Arsenal gave themselves an excellent chance of ending their nine year trophy drought with victory over Wigan yesterday, showing good character to come back from a goal down and win the game on penalties.
And that’s the end of the plus points. Granted, winning the game is a major plus point, probably the biggest plus point you can get. But for me, the minus points that this scrappy game threw up far outweigh it.
If you’re only interested in the short term, it’s fantastic news that we’ve reached an FA Cup final and I hope you woke up this morning with a smile on your face and are looking forward to another Wembley date.
But if you also care about the future and whether this club is actually progressing under Wenger, then yesterday’s match would have made for alarming viewing. That Wenger couldn’t even come up with a gameplan to beat a Championship side who are, to a man, half as talented as the players he has at his disposal, is both depressing and embarrassing.
Calum McManaman apart, Wigan are a side bereft of genuine quality. Plucky, well organised and disciplined they maybe, but Arsenal should have had no trouble disposing of them. Unfortunately, after a bright opening 10 minutes when they were unlucky not to score after a refreshingly blistering start, Arsenal reverted to type and played the remaining 110 minutes at a pedestrian tempo. They awoke from their slumber with 10 minutes to go as the realisation finally set in that they had to raise their game and scored a fortunate equaliser as the tempo was briefly raised. But with a knackered Wigan there for the taking, Arsenal failed to take advantage and needed penalties to limp over the line. The proverb ‘If you can’t be good, be lucky’ was never more apt than today.
Somebody needs to tell the players that they’ve won nothing yet. Doing a lap of honour and taking selfies after squeaking through to the final against crap opposition on a day they slipped to fifth in the league just didn’t sit right with me. I’m thoroughly convinced that Arsene cannot take this team any further, just as I was this time last year and the year before that. Seeing the raw, clumsy Sanogo toil against a Championship defence while £100m sits in the Arsenal vaults is an unfunny joke, but it epitomises this stagnating Wenger regime.
It may sound odd to be pessimistic the day we win a semi final, but coming through that shootout was merely papering over the cracks. I can see it, the media can see it and so can an ever increasing number of Gooners, especially those who booed when Podolski came off instead of the hopeless Sanogo.
I just hope Wenger can finally see it too.