Blaustein’s weekly blast: Arsenal’s death spiral

By Jonathan Blaustein

I’m writing this on Monday, because Arsenal play Bayern Munich tomorrow. What’s that you say? Wouldn’t it make sense to wait until AFTER the match to share my opinions?

Once upon a time?


Once upon a time, that would have been true.

But not in March of 2017.

I turned 43 this Saturday, and was reminded of my birthday, in 2013. I was at a dinner party in London, a few blocks away from the Emirates, and discussed the Andre Villas Boas comments about Arsenal being in a death spiral.

We all know what happened next.

Arsenal went on a typical winning run to end the season, and pipped Tottenham for the 4th place trophy, by one point. Villas Boas was fired, and has since been sucked into a vortex of his own, as he’s currently managing in China.

There was no death spiral that year, clearly, but are we in one now?

It’s certainly starting to feel that way. It’s amazing to me that we’re in the same season that Ozil hit that hat trick against Ludogorets. I actually suggested that he and Sanchez were top 10 players in the world, at the time, and most people agreed with me.

Arsenal were right behind Chelsea in the league, hadn’t lost in the EPL since August, and I really thought this might be the year things were different.

Always, I couched my optimism in an “I’ll believe it when I see it” exoskeleton, but inside my heart of hearts, I knew the Arsenal squad was the best I’d seen yet. So many of the players have won major trophies, and there seemed little deadwood.

But now it’s March, I’m a year older, and it’s all gone to shit. And when I say shit, I don’t mean the kind you take where you sit down, you’re done before you started, and when you wipe your butt, there’s nothing on the paper.

I mean the kind of shit that kept my 4 year old on the toilet for 20 minutes, crying, on my birthday, before she gave up because it was too big to come out. (She dropped that deuce at her grandparents that night, so I can’t speak to its ultimate size.)

Alexis has either walked out of training and fought with his teammates, or not, depending on whom you believe. But for sure he’s hidden under a jacket on global television, because he wanted one more goal to pad his stats, and his agent has planted more stories about him wanting out than I’ve eaten burritos in my lifetime. (And I’ve eaten a lot of burritos.)

Ozil, despite his assist brilliance last year and cool goals this Fall, has seemingly proven that he’s just too physically, (and perhaps mentally,) frail for the English Premier League. Lest you have any doubts, our own Tim Todd and Jose Fucking Mourinho agree on that point, which must make Tim feel like lighting his head on fire and then waiting 7 seconds before he dunks it in the nearest toilet.

Aaron Ramsey proved he couldn’t stay healthy. Theo Walcott proved he couldn’t stay healthy either, nor could he be consistent. Jack Wilshere proved he cared more about England than Arsenal. Nacho Monreal proved he’s probably too slow to play fullback much longer. And Peter Cech, the only signing in Summer 2015, proved he can’t save penalties.

Worst of all, Arsenal Football Club proved they simply can’t beat the teams you need to beat to win a major competition.

I’m no mystic, but I’d be very surprised if Arsene survived this latest brush with ignominy. We’ve all seen those miraculous runs, where the Gunners look like world-beaters, grab 4th place on the last day, and leave everyone relishing the positive momentum.

Arsene can get his team up for 11 games at a time. That’s been proven. But the league campaign is 38 games, and by now, he’s also given ample evidence that he no longer has what it takes to win over that length of time.

I think he even knows it.

That’s what makes it sad.

We’ll never know what would have happened had he stepped down after the 2nd FA Cup win. It would definitely have made for a better story. And who knows, maybe he’ll go on to Barcelona this summer and win the Champions League just next year? (I’m not predicting this, btw.)

That would give him a Hollywood ending as well.

But just last week, while lecturing my students, I contrasted the Hollywood ethos with other countries’ cinematic values. We talked about the end of “Hero,” when Jet Li gives up his life for the Empire, which would NEVER have happened in a comparable American film.

So what about England?

It’s a damp, gray place filled with funny, drunk people, right? A bunch of isolationist head-butters who’re afraid of getting scammed by foreigners, yes?

If I understand things correctly, they’re appropriately cynical, and we’re just a country full of naive optimists. If so, there is no way Arsene’s English fairy tale has a happy ending, at this point. I’m sorry to say.

I’ll publicly recant, if necessary, but I think AVB was prophetic four years ago. I think Arsene’s players, or enough of them anyway, have given up on ever winning big trophies under his leadership. I think they’re frustrated to be so thoroughly outclassed by the other Top 6 sides, and I think they’re thinking about summer vacation.

In March.

So fingers crossed for tomorrow, everyone, but I’m not holding my breath.


  1. I don’t think he knows it Jonathan. If anything, I bet Wenger thinks he can still win it.

    I didn’t expect him to leave after the 2nd FA cup win. There was a lot of positive momentum with the team and I don’t fault him for staying on after that.

    His big mistake was not buying a proper MF player in summer of 2015. We had the money to spend but we only bought Petr Cech and then we scrambled to buy Elneny in January. However this is now the Wenger cycle. Buy a couple of really good players, fail to assemble the right squad to support those players, then sell your stars when they agitate for a move. He did it with Cesc and RVP and now he is doing it with Ozil and Sanchez. I was on his side the first time around but you know what they say… fool me once..

    1. I actually agree about 2015. Wenger made two gambles that season. Theo Walcott performing well, and Arteta staying fit. Both failed, and although individually they seemed reasonable gambles, both together was always going to be too risky.

      I think he did address that this season though. Buying Xhaka, gave us, for the first time in a long time, two different midfield combos. Coquelin and Santi (which we know works well) and Xhaka and Ramsey (which we don’t yet know)

      Trouble is Santi got injured long term again, Ramsey has missed much of the season through injury as well, and Xhaka has had his integration slowed because Jon Moss hates him. Even Elneny had the Africa Cup of Nations and a subsequent injury. Wenger’s mistake was letting Wilshere go on loan even if that would only have been a marginal gain.

    2. That’s exactly my point. You’re right that I can’t know what AW is thinking, and he may well believe he’s still got “it.” But having seen the RVP-Song version of players jumping ship, I can certainly recognize it this time. But all his other excuses are gone. He built this team. He bought only Cech in Summer ’15. He didn’t buy this January. Like Tim, and many others, I think Wenger is a genuinely fascinating, brilliant guy, but his decisions have come to ape an addicted gambler on a nasty losing streak.

    3. We’ve got too many of one type (the attacking/knitting/passing part of the double pivot), and only one (Coquelin) of the other type. Even if Santi had stayed fit, we’d still have the issue of a player who is limited, except in one respect. It’s why Wilshere left. He’s never going going to perform Coq’s primary role, and he wasn’t going to displace Mesut. So he had to queue up behind Santi, Xhaka, Ramsey and Elneny for the one spot, and behind Ozil for the 10 role. That’s on Wenger’s planning (or lack thereof) that summer.

      1. Sometimes it’s too many midfielders, sometimes it’s too few. Even when there are too many, too many of those are injured, away at AFCON, or trying to find their way in their rookie season, still learning to pass the ball, or trying to solidify their role for Sam Allardyce. Excuses, all of them. Wenger should’ve just bloody bought a great midfield this summer. Chelsea did it, so why not us? Abromavich, now there’s a man who knows how to run a business, unlike clueless Kronkey. We should just put Usmanoff in charge. He would fire Wenger. Everyone knows that would make us play better football right away. He’s holding us back, probably intentionally, the unrepentant Gallic cock that he is.

        Wenger had no plan. He bought Xhaka because he had no plan. He was forced into buying Xhaka. No, it was a conspiracy to screw the loyal matchgoing, paying fans because he knew Xhaka was s***. He’s laughing at us and our stupidity right now while collecting a fat paycheck every month from the blood sweat and tears of loyal fans who deserve so much more: pies, whoopie pies, meat pies, world class midfielders, free subway passes, and the chance to see Ivan Gazidis in a clown suit or at least as Gunnersaurus. WAIT. IVAN GAZIDIS IS GUNNERSAURUS. AND HE IS LAUGHING AT US. LAUGHING! GUNNERSAURUS WEARS #99. HE’S GOING TO MAKE WENGER SIGN A 99 YEAR CONTRACT!!!!!!!!!

        1. Sorry your comment got caught in the spam filter. You’re not being blocked! This is funny!

  2. I don’t think Arsenal situation remotely resembles the kind of shit you take in the privacy of your own bathroom and the only worry you have is the physical pain it causes you to get it out of your system.

    No, Arsenal situation is more akin to the shit you take involuntarily after having eaten something you knew you should’ve stayed away from in the first place ( like that dragon roll in a local gas station) and no amount of ass clinching is going to make you stop from soiling your underwear and the stink is surely going to give you away before you make it home.

    As for Arsenal making the top four this season, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.
    Too many games against top six remaining and we all know our record against them.

  3. “I knew the Arsenal squad was the best I’d seen yet.” This squad is not as good as some people believe. I’d take Henry over Sanchez, Bergkamp over Ozil, Pires or Ljungberg over Walcott, Overmars over Iwobi or Oxlade-Chamberlain, Vieira over Xhaka or even Cazorla, Petit or Gilberto over Coquelin, Campbell over Mustafi, Cole over Monreal, Lehmann over Cech. Only Koscielny or Bellerin might have a shot in our best all-time squad. Wenger has made mistakes over the past couple of years, especially in his recruiting, but this squad never had the quality to contend.

    1. I’ve stated several times before that this is my 6th season of fan-dom. I never saw the Henry teams, so that doesn’t apply here. No question which squad is more impressive…

  4. Jonathan, you’re being too simplistic.You don’t know what’s exactly happening at the club.You’re making too many assumptions because you’re too eager to criticize Wenger and the players.

  5. I want to mention one other controversy here: the Times podcast suggested that the club put out this story about Alexis. Marcotti specifically said that because it hit all the papers simultaneously that typically means that the club made a call to a number of reporters. The story also ONLY names Alexis. It doesn’t name the other player in the bust up. So, it looks like a story intended to slam Alexis. Which they are doing ahead of contract talks.

    If that’s true then that’s Arsenal playing politics with us. They are using all of your outrage and the press’ collective outrage to manipulate the situation: either to get Alexis to sign OR (more likely) as fodder for us to say “fuck Alexis, he was a bad teammate anyway, had a bad attitude, our club has too much class for a player like that” etc. when he doesn’t sign an extension.

    Wenger, whom I think we all greatly respect, has completely denied that there was a bust up. This is his way. He’s always going to protect the players and club from public humiliation.

    The club, however, if what Marcotti suggests is true, is using you and all of your outrage.

    How does it feel being used?

    1. If you believe The Times then you’re dumber than Trump. Winter, Kay, Northcroft, Rudd have all written in recent weeks very negative pieces on Arsenal and Arsene. Last season they campaigned to get Van Gaal sacked. This season its Wenger’s turn. “Murdoch’s-mouthpiece”.

      You have a choice what you believe and also the opportunity to prove you’re not simply a conspiracy theorist or worse still a provocateur who falls for all the media negativity around the club.

      1. True, they are clearly out to get Wenger despite the glorious success of the last few weeks and the way that Arsenal have improved over other top clubs.

    2. Huh. So maybe the key is to not be outraged and wait to know what happened before passing judgment on the situation?

    3. I suspect this was more of damage control move rather than some sinister move to turn the fan base into mindless zombies who will turn on Alexis. I also suspect that we are not the only club who does this. However, the fact the club had to resort to this tactic (if true) is frankly sad and pathetic. It’s an admission that the club has failed to hang on to its best players (again) while continuing with a manager who has been mediocre at best. Seems like this is the norm for the club now. We accept and reward mediocrity on regular basis and anybody who refuses to fall in line are made to look like villains.

      1. I thought it was pretty obvious that the club percolated that story to news outlets. I don’t like it but it happens all the time and at all the clubs. Of course I don’t feel manipulated. Regardless of the timing of the news release, it’s just another piece of news complete with its own angle and its own spin, which makes it just like any other piece of news in football or otherwise. Arsenal are fighting fire with fire. Wouldn’t you expect that?

    4. If so then it is backfiring; a large part of the fanbase (yourself included) side with Alexis on this one.

  6. Jonathan, the team and club you saw in the fall is the same one as it is now. The difference is then they were full of confidence and now they have none; they were in it together and had the fans more or less behind them, and now it’s cloaks, daggers, agents, publicity stunts and vapid denials (sounds like a Shakespearian drama, no?). They will play better, to a man, because the only way from here is up. Arsenal football club will go on. It may not be enjoyable for the rest of this season, but so it goes with sports. Winning consistently is really difficult and it’s clearly beyond this bunch right now, but that won’t last forever. What you describe is a self-fulfilling prophecy, one the players can choose to embrace or not. Even if they embrace it, we start a new page in August, with or without some of the players and with or without Wenger. In either scenario, the club will be the club and we will be here to support it.

  7. Iwobi and Welbeck missing through illness. Maybe Ozil wasn’t faking it after all Ian Wright.

    We should have had a penalty. Bayern could also have been given a few more cards. But nothing unusual in that either.

    Team playing well though, with Walcott leading the charge (sometimes a bit waywardly) That’s all that can be asked for at this stage. Keep up the intensity. Take any chances that might fall your way and keep focused on the defensive end. Use this as a springboard for confidence for the remainder of the season.

    1. Of course we’re going to be denied the chance to do even that by more s***housery that passes for refereeing in Arsenal matches.

  8. I’m following this online. It must be horrendous to watch on TV.

    Koscielny sending off should be factored in, but we MUST have more fight than this.

      1. Not if you’re Wenger. I hope he doesn’t have to go to the tube station tonight with the home fans.

          1. He would make a fantastic Gandalf. This is the best idea I’ve heard all day.

  9. Lewandowski penalty is perfect example of the three most pressing rules issues in modern football.

    1) The definition of a foul and a dive. He feels contact from Koscielny (arm across chest) and straightens his legs out, makes no attempt to continue to play, referee rewards him with penalty and red card which of course completely disables the team on the receiving end. The governing body must clearly define what is a foul and what is a dive. More important, it has to determine which takes precedence when there are elements of both such as in this case.

    2) Disproportionate punishments. The red card + penalty is far too harsh for any offence and has no equal in any other sport. The game has to change this. It ceases to be a fair contest after one decision, one action and that’s just not acceptable. Also it’s the latest in a series of highly questionable decisions that have gone overwhelmingly against us when already up against nigh impossible odds. (Szczesny on Robben, van Persie kicking the ball away, etc). But let’s not go all crazy with conspiracy theories. Gunnersaurus really isn’t Ivan Gazidis. (Maybe he’s Michel Platini!!!!!)

    3) Free form interpretation of what is allowed for the penalty taker vs. the keeper. Lewandowski can hardly be blamed for his stutter step in the lead up to his penalty. Every player does it. They do it because they can and they do it because it works. But a keeper cannot come off his line, so why can the penalty taker stutter step? Both actions lead to an unfair advantage. The penalty is already a very high percentage shot, so why make it even more unfair?

    1. The red for a foul like that in the penalty area has already been changed. It is now mandated to be a yellow unless there is no attempt to play the ball or dangerous play. I’m sure the ref will justify that through saying Kos had no chance at the ball, but that’s yet another example of rules being liberally interpreted when it comes to doing one over Arsenal.

      1. And even on top of being fundamentally vague, the rule is flawed, since there are legitimate forms of physical contact that don’t involve an attempt to play the ball (if this weren’t the case, then every instance of “shepherding the ball of out of play” would be a foul). In other words, Kos may not have been attempting to play the ball so much as attempting to get his body between Lewandowski and the ball. It was a foul in my opinion (but I haven’t gone back and looked at it again) but hardly the kind of cynical foul that the red card rule is intended to stop. As I understand the rule change, the rule is meant to punish with a red card the kind of cynical foul that Kyle Walker (vomit) committed when he shoved Sterling in the back (and got away with it!–still the worse decision of the PL season) when the latter was clear on goal in the City-Spurs match a while back. Kos’s foul was clearly nothing like that. For all other fouls, the penalty is considered serious enough.

        1. It’s like when Uefa tried to ban Eduardo for ‘attempting to con the referee’. As Wenger pointed out, even if it was a dive (which it was not) when players appeal for a throw in or a corner, they are attempting to cheat the referee too. Do you see 2 game bans being given for that?

          Uefa also banned Wenger a further 3 games (?) for doing what they said he could do during a match ban and communicate with the bench. Sky sports’ camera and commentators kept making it an issue throughout the game.

          When did that initial match ban come? When we beat AC Milan 3-0 in an attempt to turn around a 4-0 deficit. We had played pathetically in Milan but there was still an offside and a non given penalty decision which went against us, and then the ref at the Emirates put on a masterclass in stopping Arsenal’s momentum. (I was there, and the fans were really up for it)

          Of course the worst red card (yesterday’s was almost as bad) was for RVP against Barca. And just like Mike Riley and the 50th game, Busacca got promoted two years ahead of superannuation to become the head of the refs.

          I actually didn’t intend to go on such a rant, but whatever the issues with Arsenal, this sort of stuff really gets on my nerves, and I really do believe we aren’t playing on a level field.

    2. What’s also disproportionate is a player merely receiving a yellow card for a foul that stops a break. The incentive to commit these “professional fouls” is enormous, particularly when the attack would have had a numerical advantage. An easy solution would be blue cards which result in the recipient spending time in a sin bin for a specified period of time.

      Also, I hate the concept of the homogeneous red card. Why should van Persie’s second yellow you referenced be treated the same as two professional fouls? It’s annoying that the inane yellow + yellow = red system has become so intransigent when its deficiencies are quite obvious and correctable.

      1. Your last sentence. Times a million. What other major sport finds it so difficult to innovate? The card system only came in in the 60’s, if memory serves. It’s not like it was introduced at Eton in 1845 or whenever. yet somehow it’s become sacrosanct.

  10. The sad thing is…people are going to defend this using the sending off as an excuse.
    But just how far are we from winning the Champions League?
    What did Arsenal move to the Emirates for?

  11. Let’s focus on the positives. We beat them 1-0 in the first half! We usually start slowly so this is a big improvement. Also, Walcott made Neuer strike a pose like he was pantsed for about 2 seconds. We will always have that moment.

    1. I loved that held the pose and didn’t even look behind him. Who said Germans have no sense of humor?

  12. Wow. Where’s the “win when it doesn’t matter” Arsenal I’ve known for so long? We’re not even that club anymore! What are we??? Existential things and stuff to say!

      1. If it makes you feel better, I think they tried to be that Arsenal tonight, they just failed. Not sure if that’s comforting or not.

  13. Look at at this way. The rate we’re going, we won’t have to face Bayern next year. This is a broken team. Manchester United, on form, will surely overtake us. Sixth, I fear.

  14. For 45 minutes in this tie, we played ok. For 135 minutes in this tie, I thought we looked a lot like San Marino does in World Cup qualifying, with an aggregate score to match.

    Anyway, thank God we’ll be avoiding a repeat embarrassment next year, when we won’t be involved in the competition! I jest, I jest (probably not jesting).

  15. UEFA should just ban Arsenal from the CL for the next 5 years regardless of league position and restore some pride to this competition.

  16. If this accountability thing is working as it should, Arsene Wenger would announce — tonight — that he’s leaving at the end of the season.

    1. Agreed. The least he can give us is some clarity. He sure isn’t giving us anything else.

    2. He didn’t leave after 8-2,6-3,6-0,5-1.So the ‘accountability thing’ clearly doesn’t work at Arsenal

  17. Bayern have faced four clubs this season in the CL thus far.
    PSV,Rostov,Atletico, and Arsenal.
    Bayern’s market value is at about €550m , Arsenal and Atletico’s at about €495m, PSV at €115m and Rostov at €45m

    Bayern’s aggregate score against Atletico 1:1
    Against PSV 6:2
    Against Rostov 7:3
    Against Arsenal 10:2

    1. To be fair, there’s a big difference between getting killed in the knockout vs in the group. Once you go down 2-0 in a group match you’re better off closing ranks and trying to limit the damage. In the knockout, particularly our second game, losing 1-5 leads to the same outcome as tying 1-1 or winning 3-0, for that matter. We had no choice but to go for it, even if it left us open to a hiding.

      Now you can justifiably ask why we seem to be incapable of closing ranks and limiting damage. Why we couldn’t hold onto our 1-1 tie or even survive with a 2-1 loss at the Allianz.

      Why do we lose focus and collapse when things don’t go our way? Is it our manager? Our players? Our system?

  18. Hard to believe Wenger takes the Champions League progression into account when he puts a squad together. Always looks to me like he’s still in Champions League qualification mode. How else do you explain the lack of urgency in January when he knew this Bayern tie was coming up?

    He expects the same plan carried out by the same players who failed the previous years to suddenly come good, and instead exposes them, and himself to humiliation. Maybe we were asking too much of him to break out of the financial constraints in 2011, start spending big money and totally revolutionise the team?

  19. All of that said, we are not on Bayern’s level. We can clearly play with them, but once a chink appeared in our armor they tore us apart. Mistakes snowball and we fall apart. When we had chances we couldn’t take them. They on the other hand are ruthless.

    Sometimes it feels like the fans are the weakest link in this club. How is it that we’re winning 1-0 and all I can hear are the Bayern fans and their drum? Where is the fight? Where is the loyalty? Our fans certainly had their “Wenger out” placards ready. Just shameful.

    The refereeing today was poor. Why was Vidal (on the ground just outside the box) allowed to grab Ramsey’s leg and trip him without a foul, much less a card?

    Why was Vidal allowed to come it studs up and stamp Alexis (who clearly pulled back to avoid injury) without a card?

    I’m on the fence with the Walcott vs Lewa penalty shouts. Walcott was more clearly interfered with but had lost possession of the ball. Lewa had control, but clearly took a dive at the slightest contact. Give neither? Give both?

    What’s up with Alexis smirking on the bench while we’re getting our brains beaten out? I’d sell him to China even if it’s for only 10 million. Let him find out what they do with tax cheats there. I don’t care where we finish this year. I don’t want to see him in an Arsenal shirt again.

    1. Come on man, enough of this crap. One of the worst trends in modern football is the way we criticise our own fans at this club. At times it’s indistinguishable from rival fans trying to troll us or clueless pundits slandering us on tv.

      It costs a fortune to go to that stadium. The stadium isn’t filled with a hardcore, young local support base, because it’s designed and priced to accommodate wealthier fans and corporate types. Anyway, if you were around during the Highbury “library” years, you’ll know that we’ve never been known for our raucous home support.

      We lost the first leg 5-1. Were you expecting a carnival tonight?

      Our away fans are legends as far as I’m concerned. And I just heard Rio Ferdinand, Owen Hargreaves and Gary Lineker say our fans conducted themselves well tonight.

      A minority of fans holding up banners does not turn a game into a protest. What’s so threatening to you about paying fans expressing their opinion?

      Stop demonising Arsenal fans. We have bigger problems.

      1. I don’t care what the talking heads say. During the first half the dominant noise was of the Bayern away fans. That is shameful.

        Don’t get me wrong. Our away fans are good, but not great. I was at Allianz and they were in strong voice. But they shut up once we started getting beaten. On the other hand, the Allianz fans are truly impressive. That is an intimidating crowd. Particularly behind the away goal. When was the last time an Arsenal crowd was intimidating?

        I’m well aware of the ‘Library’ issue. The fact that it predates the move to the Ems is proof that the fault lies in ourselves, not the our architects.

        I’m disappointed that the fans turn on Wenger after he’s devoted a third of his life to the club. Particularly because he’s been the longstanding victim of unfair press coverage and unfair refereeing decisions. It feels like we’ve allowed ourselves to be manipulated.

        It’s one thing to say at the end of the season that it’s not working and we want to go in a different direction. It’s another thing to throw bottles at him or insult him at the train station. Fans bring banners to a Champions League game demanding he leave but they can’t be bolloxed to drown out the away fans? While we’re winning? Sorry but that’s shameful.

        You say self-criticism is “At times it’s indistinguishable from rival fans trying to troll us or clueless pundits slandering us on tv.” The fact is you’re right, we should answer with a unified roar of “f’off” But little by little we’ve allowed them to separate the managers and the players from the circle that we draw around the ‘us’. That is shameful.

        1. Yes, I too am shocked that perennial title-winners Bayern have a better home atmosphere than we do at Arsenal. Clutching my pearls as I type.

          Utterly sick to death of the inability of otherwise intelligent people to separate the actions of a few from the majority as a whole. The distinction is important.

          No manager, not even Wenger has the divine right stay on until the end of a season when it’s clear his time is up. The evidence actually says the opposite – that managerial changes mid-season can have a galvanising effect on a campaign. We see it year in year out with relegation threatened teams. And on the other end of the scale, Chelsea’s solitary Champions League win came after they ditched managers mid-season.

          I wanted him to go then, but acknowledged that Wenger earned the right to stay on after the FA Cup victories. He does not have the right to fail the same way season after season with no consequence, telling fans to judge him in the summer when they have even less voice with no games being played.

          The lack of ruthlessness at this club, and the dumb idea that Wenger deserves some kind of ticker-tape parade, is a direct cause of tonight’s humiliation and it’s astonishing that people still can’t see that.

          1. Dortmund also have a far better atmosphere and they are like us; a rung below the leaders in resources, with but three league championships in the past twenty years. Granted their championships are a bit more recent and they won the CL twenty years ago, but we were Invincible. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

            You’re right that it’s a minority that are embarrassingly classless in their attempts to force Wenger out. But it’s a majority that sit by without condemning it. Is there any proof that a majority of fans want Wenger out?

            Does changing manager mid-season help? Certainly it could, especially if the manager has lost the locker room, but it could also hurt, viz Bob Bradley. Show some data before making that assertion.

            Actually, I would argue that Wenger has won the right not to be hounded out and publicly humiliated. I don’t have a problem with him leaving. I’d rather he got to go out on top, but it’s sport and you can’t control the outcomes of games unless you’re Mike Riley. Speaking of which maybe we can we crowd fund an FA Cup win? (Just kidding, we all know that referees are pure as the driven snow)

            Ultimately this is not a matter of ‘rights’. Sadly, our club is not owned by the fans the way Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern (sort of) are. The only rights are temporal not divine and they accrue to the owner. He alone gets to decide what happens to Arsene. From the owner’s perspective Arsene is doing a great job. Particularly because he does more with less. I wonder exactly where our 200 million pound reserve is. Kroenke is privately financing a $1.8 to 2.6 billion stadium for the LA Rams. I wonder if he’s used Arsenal as part of the security, or Arsenal’s positive bank balance. Even if he hasn’t the fact that Arsenal is running a surplus and has a cushion and thus isn’t going to make demands on the cash strapped parent company has to be appealing. Add in that a high profile new manager would undoubtedly want a hefty transfer fund to make new acquisitions and you can see why Kroenke loves Arsene.

            After all Wenger has done, he does deserve a ticker tape parade when he retires. I know I would go to one if I could. In the meantime, the true test of character is not what you do when it’s convenient or easy. It’s what you when it’s difficult or painful.

            So yeah, maybe Arsene has lost a step, maybe the game has passed him by. I’m not entirely convinced. But maybe he is. Once the owner thinks so, then I hope they let Wenger retire with grace and honor. If that means we finish out of top four for the first time in twenty years then so be it. I’ll have no truck with the trogolytes of Stoke on Trent. But I’ll bet you a bottle of our finest local lager that we pull it together and sneak in somehow.

  20. About the only thing the team did wrong today was not shutting up shop when the ref produced the red card.

    But considering that we aren’t normally great at that, that Bayern are a great attacking force, and the manner of the red card, it’s understandable. That, and missing some chances.

    If we’d gotten the penalty in the first half, we could have been 2-0 up in half an hour and Bayern getting hot under the collar, which they already were. Probably still wouldn’t have won by the required margin, but it was at least going to be a great game.

    I have no problem losing to a better team. I do have a problem losing by such a big margin. But my biggest issue with today is that yet again, the refs step in to spoil a good football match. I hate when that happens, and if we’re honest, it happens to Arsenal a lot more than to other clubs. Other big clubs at least.

  21. Sanchez was the worst player on the field today. Caused a goal against us. Shamelessly smiling when we were been slaughtered. Is there a Alexis Sanchez playing for the runaway leaders Chelsea? If Chelsea can do without him, so can we. He should be sold to the highest bidder.

    1. Nope, he should be sold to the most unpleasant place we can find for him, that’s willing to pay a *halfway* decent fee. China.

      1. I didn’t like seeing that, but yet again, I will say let’s not pass a final judgment, based on a 3 second clip with cameramen just waiting for the chance to make Alexis the story again. As it was, it’s not a great look for him, and he didn’t have a good game either. But it seemed to me that Cech was also smiling and saying something to him. Is that a bad thing? Depends on what they were saying. Maybe they were saying, did you see the news reports about being unhappy and wanting out of Arsenal?

        Obviously I’m not being serious with that, but I am serious about not making a small video clip a case for the prosecution.

  22. We get blown out 10 to 2 by 18 who has a lot of players that are better than most of ours and and the solution to that seems to be people want to sell our best player. Sanity, your boys are taking a hell of a beating.

  23. I find it hilarious that people point to the red card as a turning point.
    When Koscielny got sent off, Arsenal were losing a 180 minute match 5:2 with just a half an hour to go and somehow that decision was the one that changed the course of the game?

    Also, I don’t buy the “Bayern has more money” argument. They were playing Robben and Xabi Alonso who have a combined age of 84, and Vidal, Douglas Costa and Alcantara all cost less then 30 mil each.
    I can’t say that I know how the transfer business works, but nobody can convince me we couldn’t have bought a player from Shakhtar Donetsk or a young cast off from Barcelona.
    I’m beginning to dislike Xhaka more with every game that passes, not just because he obviously doesn’t know what or where to play, but because it is obvious he is your typical athlete with average IQ and good physical capabilities.
    Perez was our the striker we all needed for so long and so far his role is reduced to trying to save a losing game.
    And it really doesn’t matter if Mustafi is good or not, as soon as they start playing all I see is Arnold T-1000 being lowered into molten steel.

    I can’t believe how this season started and how it unfolded, it’s almost like the US presidential elections.

    1. It’s unreal. There was a period before Christmas when our performances kept getting better and better from game to game. We were so fluent going forward, scored some spectacular goals (remember Ozil’s near-post volley from Alexis’ lofted assist at the Emirates?) and Koscielny and Mustafi looked so athletic and strong. Been a shocking turnaround, even for sceptics like me.

      And Xhaka. I just don’t get it. Love his passing range but he has the acceleration and turning circle of a rusted out tractor. It undermines his usefulness so much that I’m now convinced he won’t make it at Arsenal unless he spends summers at a training camp with Usain Bolt.

      Saw someone post on twitter that Bayern’s squad cost 16million less than ours, so you’re right about that point. They have a lot of free transfers and home-grown guys but it’s still a shocking statistic.

      1. Bayern’s roster is a menagerie of amazing world class talent. Robben and Ribery are still levels of magnitude better than any of our wide players not named Alexis Sanchez. And if one of them is injured, they just play Douglas Costa or Kingsley Coman, who are also levels of magnitude better than anyone we have besides Alexis Sanchez. Lewandowski is levels of magnitude better than anyone who’s played the center forward position for us since the golden heyday Robin van Pluck-my-Heart-Strings, except he’s done it over most of his career and Robin only had 2 good years and one of those was for that other team from Manchester. Thiago Alcantara is probably the best midfield player in the world at the moment. Alaba and Rafinha are two of the top wing backs. Neuer is (Still) the best keeper despite his silly pantsed posturing. Pick a player on Bayern, any player, and he would start for us. Probably even their prospects. Where you’re right is that this is not simply due to financial disparity. It’s because they’ve bought well and retained well in addition to having a ton of money. Granted, it’s a lot easier to win all the time in a league where no other team is on your financial level. Still, Bayern deserve credit for assembling this smorgasbord of footballing talent. We could and should learn from them.

        1. I’m all for that, but what do you propose is done? What lesson can we draw?

          It seems to me that the transition from a good club to an elite level is the hardest. More clubs have fallen off the elite level than have gone up in the modern era. And that’s even with essentially unlimited money for the ones that get close.

          Bayern (and Real and Barcelona) have more pulling power than us because of their history and domestic status. While Chelsea, ManU, ManCIty, PSG all have more money than us. Not just a little more, a lot more. Bayern in particular are also benefiting from (their and) German efforts to create a conveyor belt of young talent.

          So what do we learn from Bayern in terms of building a squad like that? Don’t get me wrong. I think we need to spend more money (especially until we have greater pulling power) buying better players, and that also depends on scouting and style of play. But how do we get from here to there?

    2. We are the only team in the Premiership who have the best record when going down a man in terms of points not lost but that does not apply in the CL where we were cruelly exposed.

    3. Yes, the course of the game, not the course of the tie, which, obviously, we were 99% (or more) likely to lose. The game was not 5:2, the game was 1:0. I think without that incident, there’s every chance we’d go and win that 2:0 or 2:1 or 3:2 or even 3:1. Or maybe we wouldn’t have, who knows. But of course in the big picture, that would have been small consolation, if any.

      Still, it’s annoying when a referee ruins a perfectly entertaining, exciting, well-balanced game of football with 40 minutes still to go. And it’s annoying when the eventual scoreline will be used as another stick to beat our club with, even though for 50 minutes we played better than we have since the autumn.

    4. Thiago was not a “young cast off from Barca”. He was the most coveted youngster that had come through their youth ranks in several years (probably since Messi, actually) and one of the most coveted youngsters in Europe. They wanted to keep him but there was a clause in his contract that said he could leave if he didn’t get X number of appearances, and Villanova, who was the manager at the time, was unaware of this clause and he fell just short of getting to X.
      And we couldn’t have bought him because he had a choice to go to any club who would meet his modest release clause and ex-Barcelona coach and all-around legend Pep Guardiola wanted him at Bayern.

  24. Blaustein, who the hell do you think you are calling England a place full of funny drunken people and headbutters. You are an ignorant fool who apparently knows nothing outside your limited mentality. I am American and a nearly 50 year Arsenal fan who has spent a good deal of time in England and find your revolting comments disgusting and stupid.

      1. I thought it was funny. It was obviously meant in good humour. Don’t take yourself to seriously fella, that is half problem with the world at the moment. His intention was obvious; focus on that.

  25. after the sending-off, i turned the tv off and went outside to wax my car. i knew arsenal were going to get embarrassed because, despite arsenal having “eleven captains”, there was no one on the pitch or on the coaching staff who’ve proven that they know how to effectively manage that type of situation. folks can blame the referee all they want but all teams have had to endure bad officiating decisions. as a team, you’ve still got to deal. arsenal didn’t deal and got absolutely embarrassed in front of their own fans. i’ve been an arsenal fan since 1995 and this is the worst it’s ever been.

    1. It never feels good to be “right,” in such a prediction, but I could see this result coming a mile away. Despite the “Groundhog Day” narrative that’s hounded this team the last 5+ years, I too think we’re in uncharted territory. Who the F knows that will happen next?

  26. Am I the only one who enjoyed the first 50 minutes of that match more than any of our football since…well, probably November, or earlier? Am I the only one who wasn’t too bothered by the capitulation (didn’t watch the last 15, to be fair), since, you know, it literally didn’t matter (mattered even less than football normally matters), except for “pride” and other purely psychological reasons?
    The midfield 3 of Xhaka, Ramsey, and Ox looked really good, the Ox especially (becoming worried we haven’t tied him down to a new contract, though). We should just go all out attack, all guns blazing, high press with this midfield, for the rest of the season, and see what happens. A bit like Klopp’s Liverpool. Our famed new sports psychologist from New Zealand (he’s been having a great effect so far, huh?) can just tell the players to imagine they’re 5-1 down against Bayern at the beginning of every match. Things can’t get much worse than they’ve been going, we’ll be more fun to watch, and who knows, we might actually get some of our mojo back just in time to secure our rightful place in the top four, maybe win a cup, and go on a nice long summer holiday (and then, repeat next season).

    1. You are definitely a fan. Those are very red rose-colored glasses.

      If you thought that midfield was good then that begs the question on where Ozil fits. Or does he? We played a 4-3-3 last night, with a midfield triangle that had Xhaka at the base – where he belongs.

      1. Not really rose-tinted. More just trying to take the positives on what has been an absolute car wreck of a season. I knew we were going to go out before the game yesterday, obviously, so I was surprised at how well we played in the first half and how much I enjoyed it (not just a matter of our typical “glorious failure”, where we score a few scrappy goals and make it look respectable, but more that we actually PLAYED WELL, which, as pathetic as it sounds, is a big deal, given how poor we’ve been of late). The final scoreline sucks, but it’s water under the bridge really, given that the tie was 100% dead at 1:1 and 10 against 11 (before that it was just mostly dead).
        I’m aware we played with a midfield triangle, which is what I’ve been hoping we’d do for ages. Ozil should play as part of the front three. I’d have Ozil, Sanchez, and then one from Welbeck, Theo, Giroud, and Lucas (my preference would be Welbeck–anyone know how long he’s out for?), rotating them depending on the opposition. I think, with that midfield behind them, and playing a high octane pressing game, that front 6 looks really dangerous. The defense is a shambles, mind…

    1. by “nails it” I assume you mean “sets up a series of straw men and thrashes them”.

      No one seriously thinks Simeone is coming to Arsenal. Tuchel is a a fine choice, but unlikely not because of his lack of popularity but because he fights with ownership. He gives no reason for why Ancelotti is off the table and Ronay then conveniently leaves out Luis Enrique, Sampaoli, Laurent Blanc, Ronald Koeman, Unai Emery, Ernesto Valverde, or even a bold move like Pochettino.

      I also love that he gives a handy to English wonderkid Fucking Eddie Howe. Possibly the biggest joke manager since the last English guy everyone wanted at Arsenal.

  27. Let’s just go with what works, Ozil or no Ozil, Sanchez or no Sanchez. That midfield 3 is there to save our season. We have a settled back 5. For me, we now have a sttled middle 3. We have excellent options for the front three from Theo, Perez, Ozil, Giroud, Welbeck, Iwobi and Sanchez.

    Its crucial, two months to go, that we have a settled 1st eleven or at least a settled back eight.

    Like you PFo, l came off from the Bayern game with that positve that we have finally solved our midfield crises that has undermined our performance ever since Carzola’s injury.

    1. Yep. Hardly cause for optimism, but maybe some light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, Ox will probably refuse to sign a new contract in the summer (after we offer one to him way too late) and he’ll be off to City or United (vomit).

  28. Alexis, Welbeck, Lucas, Ramsay, Ox, Theo. These guys are all greyhounds. Klopp or Pep would have sent them out to crush sides with their pressing. Indeed, it looked like that was the direction in which Arsenal was heading at the beginning of the season with Alexis as CF. Alexis is the best forward-defender in the world. Remember how he picked Gary Cahill’s pocket and scored the first goal against Chelsea? Arsenal were really doing well at that stage.
    Then what happened? We went back to having Giroud up front. Yes, seriously. Then we basically only had two forwards (forget about Ozil) interested in pressing (Alexis and the winger on the other side) and a huge hole in the middle of the bucket (Giroud and Ozil). No wonder Alexis has been waving his arms about trying to get players to push forward. I’d be frustrated too. No wonder the backline finds itself under so much pressure (because Arsenal are not defending from the front).
    Can someone explain to me why we were winning with Alexis as CF and Wenger went back to having Giroud as CF? It absolutely stumps me.

    1. because your memory is failing you. recall, the reason alexis was played up front is because no other center forwards were fit. also remember, arsenal dominated games early in the season, not because of alexis, but because santi cazorla was fit. after santi went down, arsenal still managed to win some games but failed to dominate in midfield and were downright lucky to avoid defeat in quite a few of those games. commentators called it “a new steel” but i called it what it was, luck.

      then, arsenal’s luck ran out as they lost two straight with alexis up front. it’s not alexis’ fault; he’s not a center forward. besides, giroud was scoring goals every game. the excitement alexis brought was real but his lack of experience as a center forward begin to tell; arsenal had no real cutting edge to their attack. add that to the fact that arsenal were struggling in midfield, the decision to bring back giroud may or may not have been the right one but it was certainly a sound one.

  29. On reflection, I think it’s pretty obvious (particularly after the boardroom leaks) that if Arsene wants to stay, he will stay. The Board has the choice of going out and getting a top manager who will expect a big war chest or sticking with parsimonious Arsene. They’ll stick with Arsene. He ain’t going anywhere. Fans will still be having this conversation in 5 years time.

  30. the midfield didn’t look bad in the first half on tuesday. i’ve always liked chamberlain in midfield. the problem is every time he’s had a chance to shine in central areas in previous seasons, he’s gotten injured. i haven’t forgotten what he’s capable of. no surprises there as far as i’m concerned.

    i want to talk about xhaka. i think he’s going to be a dynamite #6 and an arsenal legend. the problem is he often takes up bad positions. as a 6, i don’t want him high up the pitch or in wide areas trying to make plays. let coquelin do that. it’s what frank’s good at. besides, xhaka get’s himself into trouble when he’s out there either by unbalancing the midfield or getting himself cautioned/sent off. he should be trying to control the flow instead. he doesn’t seem to understand that. whenever he plays with coquelin, they’re both in the same space fighting for the same balls and there is no balance to the midfield. the same with ramsey.

    oxlade-chamberlain is more mindful of where xhaka is and is better at providing balance to the midfield, which is why he’s a better compliment to xhaka than anyone else. however, i think the focus should be on changing xhaka’s approach. he needs to be more focused on providing balance and communication to the side, as well as controlling the flow of the game. the problem is he’s young and i don’t think he knows how to do that yet. this is an area where young players really need good coaching. problem is i don’t think wenger really teaches anybody anything. without direction from the manager, xhaka needs a mentor. if he could have watched santi play the majority of the games this season, it would have done him a world of good. arsenal should bring in gilberto or someone who can provide continual functional training and feedback for xhaka. if not, he’ll eventually figure it out, but it will take him a lot longer than it should. what happens in the meantime?

    the 6 position is typically reserved for older players. occasionally, you have a younger player who simply gets it, like busquets or xabi alonso when he was younger, but that’s very rare. you either need experience or one hell of a functional system in place to succeed as an elite level #6. this position is less about talent and more about judgement and decision-making. xhaka has the temperament but lacks the judgement, if that makes sense. we’ll see how he does. sorry i wrote so long but i wanted to share that.

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