I have just read Alex`s article after the Norwich game. “Bad luck poor presentation or fragile English players”.
I was going to write a simple critique on the Norwich match but I found it difficult to avoid writing the same critiques that I wrote for previous games (West Brom, West Ham, and Sheffield Wednesday etc.) Alex has repeated the same points in his article and he refers to the fact that he remembers Wenger being accused of being naive tactically and a dinosaur in his training methods. He attributes the repeat injuries as being down to our English players being fragile and there is some merit in that but he discards the accusation that Wenger`s training methods are outdated.
Arsenal`s performances improved dramatically when purely by accident, Wenger found that Coquelin and Cazorla were a perfect fit in midfield and since then, they are a constant which he can rely upon and as long as Santi and Ozil remained fit we could scrape through the games in which the rest of the team were out of form. Prior to the recall of Coquelin he had not even considered such a pairing and in reality he recalled Coquelin as a desperate measure to plug a gap in midfield. Occasionally as against Man U and at home to Bayern Munich, we had the luxury of watching what this team could do when it is fired up. It is like a fine Swiss watch, perfectly engineered but fragile. If one of the parts is missing the watch does not work properly.
Unfortunately in the Arsenal watch, some parts have broken down and others are worn out. There are no replacements because the manager did not buy support parts. The watch is stuttering along with damaged parts and mis-fits. Arsenal is not a cheap watch. It would be not quite a Rolex but certainly a Rotary, Seiko or Citizen and it would be expected to contain first class parts.
This team does not perform because the watchmaker does not recognise the causes of its breakdowns. He used to stick to a policy of not making a substitution until 70 mins unless someone got injured when everyone but he knew that it was tactical naivety (or just plain arrogance). He finally could not withstand the evidence piling up against him and he began to vary his policy. There then arose mounting criticism of the medical team and the fact that we annually rack up more hamstring injuries that any other team. He brought in a new medical team but the Ex-Welsh National team trainer came out and said that his training methods were the cause of the hamstrings. Raymond Verheijen said it in March 2104 and he has repeated his claims yesterday. A professional had come out and confirmed what many thought, but Arsene disparaged his advice and we have had Ramsey, Alexis and the Ox come down with hamstring injuries since then.
As I recall, Ramsey was back after he had already been off with a hamstring and he went down again with the same injury. He had complained of a tight hamstring before it happened. Alexis did the same and he played both of them with the inevitable result. It is possible that he took a calculated risk because there was no one on the bench to replace them. That was his own fault because he was the only manager in the whole of Europe who did not sign an outfield player. Alex now says that with Kos, Cazorla and Arteta coming back we may be able to cope until the long term injured get back. We should not be praying for rescue at this stage. We have a team which should by general consent have been competing with Man City for the title. If we were, and we did win the title, Arsene will be credited as a genius who assembled the most attractive team in the premiership and won the league playing his kind of football. If he is entitled to the plaudits then he is equally entitled to the brickbats.
His training methods should be amended. He should sign a CF and a DM. He should concentrate on Gabriel and get him to be able to play with Mertesacker when Kos is off. He clearly can`t at present. He has to stamp out the sideways – backwards play and be more positive when moving forward. Time after time against NORWICH when we had Ozil or Monreal or Santi, (until he went off), running forward with the ball, they had no one in the centre to pass it too. No one had advanced along with them. I ask you. This was Norwich we were playing. Why were the midfield and defence anchored in their own half? Arsene claimed afterwards that Norwich had played physically and they defended well and caught us on the break (how often have we heard that?). Actually all they did was play two rows of 4 and they attacked when we lost the ball. That happened frequently because most times Giroud was on his own amidst two or three defenders.
This is the worst year to my knowledge as far as the standard of play by the main contenders is concerned. Manchester City and Arsenal should have been clear of the pack by now if they had played to their potential and my sports handicapping picks still suggest they are the 2 favourites. It is hard to fathom why City are so poor but in our case, all the evidence is that it is the mistakes by Arsene Wenger which has caused our demise. Don`t forget he signed Petr Cech and then played Ospina in our 2 most important games which undoubtedly cost us certain qualification.
Like Alex, I pray that the returning players will rescue our season, but I would not hold my breath. Wait is Theo back in training???