Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn

So I voiced my inner fears in yesterday’s preview with these words:

“The effects of a disjointed performance and a cup exit on the players, the fans, on pretty much everyone, do not bear thinking about.”

Well we’re now having to bear thinking about it, because a disjointed performance is exactly what we got, utterly blunt and operating at about 60% of the required urgency until it was too late. Let’s file this away with the rest of the season-definers: Bradford, Norwich, Swansea, Schalke – there are more besides, all hewn from the same rock. This tweet from Orbinho sums the situation up, really:

And that’s just it: It’s the same mistakes happening again and again and again. For every cautious step forward we take (Stoke, Sunderland), we then proceed to fizzle out. You got the feeling after about ten minutes yesterday that the players thought it would be easy to win it.

We had a dozen corners in the first half, only one of which was dangerous. As Tim at Arse2Mouse pointed out, Blackburn soon twigged that conceding a corner was the safest option because we wouldn’t do much with them, and so it proved. The other chance we had fell to Gervinho, who predictably scuffed it wide. He often gets into decent, advanced positions on the wing but he can’t cross and he can’t shoot. As Adam Ant once said: ‘What do you do?’

Rosicky had a cracking effort that came back off the bar moments before he was subbed off, but then came Blackburn’s only shot on goal, from which they scored. A bit jammy, but Szczesny should have done better. After that there were a couple of point-blank saves thanks to a belated cranking up of the tempo but it was too late, and we spent far too much time in our favourite desperation zone, just in front of the D, passing left and right across the goal like a caged animal pacing round its enclosure. Only, this animal had no bite.

Fair play to Blackburn and all that, because riding your luck a bit is what makes cup football the unpredictable beast that it is. But the last five or ten minutes aside, it’s not like they were throwing bodies across the line.

When Arsenal have a day like this – ponderous, lacking ideas, lacking forward motion – they are terrible to watch. When the crowd is flat, it is flat because there is nothing to feed off from the pitch. Yes, it goes both ways, but this in the Mirror rings true:

The energy and the drive has to be generated by the players and what this occasion proved was that too many players are lacking those qualities.

If there were a smattering of boos at half-time, they had turned into a cascade at full-time. The feeling of gloom was capped off by a rousing rendition of ‘We want our Arsenal back’ outside the tube station.

I’m not sure that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The camel’s got several bales of the stuff in its saddle-bag already.

Making so many changes backfired. Leaving it until the 70th minute to inject something into the side was too late.

We are back to square one. The knives are out – rightly, though I don’t approve of the malice or the spite – for Wenger. Something has to change. But will it?

Somewhere in Bavaria, there will be chuckling.


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

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. PDDD

    Agree East Lower that the malice/spite out there for Arsene is horrible but……..I have said since the end of 2010-2011 that then was his last chance to leave amicably. It was blatantly clear then that he wasn’t capable of turning things around & it’s only his pride/arrogance (& the cowardice of the Board) that has kept him there. There is simply no chance (*) now of him leaving in a manner that befits the greatest manager this club has ever had but he has only himself to blame.

    The Board should all be sacked on the spot for not talking to Arsene after Bradford & saying ‘enough is enough. We’re going after Guardiola. And if we get him, you’re gone in the summer.’
    Wenger out. How long before this isn’t just internet postings but full-blown banners all over the stadium ?

    (*) I admit if we somehow win the CL, he could go out in a blaze of glory. But the problem is he won’t. He will see it as proof of his team’s greatness when what will really be will be proof of football being (cliche alert) a ‘funny old game’. At the end of the day any team can win a knockout competition. He will then stay on & we’ll face into another season of being 15/20 points off the pace in the league before Christmas

  2. Begeegs

    But to say that the players on the field are lacking those qualities is avoiding the elephant in the room. Who trains those said players? Who bought those players?

    Yesterday, I saw a lot of standing around giving the likes of Diaby and Arteta zero options. Diaby got slated for dallying on the ball, but what other option does he have when the forwards all stand and wait for a pass to come without moving? This isn’t the first time that has occurred either. For a team that is supposed to pride itself on movement and attacking football, it isn’t exactly a great advert.

    Personally, I have had enough of Wenger and agree with the poster above. He had his chance to leave amicably a couple of seasons ago, but he won’t and he won’t get sacked either. It isn’t that he suddenly has lost the ability, but mainly because he has become stale at Arsenal. When fans around the stadium can see what is happening, but the man in charge doesn’t see it or doesn’t know how to change it other than the usual substitutions, then something has to give.

  3. PDDD

    To be fair Begeegs, Diaby dallying on the ball is hardly a one-off. He’s just not good enough. Whether that’s because of his injuries or not (I personally don’t think so – I just don’t think he has the intelligence to go with his undoubted technical ability or indeed the desire to be honest), the point is that Arsene’s constant waiting for him to come good has damaged our team terribly the last few years. I certainly agree with your next point though : for all his Arsene’s talk about Arsenal’s ‘philosophy’ the plain fact is this team are far more likely to bore you than thrill you.

    I was thinking about our next manager & the job in front of him & it’s clear the reluctance in replacing Arsene is just making it harder & harder. Look at our squad & the deadwood the new manager will have to get rid of : Fabianski, Squillaci, Djourou, Santos, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky (I’m sorry but he’s 32 & good for no more than 10 games a season), Arshavin, Park, Chamakh, Bendtner, Gervinho (just an awful player – the fact aht we started the season with him as our no. 1 striker is surely enough evidence of a manager no longer up to the job) …………for a man who used to be so brilliant in the transfer marker that is a terrifying, damning list.

  4. East Lower

    The Champions League needs either epic attacking play or a thumping defence. We have neither so I can’t see it. It’s another slug at fourth, and I don’t think we’ll get that either. Though I said that last year.

  5. Begeegs

    Diaby could be a good squad player (he is not a world beater), if he stayed fit. But he is a symptom of the cause of the woes, which is Wenger. Most managers would have gotten rid of him. Diaby has been paid more than enough to sit on the treatment table for me to really feel sorry. Yes, it is too bad that a promising career has been undone by a horrendous tackle, but that is football and we aren’t paying top money to watch a charity event for someone who makes more money in a week to not play than a lot of people make in a year.

    Wenger’s legacy over the past few years involves a lot of dud buys. Remember Winston Bogarde (Chelsea)? We have a team littered with them now. Squillacci was offered a loan deal to Brighton to play or stay at Arsenal and not play, what did he do? It was rumoured that Arshavin was also offered an out, but refused. The mind boggles.

    Yesterday was really a snapping point for a lot of fans and I don’t blame them at all. We have been seeing these performances too often this year – pedestrian football. There is one way that we play and that is trying to do one-two’s through the middle. If we score – great. Then the other team has to come out of it’s shell and we can generally be decisive on the counter. If we don’t, we still play the same way. A cross into the box is next to useless when it is Giroud against 4 or 5 defenders. Corners and set-pieces are just as bad – we may as well just gift the ball back to the opposition.

    Occasionally, we do turn up to play and press the other teams and try some movement off of the ball, but it happens in flashes in some of the matches. When they do play like they should, they then suffer amnesia and forget to do it every match or for the whole game. Why?

    Ultimately, this is for Wenger to sort out, but the same record has been playing for years and the same things continue to happen, so I have zero faith that he is the man to sort it out anymore.

  6. Jeff

    Because football’s a funny old game, and because there are some good players in the squad like Walcott, Wilshere, Cazorla, and Podolski. Not enough to keep the pace in the league, but maybe with some luck to do well in this tournament. That could then be a spring board for Arsene to pull himself together and get back to the top level, but that list of dead wood (Fabianski, Squillaci, Djourou, Santos, Diaby, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin, Park, Chamakh, Bendtner, Gervinho) is a convincing indictment.

  7. PDDD

    Wow, didn’t hear that about Squillaci. Hard to know what to make of footballers. I guess being in a world so adrift from any concept of reality from such an early age, that decision might make sense to him. To the rest of us………..it’s just insane isn’t it ?

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