It’s Groundhog day…
I think it’s fair to say that last night’s showing in the Champions League in Germany was a colossal shower of sh*t. After briefly flirting with a positive result when Alexis brought us level from the rebound of a saved penalty, things very quickly took a turn for the worse in the 2nd half. As soon as Koscielny was replaced with Gabriel, the floodgates opened and Bayern put the tie beyond doubt before a ball has been kicked at the Emirates. 5-1 was every bit the hammering the scoreline suggests. Often high scoring matches don’t accurately reflect the actual game. This was not one of those occasions.
I made a point yesterday that I thought the section of Ospina over Cech was a mistake. Were it not for Big Dave between the sticks producing some great saves – one reflex stop from a Martinez header was particularly impressive – the scoreline could have been much, much worse. It was a dreadful display from the 10 players in front of him, but Ospina was the one player you could argue at least performed reasonably well – it’s difficult to lavish too much praise on to a goalkeeper that conceded 5, but those concessions had more to do with those in front of him than any mistakes on Ospina’s part.
This is the point were I’d usually try to dissect the game and discuss what went wrong, but it somehow seems a little pointless today. The result came as no surprise, nor did the manner in which the payers seemed to give up once we went behind a 2nd time. It was almost as if they had resigned to losing and the moment in which we got ourselves back in it was something of a freak occurrence that nobody expected. Underneath all yesterday’s optimism; underneath the hope and fragile exception, I knew we’d lose and knew we’d probably lose quite heavily. The defat itself doesn’t hurt too much. Bayern are arguably the best team in Europe – certainly in the top 4 – and we all knew it was a tough task to go there and get a result. But at the very least, I had hoped we’d go into the 2nd leg with something to fight for. It would take several miracles and divine intervention for us to progress now.
What hurts in the manner in which we just gave up. That’s what really irks me. For all their class and ability, Bayern didn’t have to work to win by such a margin. It was all too easy for them. Everyone of those players – barring Ospina – should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Francis Coquelin didn’t managed a single tackle the entire time he was on the pitch. Not one. To put that into some context, Mesut Ozil managed 5 and he was some way from playing at his best. In fact, our German friend cuts a forlorn figure at the moment. Perhaps he’s just off form, perhaps there’s something else going on behind the scenes we no nothing about; but Ozil has been off form for quite a while now. It’s worrying.
But they were all bad. Mustafi, after a very promising start to his Arsenal career, now looks jaded and shakey. Alexis Sanchez, goal aside, did very little other than run around and look like he could burst into tears at any moment. I could list reasons for all the outfield players being bloody awful on the night but at the end of the day the responsibility for the manner in which we lose, and lose quite often comes down to Arsene Wenger. It’s difficult to write anything bad about a man I so greatly admire. His services to Arsenal Football Club are second to none and the things he’s accomplished will rightly go down as the finest period in our Club’s history.
But it’s becoming increasingly obvious that his time is up. There used to be a period in which he’d have many vociferous supporters and those unwilling for any change. At this stage, those folks are few and far between. Even his staunchest supporter seems to have resigned themselves to the undeniable facts that Arsenal keep repeating the same mistakes year in, year out. Something has to change. Something needs to change.
Having watched his interviews in which Arsene looked broken, I’m starting to fully believe that time is coming. I’m staring to believe that this will be his final season at Arsenal, and I hope the players that have so consistently let him down on the big occasions realise this and try to salvage something from another campaign that’s all but over in February. My hope is now that we look toward the FA Cup and give it everything we have to win that competition. It’s not the trophy we all wanted, but I’d love to see Arsene retain some of his dignity and standing with the fans by ending his time at Arsenal on something of a high note. For everything he’s done in the past, he deserves that. He deserves to leave with all the respect in the world and a legacy of growth and stability at Arsenal. But I do think it is time for him to step aside, because the only way I see us going forward is with a change.
I’ve no idea what that change could be, or whom. There’s so much speculation that it’s impossible to know what to believe. There’s every possibility someone new wouldn’t immediately spell success – in fact, I think we all have to assume they won’t. But change is now important. It’ll break this terrible routine and give us something different to look forward to.
That’s all for today, folks. It’s tough to write anything particualry cogent as the emotions are too raw. Whenever I misbehaved as a child, my mum would always she she wasn’t angry, just disappointed. I think that’s the best way to look at it… I’m not angry with Arsenal, just disappointed. The team has bags of ability and potential, yet we fail the same way every season. We should be doing better.
I’ll be back soon with more. Until that time, and as always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.