Arsene Wenger sent his young lambs to the slaughter as the foolishness of packing his squad with youngster after youngster finally caught up with him and gave his inexperienced team a damn good thrashing.
I feel sorry for the ill-equipped kids who were thrown into the lion’s den and asked to do a man’s job by a manager too stubborn to slightly alter his transfer strategy and buy the three or four experienced players we need. I won’t bang on about it again, everybody knows we need experience throughout the side and I’ve already blogged about how our 31 man squad only contains seven players over 25 which is why a result like today’s was only a matter of time.
You’ve probably all seen the match and for those who haven’t I won’t torture you with descriptions of the comical defending and naivete that resulted in our humiliation. Instead, a post-mortem is needed if we’re to learn anything from the most embarrassing result I can remember. Let’s face it, if you’d tuned in to Soccer Saturday and heard Man United had beaten a League Two side 8-2 in the cup it would still be a major surprise – only very bad teams lose 8-2, even at Old Trafford. So for it to happen to an Arsenal side that beat Barcelona six long months ago is inexcusable.
Now I accept we had injuries at the back today, but the most worrying aspect of this whole debacle is that we weren’t exactly asking Pat Rice to pull on his boots again. It’s not even as if 5th choice centre back Miquel was needed like against Liverpool. In fact, the defence comprised Koscielny (who is somehow in Wenger’s First XI) our second choice full backs and third choice centre-back. In other words, the players who are next in line should Sagna, Vermaelen or Gibbs be unavailable. People like Wenger and his apologists talk about a defensive crisis, but it’s not like we had to cancel a youth fixture and draft in 16 year olds to make up the numbers.
In fact, compare it to Man Utd’s defence. Ferguson played his third and fourth choice centre-backs in the middle with centre-back Smalling at right back to cover the injured Fabio and Rafael. They had just as many injuries at the back but didn’t ship eight goals.
Most tellingly, the average age of both teams was 23, but every one of Fergie’s team had at least one season of Premiership or La Liga experience whereas some of our kids were raw and untested at this level. That’s the difference and it’s a big one as today showed. Never has Evra’s ‘men against boys’ insult been more apt.
It makes you wonder why Gary Cahill wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered in the first week of the transfer window instead of leaving it to the last minute. But for me, the flaw in Wenger’s transfer policy was hammered home today by Ashley Young. Twice. He cost £18m and at 25 is an established England international with years of Premiership experience. Oxlade-Chamberlain cost £12m with add-ons taking it up to £15m, so he’s slightly cheaper, but is a teenager who hasn’t played any higher than League One. Given the young age of our squad and the desperate need for more experience, wouldn’t Young have been a more suitable target than Oxlade-Chamberlain? Irrespective of whether Young would have joined us, the question must be asked – why doesn’t Wenger try to sign established players like Young once in a while instead of the promising Oxlade-Chamberlains, Jenkinsons, Miyachis, Campbells etc?
Help yourself Wayno, it's easy pickings today
The one youngster who did play well was Szczesny. In fact, he was the only Arsenal player to emerge from the game with any credit and to say that about a keeper who let in eight goals tells you how many other clear chances the home side made. It could easily have been twelve, although having said that we could’ve had four ourselves. The missed penalty, Arshavin’s horrible miscue eight yards out and a couple of other half chances went begging as we failed to take advantage of the fact that their keeper is pony. He should’ve saved Walcott’s goal and if we could have put him under more pressure we’d have got some joy as I’m sure other sides will do this season.
Anyway, I’m too depressed to carry on writing. Thank goodness we have two weeks to clear our heads, patch up the walking wounded and ease back into action with a relatively gentle fixture at home to Swansea. I doubt any of the ‘Arsene Knows Best’ brigade will have the balls to pipe up in the comments section today. They’ve hammered me all summer for daring to question The Great One’s methods and while I still don’t want Wenger to leave, surely the errors of his ways are becoming evident to even the most loyal Wengerite now?
Oh look, despite trying not to talk about our need for experience, that’s practically all I’ve ended up doing! To be fair, how can the subject be avoided? It’s the root of all our problems and if any good can be taken from today’s disaster, it’s that maybe – just maybe – that as goals six, seven and eight went flying in, the penny was dropping for Arsene and his misguided devotees.
Follow oohtobeagooner on Facebook
for more latest Arsenal transfer news, injury news, team news and rumours.