Bradford 1-1 Arsenal | Thanks Wenger, but it’s time to resign

Regular readers will know I’ve been highly critical of Wenger for a long time now. Like most Gooners though, I still think he’s a legend and in an ideal world I want him to see the error of his ways and return to being the inspirational, capable manager we last saw four or five years ago. Because of this I’ve been very careful not to come out and call for him to go in any of my articles.

Until now.

It’s time to say thanks very much Arsene, but your mistakes are piling up and the inexcusable performances are now coming thick and fast. It started as a trickle, losing the odd game here and there where a lack of spirit and desire were the main culprits. But last season it became alarmingly regular as we lost to ‘inferior’ opponents such as QPR, Blackburn, Fulham, Wigan and Sunderland in the FA Cup because we plainly couldn’t be arsed to put in the effort. Already this season we’ve lost to Swansea, Norwich and now — most disgracefully of all — Bradford. Most of these defeats could’ve been avoided had we been properly prepared and motivated, especially last night’s.

That is down to the manager. Forget for the moment the board’s undoubted culpability in the slipping of standards at this club, because even though our squad is the weakest it’s been since we left Highbury, it is still good enough to win all of those matches. There is something very, very wrong when a full strength Arsenal plays with so little passion and conviction that it takes 70 minutes to register a shot on target against a League Two outfit.

A friend of mine who was out for the evening saw the result and assumed we’d played the youngsters and reserves again. He was gobsmacked when he discovered Wenger had fielded his best possible eleven. According to our manager, the reason we were at full strength was because we had a long recovery time until we next play on Monday.

When I heard that, my Wenger Bullshit-o-Meter went into overdrive. We played a full team for two reasons:

1) Wenger and the board are under severe pressure from disgruntled fans and lifting a trophy would placate some of us even if we finish outside the top four.
2) He saw clearly in the last round and at Olympiacos that he cannot trust the squad players because they just aren’t good enough.

How sad and ironic then that we still got such a flat performance. The only person who looked remotely bothered was Jack Wilshere. He ran his heart out as usual while the rest went through the motions, playing slow, sideways passes that didn’t hurt Bradford at all. And it’s not as if they had ten men behind the ball — manager Phil Parkinson had the courage to play two up front and make a game of it. If Steve Clarke had done the same thing on Saturday we probably wouldn’t have won that match either.

Young striker Nahki Wells stole the show in the first half as he buzzed around menacingly, giving Vermaelen a tough time. One incident shortly before halftime illustrated it perfectly — a booming goal kick saw their lanky striker beat Mertesacker in the air and Wells latched onto the flick on, nimbly evading Vermaelen before rolling his shot agonisingly wide.

Gervinho misses an open goal against Bradford

Take your time coming back from the African Cup of Nations Gervinho

By then we’d already fallen behind to yet another set piece that our flawed zonal marking system couldn’t prevent. Coquelin hit the post and we fizzed a couple of shots wide, but it was Gervinho’s incredible miss of an open goal from just five yards that will be best remembered.

Which brings me neatly on to another of Wenger’s failings — his insistence in playing certain players out of position. Last night we had a German striker on the wing, a clumsy Ivorian winger up front and a Welsh central midfielder out wide. But then this is the man who signed a talented Russian playmaker, the star of Euro 2008, and made him run up and down on the wing for his entire Arsenal career, never once playing him in his best position just off the front man. We’ll never know how good Arshavin could’ve been for us.

As the second half kicked off I was still confident we’d eventually break down the Yorkshiremen and blag our way into the semis, but if anything Bradford came into the game more and it was quite even for a while. So obviously another terrific halftime teamtalk from Mr Motivator then.

With twenty minutes to go the home side started to tire having worked so hard and Wenger sent on the fresh, inventive legs of Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain. At this point Parkinson took Wells off and went 4-5-1 and it was then, and only then, that we started to dominate.

Before that we didn’t have a single shot on target — the honour of our first fell to the Ox. Wenger’s post-match excuse for defeat was that we couldn’t convert our chances, but the truth is most of these came from the 70 minute mark onwards when our opponents tired, and in extra time when they were out on their feet. That’s just not good enough.

We went level when Vermaelen nodded in with two minutes left and we could even have won it in injury time, but Matt Duke produced two excellent saves to deny Cazorla.

We camped inside the Bradford half for the whole of extra time but there were more overhit crosses than clear opportunities. Cazorla hit the bar but Bradford held on for spot kicks and it seemed inevitable we’d go out. After all, they’d won their last eight shootouts and we are a team of bottlers who choke when the pressure is on, so to see us only convert two out of five penalties wasn’t a surprise.

Congratulations Bradford, you deserved that for showing more heart, determination and backbone than your more talented but less committed opponents.

The post match interview with Wenger showcased just how much this once great man has lost it. He was clearly getting irked by the Sky reporter who kept using the word ‘humiliating’ when asking him a question, so much so that he eventually cut the interview short and walked off. But not before he once again refused to blame the players, claiming:

“I cannot fault the effort, we gave everything for 120 minutes.”

Really Arsene? Really? The only people I saw giving everything for 120 minutes were wearing claret and amber stripes. From the Arsenal camp, only Jack Wilshere and the four thousand travelling Gooners (who once more sung their hearts out and were incredibly supportive) could hold their heads high.

So where do we go from here? I really can’t see Wenger recovering from this. The Birmingham Carling Cup final defeat was a massive blow to our belief we can win a trophy (one from which we haven’t really recovered) but this is something on another level. Last night was further evidence that Wenger doesn’t have the respect of the players or the ability to motivate them adequately to get us into the top four and serious questions must now be asked of him at board level. But that won’t happen because he makes the club millions in transfer revenue, which raises the price of the shares and therefore the board members stand to pocket huge amounts when Kroenke eventually decides to cash in and sell. So why would they rock the boat?

Wenger has made himself untouchable and this rot will be allowed to spread further unless he does the decent thing and falls on his sword.

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  1. gooner

    I think Wenger has reached the end of his tehter. I don’t see how Arsenal can climb the table with this man. Tactically he has lost it. Teams wait for Arsenal to attack. The build up is slow and with the merry passing in front of massed defenders,is it any wonder the gunners don’t shoot,let alone score.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  2. EIE

    Just waking up in Leeds after going last night, truly dreadful display, Wenger’s team is weak like him, time to go Arsene and take your pound shop and jumble sale buys with you.

    Agree or Disagree?   Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  3. cin

    How much more you expect from this kind of club. This is not a football club, Arsnal is just a business. They are doing very good in that.

    Who cares winning trophy. Fans……… Who cares fans ???? That’s a question.

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  4. para

    Well i thought we had hit the bottom already.
    How wrong was i.

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  5. Bridgers

    A truly awful performance, I agree that Jack was giving his all, I thought Gibbs played well too. Ramsay and Gervinho are so poor it’s embarassing, Podolski doesn’t seem to want to be here. I agre with the article about players being played out of position, but we have also bpught badly. A 6’6″ centre half who is outjumped by players a lot smaller than him, wide players who can’t do the basics of crossing the ball, midfield players who can’t control the ball. To cap it all off we then get the ridiculous comments from AW after every match about commitment. I won’t be renewing my season ticket next year but Arsenal won’t care, there are plenty of other mug punters who will take it up.

    Disheartened and dispirited Gooner of 46 years!!!!!!

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  6. Paul

    Wondering whether or not to renew season ticket for next year, as I’m loathed to spend so much, for so little in return. Where indeed has my Arsenal gone?

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  7. scott

    But it’s just a mickey mouse cup trophy….a cup with no value…or have all arses forgot that?

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    • Shanzuman

      What another indoctrinated plonker you are Scott!! Wake up, AW fielded his STRONGEST side possible last night, so I don’t think our beloved AW thought it was a ‘mickey mouse cup’ on the contrary he obviously felt that that was our only trophy we can win this season and that is why he fielded his STRONGEST side!! So on this basis forget the rest of the year cos we arn’t going to win
      anything and that is a sure bet!!!!

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  8. 1967gooner

    You cannot win a game without a striker and a quality one, why we continue to progress strikers in the Henry roll is beyond belief, he was exceptional coming in off the wing and curling the ball past the keeper but other strikers cannot do the same.
    Cazorla needs a play maker with him, as was shown when Rosicky came on, the movement increased around the area and I would love to see Arteta up there rather than defensive midfield. Why can we not play 4 4 2, get back to basics.
    Verm has been terrible since he got the captains armband, give it to someone else who can stand the pressure.
    Wenger has done wonders for the club but always leaves the subs too late to make a difference, we need to change when the game dictates it, not his Ebel watch.
    Zonal marking didn’t work for Liverpool and they were getting goals scored against them in the same manner as we are, who’s idea was it to play the same way!!!
    Too much dead wood on good wages are stopping our club progressing and being able to afford a few quality players, get rid of them and the additional revenue will pay the wages, the additional(TV, cups, full house etc) revenue of winning will sustain the club – remember Churchill’s speech ‘Never has so much been owed by so many to so few’, I would rather have less squad players of real quality than the amount of pretenders with a sprinkling of quality in our ranks.
    Arsenal till I die but they make it hard to love them sometimes.

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  9. AG

    I think you are spot on regarding the application of the players in wrong positions. Also remember Bendtner beeing played wide. Whatever you might say about him he is miles ahead of the two stooges Gervinio and Chamach. Gervinios legs are like a flipper machine. When the ball hits you can never guess where it will go. I have always thought that Gervinio is a half decent winger, because of his pace an ability to go past the defender down to the byline. As a striker he is though utterly useless, as the extra second he needs to control the ball will effectively ruin any opportunity.

    Another issue that I find alarming is the ability at Arsenal to make decent players bad. While at Man U decent players get geled into a system to make them good, our decent players only gets worse, And even more alarmingly is the ability to make class players bad.(AA)

    The plain fact as we saw yesterday is that any team of proffesionals or half proffecionals who is willing to put in an effort is capable of beating this Arsenal team on the right day.

    I remember some years ago when we were struggeling against a minor side. On came Henry and Pires and turned it around. This time Chamach was the solution!!

    The problem at Arsenal is really what to do if Wenger should resign. There is no DD to find a new manager and I hardly think Mr Sweet-talker Gazidiz is capable to go out and find the new man. The board in its elevated sphere is nowhere near stepping out in the trenches of the manager marked. But hey, we have an active owner who will certainly fix this for us.

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  10. Oh Dear

    I’m a spurs fan, I have to say this is a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased you lost… but from my perspective, Spurs have only bridged a gap in quality as you guys have droped more than we have gained. I think that is fair comment – I’m not here to gloat.
    My house mate is a gooner – he is livid. Can’t blame him.
    Perhaps you guys are right, the decline in the last three years has been a problem. You do need to look at ourselves though, the amount of crap we have employed to sit in our hot seat has been a hinderance and the treatment of Jol embaressing. The wrong move could even split your fans, it was 50:50 with ours and AVB 5months ago.

    Can I ask, who would you want in replacement?

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    • Shanzuman

      Glad that a Spurs fan is taking an interest in our domestic affairs but frankly you are not out of the woods yourselfs yet so don’t try to tell us that there is nobody else other than AW. There are a number of candidates out there but requires the Board to do somthing about it. I have been saying on this blog for a while now that my favourite would be Guardiola but unfortunately our Board is blinkered when it comes to football issues but is awake on the commercial front only! Hence AW lives on!!

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  11. Matt

    Scott- it’s not about being a Micky mouse cup, it’s the fact we couldn’t beat a league two team in 120 minutes of football. Arsenal fans need to stop moaning and do something about it to get these clowns out of our club. We want our arsenal back!

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  12. Philbet

    You accused me the other day of only coming on here after we win, well here i am after we were KO’d from the Capital Cup, We seriously underperformed last night but surely that blame lies at the feet of the players, Wenger sent out a strong side,using tactics that if the players did there part should have been good enough to win comfortably, shocks happen in cup football we all know that, that’s why many PL teams are already out,On a more objective footing I thought the defense on the whole did well, Vermalin was a little culpable early and the back four was a little too far apart but overall BC posed little threat from open play,(So they should you might say),The midfield was again adequate in the early stages and grew more dominant as the game went on, In is the front three where we seriously underperformed, Podolski was anonymous,Ramsey too casual,Gervinho well he has no ability to make a split changing decision and his touch was awful last night,the hard pitch should have not been a problem as he was brought up playing on dirt in Africa, The Ox has failed to develop in any way this year for whatever reason,it is always more difficult for a young player to come on in a team that is not playing to its best and maybe this is hindering him but last night he was outshone by several League two players and looked far from an England international.To sum up it was a lackluster performance which showed the lack of strength/ability of our forward line more than anything, you can blame Wenger for bringing in these players but not for the players under performing in such a way they must take the blame, like he says its a privilege to play for The Arsenal and last night four or five players failed miserably to appreciate that privilege.

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    • Shanzuman

      Oh dear Philbet you just cannot read the articles and comments and truely understand our severe predicament we have with a stale management set up that urgently needs updating. Go back and read previous reports and respective comments (including my ones!) and you hopefully you will come to appreciate our concerns that it is not entirely the players fault but the management style etc.

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    • Gooner Steve

      Credit for having the balls to speak up, especially after last nights fiasco. Most Wenger fans are in hiding right now!

      However, you’re still absolving Wenger of blame. Yes the players aren’t performing well enough but that’s the job of a manager — to get his side playing well. Ramsey hasn’t asked to play out wide and Gervinho hasn’t asked to play up front. Is Wenger really getting the best he can out of this squad?

      We’re still playing a system he brought in to get the best out of Fabregas, who isn’t even there anymore! He refuses to teach defending and persists with a zonal marking system at set pieces that leaks goals consistently.

      If you can’t motivate your team to fight for a semi final place then something is very wrong. The players are certainly guilty of underachieving, but Wenger picks, coaches and motivates them so the buck stops with him.

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  13. 1967gooner

    I actually liked Bendtner, he wasn’t that bad and could have become a very impressive striker and as you say, he is definitely better than Gervinho and Chamach.

    However our passing and crossing was so poor last night, I don’t even think the great Henry would have had a chance.

    How many times did we play the ball to the opposition or our passes were so short that they ended up in no mans land, this is not the slick passing we are accustomed to and has been happening all season so far.

    To Oh Dear, the spud fan – it would have been more intelligent to make a comment had you managed to progress as far as the quarter finals, it is kind of strange that you seem to imagine that you gained but didn’t make it as far as us???

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  14. gooner

    There are many reasons for the current problems. I will just highlight a few. Players are being played out of position. Ashvin is a central striker but is made to play from the wing. Ramsey ,a md,players is asked to play winger. Same with Gervino and same with other guys.
    The gunners play a sterotype of game. It’s pass and pass all day even when confronted by eight to ten players. Wenger wants to thread a ball through ,Barcelona style.
    The gunners don’t shoot unless they count to ten or go through a ritual similar to Thai style boxing.By then all gaps would have been closed and the defenders will give the gunners no time and space. This has been happening the last 7 years. Until Wenger changes his tactics ,the gunners will continue to slide.
    It’s obvious the prsent lot of players aint good enough defence,md and attack.Wenger has the choice to buy . By that I mean players ready to slot in to the senior team not someone waves in the Swiss village team

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  15. Oh Dear

    1967Gooner – I’m talking in general, not just the competition. I’m not here to gloat, I’m perfectly aware of our last two league meetings and how far we progressed in the cup. What I am saying is, it seems like the last 5 years we have caught up with you – I was simply saying it was both ways, I don’t think we have improved as much as we think, Arsenal have declined towards us too. It wasn’t a jab, I was agreeing with the article – something has been wrong in the last 3 years as there is very little between us. I’m not on here to wind anyone up, I think what I said was an honest assesment.

    My club are far from perfect, we have a proven 20year recent history, some shambolic and from the outside comical. Watching you lot lifting continuous trophies and the “unbeatables”… for us it was the “unberables”. Our team on paper is worse than last year, but I’m growing in confidence with AVB after my initial worries. I was always worried we would regret ditching Harry, but it seems to be making a bit more sence now. Would it be the same for you?

    I’m more interested in what you think to be honest. How would you like Arsenal to go forward, who is the man to do it if Wenger’s not, what do you need? Be your board and tell us how you would handle the matter

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  16. Gooner Steve

    Nice to have a sensible Spurs fan on here, glad you dropped by.

    Who I want as a replacement is a moot point because the board won’t get rid of Wenger until he stops making them money. But in an ideal world Guardiola. We have the type of technically proficient players he had success with at Barca, but I doubt he’d come because of the attitude of the board ie profit first, results second.

    Your point about life after Harry is very relevant as there are a number of Arsenal fans who are too scared to get rid of Wenger. Fear of change is not a good enough reason though.

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