Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Open disunity shames the club. Thoughts on United and the last few weeks.

It's undoubtedly been a bad few weeks for the club. Speaking to a friend before the United match I suggested that the previous five weeks had been the worst I'd seen us consistently play as a team in the 15 years I've been going to Arsenal. And after the match, we remain pointless in 2012.

But I do think people have suffered from raised expectations. The run of form from late October to early December coincided with a wonderful run of form for Robin van Persie, who along with a couple of others, carried the team up the table.

I look at this team and it's not the fourth best in the Premier League. It will be a lot closer with Sagna, Santos and Wilshere, but the expectancy that your first-choice team will and should be able to play the whole time is naive. When has it ever happened in the last five seasons? Incredibly rarely.

For what it's worth I think Abou Diaby is one of the most talented players at the club, and if fit, could provide drive and attacking vigour from midfield. But he's not fit and he's hardly ever fit so it's irrelevant.

And it's why I think the injuries are a poor excuse. We've definitely missed having any full-backs, but having seen the performances against Fulham and Swansea, I'm unconvinced they'd have helped that much.

I really like Mikel Arteta but he doesn't create enough chances. Neither do Aaron Ramsey, Gervinho or Walcott. One man who can create chances is Van Persie, but because he's starved of service, he now tries to find a way to shoot almost every time.

The sheer ineptitude of our attacking play in the last six weeks - I'd go back as far as Everton - has been the main problem. Which is why I was so shocked by the booing on Sunday.

Andrey Arshavin is a good player but he's not a winger and it shows. Wenger made a great change in bringing Chamberlain in and it worked, as we actually showed some real attacking purpose for the first time in ages, Wolves aside.

As it happens, I think the substitution was wrong - I think Walcott should have made way, and the fallout will have an impact on the rest of our season. Theo has played dreadfully recently and will never have the quality of Shava.

But I cannot fathom why people booed. Did they think he was suddenly going to change his mind and leave the Ox on?

It left a bitter taste in my mouth. And most importantly, it lacked all the class that 'The Arsenal' are known for. Booing your own manager in the midst of one of the biggest games of the season when there's an important three points at stake? Unbelievable.

Considering we hear ad nauseam about how the Premier League is the most popular League worldwide, I'd worry about further ramifications: it was unlikely before Sunday that a player of Gotze or Hazard's caliber would come to play for Arsenal; if they've seen how the home crowd react in a match of this importance to what was a reasonable (if incorrect) substitution, why would they want to come here?

Defeat to United in of itself is not a terrible result. We were unlucky to lose the game and played loads better than in the previous few matches.

But the spiral of negative stories around the club which the crowd - and, to an extent, the Captain's reaction - has caused will have a much greater impact on our season.

There are some winnable matches ahead, and we could well defeat AC Milan in the Champions League, but to do that, the club needs to stick together.

It's bad enough the referees hate us; fans should quit hating, and start supporting the team.

Keep the faith.


kel said...

Booing your own manager in the midst of one of the biggest games of the season when there's an important three points at stake?..... well taking the ox off was effectively ending any chance of claiming those 3 pts.. i'll pop back in and visit your site at the end of the season when we have finished about 20 pts behind utd & city & probably 13-16 pts behind spurs...the booing was justified "END OFF"

kel said...

ps... this months poll... needs to have 5th, 6th, 7th added to it