They say the only constant thing in life is change, or is it? It doesn’t seem to be right with Arsenal as the only constant feature in the last 17 years has been our manager and his methods. We have moved stadiums, we have a new ownership structure, we are dropping the Nike sign, we have lost several top players but the manager has been a constant feature, with the closest possible name you can find to the name of the club his ever imposing presence has watched over the club affairs, guiding it, driving it and steering it in the direction he sees fit.
Honestly I’m a huge admirer of Wenger, he is the only manager I have known since I started supporting the club and as much as change must come sometimes it’s not easy accepting it. His ideology of what Football in general should be, self sustainability, his possession game, trust in youth etc continuously endear me to him but just watching him get outsmarted yet again away from home against Everton a feature that has characterized our performances in recent years against top opponents away from home has for the first time made me start considering a life supporting Arsenal without him in charge.
Just watching the game and the question that came to mind immediately it was evident that Lukaku was going to start on the right was at what point did Martinez decide to play him there? All through the week irrespective of whomever we fielded as left back knowing Gibbs would play high up or knowing Monreal was going to be the weakest link if he played? Whatever point he decided to do that, whether it was on the training ground or a knee jerk reaction to our lineup it worked absolutely well.
It brings to question now what was Wenger’s reaction to that move, was there any instruction to make any of our two defensive midfield anchors pay more attention to him or balls that would be going his way? Early in the game, twice before the goal was scored Baines put through balls headed that way and behind Sagna that already gave an indication of how they wanted to find their attackers. All this were occurring extremely close to where the Managers were seated and one would expect that Wenger would get up and bark some instructions to cut those balls, he failed to do anything about it and it was no surprise that one of those balls cut through us like a knife through cheese and found Lukaku running in from Monreal which led to Naismith’s goal.
We kept getting roasted, the team lacked any energy and the only reason the scoreline stayed at two goals by half time was because Woj was having a man of the match performance yet the team that came out was not any better than the one that went in to the dressing room. If you can’t better your rival and at least try to match them, every manager I believe is capable of getting a starting lineup wrong but the best managers know how to switch the game back to their advantage and that is what Wenger seems to be lacking. Should Oxlade have come in a lot earlier to curtail Baines as it was obvious Cazorla was doing absolutely nothing going forward down that angle and nothing helping Sagna either, but we all know Wenger is slow with his substitutions yet we all keep expecting something different.
The only spark came into the game with the introduction of Ramsey and Oxlade but at that point the game had gone beyond us really. Ramsey showed us what we had missed since December and Wenger has to be credited with his huge improvement and ensuring he has signed a longer deal with the club.
We can moan about where we would have been if we had Theo, Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere on the pitch and where our league position would have been if we had not suffered so many injuries but injuries cannot be even considered risks with any football club. It’s almost untenable to use it as an excuse because from the beginning of the season everyone knows they will occur and planning for their occurrence should top of any managers list.
A constant feature of Arsenal matches now is that once we concede aside from the Wenger out meltdown that ensues, Olivier Giroud gets targeted, you would think at some point we would start focusing on our defensive frailties that seem to be returning to our game. If my stats are right we haven’t kept a clean sheet in 11 games. Giroud was slow and missed an opportunity to steal the ball from Howard just before we conceded and it just shows how his sharpness if any existed has gone. Giroud is not the best striker out there but it’s completely Wenger’s fault that he is this bad now.
The mental fatigue of having to perform alone up front is enough to weigh even the best strikers down, 3 transfer windows and Wenger has failed to replace Van Persie. Who do we bring on when we take Giroud off, Sanogo. How we can trust our champions league qualification on such an untried untested talent only Wenger knows. I know Sanogo gets a lot of praise whenever he comes in and everything he does is over highlighted to prove many fans dislike for Giroud but I’m not taken by him at all. Hopefully I would be proved wrong but I’ll rather play Gnabry in a forwards role than him right now. We have seen enough changes in our team and maybe I and many Wenger worshippers have to start admitting that a managerial change might not be the worst thing.
We go into a week where we have an opportunity to play in a Cup final and I can’t even fathom the effect on the club if we don’t win it. Should we win it and qualify for Europe it would be our best season in the last 9 years, and might just be the high Wenger seeks before he bows out of the club. ‘Out of the club’ because I see a lot of comments about Wenger going upstairs but I fail to see how that would be beneficial in the immediate era of his leaving coaching duties at the club. Wenger is a strong character and a huge believer that his way is the only way, do we really want him influencing player negotiations and scouting for the club? Can we really trust Wenger yet again with another transfer window? Is Wenger willing to change the way he approaches matches especially the ones against his direct rivals? History answers all these questions in the negative and as much as I want him around to build another era of success at this club I suppose time has come for change.
Have a great week Gooners. We are going to Wembley!!!
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