No one seriously believed Wenger would outwit Mourinho, did they? Arsenal’s record against Jose teams is abysmal and, although the Gunners had put together a decent run at the Emirates, it was bound to end in tears and jeers. Actually, there wasn’t that much jeering, although, Arsenal, defensively, were poor at the start and fell behind to two early goals, losing Mustafi to injury in the process.
I blamed Cech for one of the goals that went through his legs while, at the other end, De Gea was world class. Had the two teams swapped keepers, the result could have been very different. That’s all ‘ifs, buts and maybes’, but that’s all Arsenal fans have nowadays: only thoughts of what could have been, if the club had the gumption and willingness to bring the best quality players to the club. Cech was once world class, but based on yesterday, you’d have to say he’s not at the same level as De Gea. Cech is a step up from Ospina, that’s all. Wenger seems determined to prove that you can win titles without a top keeper, but the experiment has never worked. For example, Jens Lehmann was a top keeper, but even he was not in the same league as De Gea. However, Jens was a winner, who was still young enough to help Arsenal to the title. Cech, meanwhile, was let go by Chelsea for a reason: he’s not top-drawer anymore.
Of course, Cech was not helped by Mustafi’s sloppy defending. Was it a coincidence that he became injured after being dispossessed? He must be nursing an emotional injury as well as a physical one, after that display.
Like much of the team, Arsenal players only turn up when they feel like it. Sanchez, for example, does not look half the player he was. His contractual situation has certainly taken the edge off his game. I’m surprised that the management has failed to notice. If Arsenal is truly run like a business, then he should have been sold with Ozil in the summer, at the latest. Obviously, there needs to be a re-think at the club to ensure this situation never happens again, but it appears that Arsenal have lost the capacity to learn from their mistakes on the transfer front.
One success though was Lacazette. The Frenchman, teed up by Ramsey, took his goal well, and lasted the whole game despite his ‘injury’. Like Mourinho indicated after the game, it is hard to trust Arsenal’s medical department nowadays. They say Lacazette is definitely out and then he plays the entire match. Of course, it was probably a ruse by Wenger to ruin Mourinho’s meticulous planning, but it didn’t work.
Mourinho’s plan seemed to be to press Arsenal’s defence and force them into mistakes. After his side took the lead, it was game over. Jose’s teams rarely let a two-goal lead slip.
Overall, Wenger can say it was a good performance but, ultimately, it’s all about the points. Once again, Arsenal were found wanting in that department. The game proved that Arsenal are streets behind United, and that’s down to a lack of tactics, poor recruitment and having the two best players running down their contracts. Based on this showing, the Gunners will be hard pressed to finish fourth.