A Case of Preventable DEJA VU for Wenger who now admits he was wrong

Dejected Players thanks to Wenger

Dejected Players thanks to Wenger

I have just watched Arsenal disintegrate against Southampton in a way which takes me back to the worst of our defensive performances i.e. Liverpool, Man U, Man City and Chelsea. Throw in Monaco and Dynamo Zagreb just for fun.

Ironically, as I sat at my PC I noticed Timothy Hargreaves article about defensive discipline. I read the article before I started to write and it was uncanny how Tim identified every player on the Southampton team who could damage us. He also mentioned the weakness of having Mertesacker against speedy forwards like Long and Mane. Tim hoped that our defence would cater for Mertesecker`s lack of pace and that our midfielders would cover for it. Apparently we cannot utilise Gabriel in that role because of language difficulties.

Language Difficulties?

Language Difficulties?

Since we lost Santi and Le Coq the cover for central defence went with them. Flamini and Ramsey have managed to plaster over the open wound in our defence until tonight. Unfortunately we came up against a club and a team which is noted for its football. We have benefited from that club and at one time in the match we had three of their former players on the pitch at the same time. Tonight Southampton had worked out a plan to halt their recent decline and they executed it perfectly. They packed their midfield and defended their goal by nullifying Ozil. They were physical when they had to be and Wanyama steam-rolled his way through our midfield. Flaming (unlike his recent performances) could not land a blow and Ramsey was left on his own to try to deal with their advances.

Flamini ineffective after good recent efficient recent outings

Flamini ineffective after good recent efficient recent outings

We were disjointed from the outset and there was a general malaise of poor passing throughout the team which caused us to lose possession. The pressure put on our forwards by their defence was made easier because a lot of the time, Campbell, Walcott and Giroud had to chase wayward balls which failed to reach them. There was no cohesion between midfield and attack and therefore their defence mopped up the loose balls and transferred them swiftly to their midfielders who in turn played long balls over our midfield into the gap left by Mertesacker and to which Long and Mane ran. The tall German was repeatedly stranded whilst Long in particular ran gleefully away from him. Koscielny had to try to make up the ground for him and he was often caught on the turn and desperately trying to deal with a striker in full flight. Does this sound familiar? We thought that we had eliminated this type of play but this was a re-run of our worst performances.

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It was merely by accident that the pairing of Coquelin and Cazorla came about, but it provided a barrier in front of our back four and in Santi a means of maintaining possession whilst also providing a springboard to attack. The rest of the team learned to play with them, particularly Ozil and Ramsey. Our full backs improved their performances because they were not being swamped by the supporting players who came behind the runners. Monreal has been the most improved player because he has been defending in a defence which was no longer subject to panic and like Bellerin his attacking qualities added to our offensive threat. The Southampton players did not have to be clever. They only had to play the simple strategy that Koeman had devised. It was one dimensional but it worked as it has repeatedly by other teams and the answer to it was in our medical room. Even if Wenger wanted to change the course of the game he did not have the answer on the bench. That was proved because when he did try his subs it got even worse.

The defensive barrier missed

The defensive barrier missed

It is certain that other managers will have seen this result and will take note. This was to be the occasion when we took over the lead in the race to the title. Instead we sit amidst the ashes of a disaster. It was one which could and should have been avoided. I understand that Wenger now accepts that he needs one or even two defensive midfielders and he will try to get them in the coming transfer window. The world and his dog knew that he should have done that in June. He is now trying to make up lost ground when he should have been cementing our place at the head of the league and we should have won our qualifying group. We beat Bayern at home but we lost the second leg with a much weakened team. We should not have lost against Dynamo or Olympiakos. I suggest that we would not have done so. According to the press we could have signed Grzegorz Krychowiak last year for £22m but as he has signed an extension to his contract since then. He will now cost £33m!

Wenger was wrong not to buy

Wenger was wrong not to buy

Weger said recently that when he considered the midfielders he already had, it would have cost a lot of money to buy anyone better than he had. I`m not a mathematician or an accountant but how was it good practice to pass on a player for £22m and then go in for him at £33m 6 months later?

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9 Responses to A Case of Preventable DEJA VU for Wenger who now admits he was wrong

  1. AB December 27, 2015 at 9:47 am #

    The answer to your final question is – we won’t. No way will we pay £30m for a DM.

  2. isaac94 December 27, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Shut the f*** up. Your article is crap! When arsenal wins, you hail wenger and the team. When the lose, y’all refer back to the dry summer transfer season. For once, just write articles sensibly. Southampton were better yes? But clubs have bad days.

    • Victor Thompson December 27, 2015 at 11:48 am #

      Thank you Isaac for taking the time to read my article. I understand that you disagree with me but your point of view would have been better presented without the introduction. At least I try to explain my point of view when I write. I cannot see anything constructive in your comment which would persuade me to change my view.

      I do take the point that you say that when Arsene wins I hail him and the team. That indicates that you have read some of my articles and I am grateful for that. I do not have a licence to denigrate Arsene without cause and I would not do so. I criticise him when I have something to say which I feel is constructive. It is my opinion; but just as I feel the need to do so, I also feel that justice demands that I compliment him when he gets things right. That to me, is a balanced view. I am sorry that your lacks any kind of balance.

      Victor Thompson

  3. Steve. December 27, 2015 at 10:35 am #

    Wenger says there was two reasons Arsenal lost against Southampton,I disagree, just one Arsene,
    ( JUST ABSOLUTE RUBBISH) If you had been manager of any of the big clubs they would have sacked you.

  4. Bakri December 27, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    Wenger is the only football manger who feels safe in his position what ever happened and was satisfied that Arsenal was in the top four and won nothing for the last eleven years . After losing 4-0 against Southampton he blamed the referee and the players and taking no responsibility himself . Wenger is now the highest payed manager in the premier league and why we do not know . Wenger now spent two decades at Arsenal and when will he go nobody knows.

  5. Jeremy December 27, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Brilliant article. The sad thing is that history keeps on repeating itself with Wenger’s myopic views. The best chance for us to win the league this year considering what is happening at our rivals… he seems to be throwing it away as he did in the past most notably when Eduardo was injured a few seasons ago… why didn’t he sign two outfield players in June….why does he stick to his “template” as Fergie says…why didn’t he try something different last night….where are our youth players to relieve our senior players as some are clearly tired….

  6. Timothy Hargreaves December 27, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Victor.

    Your article was spot on. Thank you for the kind words about mine too! My dad is from the south-west of England and so, by default, he supports the team, or teams as it is this season as there are two now (including Bournemouth, who are closer to his home town) closest to where he’s from that is in the Premier League. As such, I have seen Southampton a number of times this season. I also know that Ronald Koeman is a clever manager who, if provided with the resources that Southampton has, can put together a team that can compete for the Europa League places, which is where I think Southampton will end up this season despite their poor start and lack of form in the earlier stages of this Premier League season (i.e. “doing an Everton”). I think their poor form can be partially attributed to the number of players they have had missing through injury, including Frazer Forster, who could well have saved them some points.

    I think Sevilla will not sell Krychowiak for less than £40 million now, as they know Arsenal will try to get him this window and they have no real need to sell the player. I think more realistic targets would be Jeremy Toulalan and Maxime Gonalons, both of whom provide leadership qualities in addition to being strong, tall holding midfield players who can also play as auxiliary centre-backs. Toulalan is not a young player, only slightly younger than Arteta, but he would plug a gap for us for 2 years or so (much like Remi Garde did when he came to Arsenal), while Gonalons is 26 and so could potentially play for Arsenal for a number of years to come. The Clubs they are from (Monaco and Lyon, respectively) both have some money troubles, unlike Sevilla, so they could be persuaded to sell – both, however, are Cup-tied for European matches, but our pressing need is to be able to field experience in the Premier League. Lyon are already out of the Champions League and may well need the cash to pay off stadium loans (how familiar!), while Monaco do not have the Roubles they once had. Another bonus is that, to my knowledge, Toulalan played with Nacho Monreal and Santi Cazorla at Malaga.

    I don’t feel Bielik is ready for the Premier League and, despite a lot of Arsenal’s younger players being loaned out, I feel only Isaac Hayden could possibly play the holding midfield role, but Toulalan and Gonalons could play it much better at the moment.

  7. Victor Thompson December 27, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    Thanks Timothy, I have relatives in Southampton. I do have a soft spot for them. I agree that Koeman is a clever and astute manager. He has managed to do “a Wenger” with limited resources and to cope with having to sell his best players.

    I am grateful for your comments on the various mid fielders, some of whom I have noted previously, but I wonder which of them he will sign ( if any ). I get a feeling that Arsene will not sign anyone if he feels he is being coerced to do so especially by the media. It is a good thing that sites like Gunnerstown provide a media for fans to voice their opinions because it sometimes feels as if the club does not listen to them.

  8. DEW December 27, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Arsenal defense is always bad. It must be noted that it is not related with players, it is the tactic implemented. Especially, the team doesn’t know how to close down opponent teams at the mid field. It is humiliating when they play against big teams. In 2015 Arsenal is defending deep against big teams and some good results have been obtained. But now small teams are becoming a problem, because arsenal want to play their football hoping that their weakness is not exploited. But it was exploited yesterday, and it is some what embarrassing. Since 6-3 elimination by Barcelona, I was hopping that Arsene will correct his team defense problem, but nothing has changed. There was some hope against Astonvilla for the FA cup final, but I think that he already surrendered for the problem by defending deep. So don’t blame the players please, it is not fair. With a way we are playing now I dare to say that beating small teams and big teams in PL have relative equal chances.

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