Disrespectful Wenger dodges Reading bullet in unnecessarily hairy FA Cup Semi-Final

Arséne made several changes to the team that won at Turf Moor last week. Szczesny for Ospina I understand. I don’t agree with it, but I understand. He likes to have a different cup keeper for some reason so this was no surprise. After that the changes ranged from slightly baffling to downright incomprehensible.

We’ll start with the baffling.

Welbeck for Giroud

I understand that Reading were likely to play a high line. They did at times play quite high and this presented us with a chance or two, but they retreated very fast when they lost the ball and left little or no space in behind. This meant that Welbeck couldn’t utilise his pace and he was largely a passenger in the game until he was taken off after 72 minutes.

Giroud made an impact as soon as he came on, and I felt that he was more effective in his first 10 minutes alone than Welbeck had been in 72.
I also found it odd that we played Welbeck instead of Giroud considering how narrow we had set up. Ramsey and Alexis tend to come inside a lot and use Giroud to play off of. Welbeck isn’t great with his back to goal, so this was another reason Welbeck’s inclusion was odd.

If Wenger had opted to play Walcott for example, (I’m not saying he should have) and used him and Alexis to really stretch the Reading back four and play balls for Danny into the gaps between them I could have understood his inclusion.

Reading v Arsenal - FA Cup Semi Final

Perhaps Welbeck was supposed to make runs inside to out to pull the opposition about and create gaps for Rambo and Alexis. Maybe he was supposed to make runs across the line. Who knows what instructions he had. Either way he had a bad game and Wenger was right to sub him. He doesn’t seem to have been right starting him in the first place though.

Gibbs for Monreal

I understand that Gibbs is arguably better than Monreal going forward. I understand that Arséne expected to dominate the game, and that Gibbs would be able to use his attacking instincts to great effect, however what I don’t understand is changing a back four (five if you include Coquelin) that hasn’t lost a domestic match since early February.

gibbs mistake

I also didn’t understand the thinking behind throwing Gibbs into the first 11 when he hasn’t started a game for roughly a month. The Reading players may not be too class, (neither is Gibbs) but they were match fit and sharp. Gibbs wasn’t.

Gibbs’s inclusion also tells me that Arséne considered our left side secure, which was a gamble considering how often Gibbs gets caught ahead of the play.

Debuchy for Bellerin

This was the change that for me was incomprehensible for several reasons. Bellerin didn’t deserve to lose his place in the team. He’s been outstanding, he’s scored the odd goal and he defends very well.

As I mentioned above, Wenger was messing with a proven back line. Then there’s the fact that Debuchy has been out for three months. There was no way he could have been considered fit or sharp enough for a game of this magnitude. I get that it was against Reading, sitting 18th in the Championship and in terrible form, but one must sometimes consider the occasion and location as well as the opposition.
An FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. If ever a game deserved our current best 11, this was it.

For me, Arséne Wenger disrespected Reading when selecting Debuchy over Bellerin. He is a very good player, a French international, but he hadn’t played for months. He didn’t even have Bellerin or at least Chambers on the bench! Debuchy looked tired after 60 minutes but we had no-one to replace him with. Why was a player who hasn’t played in months thrown into the starting line-up for a cup game that had the potential to last 120 minutes with no cover? It was a huge risk and it nearly cost us.


Forgetting that he lost the ball on a number of occasions including the build-up to their goal, he looked rusty and he was targeted on a number of occasions.

Like I said, Arséne showed a distinct lack of respect for the opposition when making his team selection, and but for a huge mistake by the Reading goalkeeper we could have ended up deciding the game with penalties.

A win is a win, and we have all week to recover from extra time before we take on Chelsea at home, so I’m not worried that we played 120 minutes, I’m just worried about the attitude that the manager displayed when thinking about his opponent. I’m also worried that he played Debuchy in order to give him some practice before he plays him against Hazard next weekend.

Anyway I shouldn’t moan too much. We’re going back to Wembley for another final, (more by luck than judgement).

Feel free to follow me on twitter (@CaptainDeeg). I always follow back and I’m more likely to respond to a tweet if we’re follow buddies. I’ll write another blog midweek to cover tactics etc, (unless someone else does a good job of it before I get round to it).

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16 Responses to Disrespectful Wenger dodges Reading bullet in unnecessarily hairy FA Cup Semi-Final

  1. Scott Von Gooner April 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    I think at some point you do need to rotate, a perfect game for Gibbs, Welbeck, Debuchy to get some play. We are in the final, not a lot of teams are left ( looking around and I don’t see City, Chelsea,Manure, Pool etc.) Wenger has done a great job this season. I think second guessing team selection at this point is borderline silly. JMO. That being said,very good read though and interesting . Keep up the good work. P.S. I do think Ospina makes that save. Szcz made me nervous the entire game.

  2. Steve April 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

    Lucky you aren’t the one paid £6m+ to make decisions on which players start each week

  3. Erol April 19, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    I can’t believe I wasted my time to read this. Arsenal fans are the worst at supporting their teams and the best at throwing them underneath a bus.

  4. ljb April 19, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    If Wenger pisses about with the team for the final we will lose.He is incapable of motivating the players to perform at Wembley.Bottlers the lot of them.Villas pace will cause us problems,wouldn’t be surprised if we capitulate.He should resign if we lose,simple.Lets get Klopp in.

  5. OlegYch April 19, 2015 at 8:34 pm #

    i fail to see how is this a gunners blog after this publication

    • Dave Seager April 19, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

      Don’t be so over dramatic. Arsenal is a broad church and all views and opinions are welcome

  6. Victor Okeke April 19, 2015 at 8:35 pm #

    I Think Second Guessing A Team Selection Is Putting It Mildly. It Is Chroning Fault Finding IMO. And This Is The Eternal Halmark Of The English Press. When Welbeck Was Signed From ManU, The Whole Of English Press Including 95% Of Arsenal Blog Sites Were Routing For Him To Be Made Our Main Striker. Today Arsene Has Committed Unpardonable Sin For Playing Him. Talk Of The Incomprehensible!!! I’m Surprised You Didn’t Blame The Manager For Debuchy’s Shoulder Injury Or Giroud Toe Injury Earlier In The Season.

    Instead Of Diminishing The Efforts Of The Manager, I Think This Is The Time To Give Him The Respect He Has Earned Over The Years And Especially In The Course Of This Current Campaign. How He Has Steadied The Ship And Navigated The Team Through The Period Of Injury Early On Is Unbelievable And Certainly Praiseworthy.

    The Team Undoubtedly Deserves Our Solid Support At This Time For The Synergy They Have Found Together So That They Can Successfully Coast To The End Of The Campaign And Achieve Their Targets.

  7. Yawn April 19, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    Disrespectful? That’s the same time bar Debuchy he played against United in the last round? What was disrespectful. Ridiculous post, the same tired old posts for keyboard fans who dont go to games, watch on tv but barely look at the game ‘cos they’re too busy tweeting their inane opinions.

    100% Welbeck needed to start. As did Szez. As did Gibbs. These players need game time in matches like this. And Debuchy needed to get match-fit for the run in. And I was surprised Gabriel didn’t start. And had Per not got injured I’m sure Jack would’ve come on after 70mins too.

    Maybe Reading was a tougher nut to crack than expected, but again the media made it sound we were on the brink of losing. They barely had a shot on goal, we hit the woodwork three times, their keeper made two astounding saves before the howler and the first half was a one-sided stroll.

    Officially the most succesful club in FA Cup history.
    17 wins in 19 games.
    But Gooners still bitch like bitches.

  8. Eddie April 19, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    We don’t always have to agree on this forum. It also worries me that not much seems to have been learnt from the Monaco disaster! We are very lucky to be in the final. An unnecessary risk indeed!

  9. hamas April 19, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    I agree entirely with your article. Arsene made mistakes in his selections particularly, the lack of cover for Debuchy during the match.

  10. SY4 April 19, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    I am fine with Bellerin being dropped as he looks tired and he was poor in his last game

    Danny was a risk that didn’t pay off but we have Chelsea at the weekend – we have to balance the squad

  11. makawa206 April 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Having read this post, I can understand why some of the replies are negative. This post reads like the pundits on BBC.
    It breaks my heart as a long life gunners fan to see the negativity that surrounds our great club, it breaks my heart to see that the negativity is coming from long life gooners like myself. I admit watching the game was hard and at times I had my hand in my mouth.
    One thing I do know is that when it comes to cup games, teams don’t roll over to have their bellies tickled and go home and be happy that they turned up. What we fail to understand is that despite the gulf in class, any competitor will give everything on the day so that they can go home knowing that they gave it everything.
    I saw how Ian Wright looked so disappointed and thought, “dude if you are an arsenal fan you should be happy we are through to the finals”.
    I remember watching this same team turn over united, the same players looked so good on the day, away at Old Trafford, today we are complaining about Arsene being disrespectful. You forget that the season is not over, you forget that we will need, Gibbs, Welbeck, Debuchy, Wilshere, Walcott, Diaby, Rosicky. You forget that BELLERIN has played his first season at the top. You forget that when we needed Bellerin at Stoke with a physical front line he was found wanting. You forget the some people said that Nacho was not an Arsenal player and Gibbs should be ahead of him. Have you forgotten that Giroud got booed of the pitch after the Monaco game.

    To all my fellow gooners, lets support our great club until the season is over, then you can start to moan and groan as much as you can this is not the time for moaning and groaning, this is the time to applaud, cheer and get behind the team.

  12. GCC April 20, 2015 at 12:03 am #

    dont think wenger was disrespectful at all. he picked welbeck i feel cos he did well against man utd. wenger has tended to do that in the past for the fa cup with rotation quite important to keep a team fresh. the way it worked out bringing giroud on strengthened the team than weaken it with welbeck had he been on the sub bench.

    for gibbs for monreal i think whilst monreal’s been in great form. gibbs showed last year his good form. this year monreal’s been the 1 more in form but gibbs has been doing better attackingly stats wise i think.

    for debuchy instead of bellerin. it seems wenger picked debuchy cos bellerin was in the dreaded “red zone” with a couple ankle problems.

  13. EIE April 21, 2015 at 7:32 am #

    Best to ban all the African points of view on here as theiy’re too thick, Wenger is a joke tactically as a manager and should resign. Wenger Out!

    • Dave Seager April 21, 2015 at 7:34 am #

      Racist and pointless.


  1. No semi is easy – Team changes, impressive Reading and Martin Twatkinson made this one harder… | Gunners Town - April 20, 2015

    […] You can read more on why it was wrong to rotate yesterday here (link, Captain Deeg). […]

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