It was another huge game for Arsene Wenger as he tried to nullify the pressure that was building from sections of the Arsenal faithful, for 37 Minutes of the first half things were looking up. Arsenal were creating chance after chance but ultimately the lack of ability to beat the impressive David De Gea cost them at the end of the 90 minutes. Yet again it was a big game that promised so much and yielded so little by the end. Man United’s first goal came about fortuitously but was deserved as they started to take control of the game, Kieran Gibbs was unfortunate as he tried to clear his lines and the ball somehow found it’s way past the routed Wojciech Szczesny. The second goal was calamitous in the extreme, more poor in-game management saw Arsenal throwing everything but the kitchen sink in a very naive manner which left gaps and Wayne Rooney exploited them as he managed to chip Damiano Martinez (who replaced szczesny due to injury). This effectively killed off the game and it was something that many fans had feared and expected, another loss in a big game and Arsenal still have not beaten a team out of the bottom six.
Olivier Giroud grabbed a consolation goal with a sumptuous half volley which De Gea couldn’t keep out but it was too late the damage was done, Giroud was a handful when coming on and just highlighted how much his presence has been missed since the draw at Everton back in August. This has seen Arsenal drop to 8th in the League and is their worst start for 32 years.
Wenger was at his deflective best after the loss.
“It’s a game that we dominated for 80% of the time and we haven’t dominated a game like that against Manchester United for a long time,” he said. “At the end of the day we were not efficient enough in the final third, defensively, and we made a mistake at the back which they took advantage of. That’s the story of the game. We had plenty of chances and their goalkeeper is man of the match. That tells you the story. But defensively we were a bit naive.”
It is all very well to just put the blame at the feet of the back four but this is not the first time and this won’t be the last it happens, the squad is void of any in-game management this is where the main problem stems from. However unfortunate you feel that Arsenal were to be 1-0 down the fact is that it was only 1-0 and there was no need to panic. Inexperience and lack of footballing intelligence prevailed; Nacho Monreal was isolated and as the only defender in his own half you are asking for trouble the only surprising thing was that it wasn’t more than 2-1 to the visitors.
So where do Arsenal go from here? they “entertain” Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night when only a win will do which seems the tallest of orders at present. Dortmund have been struggling in their own league as they sit 15th in the league and a massive 19 points off leaders Bayern Munich but look a different proposition in this season’s Champions League.
In the 18 years that Arsene Wenger has been at the helm of Arsenal Football Club certain things have not changed, he has never effectively replaced the solid back four that he inherited way back in 1996. A back four that comprised of defenders with a football brain, footballers that could manage a game themselves. The invincibles side of 2003/04 is something that will never be sen again at Arsenal and it would be unfair to the players to say that was solely down to Wenger. Players like Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry have never needed much coaching and could manage a game as effectively as anyone else in world football at the time. Things are a lot different at the club now and not many of the current crop would get anywhere near that squad if it was still around today. Wenger has always only had a plan A since he pitched up at Highbury in 1996 and there is the major issue, successful managers have always known when to change things. Would Jose Mourinho have left it until 75 minutes to change things being 1-0 down? most top managers would have identified the problem a lot sooner and left their side with a fighting chance.
Already out of the title race by November and by Wednesday possibly out of two cups what will it take for the board to realise what most already have? the club is stale and has been for a decade. The Fa Cup win last campaign was just more cracks being papered over and “appeased” the fans somewhat but nothing really changed and let’s face it even that day the performance was not exactly encouraging, the win was more a sigh of relief at not being embarrassed by another underdog in a cup final. Things need to change and as many people have finally started to acknowledge Wenger needs to go and a fresh approach is needed.
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