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It wasn’t great

IF you’re being scrupulously fair to the manager you’d say that in nine months we’ve played three major cup games at Wembley and in that time we’ve beaten Man City and Chelsea and lost to Man City and that perhaps a bit of perspective is needed. That’s three more games cup games at Wembley than Spurs have managed since… (you get my point).

But yesterday was really pretty poor all in all. It is hard to think of anything that was good about the performance.

And, rightly, it plays into the wider narrative.

It is a wider narrative that is UNBELIEVABLY tiresome. A couple of years ago I used to say that I wasn’t writing so much because there was nothing really to be said that I didn’t feel I’d said many times before. Now, even that explanation feels tired and repetitive.

Of course, there is no doubt plenty to say about the machinations inside the club that may point to a managerial replacement sooner or later. But on the subject of where we are (or aren’t) going on the pitch, it is so obvious to see: we are on a downwards slope and the manager who led us to so much glory hasn’t put up a proper title challenge in 13 or 14 seasons and is in no danger of doing so any time soon. The wrinkle is that in the last few years he’s developed a quite pleasurable habit of puncturing the league mediocrity with some handsome cup wins. Cup wins that have been absolutely glorious days and the kind of days that certain clubs go many years without enjoying.

But nonetheless, the point remains: there is absolutely no prospect of us challenging for the league any time soon under the current manager. I suppose that for good measure I should probably add that with the squad as it is, there is little danger of any Arsenal manager challenging for the league any time soon.

32 Responses to “It wasn’t great”

  1. 80's Gooner says:

    I’m sick of the playing with handbrake
    I’m sick of we showed a great spirit
    I’m sick of one day I will tell you
    I’m sick of you know I spent 20 years as coach
    I’m sick of you Mr Wenger
    I was your biggest fan I even gave you the benefit of the doubt after the 8-2
    But you couldn’t mould a team capable of mounting a serious title challenge even with the likes of Ozil & Sanchez & finished 10 points behind Leicester City
    For years I chose not to listen to rumours about your stubbornness & dithering
    You set your teams up to play this possession based tippy / tappy football built around Fabregas & Nasri type players that very nearly worked (once) 10 years ago instead the power & pace football that made the Arsenal invincible (somebody should show Mustafi a video of the 1994 CWC final to see what proper defending is like against world class forwards)
    If you were so much of a genius why didn’t sign hidden gems likes Lemar, Kante & Mahrez for peanuts from the French lower divisions before Leicester & Monaco ,instead we got Sanogo
    You were great once, but you’re not great anymore
    Mouhamed Ali should have quit the ring before he lost to Leon Spinks, he came back & regained his world title. That would have been a great way to finish his career but he came back one time too many & was comprehensively beaten up by Larry Holmes. This is you are now Mr Wenger
    You are only staying on for selfish reasons, you said as much yourself last year because all you have left is football
    Maybe PSG may take a punt on you in the summer or the French national team (I would be delighted if you lifted the CL or the WC)
    No hard feelings Mr Wenger but enough is enough
    I remember going to Selhurst Park in 1995 to watch a very uninspiring goalless against Wimbledon & thinking that GG time was up. I have felt that way many times this season Mr Wenger
    A Europa League will give a new coach a fighting chance in the transfer window otherwise it will take at least two seasons of rebuilding

  2. PD says:

    Your last paragraph sums it well Goodplaya. If Arsene had left in the summer of 2014, it was a dream job to come into & a top class manager would have definitely won the league quite quickly. Now, it will take a top class manager quite a while to sort out this mess before we can even think of challenging again.

  3. slc gunner says:

    I think your last statement is interesting: “I suppose that for good measure I should probably add that with the squad as it is, there is little danger of any Arsenal manager challenging for the league any time soon.” That is very true. The recruitment in defensive positions has been so poor that it is going to take a lot of work for a new manager to improve things. There will be no quick fix. Yes, a more defensively-minded manager will improve things with the current squad, but players like Mustafi, Xhaka and others have their limitations which I find hard to see being overcome. The two that I mention cost about 60 million (for the pair). That’s a lot of money, and the return has not been good.

  4. Elvis says:

    Didn’t watch or listen to the game.

    slc I somewhat disagree. I think our defenders are decent enough as individuals. It’s our defence as a unit that is dysfunctional. Poor Steve Bould; it seems his only role at the club is to look completely bored on the touch line when Arsene throws his hands up and moans to him about the referee.

    If he was entrusted with the job of properly coaching the defence like George Graham grilled his, I think Arsenal would be in the top 3 today and would have won the title 2 or 3 times since 2004.

  5. slc gunner says:

    top 4 gone. I know it was probably gone, but if we were still within 7 pts, I held out a little hope. Rest of the season priority has to be Europa Lge. More important to win it than actually qualify for CL because we know that we are so far off competing on that front. Let’s experiment a bit, see what some of the younger defenders are made of in the league.

  6. MDP says:

    It’s just a matter of ‘when’ for Wenger as we all sit waiting for some kind of change from the monotony. Sure there’s been some significant relief on the odd occassion, namely the FA Cup runs but essentially the bigger problems have been manifesting day to day for years. I hope I’m right in saying that some of the sounds from the board above show some recognition that the club is on it’s knees and ready to do something about it. Only some kind of Europa League triumph could surely save Wenger now, however unlikely, in what should be a swan song but would probably see him hanging on for dear life. I look at the man respectfully for some of my best memories and feel sad that he’s let it come to this. Nobody can take those early years and the revolution in English football away from him, he’ll always be a legend at Arsenal. The DVD’s of that era are wonderful in my eyes at a time when I was at every game. Yet, he’s surely tarnished his reputation to some degree and ‘genius’ and ‘The professeur’ seem somewhat far fetched these days.

    The team looks broken now and SLC talks about giving some of the younger defenders a chance until the end of the season but I don’t see a system that really works or benefits anyone, even to give them experience or see what they can do. The spine is flawed with Goalkeeper looking his age; our rock in defence Koscielny also looking his age as his body appears to be struggling; there’s no real option for holding midfield as that whole area is floundering; we then have two wonderful strikers who get absolutely no service up top. As a team we fail to press or shut down teams but instead leave ourselves wide open for one of ‘those days’ where the wheels spin off and we get a beating from a ‘so called’ lesser team or a thumping from our rivals.

    It’s what Arsene isn’t doing that’s the problem and what a new manager ‘will do’ or at least try and do that makes the next step a no brainer.

  7. 80's Gooner says:

    So with Wenger seemingly on the way out the names in the frames to replace him do not surprise me. Arsenal have always tried to do things on the cheap / balance the books most of the time
    It’s part of the clubs DNA, letting Howe go in 71, selling Brady & Stapleton & not adequately replacing them, not giving Ashley his extra 5 grand.
    So it’s no surprise that the 3 names linked by the Arsenal propaganda merchantJohn Cross are Rogers, Arteta & Jardim
    None of these names will command a salary anywhere near what Wenger earns, Rogers would jump at the chance to manage Arsenal but this would end tears because unlike Liverpool when they nearly won the league they had some exceptional players & other players who had an exceptional season. Rogers will be asked to work miracles at Arsenal because he will not have the budget required to rebuild the squad. So when it goes reels of cotton (which it will) he will start complaining to the press about the lack of funds available to him & Arsenal will get shot of him probably leaving us in worse position than we are currently in
    Arteta would be too much of a gamble, do good number twos make good managers? Clement, Kidd?? Had Arsenal been challenging for the title / CL and AW decided to step down then I could see the merits of this appointment. But the squad needs rebuilding & Arsenal need to recoup the 20 million they going to lose from another season outside of the champions league, therefore, Arsenal will have sell some assets (Bellerin, Ramsey & if Ozil has a good WC him also). I can only see this ending in tears. I think the job would be too big for him. However, he would be ideal for the board because he’s a yes man. I would like to see Mikel learn his trade in the Bundasleague for a couple of seasons to assess his pedigree
    Jardim (my preferred choice) is proven & would be respected by the players. He could potentially unearth some hidden gems for us & make the club a bit of money. However, he would want to run the club his own way. He is known to be outspoken & may not click with the director of football. Having said that he could be the man to take Arsenal to the next level
    Forget Ancelotti or Conte they would demand a huge transfer budget before taking the job which they won’t get with current owner

  8. 80's Gooner says:

    This is now getting ridiculous

    We have turned into West Ham

    For gods sake man LEAVE!

  9. slc gunner says:

    I like ‘Playa’s headline for the blog. It wasn’t great. That’s being very nice in the context of the last 4 games. Top class stuff, we’re clearly improving. The defence will be upset about not keeping up the 3 goals a game average.

  10. Delve 348 says:

    Time for Señor Mikel Arteta to step up and bring back the glory days to Arsenal FC. Pep Guardiola is not stupid and knew exactly what he was doing bringing him in as his right hand man at Manchester City. The results speak for themselves.

  11. PD says:

    There are only two things certain in Arsenal life: Arsene dragging the club further away from the top & Delve coming out with his nonsensical Arteta bullshit just when you think things can’t get any worse.

  12. Elvis says:

    Delve has a bit of a point to be fair. Pep Guardiola could have chosen just about anyone as his assistant and, given his fantastic record as a manager, nobody would have turned him down. But he chose the total rookie Mikel Arteta. He must have seen something pretty special in him when they were juniors at Barcelona.

  13. MDP says:

    Personally, I think Troy Deeney had made a good point about Arsenal and I suspect a lot of players and teams think they can get something when they play Arsenal. It was a good result yesterday but I still don’t think it changes the fact that Arsenal are known for being fragile. I’d love to change that reputation.

  14. Elvis says:

    Agreed. Deeney just said what everyone can see; Arsenal have very little mental strength, they lack resilience and leadership, they defend as individuals instead of as a unit, and are too easily bullied. And the manager doesn’t sort it out.

  15. PD says:

    Elvis, I’ve nothing against Arteta. It’s just this relentless bigging him up to be more than he was as a player by some Gooners (let on by Arseblog) is continuing now he’s a coach. Yes, Guardiola picked him as a coach….but let’s be clear – the narrative that he’s Guardiola’s right hand man is not true. Guardiola has 4 of his staff with the title ‘assistant coach’, not just Arteta. Domenec Torrent has been with Guardiola since he started in management & is still the member of coaching who sits next to him on the bench, so if he a ‘no.2′ then it is him. Maybe Arteta will turn out to be a very good coach & if he does, good luck to him….but why people would automatically assume he would be better than the likes of Vieira is beyond me.. …..Pep was always going to be a success at City because he is a brilliant coach. End of.

    Anyway…fingers crossed for a bit of joy tonight. It’s rare these days.

  16. Elvis says:

    Some cause for celebration this season: it looks like Stoke might well go down. May they get relegated in the last minute of injury time, in the last game of the season, by a world-class terrible refereeing decision and never come back.

  17. PD says:

    The only thing that annoyed me was Hughes getting the sack cos it would have been lovely to see him bring them down. The most unlikeabow though, if he could be blamed for both Stoke & Southampton getting relegated in the same season wouldn’t that be wonderful. (funny how a change on mnaager

  18. PD says:

    Bloody phone ! I was going to say funny how a change in manager can change your attitude to a club. Never disliked Southampton much, would love them to go down now !
    I was trying to describe Hughes as the most unlikable manager in England. (outside of Mourinho obviously) I think he’s worse than Fat Sam & that says something.

  19. Delve 348 says:

    Agreed, Mourinho is easily the most loathesome. Then there’s Tony Pulis. And Alan Pardew. Not a good season for any of them really.

  20. PD says:

    So….should be (barring us Arsenaling it to an incredible extent in the second leg) in Europa semis now. Some great stuff but my lord they were so poor defensively last night. Hard to see anything but an Arsenal v Atletico final if we avoid each other. Either club should be very disappointed if someone else beats them as the quality left isn’t really up to that much. I know it’s terrible but I’m happy Ospina got injured. Hopefully Cech stays in now.
    Dream final for Lacazette to score the winner in his home stadium ?

    Great to have something to play for as the season ends anyway….

  21. MDP says:

    Agreed, delightful going forward and just lovely to watch.

    When Arron gets in top gear, he’s the best player on the park, got to sign him up and probably need to pay top dollar to keep him. Get someone decent to anchor midfield behind and we might have something.

    Also, pleased to see Lacazette put his troubles behind him with two very decent goals. Our new frontline provide such as sense of hope for the future. Plenty to work with for a new manager eh!

    I’d love a Europa League win even if I could see it sealing another 12 months of Wenger…

  22. Delve 348 says:

    If we can’t win the Europa League, I’d take a Stoke relegation with serious financial consequences for a consolation prize.

  23. slc gunner says:

    0 away points in 2018. That’s some record. Whoever is managing next season, and it could well be status quo, has their work cut out with the back 4.
    Because I’m bored and have time on my hands, here’s my centre half analysis:
    Mustafi: Occasional good game, mostly not great. Simply not good enough and I don’t think any manager can improve him. He has had plenty of experience.
    Koscielny: Not a great season but would keep him in the squad. Needs to be used sparingly.
    Holding: not sure he’s ready to be relied on. Maybe a full season on loan somewhere would help.
    Mavrapanos: No idea
    Chambers: hasn’t been convincing. not great in one-on-ones with tricky players.
    BFG: Retired

    Conclusion: I think we need 2 new Centre halves.

  24. PD says:

    Hard to argue with any of that slc. A damning indictment of Arsene’s eye for centre halves over the last number of years. I feel a bit sorry for Chambers as he gets a game at centre half & then always seems to follow it up with his next game being at right back….the cost of having no alternative to Bellerin.
    Mustafi has been so, so poor. 35m quid ? Just wow. They really saw us coming with that one !!

  25. slc gunner says:

    You look around the league and see players like Dunk, Duffy, Mee, Tarkowski, Mawson, Maguire all playing fairly well and that cost a lot less than Mustafi. Arsene has this thing about finding “value” outside of England (not all of the players I mentioned are English btw), when there is talent staring at him. Koscielny was a great buy, BFG a decent buy and I would say that Vermaelen (before the injuries) was at least better than Mustafi. But the last couple of experienced buys – Gabriel (brainless when it came to positioning) and Mustafi – have been miserable.

  26. MDP says:

    Agreed on the above and some great points SLC.

    It’s incredible how light our defence looks at the moment with Koscielny seeming to have a long term achilles injury, Mustafi’s game looking completely flawed despite some moments of promise and Chambers and Holding still just rookies. I’d love to see what a more defence minded coach like Allegri or Simeone could do with these players with a bit of good old fashioned defensive drilling and positional awareness. But even so, we’re still a long way short in this area and I could see Mustafi and possibly Chambers facing the exit this summer.

    Is it unthinkable to get two centre halves in when you consider we’re also in the market for a holding midfielder and a goalkeeper? I think we’ve got to if we’re going to move forward.

    Guess it’s time to see what Sven Mislintat and the other new faces behind the scenes can do but I still think it’s going to take a change in philiosophy on how we coach the defensive side of the game.

  27. MDP says:

    Wow! Arsene’s off then!

    Lets win the Europa League now boys and give him the send off he deserves…

  28. Delve 348 says:

    Trophy in his last game would be a good end.

  29. slc gunner says:

    Despite all of the criticism in recent years, it is a sad day. Arsene has been at the helm for 22 seasons – which is almost half of my life. So without a doubt, being an Arsenal fan, this man has been a huge part of my life. We became spoilt by the success he brought to the club. He also changed the way we play – the boring boring Arsenal chants of earlier times became a thing of the past.
    In an era of instant gratification, people expect sustained success and it just wasn’t to be. Most of the regulars on this blog have argued that he should have left before now and I was one of them. I would be a hypocrite if I said now that he should stay. However, it would be great to see him go out on a high with a Europa League win. At a minimum, there should be a full house for the final 2 home games of the season.

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