I missed the Everton game, haven't missed a game for quite a while now and it wasn't intentional. Something far more important came up that is now thankfully resolved but I haven't watched the replay as yet and it has been a few days since our comprehensive defeat to the hands of what is now our closest rivals.
Win, lose or draw my Arsenal obsession doesn't usually allow 24 hours after a game without me frantically trying to get my late fix of the game.
This time I am struggling to face it, hence the lack of any post match thoughts on my side. You can get Iron Man's views here so check that out.
I guess from my point of view I am concerned as to what these defeats mean and I have been preparing myself of the very real possibility that a change of manager could happen sooner than I imagined, not only because of our end of season collapse so far but mainly down to the fact that Arsene has not signed a new deal at such a late stage.
Arsene spoke at the end of last season about how he had an inkling that Ferguson was in his final season, I don't buy this notion that Arsene doesn't know what he is going to do. He knows and if he knows you can be sure that the Arsenal board have already been told of his plans one way or the other.
We should know what Arsene is like by now, he isn't going to have secured a job with PSG on the quiet and then drop us like a bad cold in the middle of the next pre season next or anything like that. He has too much class for that.
Dave Seager actually has a very good theory about the new appointment of Head of youth development Andries Jonker. If that was the case then you would expect that the club have known about Arsene's decision for a while now and are working towards the future. We shall see what Arsene does at the end of the season. If I was a betting man then I'd stick a few quid on the Dutchman if Arsene was to leave then I'd be certain to put some money on it, as Betbright are doing some really good football promotions
So on a personal note, I would like to slap down my views on the manager situation. Those who have read anything of mine in the past will already know of my admiration of the manager, in fact admiration does not do it justice at all.
What he has done for this club, especially from around 2005-2014 I feel there are not many managers in the game could have equaled let alone bettered what he achieved given the targets and constraints, many will disagree and that's fine while I'd expect many will be nodding their heads in agreement.
He has successfully negotiated us through one of the biggest transitional phases in the clubs history. The ambition shown to achieve this flies over the heads of many a fan or pundit. The strain on the club has been often under played in my opinion, especially given the changes to the footballing landscape and also the plummeting prices of the Highbury flats.
But here we are today, a financial power house, one that simply was not there at Highbury. But Arsene has done the difficult part, he has managed the club to a position where another manager can steer the ship without crashing straight into an iceberg in the sea.
Make no mistake many of the managers on the Arsene replacement shortlist would have failed to keep regenerating money and keep us in the top four of the division every season during a time when every one of our competitors were outspending us by some distance in the transfer market.
This article reads like I am waving my own personal white flag, I am not in fact it is the opposite but I'll get to that. However this is a placing of my cards I guess. A chance to get out my thoughts so I can understand them.
Firstly let me go over what I feel are Arsene's flaws and where a change could/would improve our prospects.
Arsene Wenger is not your conventional manager. I think it is why so many misunderstand him. His methods are not as commonly used especially in the English game. The whole 'Arsene Wenger doesn't do tactics' is a case in point. His development of playing a style of fluid football where his tactics are drilled into his players from the moment they arrive at the club to play an intuitive brand of attacking football is different from the regular instruction filled chopping and changing of some other managers.
When his players are all on song and full of confidence then we see a game that is difficult for opponents to stop because it's all based on spontaneity and movement but when the Tottenham hits the fan then we look like little lost sheep without any idea of how to escape from the funk we find ourselves in.
I said as much during the 2011 collapse, Arsene's reliance on his team to make the right decisions during slumps means that we often find ourselves spiraling out of control instead where as another manager might 'fix' the problems when they arise.
Arsene's method is a great strength but also a major flaw when all is not going according to plan.
My biggest head scratch over the last few weeks is not even our ridiculous injury record (worst in the league) it is our approach to games, especially these big games. No, only these big games. I have already spoken about Arsene's want to send his players out with attacking freedom but something has changed massively and I just cannot get my head around it, which I agree is not saying much. I am no football manager and an explanation from the manager would probably leave me nodding in agreement but without that I am left watching a team lacking it's best attackers (Özil, Ramsey & Walcott) and pushing up the pitch asking to be exposed.
A little like standing on top of a cliff with a shot gun for the entire week, shooting lions who want to eat you but then in the last couple days before you are set to go home you decide to jump down to the ground and take on the lions with a table knife and fork.
What was wrong with the cliff? Whatever happened to our shape work? Being hard to break down. Koscielny and Mertesacker being rocks deep in defence with protection from all those around us. Even without our attackers missing, we have the quality to score goals.
It is exactly how we ground out that victory against Borussia Dortmund but instead we charged up the pitch at Stamford Bridge and got battered to a pulp. 6-0? WTF?! Looking at the team sheets before kick off I couldn't see much in it. There is no way on this earth that the Arsenal who defended deep and as a unit would have got beaten like that. I still believe we could have got a result at Stamford Bridge because well, all we needed was a positive result any result even a 0-0 draw.
Same against Everton, there is no need to push the full backs up the pitch, play a high line and expose yourself against a team who have to win against us while we could have accepted a draw.
Wenger's attacking juggernauts of the past could play that way because we had the firepower to hurt teams but our current side with key players out just seems like a bad plan. But like I say, I am no football manager. Arsene must have had his reasons although I'm unlikely to ever know this though.
So I can understand the criticism of him, I do think he can make rods for his own back and there are most certainly managers who can do his job in future, to what degree we'll see at some point for sure.
But here is the thing. At the half way point of this season having played every team in the league we were top of the table. With our squad healthy we were top of the league. We accumulated the most amount of points in the entire 2013 and yes you can say that our fixtures were relatively kind to us during that year but the point remains.
Take yourself back to a few months back, hell even a few weeks back can you honestly tell me without hindsight that you were not happy with the progression of the squad? No I am not talking about the holes in the squad because holes can be filled, I am talking about the players we have. Kos, Mert, Bac, Flam, Rambo, Ox, Theo, Santi, Ros, Mesut, Jack, Serge, Gibbs etc. How many times have you said these players are not good enough for Arsenal?
If Arsene Wenger was able to secure the services of Luis Suarez last summer, would we be in a title race? I think we'd be top of the table. Seeing as we were not able to buy that striker during that window and that we have one senior striker don't you think he wants that position filled? If that is true then do we really want to change an entire set up when what we need is quality additions?
The same goes for his bid for Lars Bender and perhaps even Barcelona's Pedro. The Gervinho, Arshavin, Chamakh shaped holes are not there for a laugh, they are supposed to be filled.
It is something I've said a few times now and I will reiterate once more, Arsene Wenger hasn't finished building this squad yet. He has stripped away a lot of players who he thought were not up to it and my opinion is that he wants to replace those players with genuine quality. Özil, Suarez, Cazorla type quality.
The great man has done it before when the world was a more even playing field, it is more difficult now but it's going to be much better for us now that Emirates and Puma are waving notes in our faces every single year where as before Emirates and Nike would stick a few coins in our piggy bank. Different credit card now ladies and gentleman.
Those who would rather have change are perfectly entitled to that view, I can understand where you are coming from to a degree but I want Arsene to be allowed to finish yet another Arsenal squad.
I want Arsene to have a season of Özil and Walcott together and not only a handful of games due to injury.
I want Arsene to see the benefits of Wilshere getting over his injury/inconsistency issues and kick on like we know he will.
I want Arsene to develop Ramsey and Ox further.
I want Arsene to capture those targets with the new money available. Money that Ivan said would be available this summer.
I want Arsene to play his brand of football with the players he needs either from the market or injury table
I want Arsene to look at what on earth is causing these injuries and do something about it.
I want Arsene to do a Fergie and pay over the odds if he has to on that player who will make a difference. We can do that now.
They say there is no sentiment in football and to a point, I would agree. But if anyone deserves a chance to finish his job then it's Arsene. That is my opinion. The last time he was able to have a ready made squad together they went on to win the league undefeated. Different time of course but we are not talking about Tim Sherwood here, we are talking about one of the most experienced heads in the game.
Should we remain in fourth then Wenger's crime will be to not overachieve with our spend, that is not to say we shouldn't have done better it is simply to highlight what we are up against. Those pointing at Liverpool and using them to beat Arsenal over the head with should come back and remind me of this once they have done it consistently, not just once in god knows how many years and not during a season where their competition has had Euopean games in their schedule while they have had the chance to sit and home and rest legs, sipping cups of hot chocolate. Credit to Liverpool, I am sounding like sour grapes here but flip our injuries and give them CL with us having none and tell me that the league table would look the same today. It wouldn't and you know it so let's leave Liverpool out of this for the time being.
Wenger's crime is also not spending our resources which while frustrating is surely better than doing a Tottenham and blowing everything on players that are simply not suitable or good enough.
Look at how much Nicklas Bendtner has been vilified, rightly so in many instances but he was bought as a 16 year old kid from Denmark and not a £27m striker from Spain like the mighty ambitious Tottenham.
Even if Arsene never spends a penny again, we will always be able to show off our resources to a potential Wenger replacement whenever that time comes. Our club is in fantastic shape, the squad has a very good average age with plenty of scope for player improvements. This is not an 'accident' this is something our manager has worked very hard towards. So while Arsene Wenger has his faults some of those perhaps self defeating at times I am fully aware of his strengths and unlike some, I don't just assume his strengths will be taken on by the next incumbent.
But the future is not here yet, we have to beat Wigan first and hopefully if we do that as well as winning in the final then the managers turn at this cross roads may still leave me a happy Gooner. That said, if he turns the other way we have an exciting future ahead regardless, largely thanks to the work of the man that so many are throwing mud at.
I know you may not agree with me and that the internet + disagreement = anger. If you're angry at my views then try and not let it bother you too much. It isn't worth it.
'til the next time.