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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

One Record Arsène Won't Want On His CV….

...First time in 102 matches that a British side has blown a 3-0 lead!

Zut Alors!
From experience, I know it can be fatal to have a rant immediately after a game, where one can often end up regretting letting one's frustrations get the better of you, but I wanted to make a couple of observations, before they slip through my colander-like grey matter.

Firstly, after events in Anderlecht a couple of weeks back, we really can't complain about being the victims of some immediate rough justice and after blowing their historic home victory a couple of minutes from the final whistle in Belgium, I'm sure Anderlecht will feel this draw is no less than they deserve.

Nevertheless, there were a couple of things that struck me this evening that would look decidedly amateurish, if they were witnessed on Hackney Marshes on a Sunday morning, never mind seeing the Gunners being guilty of them in the greatest football competition on the planet!

Firstly, when the Ox put us 3-0 up on 58 mins, while everyone else was celebrating in front of the Red Action corner of the ground, I noticed Arteta wander over to the bench, seemingly to inform them that he'd suffered an injury and needed to be replaced.

It then took a couple of minutes for someone to tell Flamini to get off his arse and start warming up (when I would expect them all to be suitably warmed up and ready to come on at any stage!) as Mikel started waving his arms about to remind our tactical maestros that he couldn't continue. Inevitably, as Flamini rushed back to the bench to strip off, Anderlecht scored the first of their three comeback goals.

Admittedly, it was against a less than formidable Anderlecht side, but I felt sorry for Arteta, as for all our disturbingly shaky defending first-half, where Sczczny was forced to come to our rescue more than once, Mikel actually produced a particularly impressive, commanding performance in the middle of the park, capped off by him having the balls to grab the ball for the penalty kick and producing an extremely cool "Karanka".

But as far as I'm concerned, even if Anderlecht's goal was a yard offside, there was absolutely no excuse for them scoring it, while we were pretty much down to ten men. And in truth, it would've been better if Arteta had stepped off the pitch when he couldn't continue, but sadly the man is too much of a professional to let his team mates down in this fashion.

At least then we might not have had to endure the sight of Anderlecht's goal scorer ghosting into the box completely unmarked, as all of our captain's midfield colleagues were expecting Mikel to be doing the donkey work as usual and were all caught ball watching!

You Put Your Feet Up Theo
The second incidence of utterly criminal complacency is one of my habitual bugbears. It was 3-2 with 13 mins left on the clock, when Steve Bould called Rosicky and Podolski back from warming up on the touchline to replace Chamberlain and Welbeck  Admittedly the two of them were both left waiting on the touchline for a couple of minutes, waiting for the ball to go out of play and for the decidedly annoying ref to decide on an appropriate moment to allow the substitution.

But where Rosicky was stripped off in an instant, ready to come on, Podolski spent the customary eternity, phaffing around on the bench, sorting out his ties, or whatever excuse he can find to avoid actually getting out there and earning his exorbitant wages! So where at 3-2, a decision was finally made with a mere 13 mins left on the clock to bring on some fresh legs, there were only 8 mins left to play by the time these two finally made their late appearance!

If these sort of incidents were a rare one off, they might be excusable, but such unpardonably slack and far too casual cock-ups are occurring game in, game out and although we've been getting away with it for the majority of matches so far this season. according to the law of averages, they will inevitably cost us eventually.

Although one might not point to such stuff as directly responsible for tonight's defeat….yes I know it was a draw, but I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking it felt like a defeat, but to my mind they are symptomatic of fatal attitude of complacency running from top to bottom of our beloved club, where for example our fans, the back room staff and the squad are so accustomed and have become so blasé about Champions League evenings and in particular the six group games that everyone appears merely to be going through the motions.

This was evident in the lamentable turn out this evening. My brother-out-of-law and a couple of his Israeli cousins were chuffed to bits to have been able to lay their hands on three tickets to watch the Arsenal play in the Champions League, but sadly, seemingly a huge number of Gooners simply couldn't be bothered to turn up tonight. There were three empty seats directly next to me and this feels positively criminal when I think of all those people who would give their right-arm to be able to watch the Arsenal play live and who don't even think of trying for tickets because they're under the mistaken impression that they are so hard to come by.

Didn't You Get The Salsa With Your Nachos?

As I trudged home across the South Bridge this evening, I overheard a fairly constant stream of "he simply has to go" mutterings. While I've done my utmost to remain loyal to Arsène and have in the past always risen to his defence in such circumstances, sadly, I must admit that it is becoming harder and harder for me to respond to the mounting criticisms of le Gaffer's blatant and inexcusable mistakes, of the sort that leaves us commencing a campaign with only SIX recognisable defenders and where, embarrassingly, we are left turning out for the biggest competition on the planet, with the hapless Monreal at centre-back!

You can positively smell the air of panic and the lack of composure in our defence at present (either that or the chef is using the Spurs recipe for his lasagne!) and as on Saturday, personally I don't understand why Wenger doesn't play Chambers at centre-back and give Bellerin a run out on the right because at least then Mertesaker would benefit from having a bit more physical presence beside him and wouldn't be left feeling like our entire defensive strategy (or lack thereof) rests on his shoulders alone.

I bloody hope Koscielny is back soon, as this sort of incompetence at the back is positively catching and we badly need to stem the tide of goals conceded, before it gets too habit-forming, but in the absence of Kos, at least having Chambers alongside Per might allay the sense of blind panic somewhat, every time the opposition approach our penalty area.

After everything Wenger has done for our club and after all he has achieved, I really wanted to see le Boss riding off into the sunset with the big-eared trophy that would cap his career and which would deservedly result in Arsène taking his rightful place amongst the pantheons of footballing greats. However, sadly with each passing season, instead of acquiring the experience and knowledge that should make us more capable contenders with the big boys of the footballing world, the Gunners appear further and further away from having the wherewithal to be able to achieve this objective.

Never Mind The Head Scratching, You Merely Had To Keep The Ball Donut!

I heard some Gooner comment on one of the chat shows that at 3-0 up this evening, he was guilty of already contemplating which of the sixteen clubs were likely to be responsible for our customary knockout round exit. But right at this minute, instead of cruising into the last 16 with two games to spare, farcically, we look like we are going to make a struggle and could end up needing to go to Galatasary to earn a result, merely to achieve this annual feat.

We owe so much to Wenger and I am so incredibly grateful to him for the entertainment I've been privileged to enjoy over the past sixteen seasons and for the commitment and effort involved in positioning the Gunners as one of the greatest teams on the planet (especially when you contrast this with our neighbours, as they continue with their efforts to play catch-up, with their seemingly futile financial and bureaucratic battle to build a new arena!) and as a result, I really don't want to see him outstay his welcome, to the point where we have to endure the tragic sight of him being ridiculed on the terraces, to the point where he is forced out of the door with his tail between his legs, instead of making a graceful exit, with all due respect and Gooner affection still intact.

Nevertheless, the sort of incidents I've remarked on above seem symptomatic of a level of complacency that exists at our beloved club, where from top to bottom, everyone appears far too comfortable and secure, knowing that unlike most everyone else in football, they are not at risk of getting "the tin tack" after one bad result and to my mind, unfortunately it's not the tree that needs shaking as a remedy, but the fact that we've become root-bound and until such time as someone recognises that replanting is the only answer, we will continue to chug along, producing entertaining performances every now and again but deprived of the sort of youthful vigour and ambition that is essential if we are ever to truly make our mark on the big stage.

Keep the faith

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Twitter: @thedogsbollock


DrShaglove said...

Brilliantly written. As close to being a WOB as I've ever seen you. It brings tears to my eyes. I am keeping the faith.

Anonymous said...

This won't be the last time Arsenal have failed to win after leading by 3 goals. Even after leading a by a 4 goal margin,they failed to beat NU.There have been many cases where Arsenal have failed to win despite leading by 2 goals.
Wenger has to held accountable. I say enough of him and let someone who who will play direct to win.

db0909 said...

Newcastle isn't comparable - we were away from home, Dowd the rubbish ref sent off Diaby for being upset he'd been clattered and gave them 2 penalties - throwing away a 30 at home with 30 minutes left is very much worse.... I too am losing a 17 year old faith in AW.....

Anonymous said...

At the game on Tuesday. The Anderlecht supporters were magnificent all through the game, even when their team were losing 3-0. No wonder the team gave them a long round of applause afterwards.
The Arsenal vocal support is poor in the extreme.

Donna Moore said...

Well, he won'y need a new CV) I'm not a huge fan of Arsenal, but sometimes I'm watching their games with my dad. But, if he would need to write a CV, this guys will help him.