I had a family function to attend this afternoon and for the first time I can remember I didn’t try to get out of it when I realised it clashed with an Arsenal match. Nor did I moan about not being able to watch a stream of the game or listen to a radio commentary. Instead I kept half an eye on Soccer Saturday flickering away quietly in the corner of the room and waited for the inevitable update. The only surprise was that it took so long for Swansea to score.
It is sad that my enjoyment at watching Arsenal has been eroded to the point I no longer care whether I see matches or not. My two cousins are season ticket holders (I finally had enough and let mine lapse this summer) and had no qualms about giving their tickets away in order to attend today’s do.
At this point I want to make something very clear. Neither I nor my cousins are fairweather fans having a tantrum because we’re not lifting trophies anymore or because we only want to go when we’re winning. We have been Gooners all our lives, going to Highbury regularly through the good days and the bad, and fully understand that we don’t have a divine right to win anything.
However, we’re disillusioned because Arsenal’s mediocrity on the pitch and consistent selling of top players coincides with us having £154m in the bank. Why isn’t some of that invested in the team? To add insult to injury we are charged the highest ticket prices in the world despite this huge cash reserve. It is nothing more than greed from an out of touch board interested in profit margins instead of football results and to hell with what the supporters think because they’ll keep turning up regardless. How did Peter Hill-Wood end the AGM recently? Oh yes, that was it: “Thank you for your interest in our affairs.”
And I thought Wenger was arrogant!
I’ve got a lot more to say about the current situation and where the club is heading, but I’ll save that for another article. Regarding today’s game, I won’t bother with a match report because even though I watched the extended highlights on Football First, it’s impossible to judge properly if you haven’t seen the match live. I want to touch on a few points though.
Firstly, when I saw the teamsheet at 2.55pm and noticed we were playing a front three of Gervinho, Podolski and Walcott, I thought: “Oooh, Podolski is getting a game up front. About time — he is wasted on the wing. Or will it be Walcott? He deserves a go, has Wenger finally given him his chance?”
Erm, no. Wenger gave the nod to a woefully off form winger and kept our top scorer on one flank and a man who’s netted 44 times for Germany on the other. So it was no surprise that our best chance of the first half was a free header which Gervinho fluffed so badly that it didn’t even go out for a goal kick.
A clinical finish earns the Swans a deserved win
My take is that Wenger wouldn’t play Walcott up front even if he was our only fit forward. He is trying to show him who’s boss and is too stubborn to admit that Walcott has a point and should be given a chance through the middle. Wenger is letting his arrogance and his terrible handling of the contract situation hinder the team and that is rank bad management. A rusty Gervinho up front instead of Podolski or Walcott? Absolutely ridiculous.
Secondly, we are suffering through having no proper defensive midfielder. Arteta is doing his best as a short term stop-gap, but he is not good enough as a screen for the back four against quality sides. I noticed he was beaten quite easily a couple of times and then Michu was allowed to run straight at our retreating backline in the build up to his goal. I know we were pushing forward looking for a winner, but as Wenger said in his post match interview, if you can’t win you must make sure you don’t lose. With Arteta trying to break up play instead of Song, we are much more likely to lose.
Thirdly, by all accounts Swansea were good value for their win, especially in the first half. The BBC report credits us with only 44% of possession, which staggers me, and with less shots than our visitors. Certainly our best player was Szczesny which says a lot.
So let’s put this into perspective — we were outpassed and outplayed on our own pitch by a team whose record signing is £5.55m (Pablo Hernandez, who wasn’t even playing!) and whose wage bill is £17.4m. Ours is £130m.
That puts paid to the oft quoted excuse from AKBs that we can’t afford to spend as much as Man City or Chelsea so therefore Wenger is immune from criticism blah blah blah. Well, we can certainly afford to compete with the likes of Swansea, so I’d say today’s result and being below them in the league represents a serious case of poor management. Anybody want to come up with some excuses for him in the comments this week? And don’t say “It was raining” because an AKB already used that for the Aston Villa game. I’m being serious, he really did.
So we’ve slipped to 10th, five points behind Spurs in that coveted Champions League spot. On Friday Wenger was still trying to maintain that we could win the league which looks pretty hollow now we’re 15 points behind Man Utd. Coincidentally, we’re 15 points ahead of QPR who are bottom — I think it’s time to get real Wenger and acknowledge the severity of our situation. And while we’re at it, stop saying our spirit is great after every single match. It quite clearly isn’t so stop insulting our intelligence.
I want to end on a positive note, but I’m really struggling. The best I can come up with is that we may have lost, but at least we didn’t feel the need to spitefully fabricate a serious accusation against Mark Clattenburg. Crap we may be, but we’re not bitter chavs with no class!
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