Arsenal’s capitulate, late show

Wigan 3-2 Arsenal

Wenger said on Friday that we were “very close” to winning a trophy. This morning, a trophy has never felt further away.

Yesterday’s ten-minute capitulation at Wigan hammered the final nail into the title coffin and was so dispiriting that people are very reasonably asking: can we keep hold of third now?

It was a game in which almost all our weaknesses were ultimately brutally exposed. On yesterday’s evidence we are a team without a goalkeeper that collectively cannot defend, whose squad players lack the wit, composure or drive to hold onto a 2-0 lead for ten minutes when the pressure is on.

It does unfortunately mean, coming so close to the end of the season as it has done, that some people will just as likely remember this campaign for unacceptable giveaways like this (and there have been more, West Ham and Birmingham spring to mind though at least those were draws) than the general progress that many Arsenal fans feel has been made. It would be a shame if that were the case, though we do now have three games to do something about it. Win those and we will finish on 80 points – a huge total for a team in third place. Lose another couple and the season will end on a very sour note indeed.

Much depends on what Wenger says and does to his team between now and Saturday. He knows that the success or failure of this squad reflects on only one person: himself. He knows that for every poor goal shipped, for every goalkeeping error, for every piece of complacency, he is the one scrutinised. Rightly so. They are his players.

I have no doubt he himself is tired of having to talk up the togetherness and spirit of the squad, only to see car crash endings like yesterday’s occur. His players should not have to be cajoled into a performance by the manager, but that’s the job he has on his hands this week. They should be doing this themselves, it’s basic stuff. Determination, drive, urgency. These are givens.

Wenger was furious after the match, accusing his players of a lack of cohesion and discipline. He sensed we were struggling to keep hold of the ball and make chances – yet he did not bring van Persie on until it was too late. Why?

As I said, I do think we have improved, I think many of our players have improved, but without the core of our team our squad has been badly exposed. And we still lack what we need most – a killer instinct. That might come with time, but it’s clear that we need a couple of players who possess that attitude to come in over the summer and infuse the current squad with it.

Sometimes, some of them seem incapable of motivating themselves, and that is unforgivable.

The goalkeeping situation is now critical. Wenger must know that. Neither of our main goalkeepers are good enough for this football club and as a statement of intent, both need to be shipped out in the summer and replaced with someone from the top drawer. Why this was not addressed in January when it was plain to see is amazing.

Overall, it was a performance that has clouded a lot of the good things that have gone on this season. But those clouds cannot be ignored because they keep reappearing.

How we move on is the million dollar question and I suspect this summer could end up being the defining one for this team, and perhaps also for Wenger.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Mark

    It’s fairly evident to me that we will never win another trophy under Wenger. Consequently I don’t quite understand why there isn’t an active search going on for his successor.

  2. R3DD3R of the Grove

    Mark .. I reckon the reason there is no “active” search for a successor is because any search for a new manager at Arsenal starts with Wenger showing intent that he wants to leave ..

    We aren’t the spuds to start meeting up with managers over coffee when our current manager is still in the dugout, that would be a betrayal to the club’s tradition and culture and not least to Wenger himself ..

    At the end of the day, ‘Judge me in 2 years’ & ‘Judge me in May’ quotes don’t sell any more .. The manager, the backroom staff, the coaching need a proper spanking in the end-of-season assessment meeting ..

    Wenger only has one more year on his current contract .. if he renews this summer then you better believe that it is going to be of the same for the remainder of his new contract .. If he decides he has only one year left before retirement then i do strongly believe, he may dip and buy some much needed players to win something in his final year at Arsenal ..

    The sale of the deadwood will be left till a new manager takes charge and re-evaluates the players and the coaching system ..

  3. Dilema

    Alot of people are baying for AW’s blood and now, and to be honest i dont blame them. The team is a disgrace, and these flaws being seen were there all season and have been there for a while, NO HEART, DESIRE OR GUTS simple, how a person who is payed so much cannot kick a ball straight is so beyond me its silly.

    As far as im concerned it is AW’s fault….for example, these are HIS players who cannot defend (at all), HIS goalies who are crap (everyone of them) and HIS negligence and stubborness to strengthen a team that has needed it since we lost flamini.

    If we had no money to spend, why not just say that and we could all get behind our team as best we can knowing we have to be patient….instead it looks like a lack of ability to see straight or make the right calls.

    We all know the keepers we have are piss poor, but the players infront of hem are just as bad…the last 3 games ive watched no one is prepared to make a challenge, they stand stand 10 yards off with no pressure til its too late..and the 4 at the back get no help from midfield! Not to mention the fact that silvestre is absolute shite, and clichy has lost it in terms of defending…even sagna…so that leaves sol campbell who cannot be faulted..he’s 35 for f*ck sake and shows the rest of the team up! but he’s virtually doing it on his own…he is the only player to know what it takes to win something..but what does that tell you? AW has not taken care to intergrate the team properly.

    We have waited for these players to repay he faith in AW, but they just simply cant if you ask much more patience do we need to show…if the players are not good enough, hey have to go, if the manager cannot see they are not good enough, HE has to go…i’ve suck by AW all he way, but if 5years isnt patient enough what is?

  4. RotorGoat

    Interestingly, there’s a lot more open criticism of Wenger in the light of this defeat.

    Which is why I really do think this summer is pivotal for him. Get it right, in terms of personnel, and we might make that next step. But another season of Almunia, Denilson etc will not get us there.

  5. Dilema

    its been like this for years, we have gotten away with things against the lower teams, and shown up against the big teams for our lack of concentration, desire and heart…even since we lost the people can see the cracks, that have been there for a while..infact we could all see them, everytime someone asked for a DM or or new striker coz NB is shite is bcoz we can all se things have got to change…except AW

  6. Vivb

    The worrying thing is the lack of intelligence and desire shown yesterday.

    This season has been blighted by injury but there is no reason why we shouldn’t expect similar every season. There have been positives but also megatives. This side has failed all the big tests or when they had the opportunity to create pressure on man Utd or Chelsea. We have only won one game against the top 6 clubs in the PL. The CL campaign came to the shuddering halt as soon as we played a decent team.

    Wenger has assembled an array of talented individuals the problem is they don’t have the mental strength for us to take the next step up, Diaby being a shining example of this.

    The Pl and Cl will be even harder next year, Wenger cannot afford to mess around his new recruits need the workrate, mental strength and leadership qualities this bunch are patently lacking.

  7. Mark

    I’m a different Mark to the first poster. (I’m Markspark in other forums)

    Dilema nails it really when he says about the money.
    There’s either money to spend or there ain’t.
    If there is, then it’s AW’s fault for not spending it surely?
    How can it just be ignored when it’s so glaringly obvious to anyone with half a brain?
    How can not getting a striker in (at least on loan) during january be excused? We started against Chelsk and Man U without a recognised striker in the line up!
    Why also is the injury updates info from the club so secrective? Johan was out for 2 more months in early Feb? Just imagine if Sol hadn’t been bought in!!

    Finally, Brum away a few weeks ago should really have hammered home to all concerned the consequences of not shutting up shop and seeing out a match. Are they really so daft that they can’t learn something so basic?

    So very disapointed. 🙁

  8. Mark

    First Mark here again.

    Look what Wenger did at Monaco – exactly the same thing. Initial success, followed by filling the team with very young athletic African players and no leadership figures. Slipped down to midtable and was fired.

    Things just look so fundamentally messed up in the team that you can’t just blame individual players. The culture is wrong and the buck has to stop with the management.

    It is going to be so hard to write a cheque for four figures to pay for the season ticket in a few weeks. Because it really isn’t much fun any more.

  9. R3DD3R of the Grove

    Yup .. you have said it Mark ..

    it’s not just the manager or individual players or certain staff ..

    it’s the culture .. You now get the feeling from the board down that we fail to aspire any more ..

    One 35 year old defender with the fighting Arsenal spirit in his blood has motivated the team .. We need more of those …

    maybe .. we should do what Arry ‘the face’ did at the spudlings, get some old Arsenal players and set them up as coaches to fire up all these foreign kids who are loving their hefty salaries and living life easy ..

  10. Mark

    I’m just holding out hope that Gazidis and Kroenke will shake the club out of its inertia at some point. Though Kroenke probably has AFC on the backburner for now.

    Maybe we should get Steve McLaren in, he’s doing an unbelievable job at Twente…

  11. wrighty8

    I don’t know why the wigan defeat is so surprising to so many people. this has been coming for a long time. that so many bad players have been given the privelege of playing for Arsenal after so many disgraceful performances is unacceptable.

    ask yourself would this be acceptable at chelsea, or manu??
    no is the answer. lack of talent is one thing but lack of effort is another and AW really has to take the blame because he is the one who continues to spout out the same drivel about ”togetherness”, ”spirit” and ”mental strength”. i’m sorry but where was this yesterday and at spurs on wednesday and against west ham. and especially against the other two.

    there has to be a clear out this summer to get rid of the dead wood that is killing our beloved club. buy Winners,

    Love Arsenal!!!!

  12. Mark 2

    I’ll just make it clear that the *gem* above is not from my lips!!

  13. San Diego Goon

    What a horrible month! I didn’t watch the match, but the knives sure are out for Wenger. Sounds like all our flaws from the past couple of years are now exposed: lack of depth, lack of character, lack of defense, etc. In this, the softest title race in years.

    Goodbye, season. The ending is sadly familiar — Arsenal up to their same old tricks of teasing, then breaking Gooner hearts and never learning from past mistakes or shortcomings.

    We’ve seen some gutsy performances. Cesc made the leap this year. Verm was the find of the season. Eboue reinvented himself. Bendtner became Mr. Clutch. And Sol made us all feel incredibly proud and completely rewrote his legacy, and in doing so showed up all of our unproven, underperforming squad.

  14. Tommy

    gone are the days when you would get killed for doubting the professor who knows….

    I miss getting to told how lame i am by a blind Wenger diciple.

  15. Fandango

    In a way, this defeat is a huge psitive in that it has mobilised the Wenger doubters into voice and swung many of the previous “In Arsene we trust” Wenger supporters towards the doubnters side, or at least to me a lot more critical.

    The loss exposed EVERYTHING that this team has lacked for this and the previous season or two and it was blaringly obvious to the point that no one could ignore it:
    1) The quality of goal keepers at this club is no where near good enough.
    2) This team only has one striker, RvP, who can provide penetration. Unfortunately he is injured fartoo often and misses most games.
    3) Our CBs as a whole are not good enough. Gallas is almost certain to get injured, Sol is too old to play consectutive games, Silvestre is simnply not good enough.
    4)Our midfield support is far too incosistent. Diaby can have a blinder, followed by a game where he can’t pull off a short pass. Dito for the rest of them.
    5) The team lacks desire and motivation. I know its not his style, but when Wigan were pressing us for most of the second half, Wenger should have been yelling at the players rather than at the fourth official.

    I used to be a die hard Wenger man, and this game has swung me. That said, I am FAR from calling for his head, just a lot more cautious. There was something very honourable about his project, and I agree with the principles behind it. Therefore im sad that it has failed. This summer he needs to rethink and reorganise, and this loss has certainly provided added imputis for him to do that.

    Those calling for a new manager need to reasses their position as well. Yes the project has failed, but at least the project enabled the club to repay a significant portion of the stadium. The financial future of the club is far stronger than any time in the past. The club has still challenged for the title until the final few games, a massive achievement on such a small budget.

  16. Farnborough Gunner

    I have never understood lack of funding as justification for “Project Yoof”. We have a large squad and lot of young players on decent wages. The same budget could (and should) have been spent more wisely to give a more balanced, effective and (probably) smaller squad. I’m not saying we should have no youngsters, but they need to be balanced with experienced pros. If the budget wouldn’t stretch to buying truly world-class players then Wenger should have bought in a few more players like Sol, whose values has dropped due to age but can still do a decent job and mentor the younger players. If he had done this then I am sure that the younger players he retained would have benefited and would have developed into much better players than they have done; they can’t learn from other inexperienced players.

    Considering the extra match-day revenue from the Emirates, compared with Highbury, I have never believed that the lack of player purchases has been due to a lack of funding anyway.

    “Project Yoof” is not an economic necessity, it is Wenger’s pet vanity project. As one of the Marks said earlier, he tried the same thing at Monaco and was sacked. Our spineless directors continue to let him get aways with it.

  17. 433

    I’ve been unrelentingly pessimistic on this site about the title chances since the 2nd round of Man United and Chelsea losses. I was blown away by the optimism of the sentiment, “Now, if we can just win our last 12 matches,” but to be fair, we have won several matches since then.

    For me, if we can consolidate our position in third, everything is fine. It would be great to win something, but I was happy to be at least somewhat involved in the title race and to make the last 8 of the champions league. I’ve enjoyed this season.

  18. Tommy

    “I’ve enjoyed this season”…??

    -You must be a masochist.

  19. Farnborough Gunner

    Tommy, I agree. The fact that so many people say they enjoyed the season shows how expectations have slipped amongst some fans. I’m certainly not happy with a fifth trophyless season. The worrying thing for me is that we seem to have settled as finishing in the top 4 of the PL, reaching semi or quarter final in the CL and throwing the FA Cup & League Cup. While fans are happy to accept this we will never win anything, because our manager and board are quite happy with this level of achievement.

  20. Fandango

    433’s expectations were realistic.

    Have a look at Juventus and Valencia for examples of big clubs building new stadiums.

    Most likely Wenger had funds for transfers at the end of last season at least. He chose not to do so, prefering to continue with his project. Turns out the project failed. As I said I dont really mind, as it was very ambitious and I agree with its principles.
    On top of that, the project did nothing to damage the club. If anything it has made it stronger by decreasing the debt and interest repayments.

    Wenger has had his 5 years and the project is now over. Its time for a few new additions as fans are getting restless and it may take a couple of seasons to get back on top. This summer is key.
    Having said that we are in a great position for moving forward kudos to Wenger for bringing us here.

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