I’m looking at the headline of this article and I still can’t believe I typed it.
I’ve been a massive Wenger disciple and (I’ve lost friends for this) I still am, and I will never disrespect him or utter any form of insult, both privately or in any public forum, towards him, but I’m starting to accept the dreadful but ever-louder feeling that we can’t challenge meaningfully anymore under the great man.
This is not a knee-jerk emotional outburst, as I am a very measured, selfless, and considerate Arsenal fan. If Le Prof proves me wrong, I’ll be the happiest man on earth.
The 4-0 drubbing that we just received at the hands of Liverpool has now become so predictable. Judging from the first game of the new season against Leicester and the first 10 minutes of this particular game, you could tell Liverpool were going to tear us apart.
What has become also predictable, sadly, is that our manager would not immediately effect changes to block obvious loopholes in this starting formation and line-up once they become evident at the start of a match.
There is no point always talking about the players after every listless performance – players come, players go at Arsenal, but same old story of poor attitude, lack of leadership, and lack of accountability and ambition remains.
Today, for example, Mr Wenger didn’t need 10 minutes to workout that a rampant Liverpool side, playing at Anfield, would put the game beyond us before halftime if we didn’t change our formation, tactics, or certain players for that matter.
After Firminho’s opener, you knew Liverpool would score again before halftime, the only question was ‘how many’.
I don’t like Mourinho – I think he only chooses clubs that back him up with limitless amounts of money and he is selfish; he doesn’t really love his players but only uses them.
Nonetheless, he would not have hesitated to change things around right after Mane predictably mesmerized Holding to score Liverpool’s second goal. He would have made the tactical revert to 4-5-1 that our manager only did after the first half and he would have subbed Holding right away after the Mane goal if he felt it was needed to save the game.
Wenger needs to be more ruthless and, I suspect, more humble in admitting quickly that he’s made a mistake, whether in tactics or line-up, and solve them urgently.
Will he ever become more humble, decisive, and ruthless enough? Only time will tell.
We simply can’t defend
I say this and I’m wondering where all the solidity and defensive discipline that was displayed towards the end of last season and against Chelsea and City in the FA cup gone?
I guess this is the most frustrating thing about modern-day Wenger and his teams. You know deep-down that the man, who has won a record 7 FA cups and gone unbeaten in a season, surely can coach.
The problem, I think, is that he doesn’t seem to have the fortitude to motivate his boys for a whole season anymore. He can motivate them from the quarter-finals of FA cup or in the last 10 games of the EPL to win the FA cup or finish in the top-4, but not for 10 months.
To do that, you need to be ruthless and egotistical. You need to take defeats personal, so much that none of your players are spared when it comes to criticisms or sanctions, not publicly like Mourinho, but privately at least. It appears the grand-fatherly Wenger just isn’t going to instill the right measure of fear into his players.
And what is Bould actually doing?
There were rumours when Steve Bould joined that he and Wenger didn’t get along. I totally doubt that was ever the case, seeing how it’s Wenger who absolutely chooses his lieutenants and also stays loyal to them.
If he decides today that he no longer wants to work with Bould, no one, not Gazidiz nor the board, will question him.
This then begs the question: Why is Bould not helping our team, especially the defenders, to defend better?
That we have conceded 8 goals already in three matches this season and not kept a clean sheet is not only concerning but embarrassing. We have conceded from set-plays, balls behind our defence line, one-on-one take-ons, and all kinds of goals imaginable. Hence, you have to wonder what impact Bould, an Arsenal defensive legend, is having on them.
Arsenal cannot soar with Ozil in the team
Ozil might seem like the easy target whenever we suffer sorry defeats or put up limp performances, especially considering that just two seasons ago he provided 19 EPL assists, but whenever we have failed to score against teams nor even threatened, there is one constant factor: Ozil going missing.
I know he has vision, and can unlock defences with passes no one else can spot, but you want your playmaker to also be one who has some penetrative power around the penalty area, who can go past defenders, and can shoot at goal from outside the box.
I was watching Mahrez yesterday against Utd and he did all these things I just listed, and that’s why he had about 27 goals and assist combined in the 2016 season when they won the league.
No doubt, I prefer a Thomas Lemar to Mahrez, but either would be better than Ozil. Spare me that ‘he’s a world-cup winner and world-class player’ crap!
Holding is hopeless in a back-three formation
I won’t be so knee-jerk and conclude that young Rob Holding is not good enough or won’t be good enough for Arsenal Football Club.
However, it’s become obvious that he is not fast or agile enough to play in the last line of defence without any covering defender on the outside.
In other words, Holding should not play as a right back against good teams or teams with clinical winger-forwards in a back-4 neither should he play as the right-sided defender in a back-3.
You could see that Mane goal four seconds before it happened. It’s plain and simple, Holding should not be left isolated with fast and skillful forwards like Mane.
3-4-3 or 4-5-1
Our manager can’t seem to make up his mind on his preferred formation at the moment.
In my opinion, the problem is not so much the formation but the application and choice of players. Every formation is only as good as the personnel deployed. And no matter the formation you employ, players shouldn’t be making careless mistakes like Bellerin did for the 3rd goal.