I have wanted Arsene replaced as our manager since the year 2011, with the 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford that year, being the final straw. In the years that have followed, my opinion on Wenger and his position has not wavered and neither has my support for the club. Yet it is those of us who want him gone, who are frequently called fickle by those who believe he is still the man to take us forward.
Unfortunately, for Arsene, the majority of his supporters disappeared at the time when he needed them the most, which was when we lost 5 out of 6 games prior to our win against AC Milan. However, after winning six games in a row and securing the draw in Moscow that took us through to the Europa League semi finals, they unsurprisingly, all resurfaced. If that is not being fickle, then I do not know what is. Those who claim to wholeheartedly support Arsene should do exactly that. Win, lose or draw.
Now, I am sure that the regular readers of Gunners Town will undoubtedly suggest that I have been very quiet during our recent winning run. Members of the Arsenal supporter group on Facebook, that I am one of the admin on, will testify that this certainly has not been the case. They will also confirm that it is extremely evident from my frequent posts on the group that at no stage has my desire to see Arsene vacate his position as manager, dwindled.
Whilst I am always happy when we win, the recent results and performances have done nothing to alter my opinion that this season should be Arsene’s last. Hopefully ending with him concluding his tenure with a long awaited European trophy success. Sadly, he is unlikely to go anywhere whatever the outcome of our Europa League campaign. Despite our recent victories, some very poor sides have still frequently exposed our goalkeeping and defensive deficiencies and I do not have any confidence in Arsene and his coaching staff, being able to rectify them next season.
Those deficiencies were once again evident during our defeat against Newcastle. A lack of tactical nous amongst our manager, his coaching staff and the players themselves, was also apparent. The home side’s tactics were clear from very early in the game, with their game plan to get the ball as quickly as possible to Jonjo Shelvey, who then played a long ball over the top. The supporters could see it, why wasn’t it equally obvious the management or the players? If they could see it, they did not appear to react to it by attempting to prevent it.
I have seen some of Arsene’s supporters putting our poor defending at Newcastle down to the absence of Laurent Koscielny and Hector Bellerin. In reality, our defending as a collective unit has been atrocious for most of the season and it has not mattered what personnel has made up the defence. Koscielny is not the player he once was and he is not a natural leader either. Why was Bellerin rested anyway with there being a week until our next fixture?
The same question should be asked about Mesut Ozil with Aaron Ramsey not included due to the injury he sustained in Moscow. I asked both questions before the start of the game and questioned why both players were not left out against West Ham instead. With our Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid following that game, surely it would have made more sense to let them sit that one out instead. The same could be said about Danny Welbeck, who has been amongst the goals of late.
For large parts of the game, we looked the better team against Newcastle but we did not test their goalkeeper enough and had a lot of possession without being productive with it. How often has that been said that about us? It is simple, if you cannot defend then you are always likely to lose games that you perhaps do not deserve to. We probably did not deserve to lose but we did not certainly did not deserve to win it either.
The attitude from the Arsene Knows Brigade is that the defeat did not matter because we had a weakened side out and that the game meant more to Newcastle. It is that attitude that keeps Arsene in his job. A win or defeat for either club would not have been season defining but when your team hasn’t picked up a single point away from home since the turn of the year, most supporters would be concerned about the direction their club is heading. Perhaps not if you support Arsene more than you support Arsenal however.
Fed up with the new – buy the old!
I have seen Shkodran Mustafi mentioned as a possible candidate for our captaincy but he’s an accident waiting to happen and very prone to lapses of concentration that seem to come at crucial moments during games. If Shkodran cannot eradicate these lapses from his game, he should not be anywhere near our team, let alone our captaincy. Even the cool headed, and usually reliable Nacho Monreal, appears to have developed a nervousness of late, when playing alongside him.
Whilst Mohamed Elneny has shown signs of improvement recently, the same cannot be said about Jack Wilshere. If you take away the songs about Spurs and the fact he has desire, what has he actually done of late? He has looked off the pace and lethargic. If he wasn’t English, then I have no doubts that Jack would have received far more criticism from supporters than he has done. The truth is that if he does not improve, you have to ask yourself what it is we would be losing in the summer, were he to leave. After a handful of promising games, his form has fallen short of expectations.
Petr Cech is not the goalkeeper he once was and has not been for some time. Some believe David Ospina should be given a run in the side but he is not good enough either. Like Cech, he cannot kick a ball but unfortunately, he can’t catch one either. If Matt Macey is not better than those two, now then I am afraid he is no good to us. A new goalkeeper and several defenders are necessary in the summer. We have long been crying out for a specialist defensive midfielder too. However, none of these is likely to make too much difference unless a new manager joins them.
Some supporters have foolishly told me that if I am serious about wanting Wenger gone then I should be happy with anyone coming in to replace him. When you believe your team needs a new centre forward, you want them to sign someone who you believe to better than who you already have and the same logic applies for a new manager. I have never been in the anyone but Wenger camp. I want a manager who I believe is capable of taking us forward; I am talking a Massimiliano Allegri, rather than a Brendan Rodgers.
It’s not all doom and gloom though and there are signs of a very promising partnership developing between Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With Alexandre looking far happier playing his football now that he has Pierre-Emerick up there alongside him. Before Aubameyang’s arrival, Lacazette had looked frustrated and isolated and noticeably short of confidence. I am probably in the minority here but I think there has been signs of improvement from Granit Xhaka of late too. Although further improvement is still required.
We also still have an opportunity to end the season with a trophy and I have been criticised for not being overly confident that we will overcome Atletico Madrid. If we turn up and play to the best of our ability then yes, of course we can beat them but we’ve been let down so many times by the team during the season, that it’s impossible for me not to be apprehensive. I keep being told that it is a semi-final so the players will be up for it.
Just like they were supposed to be when we played Spurs away and Manchester City in the league cup final this year. After a season of disappointment, the players owe us a few performances but only time will tell whether we get them…..