Let’s not hide behind any kind of faux injustice brought about by Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ sending off in the first half yesterday: this Arsenal team was probably defeated before it even took to the field.
Nine goals conceded in three games against three opponents who have nothing to play for other than some additional points on the board. Crystal Palace weren’t fighting for anything. Wolves weren’t fighting for anything. Leicester aren’t fighting for anything. Yet in the East Midlands yesterday lunchtime one team who are fighting for something, showed that there is little fight in the team.
Unai Emery tried changing it against and went with a 4-4-2. He said after the game that he wanted us to control possession and that he thought we started the game well.
We didn’t. We were the opposite of ‘in control’. We ceded all momentum to a Leicester City team who really didn’t have to try too hard and up until the sending off we’d been second best on everything. The damming stat that came from Sky Sports yesterday was that in the first 20 minutes we completed 20 passes.
That is an atrocious stat. A stat which shows just how fundamentally flawed this Arsenal team is and whilst Emery must take a portion of the blame for an incorrect set up – Maitland-Niles and Kolasinac are nowhere near effective as full backs as wing backs – what I witnessed yesterday was a team with no fight in them.
As soon as the red card came out of Michael Oliver’s pocket this team were psychologically done for and as we have seen in this last week they were probably already defeated before we even conceded a goal.
There was no response from the Wolves game. These players just aren’t capable. There are some cowards in that Arsenal squad and I hope that the club and the players is taking a long, hard, look at itself this morning because what we’ve seen in the last week is nothing short of disgraceful.
Players like Iwobi and Mkhitaryan; what do they actually do? What value do they add to this Arsenal squad? We’ve seen good games from them but in a season of 50 matches we can count on one hand where both have played well.
It’s time to start clearing the deadwood and believe me, there is some serious rotting going on, because some of these players are not fit for purpose.
I hate the ‘SHOW SOME PASHUN’ brigade but you do wonder what a little heart could do to this Arsenal team, because I haven’t seen that and if Valencia turn up showing half an ounce of creativity going forward, our season could be over within a week.
This squad is imbalanced, ill equipped for the mental side of top level sport and as it stands right now, if somebody asked me if there is anybody in that team yesterday that I’d keep, I’d probably tell you that Leno’s worth another season. I have no favourites any more.
And that’s the problem with Arsenal too. They just aren’t a very likeable team. Last season we lost our identity under Wenger but Emery hasn’t really changed that much, has he? He’s improved us a little bit but he’s still – by and large – working with the same cowards that downed tools last season.
I said last week that Arsenal we’re psychologically broken and I’ve seen nothing to suggest that this isn’t 100% the truth. This is a team of players who can only perform if the conditions are right. They’re a fair weather team and when at home and when other teams set up differently then the impetus is there, but when any kind of setback happens the team fold like a pack of cards.
It’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing that these grown men are so incapable of raising themselves when there is so much at stake. They can talk all they want about learning lessons, about knowing that they need to improve, but they are the very definition of insane because we do the same thing over and over and expect different results.
Our defence needs to be blown up and started again. For Jamie Vardy’s goal yesterday Kasper Schmeichel just launched a route one ball down the middle, to which neither of our centre halves dealt with, only for Vardy to nod in the second ball. It was Sunday league. Even Sunday league teams would be having a go at their defenders for that and unless we overhaul the entire back line in the summer I foresee more of the same next season.
That’s because despite a new manager telling the players new things, they’re still doing the stupid things, which is costing us time and time again. Emery has made mistakes this season. He’s been too conservative at times and his decisions yesterday can be questioned. His bizarre comment about being ‘proud’ of his players in the aftermath of yesterday’s result must have been protectionism akin to the Wenger days, because nothing that they did yesterday made me proud. Perhaps you could say Leno earned his appearance fee but none other in that team did so.
We are a rudderless club from the top, we have a limited budget in the summer and the future is looking pretty bleak as I type this, this morning.
I think Emery could potentially get us going in the right direction but unless he’s given some mega money to bring in about six to eight first teamers, we’re going nowhere fast. The Gazidis/Wenger era of the last few years has screwed us, but I don’t think those in power, Emery, or the current crop of players, will get us anywhere near where we need to be any time soon.
I don’t think I have the energy for the seeing the same stuff every season. We’re better off points-wise than last season but little else. There isn’t a philosophy, we have some pretty atrocious players on big money, it feels like we’re going nowhere fast at the moment and we have an absent owner who I suspect is hoping to ride out the next couple of years so he can try to be a part of a European Super League.
Here’s the thing though: if we keep declining, if we don’t invest in the team and improve on 5th/6th each season domestically, Stan isn’t going to be let in to the European elite club.
We have a game on Thursday and at least there is something still to play for this season but in reality how many of us think we can honestly go on and win the Europa League? We have some pretty average individuals we are relying on and at this moment in time I just don’t see how we get past Valencia and then probably Chelski.
Sorry guys. Not a positive one today but I’m feeling pretty low. I feel like Arsenal have been in decline for years and whilst I will never dessert them, it frustrates me that some of those players seem to at times.
Catch you all tomorrow.