dressing room, get in to work tomorrow and start doing the same stuff again hoping for a result.
People are talking about power shifts, about how St Totteringham’s Day is cancelled, about how everyone is getting angry when we’ve had 20 years of being better than them. I don’t care about St Totteringham’s Day. I couldn’t care less about whether they’re going to finish above us or not. What I want to see is a progressive football team who look like they have a structure. Who look like they have a plan. That’s not this Arsenal. That’s not this team under Wenger. We look so far from a cohesive unit it is embarrassing. We are a laughing stock. If we were in sixth position but you could see signs that something had clicked and we were starting to show some kind of purpose to our football I’d probably accept that. I’d accept that Tottenham are a team further in to their ‘project’ than we are. But I don’t feel like that and that is why I’m angry this morning. I want to feel Arsenal are going somewhere. Under Arsène I do not.
This Premier League season is done for us. It’s fizzling out and when sixth or seventh is confirmed we’ll have an FA Cup against a team that might be champions. Based on the way we’ve been playing, no FA Cup and a sixth placed position should be the catalyst of change at the club. The scouting, the negotiations, the coaching and the way the board operates i.e. The ‘just get by’ objectives it sets for the club. Arsène’s departure should be the catalyst for change across the whole club we need but it won’t happen. We’ll get promises of change as he inks his new deal, but another two years of stasis under a manager who is fostering the wrong kind of attitude in his players. He will continue to mollycoddle them and we will continue to see results like that from a collective of pre-madonnas.
I’m sick of Arsenal Football Club right now.