That gut-wrenching performance, if not the worst under Wenger, has to be close.
The team was beaten before it kicked off. From the first minute to the last the players lacked the will and the fight. They couldn’t pass, they created next to nothing and were entirely overrun. They just didn’t seem to want it.
The ineptness of the display got tempers going too, to add insult to injury. Eboue, who was pitifully bad all afternoon, was justifiably sent off for a high challenge. Gallas too could have gone for a petulant kick.
Wenger was surely protecting his players when he claimed, post match, that they had been up for it and that it was an “off day” but he has to take his share of the blame for that performance. Not so much for the line-up, which in part was forced upon him by injuries and other circumstances, but for allowing the team come out for a big cup game against our biggest rival in that frame of mind.
Prioritising one competition over another is a dangerous game to play. Let’s not forget that we’ve not won anything for three years.
And besides, winning breeds winning, so let’s hope that a defeat so utterly comprehensive and spiritless as that doesn’t tilt the psychological balance away from Arsenal.
As for the performance, well the less said about it the better. The only player who came out with any credit was Lehmann, who helped stop four nil from becoming more nil. His kicking was poor but he was quick off his line and made some good saves.
Hoyte and Traore were out of their depth. Gallas and Toure looked like they’d never played together. The midfield was anonymous – though to be fair to Eduardo he was playing out of position – and poor old Bendtner had no chance up front on his own.
Of course, United played well too, but it’s hard to gauge how good they were with Arsenal that lacklustre.
And what about the fans? 9,000 made the journey to Manchester. Win, lose or draw, the least they deserved was a bit of fight (of the right kind).
Give them their money back.