Starting to Question Wenger’s Judgement – 4 Major Blindspots


The longer I spend reflecting on our two disappointing results against Hull City and Barcelona, the more I find myself not only questioning Arsene’s judgement but his comments to the media too.

Arsene’s decision to make nine changes to the team to face Hull was somewhat expected with Barcelona on the horizon. Despite this being the case, many supporters hold the opinion that Arsene should always play his strongest available team regardless of who we are due to face in upcoming fixtures. Whilst I can see both sides of the argument, it is not overly relevant to what I’m about to discuss.

In recent years it has become increasingly common for clubs to play their second choice goalkeepers in domestic cup competitions and in some ways I have no issues with Arsene following suit. My concerns lie with the identity of Petr Cech’s understudy, namely David Ospina, and I believe the manager has got things very wrong in this respect.

Not good enough

Not good enough

Some readers will perhaps consider it unusual to criticise Ospina’s performance after a game where he kept a clean sheet and played a minimal role in proceedings. However, on the one noticeable occasion where he was called upon, he unconvincingly flapped at a routine aerial ball into the box. As far as I’m concerned there is absolutely no mileage in playing him because he shouldn’t have a future at the club beyond this season.

Arsene has previously stated that Ospina has a future as number one at the club. If this is the case then it is evident that he still has a blind spot where top class goalkeepers are concerned. This would also add to the popular theory that Cech wouldn’t have arrived at the club had he not been presented to Arsene on a platter.

There are some supporters who praise Ospina for his performances during the second half of last season. My belief is that those supporters have focused more on the results achieved by the team, during his run of appearances, than the actual quality of his individual performances, which were far from convincing. For those who say he makes very few mistakes that lead directly to goals, it is worth noting Spurs away along with the matches against Swansea and West Brom at home last season and few can forget Olympiakos at home in the current campaign.

In my opinion a better option would have been to have sold Ospina last summer, installed Damian Emiliano Martinez as our new number two and made Matt Macey available for loan in order to gain first team experience. The two youngsters may lack experience but both have the height to offer the physical presence I consider necessary for a goalkeeper and Martinez in particular has very strong hands. Two attributes that Ospina doesn’t have and never will.



The signing of Mohamed Elneny is an intriguing one too, mainly because it’s beginning to look like he was signed as an extra body to offer cover, opposed to a player who could make the difference in either the Premier League or the Champions League. A competition he is eligible for but still failed to make the bench for, in midweek. If he doesn’t offer an immediate improvement on Mikel Arteta or Mathieu Flamini then why sign him?

Having now seen Elneny play a handful of times, I’m not entirely sure where he will fit in once everyone is fit. He doesn’t appear to be a ball winning midfielder or one who is likely to be a frequent goalscorer, even despite his willingness to shoot from distance. He’s a player who keeps things simple and one I’d describe as neat and tidy but does he really give us something that we didn’t have before his arrival? At least he’s young enough to improve and it is of course still very early in his Arsenal career so hopefully he has more in his locker than what we’ve seen so far.

Another decision of Arsene’s that I don’t understand is his recent treatment of Joel Campbell. Having initially been a critic of the Costa Rican, I believe his improved performances should have earned him more game time than he’s been getting recently. It is even odder when Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are consistently performing below par.

Why poor treatment of JC?

Why poor treatment of JC?

Whilst the number of chances being created by the team recently, particularly in home fixtures, has been very encouraging, the team’s conversion rate has been less than impressive. In the recent home games with Southampton and Hull City, we created enough chances to have won both games comfortably but somehow failed to score a solitary goal and it was a familiar scenario against Barcelona where a handful of openings were also wasted. Something you simply can’t get away with at the highest level. This frequent lack of composure and wastefulness in front of goal continues to pour scorn on Arsene’s public declaration about having four world class forwards at his disposal and I wish he would stop embarrassing himself by making comments of this type.

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It is not only Arsene’s comments about our forwards that many Arsenal supporters find difficult to digest but also his post-match remarks about the team being naive during the midweek defeat against Barcelona. This is an experienced team and after a likely sixth successive exit at the early stages of the Champions League knockout phase, it is evidently not only the team who have a lot to learn about top level European competition but the manager too.

Thankfully we return to domestic action this weekend and where better than Old Trafford to start turning our chances into goals…..

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5 Responses to Starting to Question Wenger’s Judgement – 4 Major Blindspots

  1. DEW February 28, 2016 at 11:58 am #

    I agree on most of your points, I think Ramsey or Welbeck is better on the wing than JC. JC is a great player but he has his own weaknesses as well. I guess JC may be good at the Ozil position.

  2. Victor Thompson February 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm #

    I am replying to this article immediately after being stuffed by Man Utd, infants. They reminded us of what it is like to want to win, to pass the ball accurately and to point out where the net is. At the end of the game, they were humiliating our players by tippy tapping the ball around while our experienced stars ran about like headless chickens.

    Not one of our players except perhaps Ozil could make a pass without a Man U player getting in the way. It may have surprised our guys but when the opposition closes you down and denies you room, one of the consequences is that your passes are made hurriedly and under pressure. They should try that some time. Their youngsters actually knew how to receive a pass and control it. They didn`t need two touches. Sanchez almost always had to chase the ball once it bounced off his shin. When one of them did manage to control and pass to one of his own players, it was frequently back or sideways. It is so boring to have to keep repeating this but even Wenger has admitted it.

    Well, that is another title bid over and please don`t try to say that it is not over yet. This team has no balls and its manager is a liability now. I`m sorry but he cannot live on past glories. His team ( this team ) needs serious surgery. There is a general malaise within it which Tony Adams would never have tolerated. I know he was a one off, but we need someone like him, preferably british and local. I believe that Spurs will win the title this year and the problem for us is that they have a young, fresh and hard team made up of guys who fight for their club. Unless moves are made soon, we are heading for uncomfortable years looking up at them.

    Those of you who still support Wenger, I would ask- are you content to finish in the top 4 every year? That might have been alright when Spurs were qualifying for The Losers Cup every year. It is a different scenario now and would you be happy to see Spurs ahead of us? Next week will be a defining moment and I challenge the players we have, to show some steel when we play them. Remember that we have been ahead of Spurs for 30 years, long before Arsene Wenger arrived so there is no reason that we could be there again with a better manager. We have a much harder run in than them and I cannot see this spineless bunch having the resolve to keep us in front of them.

    I would also point out for anyone who hasn`t noticed it, we were generally acknowledged to be capable of passing any team to death when we were playing to our potential. Since the 3-0 defeat of Utd. we have not repeated that performance and indeed many teams are better at passing than we are. We saw that today.

    I am no Piers Morgan but I would implore Arsene to move aside. Don`t wait to be sacked. Let someone who knows how to motivate players take over. Your time has come and gone and if you will not go, you will not be remembered kindly, despite all that you have achieved for the club. It is a fact of life that we die to make room for the young and to let them grow wings to fly. The green shoots have to be be allowed to blossom and the evidence is that you are hindering their growth. After so many years of winning just two FA Cups it is obvious that you cannot produce a title winner. Be big enough to admit that this is not a new position. It has happened every year since 2004. That is not a glitch. It is a well established fact and it is equally established that it is an annual event, that we collapse at the end of the season. This year was expected to be the one when we finally made it but once again we have been found wanting.

  3. Nick Birch February 28, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

    I don’t think we’ve consistently played good football for at least five years to be honest, we are often quite laboured in our performances and it’s a myth that we play beautiful football.

    Today’s game was nothing short of embarrassing and I share you opinion that the team most likely to win the title is Spurs.

    When the manager can’t even get the best out of a player like Alexis Sanchez, you know there’s an underlying problem.

    If Spurs do win it this season, Wenger should step down immediately that’s for sure.

  4. Tim Hargreaves February 29, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Nick (and Victor. Great comment!)

    I have to agree with Nick re. Campbell. I cannot fathom why Wenger would leave him out in favour of the again anonymous Theo. Alexis was also very poor and seemed unable to beat a defender and he seems to be becoming too easy for defenders to predict, so I think he needs to change up his game a little bit. Another Copa America after this season (I think I read that on Arseblog recently) means that Chile will play him 90 minutes every match, so he will come back exhausted.

    Some of the football we play can be very good, particularly when Ozil is involved, but we have had too many passengers (all listed in my blog from this morning) lately and there are teams who can outpass us now, which is disappointing.

    However, I don’t agree with Victor’s point that we will be looking uncomfortably up at Sp*rs for long. I think Pochettino will be poached by a bigger club (United and Chelsea in pole position I think, City after they get bored of Pep, Atletico Madrid if Simeone moves on, Valencia, or even another big European club) and we all know that they are trying to build a new stadium and, as Gooners, we all know that means selling off prized assets like Eriksen, Alli, Kane, Alderweireld, etc. to pay for that shiny new toilet bowl. They will be back to being Sp*rsy soon!

    Can’t fault anything else that Victor said there, a great comment!

  5. James Parkins February 29, 2016 at 10:09 am #

    Agree with practically everything you have said Nick.
    Thought it was only me who thought Ospina was useless so it’s refreshing that someone else can see him for what he is. If Macey and Martinez aren’t better than him then they must be about as much use as a chocolate tea pot!
    How Campbell hasn’t been getting game time, or Iwobi for that matter, whilst Walcott and Chamberlain have been is beyond me. Wenger is nothing but a dopey old goat who needs to be put out to graze!
    We don’t have one world class forward let alone four, our manager is a clueless buffoon but I’m surprised you haven’t had any of the Wenger boys having a pop at you because of your honesty!
    Not that you should worry anyway, those guys will disappear when Wenger does anyway!


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