Back in the day when I watched Spurs youth and even coached one of them, I used to think they played with a sense of entitlement. It was if they already thought they were ‘all that and a bag of chips’ before they’d actually achieved anything. Any setbacks and they would be at each other’s throats. Individually, they were skilled, but as a team mostly ineffective.
Arsenal, meanwhile, were formidable: full of warriors, who fought for the common cause. However, that was then.
Now look at Arsenal’s teams: full of Marcus Max-Maracases, but no real substance. Individually, Arsenal look good, but as a team they are not worth the paper issued to journalists in the press room.
The game against Man City exemplified what’s wrong at Arsenal and exposed the malaise. Xhaka switches off, then calls offside when the referee’s assistant has kept his flag down. The result? A goal against.
The anonymous Ozil is kept on, despite contributing something close to nothing. On this showing, the German is a waste of space. I’m so surprised that Wenger can’t see that. Not only that, but Ozil appeared to be arguing with team-mates. My lip-reading skills are not amazing, but I could have sworn he told a team to something ‘off’. Actually, off was what should have happened to him.
Instead, Wenger brings on Giroud and Wilshere with ten minutes remaining, leaving Ozil on. Why bother with ten minutes left?Very few players can produce that much in ten minutes. Wilshere tried, but he was being played too deep to have an impact. Meanwhile, Giroud seems bereft of confidence and service, so quite how he was going to score against City was beyond me.
The biggest mystery of all was that Arsenal’s most likely goal-scorer started on the bench. Lacazette is undoubtedly the Gunners’ biggest goal threat, so it was no surprise when he bagged the consolation goal. It’s just a shame the ropey City keeper wasn’t tested more. Had Lacazette started, it could have been different.
Instead Wenger played the out-of-form Sanchez as a central striker. Quite why he did that is anyone’s guess. Sanchez gifted the ball to the opponents, or let’s say ‘his future team-mates’, on more occasions than I would care to mention. However, he did at least go through the motions, which is more than you can say for Ozil.
Other poor performances were put in by Kolasinac, who was under-par (and probably injured) and Iwobi. However, I can’t knock the Nigeria International, as his non-stop running never ceases to impress.
Aside from those individual performances, I’d have to say that Wenger’s team could have a got a result if they were a team, but they’re not. They are a group of individuals masquerading as a team.
The fault lies with Wenger and probably ‘upstairs’: Allowing players like Sanchez and Ozil to continue to run down their contracts, while putting in half-baked performances is the epitome of gross mismanagement.
Given all of those circumstances, the rest of the team didn’t do that awfully: they gave City a run for their money (and they’ve got lots of it, of course) at times. However, that’s not really good enough and Wenger should learn one day that his way (no tactical plan and picking by pecking order) is not necessarily the best.
Right now, Wenger has been negligent enough to preside over a new culture of laziness at Arsenal, which reminds me of the old Spurs. Expect more headaches and heartaches if this attitude continues.