If only Arsenal had more players like Alexis

When Alexis Sanchez first came to Arsenal, I could tell immediately that he was a different kind of player. I think it was in his very first game, where he was running forward, pressing the opposition, and urging his teammates to do the same that signaled he was different. But if I wasn’t sure, his first goal for Arsenal set the tone: Özil slipped a great return ball for Wilshere, who went to collect, but before he could get to the ball, Alexis nipped in and scored.

For some this would seem selfish. He did take a shot away from a teammate. But I didn’t see it that way. I saw a player who wanted it more. I saw a player with drive and ambition who was willing to brush everyone else aside if need be to score goals for his club. If Wilshere had wanted it half as much as Alexis he would have scored that goal, but he didn’t.

On Saturday against Liverpool the lineups were announced and Alexis Sanchez was not in the starting XI. He wasn’t injured either, he was on the bench. Immediately, I knew this wasn’t for any real football reasons. As the match unfolded, Wenger’s side were set up in a 451 with Welbeck playing wide left, Ox playing wide right, and Iwobi as the right center mid. Wenger claimed this was to make Arsenal compact in defense and direct in attack. It was neither, because it was never going to be either.

If Arsenal were really going to play on the counter, you wouldn’t play Giroud in the center forward role, you would play Welbeck who is much quicker and just as strong. Even if you want to play Giroud to be a hold-up player, there is still no reason to start Ox over Alexis. Alexis is better with the ball, faster, and the only player on the team capable of putting in the crosses that Giroud would need to score. So, dropping Alexis was never for football reasons. Something else had happened.

And if Arsenal were set up to be defensive and counter attacking, Liverpool broke this staunch resistance with a goal kick. The ball was pounded deep, none of the midfielders were covering Firmino and so Koscielny went up to win the header, then he missed. Suddenly Arsenal were caught in a 3 on 3. The ball dropped to Coutinho who headed a nice pass to Can, who slotted in Mane, and then Mane fired a wicked cross in to Coutinho, who tried to make a cute backheel but missed and the ball fell to an unmarked Firmino, who finished from 5 yards. Liverpool bypassed the Arsenal midfield time and again with nice lofted passes.

Arsenal conceded a second goal when Liverpool, again, pulled the Arsenal defense out of shape. This time it was Iwobi who failed to cover Wijnaldum which caused the initial hiccup. From there, it was either Nacho or Welbeck who left Sadio Mane completely unmarked at the back post. Of course he scored.

Arsenal were off to yet another slow start, a problem that has become endemic to this Arsenal team now.  I wrote a column about Arsenal’s slow starts last month and nothing has changed. Bellerin even decried Arsenal’s slow starts after the match saying,

“After the tough weeks we’ve had the team should have gone onto the pitch, motivated and ready from the start. In the first half it didn’t feel like we were ready and then we went 2-0 down. We got one goal back and had a chance to make it 2-2 but sometimes it’s too late. We need to realise that it’s just not the way to go. We need to push harder, to start the games with a better attitude and just go for it because we showed that when we go for it and want something we can do it. It doesn’t matter about the other team, when we have the ball and push hard, we can score goals. It’s up to us to start the games with that desire, that motivation, and then we can get good results.”

That quote is incredible. It reveals a team that is unprepared and unmotivated. Unprepared to play against Liverpool, after a week off. If this wasn’t Arsene Wenger in charge, if this was Ronald Koeman and we had hired him two years ago and this team had players revealing that they are unprepared and unmotivated, the calls for that manager to be fired would be unanimous.

And now the Guardian (and other sources) are reporting that Alexis was benched because he walked out of training in mid-week. I mention that it’s reported in the Guardian because I am aware that Wenger said it never happened. But the Guardian will have sourced this report and verified with multiple people before publishing. They reported,

Sánchez stunned his team-mates by walking out of the session and, when they returned to the changing rooms to find him, there were angry words between some of them and him. The flashpoint is believed to have kicked off after an incident with another player.

And Alexis took to Instagram to make it clear that he did fight but that he fights for the team and not with the team saying,

“The true warrior fights not because he hates the ones in front of him, but because he loves those behind him. Let’s go Gunners. The only failure is not trying.”

Most of the time when Arsenal get a new player, Arsenal changes him. We take attacking players and calm them, make them more patient. We take defensive players and teach them how to thread through balls. And Wenger preaches verticality and freedom to his team.

But when Arsenal signed Alexis, I could tell that he was different. I’ve never seen an Arsenal player brush aside a teammate to score a goal. I’d never seen an Arsenal player urging his teammates to pressure the opposition. I said then that Arsenal were not going to change him. That if Arsenal wanted to keep him, Arsenal would have to change for him.

For a brief few games Arsenal did look like we were going to change for him. The team pressed as a unit. The team worked hard. But that was just a half season last year. Since then, I can’t see any identity to this team. We aren’t a pressure team, we aren’t a possession team. We aren’t a defensive side nor a counter attacking team. And now Arsenal are a team that doesn’t even start games strong, that isn’t prepared or motivated even for the big games.

I’m sure people will blame Alexis. They will say he’s stroppy and that he’s bad for the team. But I applaud him for walking out of training and for yelling at his teammates. What’s the point of training if you’re just going to be a mess on the pitch? Why not yell at your teammates if they are putting in half-assed effort? I would much rather have a player stand up and say something than just meekly collect his paycheck, put in a bunch of half-efforts, and play one or two nice passes.

I applaud Alexis for standing up to Wenger and to his teammates. He was right. Wenger knows it too. That’s why he had to put Alexis on in the second half. And look what happened, Alexis set up a goal for Welbeck. But Arsenal lack of organization showed and Liverpool swept in a third goal before we could get back into the game.

We need more players like Alexis.

Qq

129 Comments on If only Arsenal had more players like Alexis

  1. I suggested here a couple weeks ago that Sanchez wasn’t in sync with the rest of the team.

    A player can be your best and most productive player and yet be bad for the team. The two can be true simultaneously.

    I always love to point out how Sanchez seems to be a one-man press, then turns around complaining to his teammates that they’re not pushing up behind him… the narrative is then that “look at Sanchez, he really goes for it, these nancy boys behind him don’t have the heart/ability/tactical nous to help him press” Really? Or is it that Sanchez is doing what he wants to do but not necessarily what the team has been instructed to do?

    How about when Sanchez has the ball and how the movement of the ball suddenly bogs down?

    Yes, he makes great plays and is a great player. But we’ve really not been firing on all cylinders since Walcott and Ozil went off the boil, those were the two that I would argue were really making us dynamic in the first 3 months. Inevitably they’ve both gone to shit because they’re both soft.

    I don’t blame Wenger for benching him if he’s being a prick. No player can be bigger than the team. Wenger though showed his cowardice by bringing him on at half time.

    The whole team is a disaster, top to bottom. We need a massive clear out, I would say only Koscielny, Bellerin and Xhaka are untouchable and I personally would hold onto Mustafi, Elneny, Welbeck and Holding… the rest should all be binned in a complete rebuild by a new manager.

    • What’s incredible is how Alexis is the problem at Arsenal but not the problem at any of the other teams he’s played for. Really weird. Maybe like he’s fed up with the grabasstic disorganization and shitshower of unpreparedness or the fact that the team don’t give two fucks until after they have had a nice 30-45 minute warm up. That last bit is a fact that even Saint Bellerin (who is constantly out of position, hanging out under Mustafi’s armpits) publicly announced.

      But yes, it’s Alexis.

      I will agree that he’s not in synch with the rest of the team. He often celebrates goals on his own. I understand why. He lost faith last season when Arsenal lost the League to Leicester. He lost faith when he saw Özil given the freedom to play half a season over three years and not be challenged. He lost faith when he saw Arsenal time and again outplayed and out witted by the top clubs.

      This is what happens when you buy top quality players. I remember Henry’s last two seasons. All of the criticisms you just leveled at Alexis were put on him and he often cut a hell of an ugly figure as Arsenal ran around spinning their wheels. Let’s face it, Cesc did the same and so did RvP. They all went on to win trophies.

      These top players aren’t going to sit around and waste their careers with a bunch of players who half-try and a manager who consistently fails to organize and motivate his squad. It’s not enough any more for Wenger to teach verticality and give his players freedom.

      Alexis played under Sampaoli. With a squad of seriously mediocre talent. And they won back to back Copa Americas over the star-studded Argentina. Alexis knows that this Arsenal team have the talent to challenge for trophies but they lack the challenge and he knows where they should come from: Wenger. And it’s not.

      It’s telling that Özil is happy to be on this team but only if Wenger signs on and Alexis wants out.

      • Agreed with most of what you said.

        The only reason why Henry or Cesc or RVP & now Sanchez has complained at different times was because they were talismans at the club & there were no other strong personalities at both the playing level & at the board level. Do you think that the likes of Henry would do this to Tony Adams or Keown, i dont think so. You could say Adams was a winner and so such a situation would not arise. BTW at Barcelona, Sanchez would never argue with Pep when he was on the bench but was impatient with Tata Martino. He knew he could get away with it because the manager was kind of soft towards him. AW gives way too much freedom to his players and protects them.

        Wenger trusts his players to do the right thing & figure it out. This is great when you have players who are world class, but with the likes of talented young uns like Wilshere, Iwobi, and even Bellerin, they need guidance both on (in game management) and off the pitch (coaching).

        As much as I love Wenger, he should go elsewhere next season. He deserves better than the players he has got. He like Arsenal need a change.

        • I’ve read Tony Adams’ autobiography. He would absolutely crack heads if his teammates gave half effort. I mean “crack heads” literally. There would be fights.

          I also watched Henry’s last two season at Arsenal, he was called “petulant” and all the other names in the book for his on field behavior. And Fabregas was so scared of Henry that he admitted relief when Henry demanded to be sold (despite being awarded a huge loyalty bonus).

          And Keown would have been arm and arm with Adams cracking the heads of these players.

          • i remember an interview van persie gave of first arsenal training session. he told a story of how ljunberg was showing off with the ball and how vieira stormed over to freddie and told him that he needs to cut the crap and play for the team. ljunberg tried to laugh it off but patrick was serious; so much so van persie thought vieira was going to stomp his tail right there on the practice field. as a youngster who’d never played in england before, he didn’t understand the big deal and wondered what team he’d just joined. however, you don’t have that when you have eleven captains.

          • not just tony adams and martin known, but that entire team would have jumped on henry’s skinny butt if he had something to say to adams.

      • “It’s telling that Özil is happy to be on this team but only if Wenger signs on and Alexis wants out.”

        This.

        • Contrast this with what Alexis said in the Arsenal.com interview when asked about a new contract.

          He said he was very happy at the club and loved competing in the Premier League against all the big teams (“it’s very good for me” he said with a smile), but that it was up to the club to do the right thing.

  2. It’s possible to be both the catalyst and the disruptor, and I don’t doubt for a minute that — noble as his reasons were — Alexis can act the sullen prick sometimes.

    Wenger’s explanations show two things. One, the ease with which he can be economical with the truth (he has plenty of form here). The tactics explanation about leaving out the man most likely to get you goals never passed the smell test. He doubled down on that, denying that there’d been an incident.

    Two, the essential weakness of his position AND the level of the reliance on Sanchez. Diego Costa was nowhere near Chelsea’s bench when Conte sent him to the naughty corner. Wenger obviously tried to teach Sanchez a lesson, but it was half-hearted.

    I’m beginning to feel for Arsene, as much as I want him to go. These are desperately difficult days for him.

  3. I suspect we have too many professional athletes who happen to play football on the squad, and not enough footballers. I also wonder what it would be like to have a captain of the team who actually played.

    • But Per is a great guy.

      And Theo is a clean living dude.

      And Ramsey is a family man and oh so handsome.

      Repeat ad nauseum.

  4. It goes with Wengers personality. Calm, patient and all the time in the world because there is no pressure. And that’s the problem here. No pressure brings along no immediacy. How can you not have that in professional sports and be successful?

    • He relies on the players to motivate and organize themselves. That was one of the big takeaways from Amy Lawrence’s Invincibles.

      • This one always baffled me. I mean, why?
        What is his purpose then as a manager?
        I understand that perhaps he is viewing his players as conscious adults who understand life’s responsibilities but first of all, that’s a serious neglecting of his duties as a manager and second, giving a bunch of 25 year old millionaires the responsibility to organise themselves in a very complex weekly competition based on strategy and deep football knowledge is like giving a bunch of kids the parts to a toy train and having them work out how to construct it and drive it as well.

        • I’m underselling his job and being dramatic. He does a lot in training but he does literally rely on the players to sort things out themselves on the field. It’s part of his philosophy.

  5. Yes, we need more players like Alexis. He’s pretty special. He is elite on the physical side of the game and strong on the mental side of the game, a trait not shared by enough of his team mates.

    But, allow me to hop into the psychologist’s armchair for a moment. What is Sanchez’s actual plan? I would say he doesn’t have one. I would say he lives in the moment and lives and breathes his emotions, which sometimes take over the rational part of his brain. Think about it. What does he want? He wants team and personal success in the form of trophies. How can he get that? If everyone on the team plays to their utmost potential. How is he going to achieve that? Hint: It’s not by throwing a fit every time he has a disagreement with the management. His inability to control himself in such situations is in fact destructive. It damages his relationship with the management and with his team mates. It’s contrary to any rational goal he may have for himself and for the team. Nevertheless, he persists.

    In my opinion, such outbursts are never justified and they are always destructive. Wenger was right to discipline him. The problem is, he did so halfheartedly and only reinforced the notion that we are overly reliant on our best player, which, the way Arsenal has been playing, is completely true. When your best player is out of line, you either downplay it and play him as if nothing happened, dealing with it internally, or you drop him altogether. Make up an injury if you have to. But to admit your own mistake publicly like Wenger did was a disaster and the worst possible way to manage this situation.

    • I disagree. Alexis has been trying to help this team in any way possible for two years now. He plays left, right, forward, wherever the manager wants. He puts in the defensive effort and urges his teammates to do the same. He never takes a day off and gives everything for the team. He’s been consistently at this now for two years. This latest fit may, in fact, be damaging but it’s a man at his wits end with a manager and teammates who clearly accept disorganization and half-assery.

      He should have thrown a fit sooner. Maybe if he’d have done this last January we wouldn’t be in this ridiculous position today.

      • Did you just describe the attitude of most Arsenal fans? At their wits end? There are no more excuses, yet AW keeps spouting them. As a newer fan, I was OK with the “we have no money” excuse, but now that the funds are flowing, watching this hapless bunch continue to capitulate is simply exhausting.

      • For me, when the going gets tough is when you especially have to stand up and be counted and show the best of yourself. I don’t have any sympathy for being at his wits end. He’s not the only one who is frustrated. Being the best player on the team doesn’t give him special pouting privileges. Just because Henry and Cesc and RVP did the same thing doesn’t give him a pass. Would I be frustrated? Yes. Immensely. I would probably be thinking about playing somewhere else. Could I justify pouting and drawing the wrong sort of attention to myself and to my team? Never. That’s letting your team down. Nobody comes out of this looking good.

  6. Look we all love Alexis, and we all think (or at least most of us) that Wenger’s not doing enough to deserve to keep his job. But this level of sycophantic hooey (I’d use a stronger word but I know this is a family-friendly site) and falling over yourself to excuse Alexis and worship the ground he walks on is more than a little bit nauseating.

    “I applaud Alexis for standing up to Wenger and to his teammates. He was right. Wenger knows it too.”

    Please. So you were there at the training ground and know the circumstances that led him to walk out in the middle of training, were you?? Walking out in the middle of a training session is unprofessional, period. Doing it as the best player in the team before one of the biggest games of the year with the team going through a really bad patch is even worse. Is there anything that Alexis could do right now that would earn Tim’s criticism? It’s beginning to look like the answer it ‘no’. Suppose it was revealed he punched a teammate? Tim would probably applaud him for “standing up to” them.

    And at the other extreme, we have Wenger, who, despite his many faults, continues to prove himself a classy guy. He showed:
    a) huge balls to drop Alexis
    b) balls and class to protect the team and the player by saying the decision was tactical when he knew full well that he would get absolutely MURDERED for the decision by the press and fans if the team failed to get all 3 points. (If that was Jose, or Big Sam, or Pardew or any number of other managers who were under the pressure that Arsene is under now, you better believe they would have said it was discipline.)

    Whatever you think about the wisdom of continuing to deny the story, and of the “what happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room” mentality that is motivating it, my response to the whole sorry affair is that Alexis has gone down a little bit in my estimation, and AW has gone up.

    • The word you’re looking for is “obsequious”.

      As for Mr. Wenger’s balls. Wenger of the Huge Balls dropped Alexis.. to the bench… and then put him on at half time… and he set up Arsenal’s only goal.

      Alexis can do wrong. I just haven’t seen it yet.

        • You’ve been played like a fiddle if your estimation of Wenger has gone up after this little incident.

          Let’s be clear – fights and arguments within a squad are part and parcel of team sports. The only reason this particular incident leaked out is because someone at the club wanted it to leak to take the heat off Wenger. Yes it’s good that Arsene denied it happened, but he had no other choice. He’d already stated that he benched Alexis for tactical reasons.

          If there really was an incident, and Arsene had addressed it and dropped Alexis from the matchday squad, that would have been a show of strength (provided we had gotten a result). What happened instead is that Wenger looked stupid for making a bad tactical decision, or weak for letting Alexis play at all if he was being “punished”. As for Alexis, we all know who he is by now.

          Allegri had an altercation with Bonucci and left him out of their Champions League game against Porto. And they still got a result. Allegri passed that test. Wenger failed his.

          • “Yes it’s good that Arsene denied it happened, but he had no other choice. He’d already stated that he benched Alexis for tactical reasons.”

            Uuuummmmm…let’s stop and think about that statement for a sec…
            Ok, maybe at this point you know where I’m going with this, but here I go with the blindingly obvious response to you: did he have a choice when he initially stated he benched Alexis for tactical reasons??? Could he have said instead that there was an internal discipline issue?
            Yes. Of course. But he didn’t, even though saying it was tactical made him look like a huge fool, at one of the lowest moments of his 30+ year career in management. Even though he knew everyone in the media and a great many of the fans of the club he’s loyally served for 20+ years were going to ridicule him for the decision and that explaining that it was disciplinary might just have softened that criticism a little bit. He still kept his mouth shut.

            That’s the class I was talking about. If you can’t see that, but instead think he’s “playing” gullible fans like me “like a fiddle,” then I feel sorry for you. (And how exactly is this master plan of manipulation supposed to work? First he drops one of his best players before a big game, then denies it was about discipline, then cleverly lets one of his toadies leak the true story to the press, all to make the fans love him again?? What a genius plan!) I don’t think he should stay on past the end of the season, I’m hugely disappointed in his failure to get this team playing even close to their potential this season, and I’m tired of the groundhog day feeling of all of this. But I still think he comes out of this looking like a class act and Alexis comes out looking like a spoiled child.

          • Also: wasn’t it brilliant of Allegri to win the match for Juve against Porto and thus succeed in his “show of strength”! What a genius bit of management, this whole winning-the-match trick! Who’d have thought of that! Obviously not foolish, weak old Arsene Wenger, who’s attempt to “show strength” failed because he forgot that beating Liverpool was a key part of the plan. If only management were that easy, we’d all be brilliant managers…

            Finally, who says any attempt to discipline a player doesn’t really count unless you leave him out of the squad for the match entirely? Is that written in some Football Management Manual that the rest of you have obviously read? I confess this makes no sense to me. If we know anything about Alexis, we know he wants to play every minute, so not starting in a big game still looks like punishment to me.
            Now clearly if Arsenal could have beaten Liverpool without Wenger needing to call on Alexis, then that would have helped with this whole “show of strength” malarkey (what are they, two elephant seal bulls about to fight to the death for the right to mate with all the females?!), but we were losing at halftime and Arsene, who has a duty to the club to try to win football matches, brought Alexis on to help get back in the game. Now apparently that makes Arsene look bad (funny, I always thought what made him look bad is all the games we’ve lost and all the abject performances we’ve put in), but maybe, just maybe, dropping Alexis was never about “putting him in his place” or “showing him who’s boss”. It was about following the basic principle that no one player is bigger than the rest of the team when it comes to facing discipline for unprofessional behavior, and Arsene determined that putting Alexis on the bench was a fair punishment for his crime. Having made sure Alexis served his time by being benched, Arsene was then happy to use him as a sub (if he wasn’t then it didn’t make sense to include him in the subs). End of story.

          • Here’s the first line of a pretty good article called ‘How Arsenal set itself up for a vicious civil war’ that just went up on foxsportsdotcom…

            “ARSENE Wenger’s failed power play with Alexis Sanchez, the bitter fallout from the Anfield loss and the shame of a Champions League return leg 5-1 down are just the start.”

            Frank Lampard, a guy whose family is steeped in British football, spoke about it as well:

            “When you’re disciplining a player you completely put him out of the squad. If he is a problem and you make that decision you don’t want him travelling on the coach, on the plane, in the dressing room or in the hotel. You completely banish…

            Either completely put him out or play him and keep him in the team. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face…

            I just think it was neither one, nor the other and it probably actually strengthened Sanchez’s case with the first-half performance and the upturn when he came on in the second half.”

            Funnily enough Arseblog said the same thing as Lampard on the Arsecast yesterday, “you don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.”

            I have huge sympathy for Wenger’s position. This episode might have played out better for Wenger if we hadn’t lost 4 of the last 6 games. Or if he was ruthless about squad-building. At the end of the weirdly quiet January transfer window he said he had the best squad since the Invincibles. And here we are just six weeks later.

      • “As for Mr. Wenger’s balls. Wenger of the Huge Balls dropped Alexis.. to the bench… and then put him on at half time… and he set up Arsenal’s only goal.”

        Your point?

  7. Unprofessional? That maybe the case, but for all the professionalism there has been this year there’s absolutely nothing to show for it. No progress, no fulfilling anything like our potential, hardly any good football, no collective spirit and absolutely no footballing identity.
    We weren’t privy to the training ground ruck, but I for one am happy to hear of one player who gives a monkeys ass, whether for just himself or the team. Loved the Warrior quote from the warrior himself today. Much better than all the very professional dross peddled out via the official media channels.

  8. I love Alexis and as the title says, I wish we had eleven Alexii on the pitch. I will be sad and angry when he goes to PSG this summer and Wenger stays.
    And as much as I agree with what I believe Sanchez thinks about the manager and the club, I disagree with the manner in which he displayed it.
    It probably has a lot to do with way I think and act in my daily life. A couple of times I wasn’t satisfied with the way the organization was set up at a couple of agencies I used to work.
    I expressed my opinion on the subject in a calm and professional way and I left it to the manager to decide whether he agrees with me and is willing to change what I believed should be changed in order for things to work better.
    When that didn’t happen I simply left. I was asked at both places to reconsider but I have already made up my mind.
    I believed that it was their responsibility to take care of the problem, not mine, and if they failed to do that it’s their loss.
    But I would never behaved like a disgruntled primadonna in front of my colleagues and subordinates because that for me was unprofessional.
    That would also serve as a insult towards my manager which would serve no other purpose than to portray him as incapable, and I like to believe I’m always too loyal and professional to do stuff like that.
    Then again, I am rather mild mannered and not a passionate Chilean coming from a poor background fighting and dying on the pitch every day of his life.

    And having said all this, none of us have any idea what really went on on that training and to me this smacks of the lousy work of the Arsenal PR department, and as always done poorly.
    Because even if this were true, this is something you leak to the press before the game to minimize any negative response, not after, and especially not after such a tragicomic strategy of punishing Sanchez by benching him just to put him on in the second half.
    Unbelievable really and it backfired incredibly.

  9. I realise that you don’t have the luxury of not knowing, seeing as you’ve got a blog to write, and you trust the Guardian as a source, but to me, it’s all a bit unnecessary. We don’t know what happened, what the bust up was about, if indeed there was one, and what the message Wenger was sending, or to whom.

    Hey, let’s say there was a bust up and Alexis was mad at the team and Wenger. If Wenger were serious about taking action, he would have dropped Alexis completely. He’s got previous in that regard, and he just doesn’t give a @%&* what people will say. Maybe he was using it to tell the team to prove Alexis wrong, and since they didn’t, he made a halftime change.

    But that’s the thing about filling in so many blanks. It can be used to tell any story. I’d rather worry about the performance, and the issues on the field, than look to create further divisions in the ranks as to whether this is Arsenal FC, Arsene FC or Alexis FC. As long as Alexis and Arsene represent Arsenal, I support both of them (and the rest of the team) and until I know without reasonable doubt what happened, I’m content to leave it to them to sort it out.

    And yes, the play has been very poor lately, but we’ve heard the Wenger’s lost the dressing room line many times before. Doesn’t mean it isn’t true now, but restraint doesn’t seem to be the order of the day anymore.

    • So what do you think about Wenger’s explanation for a tactical switch (lump it to the big guys) on which there was absolutely no place for Alexis Sanchez across a front five? Makes any sense at all to you?

      We weren’t there, it’s true. But we have functional brains.

      That contretemps around Alexis was symptomatic of something very significant possibly regarding both their futures, and a very alarming symptom of the state of things within the squad.

      Anyone can see that clearly.

      • It’s only alarming if it alarms you. It doesn’t alarm me. Actually, it’s only a symptom if you give it that significance. I don’t, because I don’t know what happened, nor how they and the team feel about it now.

        But no doubt every little gesture, expression, or news story will lead to statements of what happened and what it means.

        Play well and start winning and it all goes away, and that we’re not winning is more the worry than any training ground shenanigans. I have no problem with it being kept in-house and dealt with as such. We’ll know in due course of time if it was significant, a fatal blow to either of their futures, or just a momentary argument with both coming from a good place. Uncertainty in that regard doesn’t scare me, nor is it of immediate concern.

      • Nor do I think we lost the game because Alexis wasn’t playing. That midfield was a shambles especially in the first half, with Coquelin a major weakness.

        Something is definitely going wrong. In that I agree with you. But Alexis and this argument is not what interests me. It’s the whole team.

      • I want you in my corner when I’m explaining to the missus why I’m stumbling in at 4m covered in lipstick. I’m sure you’d do a great job convincing her that I came straight from work 🙂

  10. Speaking of destructive, Ian Wright’s little nugget on Twitter about Ozil was, at best, disrespectful and at worst, disgraceful. We may remember Wrighty fondly for his goals but he’s never been one for consideration for others and as such a prominent member of the former playing staff to spout such unfounded accusations against a current player is unacceptable. I don’t think he knows anything. I think his poisonous words found traction because people wanted to believe them. Even if he was right, it doesn’t cast him in a good light.

    • What did he say?

      BTW, I don’t really like Wright. I guess also because his peak was just before my time, and not only because of his media persona, but the way he behaved in person, the one time I got to meet some ex-Arsenal players. Tony Adams was great in his interaction with the fans, Ray Parlour came out last after having a few drinks and was a pleasure to talk to. Ian Wright had had a few drinks too, but was less courteous. He also had a whole posse with him who were bossing around the fans waiting outside. He did stay for pictures and autographs but I don’t know, it seemed like he was more about his celebrity than about the fans.

      • For what it’s worth, Wright said Ozil “pulled a sickie” when he learned that he’d been dropped for this game.

        • Disloyalty? No, he doesn’t owe loyalty. How about basic decency? How about basic courtesy to a fellow professional? Even if he harbors such misgivings privately? Why make them public? Why stir a pot that’s already close to boiling? It shows that he’d rather pile the misery when the going is rough. It shows that he doesn’t have any more regard for actual fact than the Trump administration as long as the accusation is interesting enough, it’ll stick, right? It disgusts me.

  11. Whatever Alexis is doing, rightly or wrongly, the point to make is Arsenal the team, including the manger, has been aging badly during the past several months, like a 90 years old entering the last run of his/her life. We can only see the degrading process slowly but surely coming to an conclusion. My only wish is for the fans and players alike to show some respect to the inevitable end.
    My point is we have already passed the analytical side of the game, from hereon it’s all our collective emotional response to each play in front of us. Like someone would say, either stay on or **** off.

  12. Anyone who lived through the long, painful departure of Robin Van Persie would be familiar with the signs. Sanchez is good as gone. What a f***** mess. The team, the dressing room, the mood around the club, the on-field tactics, everything, is in disarray.

  13. All the football greats Pele, Eusebio, Maradona, Cruyff, Ronaldo the Phenomenon, Gerrard and a few others have records of singlehandedly lifting their teams to victory without putting their colleagues down. In defeat they mourn with the team. Please give me a better definition of class. Not nice succumbing to blackmail.

    • HA!

      Maradona and Cruyff were (are!) the world’s BIGGEST assholes. Especially to their teammates. Cruyff was notorious for his demands from his teammates. I think Cruyff even once publicly abused one of his managers. They are exactly like Sanchez. Thanks for proving my point.

      Pele was a great footballer and a man who utterly refused to court controversy — even to the detriment of his own people, cozying up to the military junta that has ruled Brazil.

      • Cruyff was a magnificent asshole, and is also kind of racist (according to Edgar Davids).

        This Chelsea team and the title-winning one two years ago were well-stocked with assholes like Costa and Hazard. There’s going to be an amazing book written about how the Chelsea squad pulled together to sabotage the managerial career of one of the biggest assholes in the game. The end result; new manager, another title incoming.

        Champions Leicester were led by the chief c*untmeister Jamie Vardy. Perennial winners like Pique, Suarez, Ramos, Ronaldo, and Alexis’ countryman Arturo Vidal are no wallflowers either. As fans we need to get used to big characters if Arsenal are going to reach the next level. And we need a manager who can manage them.

        • YES! Henry was an asshole! Vieira was a WORLD CLASS asshole! He spit on a guy and you know what… people applauded him. Our fans applauded him.

          I like that Arsenal are a classy club, I really do. They could also use some characters on the pitch who want to fight. It’s not like Alexis bit someone or committed a racism. He demanded more from his teammates.

          People don’t understand that in order to be a world class athlete like Alexis, you have to also be a world class competitor. People like that don’t do well playing alongside a bunch of grifters. They tend to get frustrated.

  14. By the way, Myles Palmer says Wenger has already signed a new contract and has told the board he will sell both Ozil&Sanchez this summer. I don’t know how reliable is he, but at this point of me following Arsenal, I’d say at least two thirds of that statement sound very plausible.

  15. There is a lot of difference between urging your mates on even to the brink of positive criticism and trying to show them up as no gooders.

  16. I just commented elsewhere how this Sanchez and the training ground story is perfect fodder for both sides of the Wenger divide. There is an agenda on both sides and Wenger and Alexis are being made either hero or villian depending on the agenda. It’s tiresome and deepening this divide in the fan base even further that is being exploited by the media.

    As for the article, there is just one part of it I’d like to comment on.

    “If Wilshere had wanted it half as much as Alexis he would have scored that goal, but he didn’t.”

    Are you serious? What sort of stupidity is this? Wouldn’t have ever imagined an intelligent writer like you saying something as absurd as this. Alexis stole the ball. Fine. He was hungry and driven. End of story. What’s the need to disrespectfully question Wilshere’s desire here? Do you expect him to be worried about teammates stealing the ball from him? It’s a non-existent point because none of us know what Wilshere would have done if Alexis hadn’t taken the ball. How can it be Wilshere not being driven or not wanting it?

    This is my entire problem with the fan base right now. Everyone seems to be happy to dish on anyone and everyone, right or wrong, just to make their point. People say Alexis is the only player who wants it at Arsenal. What about Koscielny for example? Giroud? These are players who forged a top level career through tremendous work ethic and effort from the lower leagues. maybe they aren’t the level of players we want to see at Arsenal. But to dismiss everyone as not motivated or wanting it is absurd.

    • Wilshere lacks proper motivation. This, more than his injuries, are the reason his career never panned out. He has steadfastly refused to improve his game. Have you watched him for Bournemouth? He gives these insipid performances match after match and Howe just praises him anyway. It’s a shame.

      • Tim, you don’t have a god-like ability to see into the psyches of footballers. You have NO IDEA what goes on in most training sessions at Arsenal or Bournemouth or wherever, who works hard, who cares about improving, how much they care, etc.
        Wilshere’s career might still “pan out”. Even if it doesn’t, and even if you’re right that he lacks motivation (for all I know you are right), the claim that “this, more than his injuries, are the reason his career never panned out,” is so absurd and disrespectful to a player who has had SEASON AFTER SEASON OF LONG-TERM INJURIES BEGINNING THE FIRST YEAR AFTER HIS BREAKTHROUGH SEASON AS A PROFESSIONAL. I suspect it might just be difficult to develop your game when your football development is interrupted every couple of months by months in a cast and on the treatment table and with the physios and in the gym…

      • Maybe you didn’t realise that Wilshere is still recovering from a series of injuries. And all those injuries weren’t his fault. Just imagine how difficult it is to recover from being repeatedly asked to go through rehabilitation etc. Tell me one player who has gone through so many long term injuries who has immediately recaptured or improved his level.
        This is again my point. I am not arguing against you praising Alexis. But you can’t, without any proof, discredit and disrespect another Arsenal player to make your point.
        And regarding Wilshere at Bournemouth, get some perspective. He’s playing in a team fighting for relegation. They might look like a passing side but a majority of their bal retention comes from the defensive players. And Wilshere’s playing the no.10 role which we all know isn’t his best position. So yeah, he’s inconsistent. Add the injury recovery to it, I don’t think its insipid, lacking motivation and not determined to improve his game.

    • One last thing: I’m not on any side. I love Arsene Wenger. I also want Arsene Wenger to retire. I am able to hold seemingly inconsistent ideas at the same time. It’s one way you can tell that I’m human.

      I don’t know if this Sanchez thing is a ploy by the press, but is the Bellerin quote also a ploy? Is it all fake news to you? Even the Guardian?

      I’m so tired of these ruthless denials of facts. There was a training ground bust up. It happened. Or at least the Guardian was passed multiple stories that it happened. Alexis was benched for it. Wenger then had to play Alexis because he had no choice. Sad. True.

      • From your article:
        “I applaud Alexis for standing up to Wenger and to his teammates. He was right. Wenger knows it too.”

        Question: what was Alexis “standing up to” Wenger and the others about? What was he “right” about? Whatever it was (and those are rhetorical questions; I have read your article), you are obviously “taking Alexis’s side” on THAT issue. You are saying, “Alexis was right, Wenger (and others) were wrong.”

        Saying you love Arsene but also want him to retire is changing the subject. No one’s accusing you of being against Wenger because you want him to retire (most of us agree with you on that).

      • This isn’t the point. I am pretty sure the Arsenal fan base is nearing consensus on Wenger that its time for him to leave.
        And the story is unlikely to be false. But we are playing right into the media’s desire to fight over this. Why do you think this is such a big story? The media knows Arsenal fans will be divided, fight over it and just generate revenue for them.
        Arguments, bust ups are fine in football. But if you believe the same story and if Alexis did storm out of training, that’s not on. The entire Arsenal team could be a bunch of wussies for all I care. He’s a professional, he is part of he team and he should do his job. he can argue, fight and complain in the training session but you just cannot throw a fit and leave in the middle of the session. All this considering the story is true.
        And Wenger was wrong too. If you drop him, you drop him for good. If discipline was the issue, he shouldn’t be in the squad. it goes to show how unconvincing and uncertain Wenger is with himself.

  17. Right now, I believe Wenger is forced to sign a new deal and stay just because if he leaves it will look like Alexis won this battle.

  18. who do you guys think you are to say how someone is supposed to react to the stresses of playing in the premier league? anyone that knows the difference between their backside and a hole in the ground knows that everyone has a different reaction to different stressors. some get sweaty. some stutter. some get silent. some get very loud. some get downright hostile regardless, just because they don’t react the way that you would or the way that you believe they should doesn’t mean they’re wrong. this guy has reacted to his situation and no one here can say he was right or wrong for behaving the way he did. no one here knows alexis sanchez and what makes him a great player. no one knows how many times alexis has gone to his team mates in a calm fashion and tried to motivate or educate them.

    like so many before him, alexis knows what it takes to win and he knows his team is falling way short. alexis also knows that he’s in the prime of his career wasting away his chances at glory by being an arsenal player. he knows that his team has the talent but also recognizes that they don’t have the direction. what are his options? he could pout or he could fight. i’m a former boxer and retired warfighter so it’s pretty clear what i prefer. there are too many men with inflamed vaginas in our world. he should speak out. that’s what men do.

    would i behave the way alexis has? no. however, without condoning or condemning his actions, i can say that i understand. i understood gallas. i understood van persie. i understood henry. i even understood luis suarez. a fan only has to ask himself does he want his sporting champion to be a winner or to attenuate that winning appetite for the sake of appearing professional. like war-fighting, being an athlete requires you to be different from most normal people. you don’t have to know what it’s like to be an athlete but it would do you a world of good to respect that there’s a difference.

    • Agree with every word. A lot of people are making judgements of Alexis without knowing what goes on behind the scenes or considering what the inter-personal relationships in the squad are really like.

      Let’s also consider this – in the last few seasons Wenger has not sold a single significant player because he wasn’t good enough. How’s that possible? We literally have a squad full of players who can’t win titles, but whose jobs at Arsenal are safe because Wenger never swings the axe. Even Giroud said that we needed striking competition last summer. And the guy Wenger chose has a single Premier League goal. Alexis was moved on after a putting up a 19 goal, 10 assist season at Barcelona. Not hard to imagine that he sees a competitive culture at the club that doesn’t foster winning, and hasn’t progressed since he arrived.

      • It was possible to hold on to players because Arsenal have had a few U21 players in the first team squad, meaning they weren’t filling up their 25 man squad and could buy without selling.

        Next season will be interesting. We will have a full 25 man squad, even if we leave out some fringe players. Who is sold to make room for new purchases will be worth watching. Of course, that will also depend on who is manager.

  19. The notion that top level, championship winning professional athletes must also be nice guys is rather ludicrous. The drive and determination, the competitiveness, and the win at all cost mentality of top level sportsmen is certainly well beyond what is “normal” and, if channeled in unhealthy ways, pathologic. Micheal Jordan would ruthlessly berate teammates if he felt they weren’t playing at the required level. He was savvy enough to present a gentler face to the general public, but his true personality was revealed in practices and it was not pleasant. I wouldn’t want him as a friend, but if I wanted an NBA championship, Jordan at his prime would be at the top of my list of players. I’m going to have to side with Sanchez on this one.

    • Tee, just mentioned MJ further up top, b/c I hadn’t read down this far yet. Didn’t mean to steal your comment-thunder.

  20. One aspect of this alleged incident that raised a red flag was that Alexis had an altercation with a team-mate and apparently left the training field. But that player, and the senior players who “confronted” him, were given the benefit of anonymity.

    Would have been better if everybody involved was named or no-one at all. Does anyone know who the other guys were?

    • I heard it was actually Gunnersaurus!

      Man it’s not much fun being an Arsenal supporter right now 🙁

  21. Let’s be clear: being a ruthlessly competitive jerk is not a bad thing for team morale; he’ll it’s probably required for all the normal humans on the team to have the example of a pathological competitor to inspire them.

    Why are we equating that to public shows if disaffection? It’s not remotely the same. Jordan never sat down at half court and bawled because his team lost. He never threw things around or blamed his team mates (publicly) and for the most part neither did the other guys you all mention. For all their vim and bravado they were fully aware that they needed their team mates, and they did not compromise the integrity of their team. This is not to say Sanchez has, but episodes like the alleged training ground bust up and his many other strops will do nothing to achieve his purpose. It’s a matter of having a brain along with all that pawshun. You need both.

    • Being disappointed after your team lost a game is now a brainless thing to do!?
      On the one hand you say being a ruthlessly competitive jerk is not a bad thing,then you criticize Sanchez for being just that.You don’t think he should be doing it on the field,nor do you want him doing it in training.
      Or is it that you’re miffed because this has undermined Wenger?

      • I could write a considerate reply and re-explain the points I made above, but forgive me if I’ve been conditioned to believe that you are not going to be interested in that. Based on prior experience, it would seem as if your motive to respond to my comments is not to have an open dialogue and discuss the issues; instead it would appear that you simply respond with sarcasm, incredulity or negativity whenever you see a post that doesn’t agree with your views, particularly if it’s by someone like me who tends to be opposed to your views in general. So, once more, forgive me for my presumption here but I think that attempting to have a conversation with you in good faith is a waste of time. Now that I’ve explained that, you’ll forgive me for ignoring the content of this and your future posts I’m sure. If you adopt a more respectful tone in the future, I would consider opening the lines again.

  22. I dunno, Alexis needs to chill, have a dube, or maybe a big spliff and “become Comfortably Numb”.

    What? Is that a bad thing? Cue awesome David Gilmore guitar…

  23. 1. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

    2. To the degree that we believe reputable publications with good sources like the Guardian (as I do), we have reason to believe he left the training ground in mid session, was confronted about it later by a group of players, and then got in a fight with one of them. This gives us strong reason to believe that being on the bench was a result of internal discipline and was not a tactical call, contrary to what Wenger says.

    3. THE THINGS DESCRIBED BY THE GUARDIAN ARTICLE ARE OBVIOUSLY DISCIPLINABLE OFFENSES, THE SORTS OF THINGS THAT MOST SPORTS TEAMS WOULD DISCIPLINE MOST OF THE TIME. The fight is a trickier one, because we don’t know how serious it was (did they come to blows?), nor do we know how culpable the other party was. But STORMING OUT OF A TRAINING SESSION IS UNPROFESSIONAL, AND SHOULD’VE BEEN PUNISHED, PERIOD. It’s then up to Wenger to determine what sort of punishment is fair.

    4. That so many people here are making this into Wenger vs. Alexis, Alexis being a “fighter” and a “winner” and the only one who “cares” blah blah blah, frankly beggars belief. Even if all of this were true, it’s beside the point. The point is he crossed a line, and deserved discipline, which he got.

    5. SAYING THAT ALEXIS DESERVED DISCIPLINE IS NOT THE SAME AS SAYING THAT YOU APPROVE OF MEDIOCRITY OR “SIDE” WITH WENGER OR WITH THE OTHER PLAYERS OR THAT ALEXIS IS WRONG TO CARE SO MUCH OR WRONG TO SHOW NEGATIVE EMOTION ON THE PITCH OR EVEN WRONG TO BERATE AND BE A JERK TO THE OTHER PLAYERS.

    6. We can admire his fight. Or we can think he’s probably a massive jerk that we wouldn’t want to know in real life, but we can still be thankful he’s our jerk (see: Terry, John; Suarez, Luis; Costa, Diego; etc), and we can acknowledge (perhaps grudgingly) that being really successful in elite sport usually requires being a bit of a jerk. But none of that requires us to pretend he’s some sort of courageous hero or to act like unprofessional and morally questionable behavior is actually really awesome, “standing up to” the terrible baddies that are his teammates and manager.

    • You predictably miss the point.If Wenger wanted to ‘discipline’ Alexis,he failed.No one’s making this out to be good vs evil, except the ones saying Alexis acted unprofessionally and deserved to be punished (curiously,those are the people who back Wenger,I wonder why)

      • 1. I don’t miss your point. I address it in another comment below on this thread: he patently didn’t fail to discipline him. He decided on a punishment (benching him) for something he deemed Alexis had done wrong, and he carried it out. That’s pretty much the definition.
        2. Your complaint is that that wasn’t harsh enough, because it didn’t put Alexis “in his place” so to speak. It didn’t “show him who’s boss”. But who says Wenger’s goal was to do so? Maybe the goal was to show Alexis that he wasn’t above being disciplined, including being dropped, for transgressions for which any other player would have been similarly disciplined. And to complain that if the punishment wasn’t harsh enough (because it didn’t put Alexis in his place, or whatever) then Wenger actually failed to discipline him is just confused as to the meaning of the word ‘discipline’.
        3. I don’t “back” Wenger. I think he ought to retire at the end of the season. I think his job performance the last two years has simply not been good enough.
        4. Saying Alexis acted unprofessionally and deserved to be punished, assuming the Guardian are basically right on the facts, is just obvious to me. But it’s not turning this into “good versus evil”. One can do something wrong (e.g. act unprofessionally towards one’s employers and work colleagues) without being evil, and ditto doing something right and being “good”.

    • Great post. But agree with prvhc in that Wenger failed to follow through on his discipline. For example, Conte benched Costa earlier this year, Allegri not only benched Bonucci one of the best CB’s in the world – but put him in the stands, Ventura outright dumps Balotelli from the national team for being disrespectful. and so on. Wenger was right to punish Sanchez for his disruptive behavior. But he never followed through. A sign of weakness.

  24. Sanchez is a showman. Fair enough. But to pander to the public at the expense of his team is poor. Am not referring to the bust up story as am not sure of the true details. Am referencing his on field antics that are obviously for the consumption of the public. When we fielded that rag tag team that Man U walloped 8-2 Van Persie fought to the end, one with his team mates even though that might have been the day the seed for leaving the club was sown in him. Today we call him Van Judas. He is class.

  25. If Wilshere had wanted it half as much as Alexis he would have scored that goal, but he didn’t.

    Maybe if Wilshere had taken a better first touch he would have scored that goal. Alexis was in a position to get to it first, and if Wilshere had ‘wanted’ it more, they’d both have got in each others way and Arsenal wouldn’t have scored a goal.

    But the message that I’m getting from this article and comments section is f*** Arsenal under Wenger, and all the members of this team except for Alexis. We don’t know what happened, but Alexis left training and it is good. Why should we wait to know what happened? We already ‘know’ that Wenger has lost it and this incident gives us an opportunity to ‘prove’ it. Anyone saying any different believes in ‘fake news’ and is making excuses for Wenger.

  26. The fact that we weren’t there is irrelevant, and makes absolutely no sense as an argument. We weren’t on Columbus’ ships, but we can be reasonably certain that he made landfall on a number of Caribbean islands.

    A bust up with Alexis happened. Arguing that Arsene showed strength in benching him for half a game is plainly ridiculous.

    • But can you know what Columbus said to his crew? What circumstances led him to only putting a guy in the brig rather than making him walk the plank?

      Who’s saying Wenger showed strength? He doesn’t need to flex his muscles. If there is a club rule broken, the player has to be disciplined. Strength or not, makes no difference. The fact that he had Alexis on the bench is evidence that he didn’t intend to not use him at all.

      And if he were to bench Alexis for a full game, or multiple games, what does that show? That Alexis behaved really badly? That Wenger is THE BOSS? That there’s no way back for either of them in their relationship with each other and/or the club? Is that really what needs to be done?

      Or..not punish him at all, and tell the rest of the team that they are not as valuable to the cause as Alexis, or that they can skip training from now on.

      Also, I could well imagine someone like Per (who is the club’s captain and enforcer of dressing room rules) going to Arsene as the team’s representative and demanding that Alexis not be allowed to get away clean with a transgression like that, no matter the truth or otherwise of his arguments.

      • Not the point at all, whether Wenger did enough. I’m simply addressing your “you weren’t there”, and “Arsene was strong” arguments, one of which is irrelevant, and the other of which doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

        To employ a footballing metaphor… nice try, trying to move the goalposts.

        • You weren’t there, so you can’t know WHAT happened. You just can reasonably figure out that SOMETHING happened. (At most, that Alexis left training without permission) It is not irrelevant if you are using a ‘something’ to make judgments as to people’s actions/characters/relationships. Which includes this obsession with ‘weakness’ shown by Wenger.

          I never said Arsene was strong. In fact, I quite clearly mentioned it has nothing to do with strength at all.

          I am not ‘trying’ anything. Your attempts to paint someone not singing from your hymn sheet as having an agenda and pulling tricks doesn’t flatter you.

        • Sorry, posted in the wrong place. Was a response to the comments of PFo, which sit just below.

          • 1. I think Shard has done a good job articulating why the “you weren’t there” point is relevant.
            2. Not sure I’m claiming Arsene was “strong”. Or rather, I think he was, but it depends on what we mean by the word. He’s obviously in a weak position in terms of “control” or “power” over his team, whatever that’s supposed to mean (again, the way people keep talking, I can’t help but see images from the animal kingdom here, as if the squad are all unruly upstarts and Arsene must constantly show he can still “dominate” them or something). But he’s weak in this way because we keep losing and as a result he’s under enormous pressure from all directions, not because of the way he handled the Alexis affair. Of course he needs Alexis: we’re sucking right now, and he’s our best player. So that prevented him from being “strong” the way people on here supposedly wanted him to be–i.e. drop Alexis completely–even though that would have meant we had even less chance of beating Liverpool. So Arsene is clearly not in a good situation at the moment. He had to choose between “putting Alexis in his place” (and we have no idea how much he actually wanted to do that or not) and getting a result against Liverpool. His options weren’t great.

            But all of that is irrelevant to the question of whether Arsene showed strength of character, which I think he did when he chose to bench Alexis but not disclose that it was discipline, even though he knew he would have to endure getting slaughtered by every idiot stranger who has an opinion.

    • It’s not about “showing strength” like they’re two WWE wrestlers or male silverback gorillas. It’s about doing the right thing to discipline a player even when it might hurt the team’s performance in a particular game and open the manager up for criticism. AW did that, even if some on here think he didn’t do it enough.

  27. My reading was that Wenger thinks Alexis has a point. I agree that if he really wanted to discipline Alexis he would not have had him on the bench at all. Putting him on the bench was both a mild formal rebuke to Alexis for losing his temper, and also a challenge to the rest to prove they can fight and win without him. Turns out they can’t, and Wenger brought him on. I don’t see how this makes either Wenger or Alexis look bad.

    • This! Exactly. It is not a match-up between Alexis and Arsene. Arsene has nothing to prove to anyone about who runs the show. The transgression by Alexis likely lay not in the arguments he made, merely how he made them (by walking out of training) That could not be ignored and merited an action. Wenger obviously thought not starting the game was action enough, or he wouldn’t have had him on the bench. That this doesn’t wash with the media or the fans is of no real concern to him. His concern is the team, and I’m guessing they (including Alexis) accepted it for what it was.

    • Charitable. So let me ask Shard again… what do you think about Wenger’s explanation for a tactical switch (lump it to the big guys) on which there was absolutely no place for Alexis Sanchez across a front five? Makes any sense at all to you?

      • No it doesn’t. It’s a convenient lie to cut off any further questioning about the incident. Why? Because talking about it is neither helpful nor club policy.

  28. The problem with discussions like this is that the usual suspects quickly retreat to their philosophical corners. Nuance gets lost. It’s possible to both think Alexis has a point, but to some extent his behavior devolved in jerkdom.

    Clearly the others lack both his ability and his intensity. But there comes a point where public and private remonstrations begin to grate, however justified he may be in doing that. He crossed several lines, one of them likely being the point of no return. But he’s also right in being upset about the s*** shower aroudn the club.

    As for Wenger, for me it’s clear. If you’re arguing that he was right to have it both ways (punish and hedge), then you would surely concede that he risked getting too far behind the game by not starting him… so far as to make his eventual introduction irrelevant. And so it proved.

    FWIW, I think he either plays him or omits him from the squad. The halfway house solution made him look waek. The risible dissembling about tactice made him look foolish.

    • Ok so Wenger didn’t handle the situation the way you would (even though you don’t know what actually went down), and this makes you think he looks weak and foolish. A very convincing argument.

    • There was a bustup with Alexis. You can dress it up how you like, or place me wherever you want to geographically, that’s a fact.

      • Ok, let’s say that is a fact. So what was said between them? What had happened to trigger it? What did Alexis do besides storm off? What did Alexis and Wenger say to each other after the initial ‘bust up’, if anything? What happened with the rest of the players? None of this information seems to matter to you in judging how the situation was dealt with. But you are clear that Wenger was wrong, weak and foolish. Like I said, convincing argument.

          • Occam’s razor is about looking at the simplest explanation and reducing assumptions. If your explanation from the reports is that there was an issue involving Alexis, that’s making good use of the tool. If your explanation then extends to talking about Alexis being right, Wenger being weak, or believing you would handle the situation differently, and hence better than Wenger,you are making tons of assumptions.

          • Wenger benched Alexis because of an incident in training.But he didn’t have the balls to go through with the decision.Instead he HAD to bring on Alexis at halftime because none of his darlings were cutting it on the pitch.After which Alexis proceeded to show that he was clearly superior to his teammates and that Arsenal couldn’t do without him.
            This made Wenger look weak because he didn’t have the balls to see his decision through AND it made him look foolish for taking such a huge gamble in a crucial game.
            Those are the simplest explanations to the facts we have before us.You’re the one whose waiting for some imaginary ‘facts’ to be revealed because you don’t like what the current explanations imply.

          • Wenger didn’t have the balls. Assumption.
            Alexis clearly superior to his teammates. Assumption.
            Arsenal can’t do without him. Assumption.
            Wenger looked weak. Assumption.
            Wenger is foolish for making this decision. Assumption.

            You would think Occam used his razor to slit his wrists or something.

            Waiting for facts to make a judgment is problematic to you precisely because it doesn’t rush to condemn Wenger and the rest of ‘his darlings’ the way you are eager to.

      • Irrelevant questions. Completely irrelevant questions. As you yourself said, I or Tim or you or Tom were not there. I don’t see how my knowing chapter, verse, quotation marks and attribution makes any sense to the discussion or situation. “You were not there” is not a credible (or an adult) counter-argument to what has pretty much been clearly established. Even you have accepted the fact.

        • Daniel Storey, one of the smartest football writers around, wrote this on football365dotcom as part of his post-game review.

          “What an utterly ridiculous occasion to make a statement. A newsflash for Wenger: More fans were on Sanchez’s side than yours.”

          You really don’t need to know the precise details of what happened in training to say that this incident didn’t reflect well on Wenger. He’s also experienced enough to know that his tactical explanation wouldn’t hold water. It was already a must-win game but it became doubly important to get a good result and he couldn’t pull it off.

          • I’ve long thought Daniel Storey is overrated and overly in love with himself. But by all means play the “appeal to authority” card: because a writer you like wrote something you agree with, it must be right.

        • So anything beyond the (clearly established) fact that there was a bust up in training is irrelevant to knowing how to deal with a situation? Great.

        • Ok ClaudeIvan, I can’t speak for everyone, but let me spell out why the “you weren’t there” thing matters to me (I would have thought this was semi-obvious, but not with this group):

          Tim (and a fair few others) have said things like (and I’m loosely paraphrasing), “he stood up to them [i.e. his lazy teammates]”, “he wouldn’t put up with them not trying hard enough” “other winners of yesteryear, e.g. Henry and Vieira, also yelled at teammates who weren’t trying hard enough in training”, etc, etc. In other words, the bust up was all about the other players not being sufficiently intense in training, not having a sufficiently winning mentality, etc.
          Ok, so, now…
          Newsflash: WE DON’T KNOW THAT THAT’S WHAT SPARKED THE INITIAL ARGUMENT. MAYBE ALEXIS WAS JUST BEING A D*CK IN A WAY THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS “WINNING MENTALITY”. MAYBE THE OTHER PLAYER WAS BEING A D*CK. WHAT WE KNOW (IF REPORTS ARE TO BE BELIEVED) IS THAT ALEXIS STORMED OUT OF TRAINING HALFWAY THROUGH THE SESSION. (And then later was unrepentant about it, going so far as to fight the players when they confronted him about his earlier transgression.)

          So, based on that evidence, it seems right to conclude that he deserved some degree of discipline (for, at the very least, breaking what I can only assume is a clear club policy/rule about not skipping training), and completely wrongheaded to defend him on the grounds that it was only his unique, super-duper winning mentality that got him into trouble. We don’t know that.

  29. If Arsenalnhad more players like Alexis, we would lose every game, because he doesn’t care about Arsenal. Every time he plays, it’s like being down to ten men. He is a clubhouse cancer. He must go.

    No, this is not a joke. I warned everyone that Barcelona men can’t be trusted, and I was right.

    I also warned you all that Cech was over the hill, and would not be an improvement in Szczesny. Nobody listened to me on that one, either, but I was right.

  30. Are people seriously applauding Sanchez for walking out on his teammates in a training session? How that type of behavior if true could be rationalized to be a positive is incomprehensible. Sulking behavior and walking away is the opposite of standing up and fighting. It’s not the behavior of a warrior it’s that of a spoilt child.

    • Of course walking out on teammates isn’t good. But that’s obvious to most people and doesn’t need to be stated ad nauseam. It’s also a very reductive way of looking at this situation.

      People empathise with Alexis because they also get frustrated at home or at the stadium watching the same players do the same things every season with no improvement. It sucks but he’s our most productive, driven player, a top-10 player in Europe, and has given us more moments of joy since he came to the club than any senior player who he had an argument with.

      Whether you like it or not, he’s earned that leeway. He earned that respect, so that when he fucks up, some of us don’t feel the need to infantilise his behaviour and write lectures about how shameful it is that he threw his gloves on the pitch.

      To be honest, I just laugh at people who’ve never left their family and homeland behind to seek success as a footballer in a hostile country for foreigners like England looking at Alexis and braying about how he’s a “spoilt child” or “threw his toys out of the pram”. I think to myself “who the hell are you and what have you done with your life?”. Have your worst moments at work been televised for global audiences to pick over and make sweeping judgements about your characters?

      In a functioning, successful team with an established captain who everyone looks up to, this Alexis stuff would have been dealt with. I actually think Arteta would have known how to handle Alexis before this kind of thing happened. That’s the major point here – there’s something rotten in the club, and Alexis is a symptom, he’s not the cause.

      • Hey, your comments were spammed. Sorry about that. However, one trick is to NOT keep posting them because this kind of confirms for the bot that you’re spam. I do a pretty good job of policing the comments and getting them up on the site.

        Thanks!

      • Dude, talk about attacking straw men! I completely agree that Alexis shouldn’t be overly scolded for getting angry at teammates during games or for throwing his gloves, etc, down after a bad result (most people are hypocrites, for one thing). And I don’t think that this little incident necessarily makes Alexis a terrible, horrible person that we should definitely sell (though he’s leaving anyway), or anything of the sort.
        But those of us writing in to criticize Alexis and defend Wenger are writing in response to an article by Tim that is basically 100% HERO WORSHIP. He defends Alexis to the hilt, says he was right to “stand up to” his manager and his teammates, etc, etc. Some of us are just pointing out that storming out of a training session, and then fighting with your teammates when they confront you about it, is not laudable. It’s OBVIOUSLY unprofessional behavior.
        You say that that’s so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated ad nauseam. But clearly, judging by Tim’s article and many of the responses on here, not only is it not obvious to people, it doesn’t even seem true to many of them. So it needs to be said loud and clear.

        • Good to see the co-ordinated leaks have had the intended effect of deflecting attention away from the absolutely disastrous performance of our manager this calendar year.

          What actually needs to be stated loud and clear is that Wenger has stayed at least two seasons too long, if not four. And our board is asleep at the wheel, yet elements within the club prefer that we be distracted with internal team discipline issues.

          Robert Pires, an Arsenal legend who was actually there, says there was no “storming out” or “fighting with teammates” but you’re still using the same terms you were spoon-fed by anonymous sources in the media.

          Some of us are not so easily hoodwinked.

          • 1. Wow, congratulations for being so much mentally stronger and resisting being spoon-fed by the media. Pires of course, as a lover of all things Arsenal, has motivation to play down the whole incident and rightly so, but for the sake of argument let’s take his words for it. Fine, no storming out–just leaving halfway through training. Still unprofessional and worthy of discipline.
            2. If you’d read all of my comments (not saying you should), you’d see that I said basically the same thing above about Wenger’s job performance these last two years not being good enough and him needing to retire.
            3. Pires also said it was a reaction to an overly aggressive tackle. So it turns out it had nothing to do with him “wanting it more” or having a “winning mentality” or yelling at teammates because they weren’t training hard enough. Quite the opposite. Basically looks like he was acting like a prima donna. But I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and not jump to conclusions about the details because professional football is tough, footballers are humans with emotions, and because I WASN’T THERE. Still, he left training early, then refused to back down about it later when confronted by teammates. Still unprofessional behavior (as I’ve pointed out ad nauseam).

  31. I was wondering when the Alexis pic was going to make another appearance Tim 🙂

    I’m actually surprised there isn’t more agreement with Tim’s thoughts no the situation.

  32. I have been reading these arguments with great passion and really admire all you fellow gooners for being so passionate about Arsenal. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you are on, we are all in it together. My 8 year son was so angry with the performance, he said to me in disgust “that’s it. I am supporting Chelsea”. Earlier this season my younger 5 year old boy had made Chelsea his team – much to my disgust – as he just loves their blue. So I am the Lone Ranger right now.

    Anyway, frankly I don’t care if Alexis throws a tantrum as long as he performs. Respect for team mates is important though. Personally, I think some of us are putting Alexis too much on a pedestal too. He has been pretty poor in a number of games both this season and the last one. If it is about blaming players for the shit state we are in, then he is equally responsible. So many games he has contributed to bad turnovers and ignoring team play. Yes. He is brilliant in his own way but Football is ultimately a team game and there was a reason he was sold by Barcelona. His all action style ultimately did not fit well in their system. Same goes for Ozil. Brilliant in lot of ways but not enough of a fighter. Both these “world class” players who seem to be wanting a lot of money for their new contracts suddenly are appearing as “too good” for our 4th place club. At least that is the media narrative. Has anybody noticed this sudden extra effort which Alexis is putting in being our Superman? I wonder if that is a showcase to setup a move to some other big club after Arsenal maybe refused to accede to his salary demands? Suddenly ex players were saying that if they were in his position they will leave next year. Sure go ahead. But did you play for yourself or did you play for the team? That is a very important question. And not that when we bought Alexis, he was a striker. Wenger helped him become more lethal. I still remember Alexis being substituted at half time against Everton last season when he played as a striker because he was terrible. Wenger has adjusted the system numerous times to fit Alexis and Ozil but right now we don’t have players who are playing to the same beat. Hence the lack of identity. We have Alexis the presser, Ozil the Creative force, Giroud the big hunk, Welbeck the young buck with dodgy touch, Iwobi the greenhorn, Theo the senior citizen and Ox the fragile one whose confidence nosedives in a flash. Really, the team is not really gelling. Blame Wenger for that. But not for benching Alexis – he ain’t no Demi god

    • God bless kids, ad their innocent honesty. Chelsea is just a lot more fun to support right now and kids just want to have fun. I say go for it, kiddo!

  33. A little late to the party but here is my 2 cents:

    Whatever happened in the practice session, this was a piss poor management of the situation – much like everything else. Sanchez is a diva just like most superstars of his caliber. He is revered in Chile. Of course he has a big ego and of course he is going express his frustration both on and off the field when things aren’t going well. Big clubs have big players who have big egos. That’s just the way it is. When things are as bad as they have been, those big egos are not going to take it quietly. Any manager worth his salt should be able to handle these kind of situations. Training ground bust ups are not uncommon in this game. It doesn’t even matter what the reason is. It happened because that’s what happens when you sell delusions of grandeur at your club and then fail miserably to live up to it. It’s what should have happened afterwards that’s more important. Whatever the altercation was about, that situation should have been resolved immediately. Sanchez should have never been on the bench. If what he did was so bad that it merited him being relegated to the bench, then I’m sure it was bad enough where he should not have been in the match day squad. And if it wasn’t so bad that Arsene couldn’t justify excluding Sanchez from the match day squad, then he should have named Sanchez in the starting XI. All of which means that the situation should have been resolved before the game, which was my first point.

    The way the club has handled this situation is symptomatic of how poorly equipped we are in dealing in big personalities. It’s just so sad because here we are clamoring for big players and big personalities who hate losing and give it all on the field but when it comes down it, we don’t even know how to manage these players.

    People have said Alexis Sanchez is not bigger than Arsenal. Agreed, but neither is Wenger and his mismanagement of this incident just like so many other things is the reason why we are in this mess in the first place.

    • Another possible way of looking at that locker room ‘discussion’ is that the senior player or players who approached Sanchez were trying to preserve the malaise of mediocrity that has enveloped Arsenal and Sanchez doesn’t do mediocrity.

    • Well said
      The only thing I might add is that walking off the training pitch for any reason other than injury is subject to wage docking, which could’ve been done in house and away from media scrutiny and with a better effect on Sanchez’s future conduct than the farcical benching him for the first half of the Liverpool game.

      Costa’s reported bust up with Conte resulted in Conte leaving him out of the Chelsea squad altogether for the Leicester game, even though they had just lost to Tottenham away a week before.
      Costa may well go to China at the end of the season, which is what Conte reportedly was upset and shouting at Costa about, but he was firmly put in his place till then.
      Something you can’t say about Sanchez in the Wenger scenario.

  34. I thought Iwobi and Moustafi lost us the game. Iwobi jogs back during the first goal while his man sprints forward unmarked. He falls asleep for the second goal, as his man waltzes in behind him into the backfield, again unmarked.

    Moustafi allowed yet another dagger goal because he was yelling at another teammate instead of covering. Who was he yelling at this time? Also he had a free header that he couldnt even get on target.

  35. Also, how do we know the story of the fight came from Arsenal PR? There is another extremely interested party to this saga, Fernando Felicevich, who has a £20 million interest in undermining the relationship between Arsene and Sanchez.

  36. there’s a difference between doing wrong and being wrong. did alexis do something wrong or was he wrong?

    like i mentioned in my previous post, i don’t condone alexis’ actions but i don’t condemn them either. i understand how he may feel and i’m quite sure his lashing out was not his first attempt to get his point across. when frustration boils over, there’s no rule that says what’s a reasonable reaction. what’s undeniable is his sometimes seemingly super-human will to win. he came to arsenal to help the team get back to the top. i respect that. most everything else is nonsense

  37. Apparently Pires says he was there and says Sanchez walked off after a bad tackle and Koscienly went after him to talk to him.

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