Morning, tortured souls and fellow bewildered followers of Arsenal. I hope you’re all in a better mood today.
Yesterday, I was quite furious. Today, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Italian debacle is best placed as firmly behind us as is possible. Glaring flaws and undeniable weakness were exposed for all to see in the San Siro. Mistakes that were made over the summer have come back to haunt us. To quote Harvey Dent, “The night is always darkest before the dawn” (I’m a ridiculous fan of Chris Nolan’s Batman movies).
Losing 8-2 at Old Trafford was woeful, but at the same time had enough contributing factors to be considered a freak occurrence. The drubbing at Milan was with a strong team that simply didn’t perform when the occasion called for it. In my opinion, it’s comfortably the worst Arsenal performance of the season thus far.
It has to get better. The players and manager have to accept joint responsibility, and they have to do something about it. Pleasingly, Arsene offered none of his customary excuses in his post-match interview:
“It was one of those nights you never forget. It is our worst night in Europe. We were punished and deservedly so. I felt we were never in the game, we were very poor offensively and defensively. It was shocking to see how we were beaten everywhere.
“There was not one moment in the 90 minutes where we were really in the game. What made it worse was that we had to chase the game. It was always the same problem, balls over the top and we were well beaten. It is difficult to analyse. I think it is better not to talk too much …and to analyse with a cooler head and regroup for the next game.”
Such honesty from a man often maligned for his refusal to criticise his players is refreshing, not to mention surprising. Much is being discussed around the various Arsenal communities with regard to his tenure at the club. Do I want him to leave? No, but I’d be the first to admit that, if there isn’t a distinct change and improvement, it’s not quite the suicidal notion his staunchly loyal followers would have you believe. He is the manager of Arsenal Football Club, and his current squad is the weakest we’ve had for quite sometime.
Patrick Vieira, once our midfield colossus, mentioned on his excruciatingly awful, Man City-based Twitter account that the team lacked leadership, and that’s very true. What the team sorely needs is a vociferous, unifying presence on the pitch, especially when things begin taking a turn for the worse. Wednesday night showed how lacking we are in that department.
Patrick’s partner in arguably our greatest midfield duo, Emmanuel Petit, has joined the growing legion of ex-Arsenal players having their say about the club. In a very honest interview with The Telegraph, Petit states how he believes it’s time for the “dead wood” to be removed, and replaced with character and experience. It’s very hard to disagree with any of it.
All those problems, as things stand now, are irrelevant. Until the summer we can do nothing to rectify the squad. We have to make do with the personnel we have, and support them unquestionably. It’s a difficult time to follow Arsenal, but unity is the only way forward. We can still make 4th and win the FA Cup. The time for negativity is gone.
One person being very positive is Wojciech Szczsney. Our Polish shot-stopper had this to say about the return leg:
“We have quality attacking players and we can score goals, so why not? But we have to realise that it’s going to be really, really difficult.
“It was a very difficult night and it’s hard to take right now. We have to admit that Milan were the better team and they completely deserved the victory. It’s hard to take but hopefully we can pick ourselves up.
Whilst nothing is impossible; were as good as out of the competition. Let’s just forget about it for now and focus everything we have on ensuring we’re still in it next season.
Tomorrow I’ll discuss Sunderland in the FA Cup and the potential line-up. Until then, thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards. Take a moment to comment and follow me on Twitter – @_ArmchairGooner.