Arsenal are a broken club and it’s Wenger’s fault

Let’s talk about three things: lineups, penalties, and Walcott.

The lineup Arsene Wenger sent out there against Nottingham Forest is causing many pundits and fans consternation. But it was similar to the lineup that beat West Ham 1-0 in the Carabao Cup with just a few notable differences. Reiss Nelson started on the left and Welbeck started in the nominal striker role that Giroud probably would have occupied.

I had no problem with the starting XI here. Wenger had to rotate here because there is a huge game on Wednesday against Chelsea in the League Cup and injuries limited team selection. I might have played Coquelin instead of Willock but Willock wasn’t awful and certainly wasn’t the reason why Forest won the match.

Wenger didn’t disrespect the cup. He fielded a team with a lot of experience in defense, two older players in the attack, and one midfielder who has played literally hundreds of professional matches.

What’s fascinating here is that Forest also started a makeshift lineup, with caretaker manager Gary Brazil keeping one eye on what the Nottingham Post calls “a tough game against Aston Villa” in midweek. Forest started an experienced defense, some older players in midfield, and a fresh-faced front four with very little playing experience at all. Their center forward Ben Brereton has just over 2100 total minutes of professional playing time in his career.

What lost Arsenal this match wasn’t the lineup but literally three fouls. Three fouls by Mathieu Debuchy, Rob Holding, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Maitland-Niles’ foul just conceded a free kick. That should never have resulted in a goal but Arsenal’s set play defense was miraculously poor, with the wall set up in such a way to play Eric Lichaj onside with no one marking him. Forest are not a good set play team. They are second worst in the League Championship. Whoever is in charge of Arsenal’s defense – which allowed a goal off a set play to an awful set play team – should get a paddlin.

The other two fouls were almost comical. Let’s deal with the easy one: Debuchy. That’s a penalty all day. He tackles from behind, he takes the legs from Traore, and yes he wins the ball but he goes through the man to win the ball. That’s a penalty.

And Rob Holding’s foul was also funny, but only because the player was obviously diving before the contact and there was minimal contact. But just like Bellerin’s kick, it’s a foul. It’s a penalty.

The problem isn’t the referees. The problem is Wenger’s coaching. The problem is that Wenger’s teams have been like this for a long time: they love to try these weird kicks inside their own penalty box. It’s almost a feature now. Campbell did it for Rooney’s dive, Clichy did it for the penalty in the Eduardo match, and Arsenal have now done it four times in the last three matches!

I suspect where this behaviour comes from is that Arsenal’s lack of defensive structure instills panic in the team. Not only that but Wenger publicly blames the individuals in his broken system and Wenger punishes his defenders when they make mistakes: he’s dropped Mertesacker and Vermaelen after high profile mistakes against Chelsea and Tottenham, and he’s sold pretty much everyone who has played defense for him. It’s telling that Mustafi was with Arsenal for just one year before asking for a transfer. He knew that his football career and his national team role were in danger if he stayed at Arsenal.

Panic and fear, that’s what leads to players making these kinds of mistakes. There is very little trust in Wenger’s defense: the team (all XI) don’t work together as a unit to defend except in one-off circumstances, the back four rarely communicate except by yelling at each other, and they are sloppy all across the back line no matter who is in those positions. And it’s going to continue to happen because Wenger sacrifices his defenders at the altar of his attackers.

Which brings me to Theo Walcott. Theo Walcott put on a display of garbage football last night. And what made it worse was that he was berating his teammates for not passing him the ball in exactly the right way. I have said many times that Walcott could be a 20 goal a season striker on a counter-attacking team but I’m starting to question my own belief.

Walcott could have been a 20 goal a season striker on a counter-attacking team – 5 years ago. I’m not so sure now. He’s lost all his steps and speed was almost his only asset. But look over at Sterling at Man City and compare him to Theo Walcott. Where Sterling is developing into a great forward, Walcott still doesn’t seem to understand how to angle his body to receive passes and maximize the danger. His runs are still nonsensical at times. His touch is abyssal. His crosses are awful. He can barely take set pieces. And he doesn’t have anything like a predatory goal-scoring attitude.

Theo Walcott is 29 years old and he’s been managed by Arsene Wenger his entire career. He went from being the hottest prospect of his generation to a mediocre backup – a player who has barely developed any skills in 10 years. I think Walcott is the poster child for Wenger’s failure to develop players. And I have to think that Oxlade-Chamberlain made the right call to leave Arsenal. Ox probably had one look at Theo Walcott’s career and said to himself “GET OUT… GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT!”

I’ve said all year that I think Wenger leaves this summer – and it can’t be soon enough. Wenger is tarnishing his legacy with every match now. But whether he leaves because the club fire him (unlikely) or because Wenger finally realizes he’s about three years past due remains to be seen. I’m hopeful that he leaves by “mutual agreement” and Arsenal get on to the massive project of rebuilding this team, this club.

Qq

98 comments

  1. can’t wait for Wenger to leave, i’ll genuinely be excited to watch Arsenal again, whatever the outcome. Right now, I barely care.

  2. So do I, looking for the day a new modern guy will sit in the dugout leading the team. A motivator is strongly needed. Is also worried about the day Ozil no longer plays for us, and the day can be (unfortunately) just round the corner.

  3. I think you are being abit harsh on Walcott here. Do you think Sterling or Salah would excel in the way we play? slow, sideways passing? no chance. Man city and Liverpool are not counter attacking teams but they play with high urgency and intensity and move the ball forward much quicker than we do. That’s also the main reason Jamie Vardy turned Arsenal down, he was worried our build up play is too slow to take advantage of his strenghts and I would say it’s the same with Theo. Not sure what’s the point of having walcott and Welbeck in the team if you’re going to play with such a slow tempo and build up play like yesterday.

    1. When Walcott was 23, the 2012/13 season, he had his one good year with Arsenal and got 14 goals and 10 assists.

      Sterling already has 14 goals and 4 assists this season. He’s already a better passer, he’s a much better dribbler, and he plays more through balls and less crosses. When Sterling is 28 I bet he’ll be a much better player than Walcott is now.

    2. OB, you must be living in an alternate universe if you have not realized by now that the Theo is a waste of space. He has no footballing brain or ability except to run like a headless chicken. His only attribute is his speed, which will not count for much if he cannot use his brain.

  4. Spot on. Wenger is responsible. He makes the decisions of who plays and how they play. He has emphasised that he must be in total control of who is on the pitch and what they do. QED

    1. He certainly should be in total control of who is on the pitch, seeing as he is the manager of the team.
      And, by many former player and journalistic accounts, he doesn’t want to control what those on the pitch do. Certainly, the chaos seen in defense and the hot/cold attack seems to support that argument.

  5. To be honest we make no difference Wenger mentioned that youth players are on too much money but we pay Walcott 130k a week for being shit

  6. Great writing but mate. We mustn’t get too moved by melodrama. Injecting some objectivity: A team that has hardly played together lost to Nottingham Forrest after some suspect events -it happens every season to the best managers at the biggest clubs, look at this season alone and not just to Arsenal. We cannot use Walcott as a stick to beat Wenger’s development policy. There are too many examples to disprove you
    Bellerin – As present for free from Barcelona now they want to buy him back for +£45m. A club with a great record for recognising youth talent
    Koscielny – who was he when Wenger signed him – a French international/Courted at one time by all the big clubs in Europe?
    Alexis Sanchez – sold by Barcelona for £35m now all clubs wanting him even at 29-years old, only limited by the wages as per Bayern
    Ramsey – we know how good he can be at his best – peerless
    This is just some of the current squad going back his record of ridiculous
    The melodrama/excessive player assassination whipped up by sources outside of the club (inspite of 3/4 FA cups + best football) is the reason why our players go for £3.5m (Coquelin -26) and other clubs players go for £45m (Sigurðsson -27) and we buy Johnny Evans for (30) for £25millions – because we are “in crisis, desperate and with no good ballers”. I’ve asked this before. If Sigurosson put in the same performances for Arsenal as he did for Swansea would we get £50 for him?

    1. They hardly play together? That accounts for the bonehead fouls? Don’t they practice football?

      Bellerin is a great example. He needs to get out now. He’s slipping fast and his value is plummeting.

      Koscielny is the one player I will agree that Wenger “developed”.

      Alexis was not improved by Arsene. Alexis was just allowed to be free. He plays in the most predictable way ever. It’s always just right foot, looping crosses, or right foot cut ins from the left. When he gets sold to Man City, you’ll see Guardiola improve him.

      Ramsey is not a peerless footballer. Wenger just tells him to go score goals. Ramsey under any other manager might have learned to dribble, to control the ball, what he does for Arsenal is bomb forward and abandon midfield. It’s like watching an amateur play. He shoots a lot but isn’t at all efficient. Again, any other manager would have developed his all around game.

      If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you’ll know that I laughed my ass off at the Sigurdsson transfer. I wrote an article about how him and Arnautovic were the symbol of how football transfer fees are broken.

      The reality is that this squad sucks dude. And it’s Wenger’s fault.

      1. Seriously, I don’t get the Bellerin hate. he’s a great player and considering the responsibilities he has on the pitch he’s doing fine. He’s a young, energetic player who came through our academy (more or less). We’ve been here before so many times yet people seem happy to pile up on him. Iwobi as well (although he is allegedly playing very badly). Now ANM is the newest shiny toy, just waiting until the backlash begins.

      2. Would like to clarify when I say “melodrama/excessive player assassination whipped up by sources outside of the club” I am not referring you and other arsenal fans. You are part of the club

      3. Would like to clarify when I say “melodrama/excessive player assassination whipped up by sources outside of the club” I am not referring you and other arsenal fans. You are part of the club

  7. I’ve seen some comical, diabolically bad Arsenal defending over the many years I’ve been pulling out my air over our comical, diabolically bad defending but this match was a “classic” if such is word is ever appropriate for that kind of shite.

    We are plumbing new depths which I suppose is, however unwelcome, some kind of novelty. Out in the 3rd round for the 1st time, senior players abject and unable to support or let alone inspire their younger team-mates.

    And a manager long past out of time, out of ideas and out of touch and indeed out of the touchline itself.

    What now? Surely yesterday’s performance has sealed the exits of Özil and Sánchez. Same old or a further slide down the table or is something going to change for the better?

  8. Was agreeing with everything you said, till you got to Walcott. Harsh. Very harsh. And wrong in one particular — Walcott WAS a 20 goal a season player, 19 to be exact, in 2016/2017, significantly more recently than 5 years ago. In a season in which he lost his starting place. He looks like a man low on confidence and self belief. He most assuredly isn’t garbage.

    You know who was on the touchline? Steve Bould, a legendary Arsenal defender. I didn’t see him instructing/communicating with the team, or his defenders, all game. But hey, it comes back to Wenger. You get precisely what you recruit.

    As for Ox, players leave clubs and better players than he have left Arsenal when it was in better shape.

    1. Remember how he scored 19 goals but Wenger benched him after April because he hurt the team defensively, couldn’t help with buildup play, and Arsenal went on to win the FA Cup without him?

      True story.

    2. Theo scored 10 league goals last season and 3 in the CL. It is a decent output until one considers the lack of anything else he contributes on the pitch.

      I will add to the perceived harshness by claiming that what matters to Theo most is collecting checks. Why did he remain at the club over the summerwhen he was so far away from the first team? He is healthy, in the prime of his career, and in a WC season!

    3. Whether Ox will realize his potential under Klopp is still an open question ,but if you think his departure was just like many before him during Arsene’s tenure then you are kidding yourself.

      Every Arsenal player that ever left, left either for more money , more playing time, an instant promise of winning major trophies, or any combination of the three.

      Except Ox.

      He clearly left under the advice of his father, a former England international who saw his son’s career stagnating if not regressing , taking a huge pay cut in the process.
      Liverpool aren’t any more likely to win major trophies than Arsenal under Wenger, nor is he going to feature in their first 11 either, the way one might’ve expected him had he stayed at Arsenal.

      So yes, I agree , players come and go and the club forges on, but this was a slap in Wenger’s face the likes of which I certainly don’t remember Wenger ever receiving before.

      1. Ox left because he wanted to leave. You can make that about Wenger if you want (because everything is about Wenger when results are poor) but at the end of the day he’s a middling player with an uncertain ceiling who has a bigger reputation than he deserves based on his play thus far in his career. I don’t want to sound uncharitable because I like him both as a man and as a player, but the truth is he has accomplished nothing of note to date. All this potential you speak of is in the eye of the beholder and may or may not actually exist. I would say it’s far more likely that what you see is what you get and a change of scenery won’t change that.

        1. Hey doc, I actually agree with you more than you think about the possibility of his potential being overblown and over hyped .
          Funny thing though , the man you so desperately are trying to protect, wanted to offer him almost twice the money Klopp did based on the same potential you and I think might not be there after all.
          🙂

          1. Why should we be excessively charitable to Wenger and at the same time demean what Oxlade-Chamberlain won during his time at the club?

            His crucial assist in the FA Cup semi-final earned us a magnificent day at Wembley, and his great performance playing out of position at left wing-back helped Wenger salvage some dignity from a near-disaster of a season.

            In Liverpool’s squad only Sturridge, Milner and Ox can say they’ve won the FA Cup and Ox is the youngest of them.

            He literally helped save Wenger’s job. I’d call that an accomplishment.

      2. Fabregas, Flamini, Nasri leaving at roughly a similar age were biggies. Ox is not. He’s nothing special. A good wide player who wanted to play midfield for us, and is now playing wide at Liverpool. Honestly, Tom, your hand wringing isn’t justified. Ox doesn’t leave a hole or a gap anywhere. Why are we making his departure more than it is? The argument against Arsenal is strong enough as it is.

        Did I read Tim correctly that Clichy and Sagna went on to have better careers? It was hard to tell from the way it was worded. Maybe I read wrong, but it’s patently not the case. I agree with doc on one thing… there’s a tendency, in debates like this, for kitchen sink type arguments. I think the case against Wenger was made at least 5 years ago, and that’s nearly as long as I’ve been arguing that he should go. But some more measured would be good.

        1. The argument against Arsene, it should read. Spellcheck is being foolish, but I really should proof.

        2. The team is significantly weaker without the Ox. How can you possibly say Ox doesn’t leave a hole or gap when he was the only player with his skillset – the ability to beat a man on the wing?
          He had a number of game-changing contributions last season, specifically from wide positions. This time last year Arsenal was second only to Chelsea in the league with 8 more points than this season. There is absolutely no width in this team right now, and I am certain a few recent draws would have been wins with him coming in off the bench at least.

  9. I want to address Faith’s “objectivity,” but there’s so much there that is just..wrong. The main thrust seems to be that it’s the faithless fans’ (and media?) fault that we aren’t getting good prices for our players. I wish that hypothesis was testable, but seeing as how it’s an internal process, run by the club, it’s lunacy to point the finger outside. To respond to the hypothetical re: Sigurosson: depends on who’s doing the negotiating.

  10. Faith, are you real or are you just trolling? Can you honestly say that we are playing beautiful football or have been playing for the last 3-5 years?

    You do know that inflation in football is quite rapid and that the price of a player like Sanchez now is in the region of 75-100 millions euro. The fact that we have money in the bank is actually quite costly in this environment.

  11. Also, the mention of Mustafi wanting out after just a season made me picture him in a more heroic light. If he expects to be blamed and/or dropped after a poor performance, it casts some of his recent performances in a more heroic light. He may not really have a choice, but playing in the back line of this Arsenal side is certainly a risky proposition for an international in a World Cup year.

  12. The point about our awful defending is well made, though. Good defenders don’t make high risk tackles in the box. If an Eden Hazard runs past you at full pelt — you’ve allowed him to get into that position — it becomes an exercise in shot blocking, something we suck at. The set piece defending on the first goal was hide-your-face embarrassing. And Rob Holding, who had a promising start to his Arsenal career, looks a nervous mess at the moment.

  13. Spot on (and not at all harsh on Walcott).

    Only thing I disagree with: that Wenger “punishes” individual defenders as evidenced by the fact that he has (unfairly?) “gotten rid” of certain players over the years. The implication seems to be that he’s been vindictive and unjust. But if anything he’s been far, far too patient with certain players. Yes, it does look, from the outside, like certain mistakes or bad performances have precipitated the benchings or career ends of players, but in the cases you mention, it was a long time coming. In Vermaelen’s case, it came after the better part of a year of horrible form in which Wenger stood by him and kept putting him in the starting eleven (Arsenal’s defense looked a lot more solid almost immediately after Koscielny replaced TV as Per’s regular partner); in Per’s case, after consistent evidence of an obvious and serious flaw that other teams could regularly exploit (his lack of pace).
    That’s not to deny that Wenger’s system, philosophy, and coaching exposes defenders and makes many of them look worse than they are. But that’s not really intended on AW’s part, as infuriatingly obvious as it might be for us fans. It’s also true that very few of our defenders over the last dozen years have been of genuinely elite quality. There are lots of sticks with which to legitimately beat AW at this point; being unduly harsh and vindictive towards his own players is not really one of them.

    1. In the past he had to hold on to players because he didn’t have the money to just sell them off. I’m going to list the defenders he’s sold (or are still on loan) or dropped over the last 10 years:

      Mertesacker
      Gabriel
      Gibbs
      Jenkinson
      Debuchy
      Szczesny
      Djourou
      Vermaelen
      Sagna
      Fabianski
      Manone
      Santos
      Squillaci
      Almunia
      Clichy
      Eboue
      Traore
      Silvestre
      Gallas
      Senderos
      Sol Campbell
      Kolo Toure
      Jens Lehman

      Most recently he’s been very quick to sell and drop players who “underperform”.

      This list highlights a number of things:

      1) How many have gone on to be outstanding with other teams? Szczesny, Sagna, Clichy, and Kolo Toure?
      2) How many CBs have Arsenal bought over the years? Why so many? Are we the only team with such wild buying? Especially in the CB/Keeper area? 15 of that list are CB/Keeper. That seems unusual to me.
      3) Why can’t we recruit more like Koscielny? What makes him so unique? I can’t figure this one out!

      1. Yeah, good points, though surely he’s also sold a ton of midfielders, strikers, etc, in that time too? He’s been at the club an awful long time, way more than other managers in any one job, after all. Has he sold more defenders than other positions?

        But in any event, I don’t totally disagree that he “goes through” a lot of defenders quickly, just that this isn’t a sign that he’s ruthlessly punishing or blaming them. I think it mostly just points to the fact that he’s unable/unwilling to develop individual defenders in defensive skills and (even more so) tightly organize a defensive unit. So, even more than in other areas of the pitch, his “jazzer” tendencies come out: run through a bunch of players in the hopes that he’ll find the magic combo in the back five that will be able to organize themselves, complement each other, etc, and they can be solid with little detailed coaching from him.

        For example, the Per-Kos partnership was really good for a period (not just “good for Arsenal,” but good period), despite the decline that we’ve seen from both of them in recent years, and despite Wenger’s attack-first tactics leaving them with a lot to do, to put it mildly. I don’t think that back line (with Sczesney and latterly Cech, and Sagna/Bellerin and Gibbs/Nacho at fullback) got the credit it deserved for mostly being solid for a good 2-3 seasons there. For a time, defense was actually not Arsenal’s greatest weakness!

        Now he’s stuck needing to find another similarly solid partnership in central defense to replace Per-Kos, and he’s sorta flailing around a bit (the back three switch arguably part of that) in hopes he hits upon something. Hence, churning through players.

        The other factor that you don’t mention: I think our buying so many, and their tending to be so underwhelming, in part is down to Wenger’s budget tendencies when it comes to defensive players. He can’t resist a deal in every area of the pitch, of course, but he’s especially unwilling to spend big on expensive young thoroughbreds in defense. Campbell and Kos are probably his best ever CB signings, and they hardly cost anything at all (contrast this with Fergie, who bought Rio for something like 30m back in the day when he was still really young). So surprise surprise if many of those defensive purchases can’t quite cut it and we have to go back on the market earlier than anticipated, whereas if we just spent a bit more money on more of a surer thing, we could save ourselves the extra money/trouble replacing him in 2-3 years (Gabriel being a recent example, though, again, a different coach could probably have spent more time developing the Brazilian before cutting him loose).

        1. Arsenal’s only good defensive period coincided with Wenger playing a true defensive midfielder, Coquelin.

      2. Some really amazing individual talent on that list for sure… it’s a who’s who of calamitous defenders and goalkeepers and say what you want about Arsene but Cech hasn’t started to play like Almunia because Wenger suddenly became a coach, and players with real ability, like Sagna or Kos, have actually shone in his system. So I’m not buying that because a lot of these players were crap, it’s all on Arsene for making them that way.

          1. Yeah. All I’d say is that he’s probably as much or more to blame for buying them in the first place than for his poor/nonexistent coaching of them.

            Oh, and saying Sagna, Clichy, and Kolo went on to be “outstanding” for other clubs is surely a bit of a stretch!

          2. PS I can’t be bothered to go back and confirm this, but I’m pretty sure Per and Kos were pretty solid before Coq, when Arteta was in front of them (the odd 6-0 shellacking aside, of course!).

          3. Is there a definite link between a player’s success and his coach? I think perhaps, but not for the reasons we commonly think, i.e. that the coach is really really good at teaching football. There are types of coaches and types of players, and some coaches and players do really well with each other and some don’t; not because the player is bad or the coach is bad but because they simply don’t see and process information the same way. It’s a basic principle of adult learning. The best teacher adapts his methods for each pupil, but this is only possible to the extent that the teacher is able to spend time 1:1 with the pupil; for a classroom, a single strategy must be used and some learners will be left behind, inevitably, as there is no one strategy that fits all.

            Learning theory aside, your question insinuates it’s the coach’s responsibility that every player he acquires and coaches be a success. Why should that be the case? Does any coach have a 100% record? I think not. So is Wenger any worse than anyone else at player acquisition and development? You can make that argument and I will listen, but I have heard nothing scientific or compelling thus far.

          4. Not sure what you’re arguing against, Doc. Surely most will agree with your assessment of player/coach fit bar some extraordinary outliers. But then again, whose responsibility is it to find the players with the right fit and recruit them? That is down to Wenger, it’s not like these players were put in his lap. and that is the other problem, some of them were just not good enough, I still have shivers when I think of Almunia in goal. Not getting Mark Schwarzer in to replace him because of a difference of 2m is still one the things I’m most disappointed by.

        1. Emob, I’m arguing that his responsibility as chief recruiter/developer does not oblige him to a 100% record. I’m arguing that his record is probably no worse than anyone else’s, but his failures seem to predominate in people’s thoughts. The narrative, when things aren’t going so well, is to try to blame him for players who fail to develop and at the same time remove credit for players who do. The truth is we will never know what would’ve happened without Wenger in charge because we cannot rewind time, remove him, and play it forward again. So what we have is a tide of subjective opinions about player X based on circumstantial evidence (at best) that the majority of influential online posters either agree with or do not, and in so doing help make something a “myth” or “common knowledge” that is beyond dispute. And because we cannot know the real truth, it’s endless fodder for debate.

  14. That interview with Squillaci a couple of years ago was telling. Wenger’s Arsenal is a defender’s graveyard. There are the odd exceptions, like Koscielny, but if you’re a defender at Wenger’s “we play” Arsenal you will get exposed time and again (systematically, in fact) in a way you never would at any top-level club. It’s a system designed to turn defending into an ad doc scramble, and you’ll give away more penalties than other clubs as a result.

    Mustafi was smart. I fear for Holding and Chambers.

    1. Chambers is manifestly not good enough, and way too slow to play at an elite level for a team who doesn’t typically play in a low block. Jury’s still out with Holding, but he’s been almost uniformly terrible this season, and needs something to get his confidence back up. I also think he lacks pace, but not as egregiously as Chambers, and there’s a lot of raw talent there, I think.

      1. I guess I would just say that both issues — speed and confidence — are exposed by our system. In other words, they may be excellent, or have the potential to be excellent (and let’s not forget that speed is not something CB’s have in abundance at many other top sides, in part because it’s not needed like it is in our system), but they’re never going to reach their potential at Wenger’s Arsenal.

        I actually think Holding and Chambers have a lot of potential, but that’s not something we have to agree on to suggest that there’s something wrong with how we’re set up, and it’s been this way for a long, long time.

  15. Also, I’m curious what folks here think about the possibility of Alexis moving to City this month. Keep? Sell?

    1. Whether or not Wenger admits it, the club is in rebuilding mode. Given that fact, it makes no sense to keep Alexis and forego the transfer fee (even if a replacement can’t be lined up).

  16. …and now looks like Coq will do his rocking out at Valencia. [thinks wistfully at that period in the recent past when he and Cazorla formed an unlikely but incredibly effective partnership…oh, how our midfield has fallen!]

    1. I’d sell Elneny before le Coq. I wish Wenger would’ve tried a Wilshere/Coq partnership for a while, as it could have replicated Coqzorla to a half-decent degree (and I personally like and stick up for Xhaka, and am under no illusions about Coq’s weaknesses).
      And for a reported 10m, he’s a steal. Not too long ago Wenger was speaking of him as a potential 40m pound player…

  17. Don’t get all this Coq worship. Coq is a very ordinary footballer, who we were going to sell after the last of a never ending series of loans, until he came good for the sum total of one season. Santi could make a chihuahua look good next to him in midfield. Doesn’t the fact that Coq’s only ever performed with one player alongside him tell us something about his overall ability? Coq was our David Batty, whose limitations got more exposed after his one very good season.

    Let it go. Good luck to him. Let’s spend good money on some quality now, please.

    1. Selling every mediocre player on the roster becomes a crisis only at Arsenal, where certain factions form around certain players as if they represented ideals or rallying points. Fact is, even when fit, Coquelin hasn’t gotten into the team and it’s because he has no future as a first choice midfielder. It’s not a big deal. People care because he’s been at the club forever and did good things next to Cazorla for a while in a vastly different kind of Arsenal setup where we played with a back 4 and a target man at CF.

      1. That’s exactly the point Tim Stillman made some weeks ago, it was about the Ox then. Only at Arsenal so much is made of a squad player leaving. But as you say, our turnover especially of incoming players is so precarious, that they become so much more than simple squad players. He isn’t playing, he’s not that good, sell him before he loses all his value. The problem is of course, why don’t we have a use for a specialised DM.

  18. Hey y’all, is it really that bad? What does “broken” even mean? Why does Theo Walcott become a career dud every time he plays like one in a game? Why can’t we accept he just plateaued way too soon and it’s not anyone’s fault? Why does every 16 year old phenom have to have a Messianic ceiling? Will Walcott ever be judged on any other metric than the expectations that saw him go to a World Cup at age 16?

    Why do we write about Wenger’s faults like they are the only thing that matters? Why can’t we accept that for everything he gets wrong, there are several things he gets right? And why can’t we understand that at the end of the day he is, like you, a human being doing the best he can?

    The great thing is, Arsene’s career speaks for itself and it doesn’t need anyone to validate it. Yes, it’s all gone a bit stale and pear shaped. Trust me, the man feels the pain of the defeats far more keenly than any of us and he doesn’t need us to tell him it hasn’t been good enough. He will go down as the second greatest man to manage in English football and there will never be another like him at Arsenal or any other club. Counting his flaws and past mistakes like a miser won’t change any of that, but woe be to his successor if this is how he’s going to be judged. I can already see it now: “We just don’t PLAY anymore. Remember when Arsenal used to be fun? At least Wenger loved the club.” Etc. It’s coming to a blog near you.

    1. We already don’t “play,” and haven’t for a while. Arsenal’s scintillating attack once covered a multitude of sins (i.e., defensive frailties), but we are pretty toothless these seasons.

      And we already pine for Wenger. The Wenger of old. So, I don’t see how any of this changes if the inevitable successor also takes us down the table, sets up wacky defensive systems, habitually plays players out of their specialist preferred positions, quibbles and dallies in the transfer market, and never buys a defensive midfielder (or whatever player we always seem to need but never get because it might “kill” an existing youth player).

      I also don’t buy comparisons with United (which you didn’t make, but others do in similar arguments). Moyes inherited United from a Ferguson who went out on a high. Whoever inherits Arsenal will be walking into a club that’s been on slow decline and/or stagnate mode for a very long time. We finished 5th last season. I think we’re finishing 6th this season, possibly 7th, but to my mind we have the players to finish much, much higher.

      Wenger should not be in charge of the rebuild that is happening over the next couple of years. His halcyon days are not coming back, and he’s had a decade to try.

    2. We already don’t “play” anymore. Our scintillating attack once covered a multitude of sins (i.e., defensive problems), but now that we’re toothless, we’re left with very little entertainment indeed (what Wenger meant when he first used the quote “we play”). So we won’t be mourning one day something that was lost a while ago.

      Also, I’d argue we’re currently mourning the loss of Wenger. “Remember when Arsenal used to be fun?” is a question we’ve been asking ourselves for years, so I don’t see anything changing in the event Wenger’s successor also leads the club down the table, also makes wacky personnel decisions, also fails to buy players we so clearly need, and also sets up the defense to scramble. The Wenger we’ve been mourning left about a decade ago, and I do not want his 2018 instantiation in charge of the rebuild that’s about to happen.

      As well, not that you said this, but one scaremongering anecdote that’s often made in conversations about life after Wenger is post-Ferguson United. But it’s such a different situation. Ferguson left on a high. Wenger will be leaving on a low — and a sustained one —
      relative to his previous successes with the club. It’s my opinion that we’ll finish 6th this season. Really, with this group of players, we should be finishing much higher (perhaps even as high as 2nd), and that we won’t (again, my prediction, not a fact) will reflect poorly on Wenger, as it has in previous years when our squad underperformed.

      I really do think you overestimate how much we’ll pine for Wenger when he leaves. Like I said, we’re pining for him now. That version of him has been long gone.

      1. Your point about missing the Wenger we used to know is well taken and I don’t disagree but I will add a wrinkle. I don’t think it’s Wenger who has changed. What has changed is the game around him and if he is to be blamed it’s because he hasn’t adapted to the changes well enough and he has been surpassed by younger, more innovative coaches. Nevertheless, he has remained remarkably consistent and his longevity is credit to him. On another note, it’s not up to him to fire himself and hire Guardiola (as I believe the club should have done two years ago) and he cannot be blamed for Arsenal’s decision to continue to employ him. I will say though that in the absence of a clearly superior alternative (such as Guardiola) replacing Wenger is more likely to have benefit simply by the application of something different, and that will work for some but not for others. Though I will concede he is not (and has not been for a several years now) an elite manager, I don’t share your belief that this squad is being held back to that extent by his presence.

      2. Bunburyist is spot-on when he says the Wenger we’ve been mourning left about a decade ago.

        In 2007 a squad with Diaby (who scored the opener in the 2nd leg at Anfield), Hleb, Gallas, Cesc, Almunia, young Theo and Adebayor collapsed against Liverpool, conceding 2 insane goals with only 6 minutes left to hold out.

        In 2008, a team with Sagna, Song, Nasri, and Almunia again (we really tried to win the Champions League with Almunia in goal haha) collapsed in the semi-final 2nd leg against United at home. We were 0-2 down in 13 minutes and probably the biggest European games ever held at the Emirates, the very occasion the stadium was built for, turned into an error-ridden farce reminiscent of some of our recent performances.

        That day, I knew Wenger was done at the very highest level of the game.

        1. “That day, I knew Wenger was done at the very highest level of the game.”

          That day, I knew Cristiano Ronaldo was an amazing player. I also had known for some time that Rio-Vidic is probably the best CB partnership in the modern PL era, and that was when Scholes and Giggs were still close enough to their prime to impact games from midfield. That United team won the CL that year (and the PL title) and was probably their finest ever vintage. Still, it took a slip in his penalty area from a teenage Kieran Gibbs for them to open the scoring and control that game. A slip is terrible luck, or is that Wenger’s fault too?

          Just a difference in perspective, I guess!

          Taking a step back from that little jibe, it’s not that I can’t see your point. Everyone has said ad nauseum that Wenger is not a great defensive organizer and has never been one. It’s a known fact. The issue I take is that that fact doesn’t make him a bad manager with good players, as some would make it seem. Everyone has their own version of his influence, or lack thereof, but you can’t dispute his record or the obvious and painful lack of investment into the playing squad while everyone else around him (like United) was going nuts. I don’t do black/white. We like to talk about Arsene’s warts but warts and all he was still a genius, a genius now presiding over a crumbling empire, but a genius nonetheless.

      3. Really?

        Given how certain section of the fans pontificate George Graham, you can never be sure.

        Wenger in his worst seasons, never crashed as hard as George. Perhaps this season will be the one, but it is still a long shot.

        Maybe he will hit 8th or 9th. I don’t know. That will only be as bad as Klopp’s worst.

  19. Doc, “is it really that bad”?
    Good grief man, this may be the most expensively assembled mediocre team in Premier League history.
    Surely that is plain as day. On any given day, WTF are we doing out there?

    1. No, it isn’t plain as day. Where is the proof? Show me the numbers. Man City last year was more expensive. Remember when Chelsea finished 7th? Or Chelsea under Scolari? Man United under van Gaal? Spurs at any time pre-2016? We are bad(ish)/mediocre, for a Forbes top 10 club, but this does not make us not unique. All clubs go through ups and downs. Trust me, it could be much, MUCH worse.

      1. Or it could be much, MUCH better. I’d even bet on it. For instance, I think our performances would be better with a manager who could organize his team defensively, and who didn’t put his players in positions they’re not specialized in.

        Also, remember when x club finished x, is a weird argument. For the most part, those clubs, in response, did the very thing you seem to be advocating against: hired a new manager.

        1. I’m not advocating against a new manager. I think Wenger should retire. It’s time. I simply don’t think all of this is as bad as it’s been made out to be and I also don’t think it’s all his fault. I also don’t think a new manager will be a panacea and I’m suggesting that whoever he is, he’s in for a rough ride and little goodwill.

          1. I’m suggesting that whoever he is, he’s in for a rough ride and little goodwill.

            ===

            Perhaps. Personally, as I’ve said, I don’t think that will be the case. I really do think you overestimate the pining for Wenger while at the same time underestimate what we’d be willing to put up with in terms of a grace period for a new manager.

            It’s inevitable anyway, and I think, for better or worse, most fans are in the camp of any change is a good change. You think it’s for worse, okay.

            What I think (and I’d hazard that it’s what most Arsenal fans think right now) is this: We do remember the good. We’re not laying siege to his legacy. It’s just that those days are long gone, and it’s time for a change. It’s not ALL bad, of course. Even this season we’ve seen some good performances. But those have been fewer and further between in each of the last few seasons especially. Like I said, I think, with this group of players, we should be finishing higher. We should be winning big games. I do think Wenger’s defensive system, player acquisitions and development, and tactical decisions are to blame.

          2. Yes, I think it’s the “any change is good change” mentality that makes me a little batty. It will probably be for the better at this point in the short term because the regime feels so stale, but that new wind is likely to falter a few months in as reality sets in, we discover the warts upon the face of the New Man, and we will soon miss the stability and constant thrum of Wenger’s often idiosyncratic but absolutely professional and unwavering commitment to his job that is there even now in the slowly crumbling dusk of his career. Any New Man will have trouble adjusting to such a vacuum. A sufficiently large personality could bridge the gap and improve results immediately but I guess I’m not really confident that that will happen.

          3. I keep seeing this sentiment and I don’t understand it. Wenger has had dictatorial power at this club for over 20 years, he insists it remain this way, will not accept any other way. Literally everything at the club is his responsibility, in his image, by his design. Everything that is wrong with Arsenal is by very definition his fault. He bought every single player, runs the training, sets up the team, coaches the team, etc.

            This is a bad team. Compare us to Liverpool. Klopp is really the Wenger reboot and his team is very similar to a later era Arsenal team. Is Mane, Salah and Firminho a better front three than Lacazette, Sanchez and Ozil? Its certainly performing much better. I don’t think anyone on the balance would argue those three players are more talented than ours. Can, Henderson and Wijnaldum vs Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere? Neither inspires fear but I think most would argue that’s at least a draw. Kolasinac and Bellerin vs Gomez and Moreno? Mustafi and Koscielny vs Matip and Loveren? Mignolet vs Cech? Its a pretty easy argument to make that Arsenal are better in every area of the pitch and yet they’re +13 in goal difference thus far. Why? We’re not good at anything anymore, that’s why. The gap in results is because one of those teams still can at least coach an attack.

            That gap is only going to get wider. While Liverpool got several king’s ransoms for their wantaway attacker, we let all of ours get to the end of our contracts. That’s £140MM they get to invest in a centre back that Klopp won’t coach up and they can hope to turn into Koscielny plus another £65MM to invest in the side. Meanwhile, we have to replace our two best players with nothing but hopes and dreams.

            I’m no fan of Klopp – this exercise would be a lot more sobering if we compared Arsenal to one of the well-coached big sides. But Liverpool are the closest analogue to Arsenal right now and I don’t think anyone would argue they’ve anything but a brighter near future. Who else’s fault is that than Wenger? Literally no one, he won’t allow anyone else responsibility.

            I love the man. I think he’s a brilliant, erudite man who loves our club and has given everything he has to it. But its clear he doesn’t have it anymore and I promise, whenever he goes, be it this summer, next or 10 years from now, I won’t be pining for this Wenger. Even if we hire the Arsenal equivalent of David Moyes and somehow contrive to plummet down the table, at least I don’t know how that movie ends. I’ve seen this one enough and I’m quite sick of it.

          4. As far as I understand it Gaspar, your argument hinges on how much better Liverpool have been since Klopp was hired. Never mind that he hasn’t won anything, or that they currently sit just 5 points ahead of us, having played one game more. Did you know Liverpool collected 62 points in Klopp’s first season in charge? Did you know that was 2 points less than they had the season before? And did you know they are on pace for that same exact total now? It FEELS like they are better because that front 4 has been so fun to watch but they are not actually any better because they are hemorrhaging goals at the other end, just like Wenger’s Arsenal.

            You can also slice the Coutinho thing two different ways. They got an absolute king’s ransom for him, but they are also giving up one of the world’s best players (and I’d put Coutinho somewhere in the latter half of the top 25) just as he is entering his prime and with years left on his contract, just as the CL race gets hottest, thereby significantly weakening themselves for the run-in. That’s not a very big club thing to do. By contrast, Wenger held on to his very best players until the dying embers of their contracts (even if Sanchez gets sold this winter this is true) which is exactly what we wanted him to do with Fabregas and RVP back in the day. You can’t have it both ways.

          5. My argument hinges on the fact that we have players who would be considered to be top quality players and they do not perform to anything remotely approaching that standard. My point in using Liverpool to illustrate is that they have what should be considered either an equivalent or more likely, slightly less talented squad and they are 13 goals better than us in the league. Yes, they absolutely ship stupid goals in the exact same manner we do BUT, crucially, they are much more dynamic going forward.

            As I said in the initial reply, I don’t harbor any love for Klopp. Quite the contrary, I think he’s Wenger 2.0. But the original has lost whatever he had left in the tank. This squad, properly coached, is good enough to compete with for a top 2 place. This squad, as currently coached, is going to finish somewhere between 5th and 7th.

            Re: Coutinho vs Fabregas and van Persie – if we had gotten enough money from either Fabregas or van Persie to buy 2-2.5 top class players, I think we’d all have been much happier with the sale. Especially if some of those players had already been bought when the transfer occurred. We got smaller relative fees for the players, particularly when you compare Fabregas to Coutinho, which was basically the exact same scenario, world class-ish player being sold on a long contract in his prime to Barcelona, who had turned the player’s head so that there was no other place to sell them to. And we had no plan to replace them – either like for like or by changing the side. Liverpool already has 3 top attackers and has already arranged for Keita in the summer, and then used the rest off the top to shore up their defense. Is this because Klopp is some genius? No, it is because Liverpool operate like a modern club and we still party like its 1999.

            To heck with Liverpool envy – we are a bigger club than they are, with more resources, in a more desirable location. Much like Spurs, they should be forever in our shadow in the modern game if we’re being run like a proper club. We aren’t. By any observer’s measure we completely botched the summer window, completely botched the contract situations of our top players, and are playing uninspired, tepid, mistake-prone football. Same as we did last season on all three accounts. That is Wenger’s fault because he runs every aspect of the club.

            I just want Arsenal to be run like a proper club. You can blame Kroenke for that if you want, and certainly, he deserves blame – for one, he’s the one who keeps renewing Wenger’s deals. But the bottom line is that Wenger wants all the power and with that comes all the responsibility. And right now, as Tim says, we are absolutely a broken club and I’m sick and tired of it. I don’t care if a new man comes in and we finish 12th next year if it looks like there’s an actual plan in place. I just want to see any idea that the club knows what it is doing.

          6. You’re fed up with the status quo. I can understand that. I am as well, but to a lesser degree than you. I don’t agree with your projections vis a vis this squad and its capabilities but that’s always a subjective assessment. Thanks for a great conversation! (no sarcasm)

        2. *…hired a new manager, because performances did not approximate the expectations raised by the financial outlay on players.

  20. Also, just in defense of Wenger for the FA Cup team selection. There were some problems there (in particular not having a strong bench in case we went behind), but I don’t think it was ludicrous. In other words, I think it sent a clear message that he’s prioritizing fourth place and perhaps even the Europa League, and actually I agree with that. Those are the only two avenues left for us to get CL football, and another FA Cup and a meaningless league cup should take a back seat to those two competitions. That said, we’ll see what the team selection is for the Carabao Cup!

  21. Ok, and I know I’m hogging the board here, but what do y’all think of Iwobi partying late into the night before the Forest game? A bit of harmless fun that probably had no effect on his performance (he’s been struggling a lot lately, to be fair), or the kind of unprofessionalism that is the very cause of his struggling form? Wenger doesn’t take kindly to such reports. I wonder if this will impact his future at the club?

    1. Hard to know what to make of it but it sure seems like he’s pretty comfy in his role as occasional starter on the first team and I think he’s one player who would benefit from new leadership.

  22. Sell all the players,buy all the players, sack all the managers, win all the games, Way hey!! the games easy………..I can understand after a dissapointment some want to lash out and critisize and moan but for those of you with Zero experiance of football management to try to pontificate amongst yourselves that you have indeed a solution for every problem is total nonsence,If every manager who didnt win all the games every year got the sack then we would all get a shot at the job. then “believe it or not”. everyone would get the sack the year after.
    What you guys need is a proverbial Crystal Ball, then knowing what will happen in the future would make things so simpler. If only life were a fairytale.

  23. I am coming in defense of Walcott.

    To compare Walcott to Sterling is garbage. Sterling has that low center of gravity that allows him to dribble quickly. Over at City, he has been coached to become part of an effective unit instead of being just an outstanding individual at Pool. He has the talent.

    Walcott is the opposite. Here is a very limited player whom Wenger thought he could turn into an instinctive footballer. Wenger was wrong; Walcott introduction into football came too late; he did not play football as a child. While he smashed goals in youth level, that was just due to his speed. Walcott is unable to improve his technique nor his dribbling significantly.

    What I am impressed is how Walcott is able to make himself useful in very different Arsenal setups.

    Walcott formed a very effective partnership with first RVP and then Giroud. Two very different strikers.

    Next he squeezed himself into the outlet of the 4-2-3-1 combo; doing the off ball movement when Ozil and Sanchez had the ball.

    Last season, he played on the right of the 4-2-3-1 when Sanchez was playing up front.

    All the time, he had to adapt his game, and try a way to integrate himself into different teams, different styles and different players.

    I think the opposite. Wenger has done very well to educate Walcott given Walcott’s limited talent. If you need an example of poor education, see Michael Owen. The similarities with Waclott are there, except Owen has pedatory instincts which Walcott does not have.

    But once Owen loses his speed; he was just a short central English striker.

    Walcott on the other hand was, not so long ago, at age of 28, weaving attacking patterns alongside Sanchez and Ozil. Did you know he isn’t as fast as he is at 19?Just that you can’t tell.

  24. Ok so Messi /Ronaldo have really struggled with manager changes… gone from BallonDor to BallonDor. How much does a manager really affect the team? Do you really believe that Arsene has coached Theo to NOT be able to trap a ball? Does Arsene coach the team to only pass to Theo when he has a clear sight of goal? Does Arsene train Theo to continuously go offfside ???? Do you believe that Arsene instructed defender X to pass to the opposition in our Penalty box.
    I cannot understand how most Arsenal players can be satisfied with their effort. They should be donating their 99% of their pay to charity .. They are a bunch of spoiled brats who only pitch up to every third game .. Teh palyers need a kick up the Arse and a David Moyes / Arteta will not get that right. Maybe we need Ferige to come out of retirement.

    1. Ok, but on the other hand, if the manager is not that important, do we really have to have one of the highest paid ones in the PL? Why do we need Wenger than by the smae token?

    2. The argument is lost when you compare Walcott to Messi.

      When you are talking about the greatest player in the world, no it doesn’t matter who the manager is. When you are talking about just random good players, it matters a great deal.

  25. I agree with Dark Hei on Walcott. It makes no sense at all to compare two very different players and say that the gap between them is down to coaching.

    Walcott’s limitations were on display from the beginning – for example he had very public detractors from the start of his career and throughout – like Alan “no football brain” Hansen, Waddle and Shearer. It amounted to something of a consensus among ex-pros.
    The only reason he was a hot property at 16 was that Wenger bought him, and back then it was assumed that Wenger knew. Wenger did know – he built on the boy’s strengths – pace and finishing with his right foot – and made him into a very useful and productive player for Arsenal.

    The level of expectation put on Walcott is not the player’s fault, nor the manager’s. If you wanted him to be better than he is that’s ok, but that’s all on you. He is who he is. The only controversy is whether he should have been replaced with a better player at some point, and that’s a Wenger decision that can certainly be debated.

    For me I go back to his productivity – you don’t let a productive player go if you don’t have to. There are other players who I think have been kept around with less justification.

  26. Is Arsenal broken? That kind of grandiose assertion instinctively puts my back up. The club is obviously not “broken”. The team is not performing as well as we should or could be, but that’s different.

    I have been banging the “not as bad as you think” drum for a while, based on form and history, pointing out that we were ahead of teams others were saying we couldn’t beat. I was expecting us to be third after Christmas, hoping for second.

    But recent results and performances have not been good enough. I think we only managed one or two complete performances this season. The players are not playing at the level that they should, and something has changed, something has gone away. It looks like they are not motivated by playing for each other, the club or the manager. It looks like Wenger only really trusts a handful of them. And that is not sustainable. I have a whole other long train of thought on how and to what extent Wenger is to blame for this, but short version is the players are at least as culpable as he is.

    I still hope that we make fourth, that Wenger will stay and have one last crack at the CL next year. In my book he’s earned it. But either way he will go this year or next, and that’s fine. So if you want Wenger out, no need to rail about it, just be patient , try to have fun, enjoy his last time at the club as much as you can, with as much gratitude as you can muster for all his achievements, for all his class and for his loyalty.

    The recruitments of people like Mislintat and Sanllehi show me that the club is thinking about the future, and is able to attract the very best talent. The transition is coming. Broken is not even close. Take a look at clubs like Newcastle, Sunderland, Villa, Leeds, Fulham over the last 10 years if you want to see what broken looks like.

  27. Couple of things;

    Walcott for me, should never have seen the field again after pulling out of that 50/50 ball with Kabul a couple of years ago. That was unforgivably weak. He is emblematic of Wenger’s propensity to be mystifyingly loyal to some players and yet be prone to cavalierly discarding or marginalizing other potentially useful players.

    Koscielny is always thrown out there as a player that Wenger has “developed”. Really? My theory is that the players who do well under Wenger have a psychological profile that is increasingly unique (hence why Wenger is past his due date); self-motivated, professional, dedicated, SELF-LEARNERS, DIADACTICS, the kind of players that will take their own initiative to stay longer on the training ground to work on things, talk to older players and trainers, study film. This is Koscielny, who, it should be said, had begun climbing the rungs in Ligue Un before Wenger bought him.

    This was also the profile of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Mikel Arteta etc. Bergkamp (my favorite player of all time btw) was reknown for doing extra before and after practice, holding himself to a higher standard of execution during drills, seeking out discussions with peers about football.

    These types of players, these types of people in general, in society, are becoming increasingly rare.

    This maybe is why Wenger has been frustrated with the recent buys; they’ve been purchases based on statistical and financial suitability, but haven’t weighed in the psychological profile that maybe even Wenger understands he needs in order to flourish under him. Mustafi might potentially be a great defender if he had a Guardiola or Pocchetino barking at him daily in practice, but at Arsenal he’s left to teach himself and drifts into mediocrity. You can see it in Bellerin who has plateaued, Holding and Chambers who are struggling, Welbeck who looks worse in some ways than he did when he first arrived from United, etc.

    I feel for Wenger. There is a right man for a right time, which he was… 10 years ago. He’s hung on too long and now he’s looking like the villain for having done so.

    1. The thoughts I have about Wenger’s culpability are pretty much exactly along these lines, Jack. The level of responsibility and desire to win that he was getting from professionals 10 years ago he is no longer getting to the same extent. That’s why he’s loyal to players like Kos and Giroud, and why he has called out Iwobi, Ozil and other players who have not pushed themselves as hard as they could. He talks about the best players always having something different in their heads.

      That’s also why he doesn’t drill or give instructions. He wants players to figure it out. It’s not that he’s not paying attention to their development, it’s not that he’s not coaching, he just takes a different approach. It’s not jazz, it’s zen.

      Obviously this places a huge demand on the players. Whether he has the right to expect them to be able to handle it I don’t know. Maybe the game has changed, the tactics are more sophisticated, and the level of pressure too intense. But the fact is that many have thrived under Wenger’s approach and perhaps even become better men as a result. I also think anyone who goes to play for Wenger should understand that these are his methods, and should be ready for them.

      (Also statsDNA analysis might be providing him with players that don’t always match the personality profile that he needs, which could explain a couple of things).

      So players aren’t living up to his expectations – does this mean the players are not strong enough or does it mean his expectations are too high? I put it at around 50-50.

    2. I think this is a very interesting idea. On the one hand, the old guard always complains about ‘kids today’, but on the other there have been some marked changes in child rearing practices.

      I don’t know how it is in Europe, but in much of the US things that were just normal when I was a kid growing up in the 70s, would get me as a parent in the 2010s in hot water. I was able to bike into town at age six or seven, I was left alone in a car when my mother or father ran into the store, I was home alone at ten or eleven, I had fireworks, sling shots. Once I was home from school, I was off on adventures with my friends. My parents were at work and literally had no idea what kind of low grade mischief I was getting into.

      Parents today manage their kids right up through college. Some do crazy things like complain to college professors about grades or even go on job interviews with their semi-adult children.

      Many people who train surgical residents complain that today’s generation, while incredibly accomplished and hard working, lack initiative, are easily discouraged and are unwilling to make a total commitment.

      It’s not entirely surprising that a generation that has been micromanaged since childhood needs and expects to be micromanaged as professional athletes.

      Get off my lawn.

  28. We need the old Wenger or the current Nick Saban. Here’s a coach who pulled his starting QB while down 13 points having put NO points on the board and replaced him with a freshman. In the biggest game of the year. And won his 5th title just one behind the legendary Bear Bryant. I’m no Alabama fan but ROLL TIDE!

    1. I saw parts of that game. Putting the freshman in was the right call but that TD thow everyone is raving about? I’m like 99% positive he intended to find the other receiver in the back corner (who was covered and actually fell over, so if it had gone that way the ball would’ve been intercepted) but Ridley came into the picture at just the right time and made a play on it. Fine are the margins between genius and insanity.

  29. Very true. But lucky as it was, this is a case of making your own luck as well. Pretty amazing weekend for quarterbacks. Speaking of luck, Marcus Mariota of the Titans caught his own touch down pass. Sure it was defected off the pass rusher but still…the man effectively passed to himself for the winning TD!

  30. Well done, 7am.
    You’ve called it out for what it is.
    There are many dynamics that can be attributed to the current malaise, but Wenger is most certainly at the centre.
    The stadium move is looking like one of the biggest deceptions ever imposed on supporters of any major club.
    I’m sure they meant what they said at the time, that their reasons were genuine. They were selling us an exciting, trophy-laden future, how can Gooners not be on-board!
    But how did they get their strategy so horribly wrong?
    It’s as though Wenger went into a chrysalis when Arsenal left Highbury, and emerged back into the majestic new arena of the Emirates a beaten man.
    Money was never an issue for Wenger, so even the most atrocious of his buys were masked, and deflected by the football we were playing.
    We started life at the Emirates on the back foot, having sold Patrick Vieira in 2005, Dennis retired in the summer of 2006, and Robert Pires left too.
    Thierry Henry hardly contributed in 2006-07 after signing a £200k a week four year contract, and then went off to Barcelona.
    The ‘Invincible’s’ were dismantled as swiftly as the famous 1970-71 ‘Double’ winners.
    Wenger has throughout his time at Arsenal always made very strange decisions. When we were in the ascendancy, we laughed it off, much in the same way as an eccentric classic Ealing comedy. But when everything is perceived to be going wrong, what was once funny soon becomes a catalyst for hate and simmering resentment.
    Arsenal didn’t want to go head-to-head against all the money clubs, so opted for self-sustainability and gambled completely on football’s world governing bodies implementing FFP. Other clubs agreed with the principles and we have a somewhat diluted version, but not the model Arsenal assumed would be their saviour.
    Whether FFP works or not, what was needed was stealthy, shrewd spending.
    I remember Wenger alluding to the very subject himself when he said Arsenal can compete with the money clubs ‘with intelligence’…
    It has to be said, one of Arsenal’s biggest achilles heels is Wenger’s spending and his latent inability to get value for money.
    He has tried and failed for years to prove that he can win the PL on a budget, and other managers have proved they can with the right characters in the dressing room, but Wenger’s propensity for buying multi-purpose players and putting square-pegs in round holes means he’s perpetually inventing new problems for himself that he finds impossible to resolve.
    In short, his intellect though profoundly strong, is also his and Arsenal’s biggest weakness.

    1. Imagine 1996 Wenger coming in now and seeing this bloated squad or the guy that ruthlessly shipped out Pires, Ljungberg and Gilberto Silva handling Walcott, the Gibbs or the sulky Debuchy. If only he wouold still act with as much clear conviction and decisiveness.

  31. Let me just remind everyone who still believes Arsenal aren’t doing too badly of the main talking points from last two seasons.
    Chelsea and Leicester before them had no “European distractions” to trouble themselves with, and that’s what gave them the huge advantage over everyone else in the title race.

    Arsenal are sitting in sixth and thus far have only played their reserves in Europe.
    By the same logic that held true for Chelsea and Leicester , we should be way up there in the league table, right?

    Funny how the very same things that work in other clubs favor have absolutely no advantage where Arsenal are concerned.

    1. You’re arguing against a straw man, Tom. I think everyone is disappointed with current league position and performances, if you read the comments it’s all there. Where people disagree is on what the sources of the problems are, how deep they run and what should be done about them. For example many people feel that Wenger is at least partly to blame for current problems but we seem to disagree on exactly what he is to blame for, and to what extent. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.

      1. Ummm… Greg, if you read some of the comments there is a whole camp of supporters who are saying “it ain’t so bad”. So not “everyone” is disappointed with the current league position. Expectations have been lowered that much over the years.

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