Wenger’s New Year turns sour

Fulham 2-1 Arsenal

So, a pretty dismal start to the New Year, but perhaps a focus sharpener as this month’s transfer window opens.

It was the ultimate clichéd game of two halves. Arsenal were pretty damn good in the first, creating loads of chances, passing neatly, very enjoyable to watch and well worth their advantage. That the lead was only slim at the break ultimately came back to haunt us and there are not an awful lot of people that Wenger can blame for that other than his own team. We were very wasteful.

That said, there was a penalty shout on Gervinho, and with the benefit of video replay it was a clear spot kick. I can’t help but think that had our Ivorian not gone down quite so elegantly it would have been given, but it did at least add fuel to Wenger’s post-match rage: “We had a penalty in the last game, a clear handball. We had a penalty at Man City, we had a penalty at Villa Park”.

The other thing Wenger was incandescent about was Djourou’s sending off, accusing Fulham of getting the Swiss red-carded. I’ve not studied either yellow since I saw them live (Basically, I am using the ‘I didn’t see it excuse’ – learned from the master) but I will say this: Neither yellow was so outrageous that it was mystifying. Reds have been given for less. However, it did make our job all the harder and so it proved.

The fact is, we continue to play with a centre-half at right-back and, yesterday, a right-footed central midfielder at left-back and until we can sort that mess out we will not look as secure or as dynamic as we need to look. That Coquelin had a really fine game slightly holes my argument below the waterline but the point stands.

In the second half we were a pale shadow of the side that dominated the first. Fulham improved and we tired. I know we’ve all played similar numbers of games over the Christmas period, but Arsenal in particular looked to have long run out of gas and you can’t say that Fulham’s equaliser hadn’t been coming.

Which brings me to another point: we’re relying too much on a small core of players. Walcott (through illness) and Ramsey got a break against Wolves, and Gervinho got one against QPR, but other than that Wenger has stuck with the same players for four games in 13 days. A lot of this, of course, is out of his hands: our back line picks itself and without Wilshere & Diaby our midfield options are fewer. Up front, van Persie has played all 360 minutes of the festive period. Chamakh has played five minutes and Park none. That van Persie needs a rest is surely no longer in doubt – it’s a good job we have seven days before our next game and he may be spared that one anyway. Well deserved. As @steve4good pointed out on Twitter, that Wenger could not trust anyone but van Persie to start against Wolves, QPR or Fulham speaks volumes. He’s the best striker in the land right now but he’s not superman.

So this break comes at a good time, and I fully expect us to be bombarded with transfer silliness henceforth. That we need to strengthen though is beyond argument for me.

Back to work then. Hurrah! Happy New Year all.


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

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Jeff

    I’d love to see new talent coming in. Coquelin had some life about him, which was good to see, but another Arteta-type signing in defense, and up front, would be good.

  2. East Lower

    There are no excuses for not strengthening, as far as I can see. Money is not an issue, we’re stuttering a bit and we’re in the thick of a right struggle to remain in the running for CL qualification. How Wenger approaches this month will be fascinating.

  3. Adam Elder

    Theo and Ger were definitely in the wanting zone, footballistically speaking.

    Huge credit to Fulham, they played a great second half. I usually enjoy our matches against them, even if they’ve trumped us a bit lately here and there.

  4. Anonymous

    I’m sorry but I simply cannot agree that the issue is at the back.
    We have 2 players playing up front practically every game & have 4 goals each by Jan. That is pathetic & yet I keep hearing what a good signing Gervinho has been. Why ? He’s potentially a very good player but as of now he’s not good enough. And I’ve defended Theo resolutely but no more. You want 80k a week, are you taking the piss ??
    Yet they are both undroppable ??? We play the same midfield 3 nearly every game & then only player we’re missing is Jack. Why are we paying the wages of Arshavin,Chamakh,Benayoun,Rosicky & most of all Park
    & yet none of them are trusted ???

    Given the injuries the defence have been practically heroic. One injury up front & we’ll finish 6th at best……

  5. East Lower

    Hard to disagree with the supply of goals from either, nor that they should not feel the breath of pressure on their necks. I would though wager that Walcott has been better in other areas than he has been in seasons prior – viz the goal at Chelsea – though he was poor at Fulham. 

    Gervinho is direct and pacy but his final ball is anyone’s guess. A bit of an enigma.

  6. Anonymous

    No doubt Theo has become more defensively aware but he’s an attacker. He needs to be able to add it & still be a threat.
    Same for Gervinho. As an attacker, if you’ve no end product in the opposition box you’re failing at your job. Harsh ? Maybe, but it’s true.

  7. East Lower

    Well, only if you judge an attacker 100% on how many goals he scores. You could argue he pulls defences apart etc. Which I think he does. Not that I can defend his lack of goals but they are playing off the wing and wingers have other jobs too.

  8. Anonymous

    Pulls defences apart & does what ? Has his shot blocked ? Dribbles it wide ? Passes to a team-mate surrounded by opponents who can’t possibly score ?
    It’s not just scoring goals (though in a simple sense isn’t that what a football team is about ? Your attackers try to score goals & your defenders try to stop them) it’s not like there’s a Bergkamp level of assists either.
    We’re starting to verge into Helb territory with him which is my worry. i.e. people making endless excuses for him. Oh, he might not score goals but he he does this & he does that blah blah blah (Not that he’s anyone near as poor a player as Hleb was to be fair to him, he’s already scored as many goals as Hleb ever did in a season)

    Anyway, guess we disagree….I might seem harsh but for me Theo/Gervinho’s lack of goals (& the lack of a proper alternative to them both) is currently the biggest issue we have & the biggest threat to a top 4 finish

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