Bottle and Gl-Arse
Once again, Arsenal go into an away match against one of the better sides in the league and once again put in a performance that shames themselves as players, shames us as fools who waste our valuable time supporting them & of course Shane the institution that is Arsenal football club. After all the promise of this campaign, the year when, actually, there was some minuscule hope that Arsenal were on their way back up to scaling those the dizzy heights that, with each passing day seem more and more like a distant memory, they actively go out and let us down in the most painful, upsetting and humiliating way possible.
Losing 6-3 at City could have been a one-off. Getting destroyed 5-1 at Anfield could have been a rare bad day but to follow both those games up with this abomination at Chelsea indicates an inherent problem when it comes to motivation against the so-called top tier teams. A league one side going to Stamford would be disappointed losing like this so how we continue to find ourselves in this position is beyond baffling.
Of course, every team gets a tonking now and again. However, to suffer so many in such a short space of time simply isn't good enough for anybody with aspirations of achieving something tangible. It certainly isn't about ability. The team wouldn't be where they are if they weren't "good" at what they do, but a failure to even put up a fight suggests weakness, both tactically and mentally. When we go up agains these sides, all too often we have no idea how to approach them nor is there seemingly any belief among the players to deal with the challenge of facing anyone remotely decent. This leads to the kind of spectacular collapse that is starting to become their trademark.
Our record, particularly away from home, against these sides in recent years is nothing short of abysmal. Even at our very best, could we ever even see Arsenal reverse these scorelines? None of you reading this would live 100 years & see Arsenal beat Chelsea 6-0 or Liverpool 5-1.
It's as though as soon as there is a somewhat difficult match, the players' legs turn to jelly. Many, many years have passed since Vieira and Adams et al yet year on year we still seem to be constantly bemoaning a lack of leadership on the pitch. In this match, every single one of the players looked lost. As soon as the first Chelsea goal went in, we may as well have forfeited. The game was gone after just four minutes without any sign of recovery. Not a single player in red & white was capable of leading any kind of fight back & some would say the 6-0 scoreline was actually quite generous on our lot given the increasingly pathetic and embarrassing showing as the match wore on.
The term taking responsibility is thrown around a hell of a lot but still nobody at Arsenal seems to really understand what that means in these situations. There is a collective malaise that spreads through the team when things are going badly and when this happens, the collective and individual errors pile up and they just make it easy for the opposition to tear through them.
Is it wrong to question their professionalism? Possibly, but what else can you do when they go out and play like they couldn't care less. As fans we are embarrassed but you wonder if the players actually feel are the same. If they really, truly did, would they produce such a feeble performance in such an important match? We hear all the tough talk in interviews but when it comes to the crunch, their words turn out to be hollow and empty.
Weng the chips are down...
An utterly pathetic performance from the team can be attributed to a lack of direction from the bench. Whatever your stance on the manager, it's impossible not to question him and how he prepares the team. In this particular game, it almost felt as though they were sent out to play in a way that simply encouraged the opposition to do with them as they pleased.
Much has been made all week of the fact this was the manager's 1000th game in charge and if nothing else, you might have expected him to rouse his players to do him proud. Instead, it felt more like with all the back-slapping and congratulations, he forgot there was actually a football match to play.
The adulation directed to towards the manager this week has been wonderful. The memories of previous success and a reminder of his impact in the club since taking over have allowed people to realise how important Arsene Wenger has been for Arsenal football club. However, all this seems to have blinded people to the problems of the present. Arsene Wenger is in no way the same manager he was a decade and a half ago. The success he brought the club is appreciated but that doesn't at all mean he is still capable of the things he achieved years ago. The proof is very much in the pudding and when you get turned over 6-0 by a team who you are supposed to be challenging at the top, the manager's obvious limitations are laid bare for all to see. As new challenges have presented themselves, he has shown himself barely capable of taking them on. Instead, there is excuse making and a clear misguided hanging on to the past, wrongly longing for it to impact the present.
Going into this game, the manager had never beaten Jose Mourinho and afterwards, never looked further away from doing so. Of course, the usual talk of not being able to compete with their spending/squad/whatever will be levied but when you think that they are coming off the back of a defeat at Villa & the likes of West Brom have given them more of a scare at their place this season, Arsenal's pathetic surrender becomes even more inexcusable. Painting Chelsea as some sort of unbeatable, unstoppable force falls foul in the face some of their results against teams far further down the pecking order than Arsenal. This was the first time they had scored 6 goals against anybody this year and also the first time in two spells under Mourinho - statistic that unfortunately says more about us than it does about them.
Results like this should be a real eye-opener where everyone involved, including the man himself, ought to question whether or not he is the right person to take the club forward at this point. If nothing else, the possibility of replacements should at least be considered because results like this, as frequently as they are starting to occur, are unacceptable. We cannot pretend that everything is rosey in the Wenger garden forever lest we allow ourselves to sleepwalk into mediocrity. The manager is getting older which means he is closer and closer to one day retiring or at the risk of sounding morbid, dying. One way or another, he will eventually need to be replaced and it would be extremely naive to not even start preparing for that.
In any other line of work, no matter what have achieved, you are replaced if you no longer look up to the job. You will also be rightly reprimanded for acts of gross incompetence. Repeated acts will lead to your dismissal. How many more times must Arsenal be humiliated before the manager is accountable?
Making Arses of ourselves
The most bizarre thing about this result is that it is still possible we could win the double this season. Possible yes, but on the evidence of what we've seen this weekend, highly improbable. Arsenal's immediate powers of recovery after hammerings earlier this season have been less than convincing and this latest crushing defeat might be the final body blow to any lingering hopes of winning the title. Even more worrying is the fact that repeat performances in upcoming games will have us looking perilously over our shoulders as the teams below close in on the top four spots. Then of course there is the small matter of the FA Cup. Play like this again & any of the four teams left in the competition, despite their perceived lowly status' will not need a second invitation to capitalise. More than anything, this result needs to be the slap in the face to make sure Arsenal don't fuck up the rest of this season.
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