Everton 3-0 Arsenal | Clueless Wenger outwitted yet again

Well, what can I write about this match that I haven’t written a hundred times before. Not a lot really. The same old failings were on show again as Wenger set up his team in exactly the same way he had for other difficult away fixtures. Net result — another humiliating hammering. We lose, regroup, play the same way again; lose, regroup, play the same way again… I’ve given up hoping that he might actually learn something from these defeats.

We had been ripped apart by Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City on the break as we cavalierly threw our full backs up the pitch and were picked off with ease when the move inevitably broke down. Today was the same. Given the importance not to lose today, a more astute manager might have told his full backs “Be a bit more conservative for the first 45 minutes, we don’t want to be out of this game by half time again.” Alas, Wenger is anything but astute.

This is the man who lined us up yet again with no pace anywhere in the team as Oxlade-Chamberlain sat helplessly on the bench. As soon as I saw the line-up I knew we would struggle. No pace means the opposition defence can play a high line, safe in the knowledge that Giroud cannot sprint away from them and that no midfield runners will dart in behind them. This means they can press our forwards and midfielders tenaciously, which they did very well as they controlled the match.

If you want an example of an astute manager, look no further than Roberto Martinez. Today was a perfect example of adjusting your tactics to suit the opposition, something Wenger openly admitted he doesn’t do. Martinez analysed the situation and identified Monreal as a weak link, shifting Lukaku wide right in an effort to isolate Monreal one on one against the pacey Belgian. It rendered the defensive qualities of Mertesacker and Vermaelen redundant with only Naismith to mark while Lukaku waited patiently to be played in on the break. It happened exactly as Martinez planned for the second goal as Lukaku collected the ball out wide, strolled past Monreal with ease and finished with aplomb, totally justifying his manger’s tactical tweak.

That’s how you do tactics. Wenger doesn’t — he tells his team to play the same way, in the same formation, over and over again, no matter which players are available to him or what the opposition’s strengths and weaknesses are. It is costing us dearly as he gets outsmarted time and again by clever managers like Martinez.

People often say to me “If we get rid of Wenger, who would replace him?” Well, how about Martinez? He’s a young, dynamic manager who understands the nuances of the game, rotates his squad well and tinkers with his tactics depending on the opposition. Martinez has taken a smaller, cheaper squad with a tiny wage bill compared to ours and is sitting just a point behind with a game in hand. He also consistently extracts the best from the players at his disposal which is something that can’t be said about our manager.

As we were getting our arses handed to us, Wenger sat passively. The game drifted away from us as 1-0 became 2-0, so what did Wenger do in response? Nothing. No tactical change, no personnel change. Halftime came and went, Arsenal played in the same way they’d done in the first half, the same way they played at Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City. The outcome was painfully obvious and inevitable — we fell further behind.

If something doesn’t work and you stubbornly persist with it, how can you expect any improvement?

So with the game out of reach at 3-0, Wenger finally tried to alter his side and injected some pace in the form of the Ox, who made an instant impact and hit the bar with a terrific shot. Five minutes later Sanogo was readied and I naively thought we were going to go 4-4-2 and have a real go, but no, Sanogo replaced Giroud. Heaven forbid you actually change formation Wenger!


“Hmmm, shall I make my substitution after 65 or 70 minutes this week?”

Everton were so superior that there was even time for Coleman to do some showboating and flick the ball around Cazorla — they were so comfortable that their full back was showing off his skills! This was a new low.

A couple of times during the commentary I heard the old excuses about injuries being bandied about. Yes we have some players out, but that is not a simple explanation for all our woes. Take the first goal as an example — Baines finds Lukaku in oceans of space, he fires in a shot which rebounds to Naismith and it’s tucked away. As that is happening, what does it matter whether Ozil or Cazorla is playing the number 10 role? Or whether Podolski or Walcott is out wide? The missing players had zero effect on that move and were not a factor in it. So you can’t explain away piss-poor defending (which leads to piss-poor defeats) by saying “Yes, but we miss Walcott and Ozil.” Maybe Koscielny’s presence might have prevented that goal, that’s a fair point. But then Koscielny played in the Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City humiliations, so his absence is not the reason we lost either.

Bottom line — our defeat today was NOT down to injuries. They don’t help of course, but you can’t simply ignore the glaring deficiencies on show just because we have a few men out.

Secondly, the idea of having a 25 man squad is so you can cope with the inevitable injuries that occur during a season. If you have five men out, don’t worry, you still have another 20 available. If your wage bill is £154m and you have £100m available to spend on players, you should be able to fill those 25 spaces with players good enough to do a job for the club when called upon.

If having a handful of players unavailable means your team goes from title contenders in February to desperately clinging on for fourth place in April, something is very wrong. Wenger has failed in his duty to assemble the best squad possible to cope with the rigours of a Premier League campaign given the vast resources available to him.

“Ah, but we always seem to have more injuries than most” cry the Wenger loyalists. Well, even more reason to spend some fucking money and assemble a squad with depth then! You can’t play £100m out wide when Walcott is injured, you actually have to spend that money on an able deputy. In fact, I would argue that Wenger has been exteremly lucky on the injury front this season because his only decent striker has managed to miss only one game all season. If Giroud was out as long as Walcott, Ramsey or Ozil, we’d be below Man Utd right now.

And finally, the fact we pick up these long term injuries year after year cannot be down to bad luck — it’s gone on for far too long with too many different players now. So if it’s not luck, it must be down to training, recuperation or conditioning. Wenger has admitted he has no idea why we get these injuries so often which worries me, because if he doesn’t know how to stop them they will continue season after season.

I said I can’t write the same old things every week but that’s exactly what I’ve ended up doing. I’ve moaned about Wenger’s lack of tactical nous, inability to assemble a balanced squad and our apalling injury record many times before, I’m well aware of that. But if Wenger is going to repeat the same mistakes game after game, year after year, I’ve no option but to keep highlighting them. I really hope he doesn’t sign that new contract because I can’t face writing the same stuff next April as well.

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  1. Pencil Case

    Sadly, clueless is right. Thanks for everything Wenger, but please dont sign that contract

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  2. Wolfgang

    You are so right about Wenger’s tactics. He plays in a predictable one dimensional style with all day passing and no shots to be made until the probability of a goal is 99.99%. What arrogance. This aint the first time Arsenal has choked and neither will it be the last as long as the fm stays.He is turning Arsenal into the epl laughing stock.
    He has 30 years coaching but he is a novice when compared to the current top managers.Even red face was pleased to get him in the cl because he knew how the fm likes to play: all day passing and attack but no goals scored.Aswift counter and that’s it. And so it proved .His record against MU and Chelsea is embarrassing.
    Already Norwich have sacked Houghton.I don’t care whether Arsenal wins the cup. If he can’t get 4th,he shd leave asap .

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  3. Wolfgang

    At one time I thought the refs played apart when Arsenal were losing.Injuries?No more.It all boils down to WEnger.
    Don’t you dare change the manager cry fm supporters.There is nobody superior to the fm.What rubbish.
    There are many professional ex managers who will jump at the chance to boss Arsenal.
    Compared to other managers,Wenger has been lucky up to now.The bookies were right in not making the gunners title favourites even in Jan.After the MC draw,the fm arrogantly insisted Arsenal had amathematical chance of winning the epl.
    Don’t be surprised Arsenal could even finish 5th to 7th at the rate things are going.

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  4. Shanzuman

    I have been saying on this blog for over 3 years now that Martinez should replace Wenger and have been laughed and abused for not being a true Gooner fan etc. What you have written has been said by many fans, media and ex-players for a long time now but we still continue to be humiliated by these results. Yes we used to be admired for our style of play in the early Wenger years when we had pace and the other clubs were caught unaware of our fast passing and attacking football. BUT those days are over, our competitors grown wiser and have overtaken us as we struggle with the same dated methods. Wenger has demonstrated that he cannot adapt to the modern faster game and so he must now call it a day and give the opportunity to a younger manager.

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  5. Hashim

    It was a shameful and disgraceful performance. The defence was nowhere for the goals and the attack was absymal. Had it not been for his off-field antics, I think Bendtner would offer much more than the lethargic and ineffective Giroud. Giroud is a good striker, but that is all he is. Arsenal need a better striker than him. He has no pace, no guile and cannot really pass the ball very effectively. Arsenal have no pace in front without Walcott. They should be starting Chamberlain regularly to be more direct, but Wenger believes that the same formation, players, and tactics will win him every game. Other teams now know what Arsenal are going to bring and they can easily outplay and outwit them, as the Gunners become predictable.

    Get rid of Giroud and sign some one who can offer a bit of pace and better finishing to this side, someone who can be utilized by the excellent players in Arsenal mid-field.

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  6. Peter In Canada

    Today, Arsenal were truly beaten again. There was no incisiveness, inventiveness, or commitment. Everton’s game plan was carried out to perfection and Arsenal had nothing to offer in response.

    Chamberlain added the only positive contribution.

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  7. Spectrum

    Everton 3 Arsenal 0. Well what did we expect ? Wenger and the A.K.B.’s are always reminding us that “we just can’t compete” against the oil-rich clubs like EVERTON and LIVERPOOL l.o.l.

    And this latest loss to them means Our Dear Leader has achieved another record – he’s given Everton their biggest win against Arsenal in 25 years !

    Excellent work. ” Give that man a new contract ! ”

    ” In Arsene we rust.”

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  8. Nico

    Totally agree – there is something wrong with us getting all these injuries however how would have Liverpool or Everton done with 4 or 5 creative players out?
    We need fresh blood, ideas, coaching staff, management, players and board!

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  9. Nico

    Just to add a point had we had those injured players we would have been concentrating on going forward, may be scored been more confident and maybe not put our defenders in the situation you describe – anyway we have a manager that as you demonstrate has no clue anymore on tactics, is stubborn and is lost? Having said that I. Think we will finish fourth just based on the remaining fixtures and Everton dropping points? Lets hope us fans enjoy an FA cup win and Wenger does the right thing!

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    • Gooner Steve

      I also think we will just nick 4th place. We went on a good run this time last season, beating the ‘weaker’ teams to pip Spurs on the final day and I can see it happening again.

      If so, it will be three years in a row we’ve squeaked into the Champions League, finishing miles behind the eventual winners. Is that progress? Not in my book. Progress is what’s happening at Liverpool and Everton under their hungry, exciting young managers.

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  10. Nico

    No progression since the injuries which inevitably has destroyed the premiership. Win the FA Cup – slight progression?

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    • Gooner Steve

      No, because Injuries is only one of our problems.

      The others include Wenger’s one-dimensional tactics, his inability to change a game, his reluctance to strengthen the squad, his blind loyalty to crocks like Diaby, his ridiculous wage structure, his refusal to ever utilise the January transfer window, his small, lop-sided squad with too many central midfielders, not enough strikers and only one player with pace that he trusts enough to play consistently (Walcott).

      So say our injuries were suddenly miraculously solved, you’re still left with all the problems I’ve described above. That’s why we’re not genuine contenders. The wheels would’ve fallen off even without the injuries because that’s what always happens to a team with all the problems I’ve listed.

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  11. Nico

    Think it would be be good for us to win the FA Cup come 4th and he bows out! Curtain closed – Wenger has left the building!

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    • Gooner Steve

      Yep, I’d be happy for that to happen. He deserves to go out on a high because of the fantastic work he did for the first 12-14 years.

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