It’s a cold day in February… and it’s a cold day for the Arsenal.
Having lost 4-0 to AC Milan midweek and then 2-0 to Sunderland yesterday, as an Arsenal fan, it really does feel like an all time low. It was a weird game. We started well. We seemed to have a lot of gusto, will and our formation was solid, but it seems “self-destruction” is the ailment of the moment. We played Fabianski ahead of Szcznesy, as it was a cup game, but the rest of the team seemed line a decent collection of players. Gibbs missing out, meant that the fit again Coquelin took his place at left back and we lined up as follows:
Sagna – Djourou – Vermaelen – Coquelin
Arteta – Song
Oxlade – Ramsey – Gervinho
We did start really well, but 8 minutes into the game, Coquelin got injured. Not good considering our options on the bench and his injury meant the return of Squillaci to the team, Vermaelen out to left back. And with Djourou and Squillaci (our 4th and 5th choice centre backs) at the back, we literally lost the plot. The worry down the centre of defence was very bad, Vermaelen playing out of position also unbalancing the team – and honestly, we never recovered. Morale was very low considering the Milan game, and Sunderland capitalised on that fact by “having a go”. They were over physical and the referee was very lenient on them, but that is something we have come to expect. In reality, when we had the ball, we didn’t do too much with it.
Arsene said a fair bit in the press; he seems to have felt that we were totally committed and gave 100%. I’m not too sure. I think we carried over the poor attitude and poor performance from the Milan game. But the boss did say this – very worrying that Arsene has to say things like this. You know it’s bad!
“At the moment it is best to let people talk, criticise, analyse and destroy and on our side it is important to show internal strength and resilience and come out with a strong performance in our next game.”
It’s been 24 hours (or there abouts) since the loss, and you’ve probably read it all – well about the game at least. But the problems we have at the club are quite big at the moment. It’s obvious that there is a serious lack of confidence and a seriously low morale. We feel sorry for ourselves and it’s not a good place for us to be. But the interesting thing is that we have a mismatch of random and not so good players. The fact that we’re buying players on the cheap and paying them loads is a really detrimental type of management. And that where it all starts. The board’s lack of desire, the manager’s new style of management and the excuses that come out.
Yes, we have a stadium debt to pay off – but that has got nothing to with the lack of self motivation in Europe last week. I mean, have you ever seen 11 players more disinterested in a game? And the question you have to ask yourself is where does the severe lack of desire come from? As a player, on tens of thousands of pounds a week, and a club that accepts poor performances and mediocrity, where does the desire to win come from? It has to come from within and without leadership and inner desire to win, it leaves us short of something – and that something is what has caused us to lose so many games this season.
The next question is how do we fix it? Well, really, it’s an attitude change. If the board and the manager don’t change their attitude and approach, we will soon turn in a very mid-table club. The board need to want to win, there needs to be the desire to push forward. The pressure to win and want to win has to come from the manager too – the philosophy of the bargain, or the hope of potential, is something we need to abandoned. Arsene brought in Benayoun this summer after the fans called for experience. But that’s not what we meant. We meant someone who can win games and has experience of leading teams to victory.
We’re out of the Carling Cup, the FA Cup and the Champions League. We’re fourth in the Premiership and we’re lucky that we are fourth – it’s not down to us that we’re fourth – we’ve been lucky that other teams below us haven’t been great this season either – but that’s not for us to worry about. This season has been a shambles and it’s pretty much all lost. We have to play for fourth. But then we have to rebuild properly in the summer. Attendances at the Emirates are at an all time low, the performances do not excited. We literally only have one world class player in Van Persie.
We have 6 days until the North London Derby. Arsenal owe us a performance, simple as.