The rot has well and truly set in and yesterday evening we extended the winless run another game as a Brighton team who can’t win away from home, who are as bad on their travels as all of the team at the bottom of the division, having scored just six goals away from home all season.
Until last night. Until they rocked up and outplayed, outshot, outperformed and out-efforted (is that even a word? Not really, but I can’t be arsed to engage my brain cells and select an appropriate one right now) an Arsenal team that is in complete freefall at the moment.
There is little to say positive about this team at the moment. From top to bottom they are a rancid mess. Devoid of creativity, completely absent of any confidence and belief whatsoever, lurching from one utterly shameful performance to the next.
There was some excitement and hope that the arrival of Freddie Ljungberg could come in and deliver some kind of saviour routine but that has completely evaporated now after one point from the last two games and two performances that suggest this team is exactly the same as the one that Emery left in tatters on the floor.
But Freddie didn’t help himself in the first place, let’s be honest, because his team selection left many scratching their heads. He went with a central defensive duo of Luiz and Sokratis, fast becoming my least favourite duo of all time in an Arsenal shirt, mainly because of the car crash that they are. Both are slow, lumbering, error-prone and completely disorganised. We paid Dortmund £15million for a central defender 18 months ago that probably should be playing in Scotland or Belgium, or one of the second tier leagues. In the summer we thought we had a decent deal in Luiz for £8million but Chelski are laughing all the way to the bank with us. Because e that was daylight robbery.
At full back he went with Kolasinac other than Tierney and I kind of get that, because we were at home and Kolasinac going forward is better than Kolasinac defensively. Bellerin on the other side he went with because Chambers is injured but Bellerin looks so slow and ponderous at times it makes you wonder what has happened to his pace. It seems to have completely failed him although let’s not heap too much blame, because he’s clearly carrying an injury. But it was on that right hand side that the winning goal was scored by a Brighton team that let’s be honest, thoroughly deserved it, after outplaying us for most of the match.
But not all of the match, and this is where I have some issues with Freddie’s selection, because at halftime he took off the woeful Willock (who is a young kid so I’m not holding much disappointment towards today) and replaced him with a genuine wide threat in Pepe. We looked instantly better, started to look like we might control the game, got an equaliser through Lacazette (who was utter trash apart from his goal – the same as the weekend, but yet again he was given a free pass to start), then had a goal disallowed through Luiz (rightly). In the first half Ljungberg’s team selection gave us no width, as we went for Auba, Ozil, Willock and Lacazette to flood the middle, then he changed it in the second and for a period of time we looked so much better. Bellerin suddenly had somebody on the overlap and he also improved. So why the actual frig didn’t we start the game like that?
Freddie essentially threw away a first half with his tactical decision making and team selection and that, for me, is why we need to act on getting a new man in as soon as possible. I said last week the fight for the top four was over. Forget that, because unless we arrest this horrendous slump – the worst since 1977 – 42 YEARS AGO – then we are going to be staring down the bottom of a relegation battle.
And as much as we all love Freddie, he has no experience of dealing in any kind of top flight management, let alone one of a team so bereft of any confidence that they argue with each other, pass backwards and sideways, take no risks and simply do not try as hard as the opposition. And there was evidence of that last night. Across the pitch.
In midfield we are a shambles. The defence are a car crash, but our midfield is all over the place. The space Brighton had to run in to was farcical and this goes beyond individuals now, because this is the set up that just isn’t working. Which is down to a coach to fix and that needs to be somebody new coming in right now. Because Freddie is great, we love him, but he can’t do this.
So again we turn to those running the club and ask questions and those questions need to be as noisy as possible. The stadium was half empty which is one indication of fan sentiment, but we now need to be directing our ire towards the board and KSE. They are the ones who have for over a decade chronically mismanaged the club and in Sanllehi we thought we had a man who was sending us in the right direction, but his inaction to move when it wasn’t working with Emery has cost not just points, but more confidence sapping performances from a team that look like they aren’t winning any games any time soon, that’s for damn sure.
This wreckage has been brought about through chronic mismanagement, from failing to recognise a gradual decline which is now looking like it’s rapidly gathering pace. This is a sports franchise – KSE I mean – let’s not forget, who have a history of mediocrity and that doesn’t just happen by chance. It happens by a collective of people who take the ‘bare minimum to get by’ approach. They’ve shown little desire for engagement, for showing ambition and for communication until this season, then suddenly make it sound like they’ve only just taken on the job. KSE have been the dominant players at Arsenal football club for over a decade. This decline was in the post the second they took control.
I don’t really know what else to say. This is all a bit depressing right now.
Catch you guys tomorrow.