After the positive tone of my previous post, it was perhaps inevitable that the team would go on to produce a collectively uninspiring opening game performance that delivered an unexpected early blow to the optimism built up by supporters during recent weeks.
One thing that could be expected following the poor result against West Ham, however, was the immediate reigniting of the civil war that has often raged between factions of the clubs fan base over the position of Arsene Wenger and was at its fiercest during the early part of last season.
Although the emphatic victory over Aston Villa at Wembley in May to secure a second consecutive FA Cup triumph, temporarily calmed the waters, it wasn’t long before further debate, about who had been proved correct by the turnaround in the second half of last season, ensued amongst Arsene’s supporters and critics.
The initial evidence, in terms of results, suggested that it was Wenger’s supporters who had been right all along but further analysis revealed it was somewhere between the two, after all, it was Arsene who remained at the helm but many of the deficiencies pointed out by his critics were starting to be rectified and it’s possible that had this happened last summer, more than a FA Cup success could have been achieved.
What I have always found patronising, are the comments surfacing from fellow Arsenal supporters which suggest even fans who regularly spend their hard earned money to watch the team aren’t qualified to criticise the judgement of Arsene simply because they haven’t managed professionally. To use an analogy, would a restaurant diner need to be a professional chef to criticise their food if it was presented to them in the same under cooked fashion that many believe the team were, metaphorically speaking, against the Hammers.
Although at times it seems like Arsenal supporters blame Wenger for everything and anything, I currently hold him responsible for yesterday’s rainfall and for running out of milk this morning, there are some criticisms that I do consider justifiable.
It easy for supporters to say that Wenger has no plan B, although many struggle when asked to suggest an alternative plan themselves, but in terms of his substitutions the criticism carries a significant element of truth, Arsene is often predictable with the timing of his changes, seventieth minute anyone, and frequently introduces like for like personnel from the bench.
What I have always been intrigued about, is what effect the sight of Arsene looking bereft of inspiration, whilst remaining slumped in his dugout chair, has on the players when they are struggling to find a breakthrough on the pitch, some will undoubtedly argue that the players are all highly paid professionals but it shouldn’t be forgotten that it is in the manager’s job description to give guidance and motivation.
It is well documented that there are many Arsenal supporters who have difficulty keeping any sense of perspective but an early season win or defeat, however impressive or disappointing, does not instantly transform a team from title contenders to a side staring at mid table obscurity as some would have you believe.
Despite Petr Cech’s less than convincing display on his Arsenal league debut, I maintain the belief that he has the quality and experience to bounce back to deliver a significant improvement on what either Szczesny or Ospina could offer over a season, however, both Petr and his defence will be well aware of the need to collectively improve on their latest showing.
For evidence that all teams have bad days at the office, look no further than Barcelona suffering a surprise four goal defeat against Athletico Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup and whilst I am in no way suggesting we are in the same class as the Spanish champions, I do believe we have the talent to bounce back.
I stand by my assessment that we are two players short from having a championship winning squad but with the transfer window still open, my fingers remain crossed that Arsene is working hard to add the missing pieces of the jigsaw, let’s hope he doesn’t disappoint us once again.
The opening day defeat may have rocked us on our heels but with thirty seven league games remaining, let’s not throw the towel in just yet….