Okay, before I get into what will be a lot of moaning, it’s only right that I begin by congratulating our opponents. Nottingham Forest deserved to win, deserved to score 4 goals and we can have no illusion that they were by some distance the better team. They might be a mid-table Championship side, but a novice to football wouldn’t have know which was the supposedly bigger team had they been watching the game. I hope they get a decent draw in the next round and they go a little further. A lot will be made about the factors relating to Arsenal that contributed to the result, but that’s unfair. First and foremost, the winners deserve the praise.
Right, Arsenal. And those factors. This is an Arsenal blog, after all – I kind have to discuss them. I’d rather talk about kittens, bunny rabbits or cheese, but this isn’t a site dedicated to those (although I am tempted to re-brand at the moment).
So, That performance… Wow… It was so utterly woeful that I’m almost lost for words.
I’ve made no secret my admiration for Arsene Wenger. What he has accomplished is without parallel. Anyone who choses to spit out abuse and vitriol toward him has no place supporting Arsenal. Some of the entitled, bitter horsesh*t I’ve seen from football fans towards the man is utterly deplorable. I stand by that statement, but I do want him to leave. There comes a time in any career where someone has to realise that they can no longer do that which they were once so great at doing. It is actually possible to want change without having to be a pr*ck about it.
Yesterday wasn’t a one-off, it wasn’t a fluke or a freak occurrence. It was a performance that happens regularly. We’ve all seen it before to such an extent that I wasn’t even that surprised or annoyed; the feeling was more akin to numbness or a slumped resignation – like the sensation of calm just before a car crash where you accept that it’s about to happen. The memories came flooding back; Blackburn, Bradford, Sheffield Wednesday, Anderlecht, Southampton, the list goes on… It’s a movie we’ve all seen 100 times.
Arsenal can’t defend. Whether it be the first team, the reserves, the Europa League players or even, I assume, in training. We can’t defend and we leak goals regularly. You need only look at how many hammerings we’ve suffered in recent years. There is a plethora of examples. Just this season alone, Liverpool have put 7 goals past us in two games. And that’s not even a particularly good Liverpool side. It appears to me that there is a problem with coaching at some level when it comes to the basics of stopping opponents for scoring. I can’t pretend I have even the faintest idea what goes on behind closed doors on the training ground, but I think the evidence on the pitch speaks volumes for the issues with our defending. I cannot think of another so-called “top team” across any of the divisions in Europe that gets thumped as regularly as Arsenal.
Here’s a good tweet I saw yesterday:
Certain people are complaining about refs when the side defends like this. 😂 GTFOH pic.twitter.com/MqtFxOD7cB
— Groundhog FC (@GreedyGooner) January 7, 2018
Madness, isn’t it? That still image is mere moments before Forest’s opener. A shot that went in at Ospina’s near post without so much as a challenge from anywhere. After that opener, we did get back into the game, but somehow conspired to throw it all away with more cavalier defending. But, sadly, I kind of expect that. What really got me the most was the overall team selection. I’m not going to mention any of the decisions made by the referee or the two penalty awards because, frankly, the defeat was all our own doing.
The team didn’t really install a great deal of confidence. Sure, I expected rotation. Taking into account the frequency of which the games are coming, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing for Arsene to do. However, the substitutes bench we selected was bafflingly weak. I would hazard a guess even those with limited footballing knowledge would know that games away from home against opponents up for the challenge can be tough. Forest might be a Championship side, but there are plenty of good teams in that division. They’re no pushovers and we put a bench out that screamed the assumption of victory. There should have been a couple of game changers on there we could turn to if things went south on us. I don’t care if Alexis is leaving, he’s still an Arsenal employee so put him on the f*cking bench and make him do his job. Wilshere could have turned things around. Lacazette could use a goal.
It’s just so frustrating that I’m even a little tired of typing this review. Football is a fickle beast and we could very well go on a winning run of 10 games now and all this will be forgotten. But, those issues will alway show their ugly faces if nothing is done to address them. And I’m of the opinion that the only way to do that is with a change in management. Arsene Wenger gave us 2 doubles, 7 FA Cup, Thierry Henry and the Invincibles. What he accomplished will be talked about as long as there is an Arsenal Football Club. But everything that is good has to end at some point. Arsene Wenger is flirting dangerously with tainting a wonderful legacy and that would be a real shame.
That’s all for today, folks. I’ll discuss more of the fallout tomorrow. You can leave your thoughts in the comments section – try to be nice!
As always, thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
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