Arsenal lose to the Arsenal of the North

I sat there yesterday watching Arsenal lose 2-0 to Österblender, a team who usually play against caribou, and thought “this has to be it for Wenger.” That even Wenger has to admit that whatever powers he once had have gone.

This loss wasn’t about preparation, Wenger had a week to get his team prepared for this match. This wasn’t about lineups, he knew what his lineup would be last week as well and it’s nearly the same lineup that beat Östersund 3-0 just last week. This was a failure of coaching on multiple levels.

A lot of folks are blaming individual players and Ainsley Maitland-Niles is taking the majority of the blame for last night’s defeat. But he was hardly even a bad player on the night, much less the worst player on the team in that first half.

Maitland-Niles was deployed by Wenger in that bizarre “between-the-lines” forward DM position that he put Coquelin toward the end of his Arsenal career. Maybe you don’t know what position I’m talking about so let me describe: Wenger deployed Coquelin in front of the other central midfielder. There, it was his job to start the press early and recycle possession. Coquelin would pop up between the opposition two banks of four and present himself for passes or try to press. It was exactly wrong for Coquelin’s strengths and weaknesses.

Coquelin was never going to be good at receiving the ball in tight spaces. He was never going to be good high up the pitch because he’s not a creative midfielder. His best position was in front of the back four, snuffing out counters, and playing where he could have more time on the ball. Deployed further up the pitch, Coquelin’s tackles numbers dropped, his interceptions numbers disappeared, his turnovers numbers went up, and his fundamental weakness with the ball was exposed.

Here is Maitland-Niles’ touch map last night:

Maitland-Niles was deployed ahead of Elneny. That was where Wenger wanted him. That was where he played. He had zero tackles, zero interceptions, and zero blocks. Which isn’t a surprise because there was no one to tackle, no passes to intercept or block because Östersund were playing on the counter. AMN also had six bad passes and all of his completed passes were sideways from that forward position to either Iwobi or Mkhitaryan.

AMN was guilty of failing to sprint back on one possession (they didn’t score) letting his marker run past him. He also gave away one foul when he did track back and try to win the ball back.

Maitland-Niles wasn’t the worst player in that half. That was either Mkhitaryan or Kolasinac, you pick. Mkhitaryan couldn’t make a pass. He kept kicking the ball right to the opponent’s feet. Mkhitaryan made 15/28 passes. 13 times in that first half, he just kicked the ball to his opponents.

And the defense was a shambles. In the first half away, Mkhi made four tackles. Last night? He made two. That made him the most defensive player on the pitch in the first half. Wenger’s formation of Iwobi, Wilshere, Welbeck, Elneny and Kolasinac (with Maitland-Niles deployed high up the pitch) were opened up like a tin of beans over and over again by Ostersund’s Ghoddos.

That is a mystery for some people. How can Arsene Wenger manage both the Invincibles, the best defensive team in England, and this weird defensive team that Arsenal have become since 2007? Players on this Arsenal team do not understand defensive fundamentals. Wilshere has been at Arsenal since 2001 and he has never learned how to defend. It’s not just Wilshere, there’s a ton of evidence that Wenger makes defenders worse.

Bellerin has taken two steps back from his breakout season. Kolasinac was in the Bundesliga team of the year last year and now at Arsenal he is such a liability on defense that he has been replaced at left back by a right footed 20 year old. Kolasinac was at fault for their first goal, giving away the error. Mertesacker was dropped for high-profile errors. Vermaelen was dropped for high-profile errors. Gabriel was sold for high-profile errors. Szczesny was sold after a blowout with the manager over his errors. Petr Cech has gotten demonstrably worse every year at Arsenal.

That leaves the question: were the Invincibles self-managing or has Wenger lost his powers? I’ve read the Invincibles book, Tony Adams’ book, the Thierry Henry book, and Bergkamp’s book and in those pages there is convincing evidence that the Invincibles (and Adams before) were mostly self-managing. Or as Wenger likes to put it they were figuring things out for themselves on the pitch.

There are no excuses for the way that this Arsenal team play. This isn’t about lineups or personnel. They were just beaten by a team from Sweden with a budget comparable to what Arsenal pay for one player. A team that didn’t even do anything special – they just played a 442 and countered when Arsenal turned the ball over. There were no tricks, no traps, no crazy lineup changes, and no pressure on the ball. It was as straight a 442 as you will ever see.

I’ve been watching Arsenal for 20 years and things like brain farts (Vermaelen’s flying clearance against Spurs, Gabriel red card against Chelsea, etc), errors (Clichy penalty against Birmingham, Kolasinac errors, Cech errors, Szczesny errors, etc), players not tracking back (Denilson, Iwobi, AMN, etc), not being switched on (last night, Stoke, Swansea, Forrest, THOSE ARE JUST THIS SEASON), and lazy defending (watch any play, there will almost always be a player “hanging back” in an advanced position) are so ingrained in this team that they are no longer bugs. If this was software, they would be called features.

Arsenal were lucky to scrape through. By throwing 7 men into the Östersund 18 yard box, Arsenal were able to get a goal. Kolasinac makes a better forward than a defender. Maybe Wenger should play him up front instead of Iwobi, who has nearly perfected the skill of giving his marker a shimmy shake right before turning the ball over.

Arsenal face Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the next round. AC is a club in turmoil. Their owner is bankrupt and his assets being sold off to pay creditors. Despite the problems in the boardroom, Gattuso was appointed manager in November. It took him over a moth to install his way of playing but since December 27th, AC Milan have gone 11 matches undefeated and climbed up the Serie A table to 7th place. AC Milan had a similar result to Arsenal in the first leg against Ludogorets beating them 3-0 away. And when they went home to the San Siro, Milan took care of business and won 1-0.

It’s not going to be an easy match for Arsenal. Especially since Wenger’s teams love to shoot themselves in the feet.



  1. About the “self-managing” thing, Wenger has always sort of admitted as much – as his style is to let the players figure it out, as you allude to. I think two fundamental things have changed since the early Wenger era: the players are intrinsically not as good as those from the past, and relatively speaking they’re even worse (i.e. back then it basically boiled down to United, Arsenal and the respective year’s surprise package; now the pool is much wider and arguably doesn’t even contain Arsenal anymore). With that kind of shift, it then becomes important for the manager to make a difference, to bridge that gap. Present-era Wenger is making a difference, but it’s certainly a negative difference – despite the relative lack of quality in this squad, it can definitely do better, right??

    1. Any above average manager would do better with this squad. Staying organized in defense and midfield would give us a stable platform to build our attacks on. Without an exclusive insider ticket to the best players in France, Wenger no longer has the players to play his laissez faire system. It’s never going to happen for him. We need a manager whose team is greater than the sum of its parts not less.

  2. I also have a bad feeling the rest of this season will be as soul-destroying as the end of the season the last time we got to a League Cup final (2011). We went from title challenge to top-4-cling rather drastically then, and that’s when we actually had targets to aim for. I’m certainly not hoping for it (I want this to be fun again), but what we want doesn’t usually affect what actually happens.

  3. I said it at the beginning of play Arsenal wouldn’t win the EL and nothing I’ve seen since has made me change my mind.
    Wenger has lost the players long time ago in a way that’s different to most managers losing theirs.

    They all love him like a father but I doubt any still believe in his messaging.

    It’s pointless discussing individual player’s contributions at this point because the whole team is disfunctional.

  4. Wenger’s incompetence would see him fired from most regular jobs, never mind one that pays £10 million a year. His continued survival in this role is a peculiar (or bizarre) quirk of late capitalism.

  5. I can’t really add much to this column, you’ve encapsulated almost every point I’ve been making for a year now; Coquelin was misused, Wenger can only manage properly a specific breed of player, the defense is abysmal.

    Mhykitaryan has had one good game since arrival. Is Mourinho having a laugh?

    I used to love Gattuso as a player. Now there was a defensive midfielder that inspired fear in the opposing midfield. If you’re AC Milan you’re thinking, let’s just get a draw at HOME, because we know we can beat Arsenal at the Emirates. 7 knockout games at home in a row without a win now.

    1. I kind of agree here. First leg in Milan, and if we manage to not score an away goal (with Welbeck up top this is eminently possible), I don’t fancy our chances in the tie.

  6. “Mhykitaryan has had one good game since arrival. Is Mourinho having a laugh?”

    No, he’s too busy trying to get Alexis to have his first one good game at three times the salary

    1. He’s had one good game, but your point is well taken. So far it looks like a bad deal for both sides.

      1. Could it be that both players have been shockingly overrated?

        Here’s an interesting debate – who might be the most under-rated player in the Premier League? Can for Liverpool? Gundogan for City? N’didi for Leicester? Cabaye for Crystal Palace? I’d take any of them in our midfield at the moment.

        1. No, they are not overrated. It annoys me when that’s the first conclusion someone reaches if a player doesn’t shine right away.

          Without the benefit of film review it’s hard to pin down exactly why Mkhi’s passing was so atrocious, but come on, we’re talking about a career 80+% passer here, this is not exactly typical. I have a few thoughts, none of which are a single complete explanation but all of which seemed to me to contribute:

          1) I saw him regularly set up on the left side. He is not left footed and his attempts to cross left footed have been awful. Teams have probably figured this out. I saw him shank 2-3 attempted left footed crosses over the heads.
          2) He was quite clearly identified as a dangerous player and rapidly closed down. Without Ozil in the team, he is a marked man and today he didn’t cope with that.
          3) He has no relationship with any of the players he was thrown in with tonight, least of all Welbeck.
          4) The team was losing battles all over the pitch. Creative players always struggle when their team is down.
          5) He was trying to make things happen, so his passing was higher risk and thus low percentage. It’s not like he’s not capable of recycling possession; he was trying to play through the lines and create a goal. You’re not going to be a high percentage passer if you attempt lots of throughballs and crosses.

        2. Don’t know anything about Mkhi – I suspect his reputation is enhanced by that massive season he had at Dortmund.

          Sanchez is not overrated, but I think we will see that he peaked last year or before. I think he’s lost some ingenuity, some of the magic that makes it all happen. He’s played a lot of football and he’s tired. Not sure the summer break he’ll get will make up for it, either.

  7. Amidst pretty stiff competition, I thought Jack looked especially awful last night: turnovers and missed passes looked very high and he was doing a “no press high press”.
    Admittedly it wasn’t one of our best games but I think he”ll be playing the “first team” from now on (assuming Ohio gets over his man flu) and I fancy us against the resurgent Milan.
    Sadly though I don’t think we’ll work our Wembley hoodoo on City for a second time on Sunday. Might have to watch that one from behind the sofa.

  8. The hated ‘jogging backtracker’ is not unique to Arsenal’s midfield, by the way. You see them in goal replays in plenty of games involving even the best clubs in the world. There are attacking and defensive tactical reasons for central midfielders–even DMs–not to run hellbent in chasing down an attacking player. Anyway, just putting that out there. I think sometimes midfielders get unfairly maligned for doing something they’re told to do. It’s just that in Arsenal’s case, the rest of the system is just so messed up that defending in our case is invariably a study in desperate, reactive scrambling.

    1. Sorry, for clarity, there should been a “But” before “there are attacking and defensive…” I.e., goal replays will inevitably suggest that the jogging midfielder is a (or the) problem, but this is not quite the case.

  9. Oh, and about the game. That was intensely horrible, but sadly these kinds of performances are no longer infrequent for Arsenal, even when we use all our first-team players. We are a timid side with no ideas. Any team, and I don’t care at what level, can beat Arsenal so long as they can keep up with us fitness wise. You don’t even have to be all that good technically. You can just press and rely on our lack of ability under pressure, or you can park the bus where we will pass the ball sideways and backwards before giving you the ball. Easy.

  10. Arsenal and Wenger are not going to break up over a loss that led to qualification for the next round. I mean they’ve had more serious reasons to in the past and they haven’t.

    All the same, that was a terrible performance. And yes, none of the issues are new. Although I did think Chambers carries the blame on both those goals (didn’t he just kick the first one in himself?) but he was put in that situation by the rest of the team.

    I don’t know. Maybe it’s only going to get worse. But I’m still going to be hoping we can ride our luck to beat City. This too would be entirely keeping in character with this team. Especially because I think we tend to matchup better than most teams against both Pep and City.

    Also, I think we’ll beat Milan. If nothing else, our players won’t just think the game is already won.

  11. I support both AC Milan and Arsenal so my loyalties will be torn between the two.
    Montella’s AC Milan was defensively weak and had a midfield that couldn’t maintain possession nor dictate play. That team was uncomfortable to watch as they were trying to integrate their new players and trying to establish their playing style at the same time. Good players like Bonucci looked lost in a 3 man back line and Calhanoglu looked so dire that if he had left in the Jan. window, it would not have been a surprise.
    Along comes the old war horse Rino Gattuso who goes with a back 4, improves the teams’ fitness and is willing to give the second coming of Filippo inzaghi in Cutrone more opportunity. Calhanoglu is now reborn under Gattuso such that he is truly like a new signing. AC Milan’s DMs (Biglia, Montelivo) are aging and slow but they make up for it by thinking quickly and being positionally sound.
    My favorite player is Giacomo Bonaventura, normally a LW/LM with clever tricks and an eye for goal who Gattuso has been playing centrally. Calhanoglu now regularly starts on the left and joins the most devilish of the midfield trio, Suso who will torment Monreal and who ever else decides to support him. This is not the Liverpool Suso who sputtered in England, trust me.
    AC Milan are 17 games into the rein of Gattuso and I can say that they are fitter, will press to win possession, have a FK specialist (Calhanoglu), are threat on corners, have the Italian no.1 GK in Donnarrumma (who will save PKs) and they are playing with mental toughness that absolutely no one on Arsenal has. If Welbeck is who we are throwing up against Bonucci, the tie has already been lost.

  12. I am sorry I have to inject some objectivity. Arsenal were playing in first gear and managed to get through to the next round, which was the whole objective and never really in doubt. There was no need to for an “all guns blazing performance”. This happens in elite sport all the time. Does Usain Bolt or any sprinter run 9.7s for the 100m in the qualifying rounds. He cruises in the first gear until the semis and final. With the League Cup final on Sunday and being 3-0 up from the first leg, I would very surprised if the players did any specific training for this game at all. Please support the team.

      1. Mate, fair point. I am just saying that the fact that Östersunds were comprehensively dismissed at home 3-0 suggests that is in this game the players were just coasting…with much bigger fish to to fry.

    1. “Please support the team”

      My bad. The real problem last night, and the reason Wenger had to make a potentially career ending half time sub to save the game and the tie was because Arsenal were rightfully just in first gear!

      1. Sorry mate. “Please support the team” was not meant to be a swipe/dis/cus. Just saying that because we got through, this is not really the time for recriminations. Arsenal always had Östersunds on short leash and could reign them in anytime. I think that the (£50m/per full back ) City team being actually knocked out by Wigan from the FA Cup is a more surprising result. However by and large City fans have been supportive of their players. Just saying we dont need to slam the players, with the game on Sunday in view and with them actually getting through.

        1. Well, when your club has pretty much won the PL trophy already, it’s easy to dismiss the odd flat performance!

          That performance last night was one of a string of poor performances we’ve witnessed over the last 18 months or so, not a one-off in a season of otherwise great consistency and success.

          I’m sure you’re right about the occasion and scoreline having an effect on the players, but we looked piss poor even after getting woken up to the fact that we could be getting knocked out of the Europa League by Ostersund.

    2. Faith makes a good point: taken in isolation, beating Ostersunds 4-2 on aggregate with a lot of reserves is not awful. We never trailed in the 180 minute tie and it’s true the team didn’t even really have to try that hard. I agree with you that at the end of the day, this is sport and it’s for entertainment, and if its going to make you miserable then you’re probably better off doing something else. I’ve expressed as much (to similar reception) a few times here as well but recanted because I don’t want to be burned at the proverbial stake like a 16th century French protestant. I was also being hypocritical because I like to complain as much as the next guy. Anyways, word to the wise, don’t appeal to that sort of thing, it won’t go well for you.

      I think the reason I and a lot of other people are not amused by any of this is that our performances against Ostersunds contained the same fragility and same naivety that has seen us sink in the PL multiple times. If you’ve followed the team over recent seasons, the themes are the same. We haven’t even won the home leg of our European round of 16 tie in 5-6 years now. Tim detailed the disastrous tactical setup above and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve long been a Wenger supporter and I still think a lot of the flak he gets from certain corners is overblown, but the performances on the pitch speak for themselves these days and seldom in a good way. I think he’s had every chance to prove he can turn it around but it just gets a little worse every year no matter who comes in personnel-wise. I think Tom put it very well: his players still love him but they no longer believe in his instruction and it shows on the pitch.

  13. Are we really having a “Mkhitaryan is a bad player” discussion?

    Can’t comment on the game, because I haven’t seen it. But has Miki been at the club a month yet?

    1. No, I don’t think we are, are we? He’s still adapting to a new system and new players. I think it was just surprising how well everything clicked against Everton, and how insipid we have looked in the games since. Mkhitaryan is not solely responsible for those performances, but man, you expect a little more from someone of his experience and undoubted talent. However, like I said, it’s not fair to expect him to join a new club and instantly make an impact after no pre-season, etc.

      1. Yet that’s just what he did in our rout of Everton. Since then, he’s had a flat game in in the tundra while playing with Welbeck and Iwobi (which we still won 0-3) and couldn’t assert himself against Spurs in a game in which we were totally dominated, and now the possibility is already raised that he’s just average and Mourinho knew all along, which is interesting because then why would he have spent so much to sign him from BVB? I mean, if all of his games so far had been that flat, OK, I can kind of see something to worry about there. But he’s MOTM in his first game with us and is the first player in ages to have 3 assists in one game and three games later he’s overrated? Cripes.

        1. Yet that’s just what he did in our rout of Everton.


          I should clarify. Instant impact in this context should be understood as an impact that lasts longer than one game.

  14. Tim,
    I know we’ve all got our (past and present) Arsenal crushes, those players we just can’t bear to see unjustly (in our eyes) criticized:
    I’ve got Ozil, Claude and Doc have Ramsey, and the latest apple of your eye seems to be one Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

    No shame in this. But I have to say: from what I’ve seen online, I don’t think AMN is “taking the majority of the blame for last night’s defeat.” Far from it. He’s got his detractors, of course, but so have pretty much every player that played yesterday. And most fans, I think, have cottoned on to the fact that, however bad some/all of the players are, the only man who deserves the majority of the blame is one A. Wenger. So I think you’re being a little bit too quick to spring to the defense of a guy who’s only getting a moderate amount of (somewhat deserved) criticism.

    Agree with the rest of the article.

  15. Anyone will look average with Welbs and Iwobi in front of them.
    Mkhitaryan is a very good player and when he teams up with Auba up front the dynamic changes.
    Past history with him playing at Dortmund has shown how good of a player he is.

  16. Man City have some strange results as their season wears on and they wear out (Wigan AGAIN – I love it!) and while I wouldn’t ordinarily fancy our chances off the back of an abysmal outing, I think we’ll show up tomorrow and give it a go.

    2-1 to the Arsenal. How about that?

    As for the Europa League, I’ve always had a soft spot for Milan and all things Paolo Maldini. I don’t need to remind anyone what happened the last time we faced them in CL in 2012. Titi’s return season did not end well for us despite the 1st half heroics in the home 2nd leg.

    It’s the glamour draw of the Round of 16 and we can only hope. I like Atleti’s chances, BvB and RB Leipzig are strong as well. All I ask is that we PLAY and at least temporarily take leave of Arsenal-related phrases like “handbrake on” and “switched off”, Ad nauseam, etc.

      1. Agreed. Or maybe 4-1 them. But I think we have a shot, if only because we tend to show up against City (and, recently, against Chelski) more than we do against, say, Liverpool or Spurs. And because we have nothing really to lose, not just in being the clear underdogs, but because nothing larger is really riding on it, unlike the Europa, out of which I fully expect us to be knocked, sooner rather than later.

  17. 0-3 up after the first leg, it was never going to be a classic. I was just looking forward to getting a look at some of our back-up personnel, like AMN in his central role, with a Chambers / Holding back line. I was expecting a draw or a 1-0 loss, but I was hoping for some better performances than that.

    On the last thread there were a couple of comments around Bellerin / Debuchy. I’ve been thinking about that, because we’ve usually played with a speedy attacker and good link-up player at left back and a more conservative, solid right back. With Debuchy that would have continued.

    The classic Wenger set-up is that a left back overlaps a right-footed player who cuts inside (say, Cole and Pires), whereas the right back sits behind a right-footed player who can stay wide (e.g. Sagna and Walcott). However, Bellerin overlaps all the time on the right but we have no left-footer cutting in from his side, which makes us just that bit less effective on that flank both offensively and defensively. It’s just another example of how we have looked unbalanced in the last few seasons.

  18. Faith, my people. Discounting the Nottingham Forest game, we are a pretty good cup team. We’re just not built for the long-haul of the league. We’ve shown before that we can beat anyone (and lose to anyone) on the day. They have shown that while they are an awesome team, they’re not unbeatable.

    I predict a 3-2 win, with Aubameyang, Aubameyang and Ramsey (our cup specialist) on the scoresheet for us.

  19. Faith, my fellow gooners.

    We will win 3 -2, with goals from Aubameyang, Aubameyang and Ramsey, our cup specialist. We’re not built for consistency or the long-haul of a league campaign, but we are a darned good cup team. We can beat anyone (or lose to anyone) on the day. Trust me, we’ll be up for this. They are a great side, but have shown that they are beatable.

    1. Your list is a good starting point. I would add Welbeck to your list. We also need to bring in players to challenge under performers like Bellerin with a player capable of delivering crosses and intelligent passes and first team level talent to replace aging players like Monreal and Koscienly.

  20. Congratulations Man City, terrific team, well deserved winners today. It’s a joy to watch them play the game. Go sky blues!

  21. I fell in love with a team that brought entertainment to my life. Now barely do I feel anything. I skipped more games this season than for last 12 years. Time is priceless and watching this team struggle every week and week out, not improving in keys areas, making same old mistakes got me numb and tired.
    I hope I will find love to Arsenal again but I cannot relate to this bunch of bad managed individuals.

  22. Now that my emotions have cooled a bit:

    Arsenal deserve credit for making it to yet another cup final. In the post-mortem of a game like this, it’s easy to lose sight of the success we have had recently:
    2014: FA cup final winners, community shield winners
    2015: FA cup final winners, community shield winners
    2016: FA cup final winners
    2017: League cup runners up, community shield winners

    You can say that’s not good enough for a club as big as Arsenal, and you’d have a point, especially considering our performances (or lackthereof) in Europe, which are really too painful to list right now, or the inability to come even close to a PL league trophy for 10 years. I do think it’s valuable to remind people though, at a time when Twitter will try to make us all feel like a laughingstock, that we have actually enjoyed a lot of success recently as well that some clubs who are lauded to the stars right now, but who haven’t actually won anything, might just be a little envious of.

    With that background, let me say that was one of the most one-sided games I have ever seen us play, except perhaps vs. Guardiola’s United or Barcelona sides. The players knew they were outclassed and stopped trying after the 2nd goal, and then City were polite enough to take their foot off the pedal and be content with 3-0. The saddest part was how little we made of our offensive opportunities. As Gary Neville said on the Sky broadcast, we’re all used to Arsenal being fragile defensively, but we are used to balancing that out with great passing and attacking play. We didn’t see any of the good of Arsenal today, and we are seeing less and less of it with each passing season. It’s quite clear a change of manager is required, I think there is very little disagreement about that now, and the only question is when it should happen. I don’t see any reason to fire Arsene Wenger mid-season. I don’t think he’s going to be the difference between this club making top 4 or not (they won’t) or them winning the Europa league (they won’t). Even if the results aren’t good enough, I do think he deserves at least the consideration of being allowed to finish this season after pouring every ounce of his life into this club for the past 20+ years. The passing of a living legend is inevitably painful, especially when it’s well past due, but there is no reason to rush it at this point. But, the club must act decisively this summer.

    1. Agree. If there was a bit more still to salvage, then maybe it’d make sense to bring someone else in. But there isn’t. I can’t imagine a new manager’s going to be the difference between us winning the Europa or not (I think we’ve still got a change there (unlike for top 4), but I don’t think it’ll happen). So the only other reason to change managers now would be if there was someone we knew we could get in now but weren’t sure that person would be available in the summer. But that seems really, really unlikely. Much more likely that if we bring someone in now we make a rushed, poor decision. We need to act decisively in the summer–they need to be lining it all up now–but we should wait for the summer.

      1. I think we need to look at Henry as a potential successor. My other nominee would be Arteta. I say this with the disclaimer that I don’t know a damn thing about young up and coming managers around Europe and I could be totally wrong here, but hear me out:

        Both are professional to the core Arsenal men with enough fire and youth to bring a freshness and volatility to the club (in a positive sense) that it has lacked. I think bringing in an old-timer from Arsene’s generation like Ancelotti wouldn’t be enough of a spark. The fans would really be on side with either choice as well. In terms of tactics and experience, Arteta would get the nod, having apprenticed under Guardiola, but in terms of clout and buy-in from his players, Henry would be irresistible. Maybe he’s inexperienced but so were Guardiola and Zidane when they got their first appointments. It matters more that the players and fans believe in him and he helps create a positive vibe around the club. We can always hire more experienced tactical minds to work on his staff with him on the finer details he may have yet to learn, but I really think 90% of coaching is just the attitude you bring and the culture you imbue in your players.

        1. Arsenal is not a job you come to without previous management experience. So no to Titi and Arteta. This is not your average work experience gig.

          1. My opinion: being a good politician is more important than being a good tactician. Henry wouldn’t need to be a tactical genius but he could easily hire someone with is. Conversely, that person wouldn’t necessarily make a better manager than Henry because of his superior knowledge because he wouldn’t have the instant awe that Henry would bring to get his players to buy fully into whatever he wants to do. Zidane is a good example to follow that this kind of model can work. He barely coached at all before taking over at Madrid but achieved instant results.

          2. In better circumstances, I’d take a punt on Arteta. He’d actually be high up on my list, maybe at the top. Of course it’d be a huge risk, but by all accounts, he’s a really smart guy, with a huge amount of respect from pretty much everyone in football who knows him. And he’s apprenticing under the very best in the biz. And he loves the club, having served us with distinction and absolute class.

            Henry, definitely not. Just don’t think he’s all that intelligent or insightful, to be honest.

            But Claude is probably right that in such extraordinary circumstances we should turn to someone with a bit more experience.

          3. No to Henry. I like Arteta, but I don’t think it’d be great for his first gig to carry this much expectation and this much of a fraught atmosphere. I do think the club will look for someone with pedigree. Maybe.

          4. It’s funny about Arteta: my ideal scenario would be if he came in (having already apprenticed under Pep) as our new assistant manager under Wenger for a year (Bould could stay on; not like we couldn’t use both of them), with the plan being that Arteta becomes the new manager in the summer of 2019. They could even write it into his contract and announce it to the media, to clarify things ahead of time so we wouldn’t have the constant media speculation distracting us. (All of this obviously is with the caveat that I’m going off of what I’ve heard many people say about him, rather than inside knowledge I have about whether he has what it takes to be a great manager. E.g. not just Pep and us, but also Pochettino offered him a job as an assistant, apparently, which speaks volumes. So I’m assuming that all these people’s assessments of him are accurate, and that the people at Arsenal have strong reason to believe he’d be really good as a manager.)

            But let me clarify: the above would be my ideal scenario in an alternate universe in which Arsenal were still playing–if not title winning football–genuinely thrilling and effective passing attacking football on a regular basis, we were still getting into the top 4 every year, bringing through exciting young talent without that talent immediately stagnating and going backward, etc, etc. Basically, if this was still Arsene’s Arsenal from as recently as, say, the autumn of 2015, before Santi’s injury. Up until around then, we were routinely and rightly criticized for not being ruthless/strong/pragmatic enough to win the big games/trophies, but we were still overall a high quality, cohesive side. We even had a (mostly) solid back line. Back then I still trusted Arsene enough to think that giving him one more season, with Arteta as his deputy, couldn’t go disastrously wrong, and that the slower, gradual transition between managers would likely be best for the squad’s health and form.

            No longer. This team is a dumpster fire and has been for the better part of two years (a few good runs of form excepted). It’s impossible to not see Wenger as to blame and as doing significant, perhaps irrevocable, damage to these players as individuals and as a collective the longer he remains in charge. I would argue that not a single player in the entire squad is playing even close to their potential for any length of time (ok, you might think someone like Chambers, or maybe Ospina, is, but only because they’re just not good enough for us to begin with).

            So, sadly, my dream of getting Arteta in as manager in time will probably have to be set aside (not saying anyone at the club is seriously considering it, but if they were) in favor of bringing in an experienced head to do damage limitation.

          5. I take that back: Nacho Monreal is usually playing roughly up to his potential. Literally no one else in the entire squad (who’s any good to begin with) is doing so.

    2. I agree about Wenger going. I absolutely do not want to see him fired. Under any circumstances. That said, the time for him leaving on his own terms is long past, and I hope that he quells his well known stubborn streak, reads the tea leaves, and leaves.

      I unfortunately couldnt see the game, but as Tom and others have pointed out for some time, City are streets ahead of us. I picked us to win today because we’re a good cup side, and on the day we can beat (or lose to) anyone — as the Forest Ostersund games showed. But it wasn’t be, for reasons (besides the gulf in class) that I’ll soon find out about.

  23. I could go full AFTV about this pathetic effort but why bother because that would mean expending more energy than this match deserves.
    In general I will say that we have big time international players some of whom have played in the World Cup, have won the World Cup or will play in the World Cup who are playing like shite for Arsenal.
    We have a manager whose time has come. We need to bring in an experienced foreign manager with a record for attacking play, tactical flexibility and youth development.
    If anyone in their right mind or wrong mind thinks we will have a chance against AC Milan, there are prescription medications to control those thoughts.

  24. We need to bring in at the end of this season a n <45 yo experienced foreign manager with an attacking style of play who can get his teams to be defensively smart in both open play and on set pieces. He needs to have a record of success, demonstrate tactical flexibility and have no fear in giving youth a chance.

    AC Milan were dire in the first half of this season and then they got rid of Montella and brought in Rino Gattuso. Gattuso didn't have much coaching success but he gained his experience out and about and he has a big personality with a capital P. AC Milan are now a team to be reckoned with and believe when I tell you they will absolutely destroy today's Arsenal and tomorrow's too. They will be the fitter, hungrier team who will press and counter attack Arsenal with the fierceness that Gattuso played with.

      1. I always liked Gattuso as a player and I imagine he could go from strength to strength in his management career (in the style of Simeone, one would imagine, though I admit to not seeing his Milan play yet). And I wouldn’t be surprised if they destroyed us. But surely it’s far, far, far too early to label him a definitive success at Milan, or in management in general. Plenty of young managers, new to a club, have a honeymoon period and initial success, before things go south.

  25. I’m sure many of you have been following the development of Oxalade-Chamberlain. Looks a different player doesn’t he. In just a few short weeks, the Ox looks the part of an attacking mid-fielder under Klopp. Now look at Iwobi and his lack of development. That’s down to a lack of coaching.

    1. Does he? Seems just as inconsistent as ever. Good for a few weeks, poor the next few. Still, I’m sure it helps to be in a positive environment and be performing above expectations as a team, unlike every year he spent at Arsenal which devolved into a toxic mess at this point in the season.

      1. He’s definitely showing signs of becoming the player he always promised he could be (at least I saw the potential; others around these parts weren’t convinced). I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in a year’s time he looks an absolute beast for them. Like, the kind of player that bigger clubs than Liverpool start making noises about wanting to buy for 100m+ (or whatever is a lot of money for a football transfer at that time!).

        Then again, I also wouldn’t be at all surprised if he always fails to find consistency and struggles to nail down a starting place at Liverpool or any elite club. I think Wenger was largely to blame for his failure to develop for us (plus injuries), but a decent amount of blame also has to go to the player’s questionable psychological make-up.

  26. AMN has potential but will he go the way of the Ox and have his development stifled by being played out of position and poor coaching.

  27. Didn’t watch the game – chose to hang out with my family. Expected the result, called the score perfectly too. What’s the point?

    And if we’d won, so what? I can’t enjoy this anymore. It used to be I could get excited for the cups. I cried tears of joy when we won the FA cup in 2014, because I was happy for Wenger. When we won in 2017 I shrugged and hurried home before the celebrations. Every win just prolongs this agony now. Every win is something for him to cling to. I can’t enjoy it anymore.

  28. There is nothing to be salvaged here and nothing to be gained if Wenger leaves before the end of the season (a non-starter). Whether he’ll be able to see out his final year is a bit of a question which depends on whether our season really tanks.

    As much I as I wanted him gone these last few years, I ll be well and truly sad when there is no more Arsene to complain about. Also, I have little confidence that we have made progress is succession planning and if I’m right about that, then we NEED him for 2018/2019.

    1. Why? What difference does it make if we finish 6th or 8th or 10th, especially when we can’t realistically win the Europa? Get shot, move on.

  29. And I echo Dr. Gooner’s sentiments. And still the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal football club: we’d do well to remember that. He, more than anyone, ushered in the Premier League era with the most electric, exciting football yet seen in England.

    Imagine if he had left on a high, after beating Chelsea at Wembley in May. Shoulda, coulda, woulda. He as his chance and sadly for Arsenal didn’t take it.

    1. Should’ve left on a high when he won the FA cup in 2014. That would have been perfect. If he left in May 2017 it still would have been a year or two late, but manageable at least.

  30. turned the game off after the second goal; completely lost interest. the errors arsenal makes are not mistakes. they are the result of bad soccer. when you play bad soccer, it doesn’t matter how talented you are. you simply don’t see professional teams make the errors defensively and in midfield that arsenal makes every single match.

    as for the next coach, only patrick vieira will do. bring in dennis as an assistant. let’s put the band back together. i’ve always said i believed the so-called “wenger ball” was really bergkamp/vieira ball.

  31. Didn’t see the game and not because I’m vacationing in Cabo and the game wasn’t available to me , but rather because somehow spending two hours at some bar watching this Arsenal play was about as appealing as watching the half drunk Canadian tourists get the better of American ones in beach volleyball.

    So I’ve gone a full circle from planning my weekly schedule around Arsenal schedule and making regular trips to England from Chicago to watch them play, to a place where Im totally at peace not watching Arsenal play in a final at Wembley.

    A resounding no to Henry as a Wenger replacement.
    Great player but a terrible pundit with no coaching experience.
    Arteta? Maybe, and only because one can hope he’s picked up enough from Guardiola in two seasons to make a difference.

    But on the other hand I might just take a chance on just about anyone other than Wenger who’s is just destroying his legacy little by little now ,and if he stays beyond this season while having failed achieving his own minimum requirements two seasons running ( a fourth place ) by probably 10 points or so, then this could get ugly for him.

    To channel the” greatest “president this country has ever seen – sad, very sad.

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