You know that when half the fanbase is hoping for the game to be called off for whatever reason, while the other half is plotting to stay at home despite having the tickets, the footballing aspect of your team must be in dire state.
And so it is, abundantly demonstrated by the game yesterday. Shortly before kick-off the cameras caught Wenger talking with Guardiola at length. I have no way of knowing what they were discussing, but I half-jokingly thought the Frenchman might be asking his counterpart to spare Arsenal.
Even if it was the case, which I highly doubt, those pleas fell on deaf ears. Guardiola’s team hammered home the lesson, for those who had any doubts after Sunday, that they are by far the better side. The only difference being that City needed only 33 minutes to put the game to bed this time around.
To be fair to both us and them, some of the goals scored by the men in black were rather wonderful, even when we take into account our slack defending. The Gunners also showed some fight from the off, willing to press and force mistakes.
We had a couple of chances before going down too. Ramsey’s low cross only just didn’t find its way into City’s net off Kompany’s legs, while the Welshman’s run and shot forced Ederson into a smart save minutes later. Xhaka’s distance low drive from a free-kick yet again called City’s №1 into action.
However once City turned the screw we were always in for a disaster. Suspect defending (and that’s putting it mildly), coupled with the team’s confidence being at an all-time low, resulted in City’s 18-minute blitz which left us on the floor, twitching uncontrollably, desperately waiting for someone to throw in the towel.
Thankfully, City slowed down themselves. During the second half we had all the ball and territory in the world, but the feeling City had it under control never left me. Even when we somehow got a penalty out of absolutely nowhere, Ederson saved Auba’s effort with an air of finality. We were humiliated once again, and City didn’t even have to work hard to do it.
That’s probably the single bit that gets me down the most. We have suffered our heaviest home defeat at the Emirates, to a vastly superior side, and this side’s domination was so complete they had the opportunity to toy with us. Guardiola even subbed off Aguero for Toure at some point, because let’s face it, they didn’t even need their star striker anymore.
Despite this heavy, humiliating defeat, I expected nothing to happen and my expectations were duly fulfilled. It’s the key to happiness, they say, low expectations, only I’m not feeling happy at all. Our manager, clearly out of his depth, has very obviously lost the dressing room, but won’t admit it, and there is no one to pull the trigger. Our Board and owner are a bunch of disinterested and cowardly people, happy for Arsene Wenger to take all the blame while they hide behind his back.
The thought that fills me with genuine dread is not of this season, not that it will get even worse in the next few months. I expect nothing from this side anymore, in two weeks time we’ll officially have nothing to fight for, as I don’t think Milan will fail to capitalize on our sorry state.
No, the thing I fear most is Arsene Wenger staying beyond this season. I don’t know how much of a chance there is that it will happen, but given his remarks and his genuine perseverance is seeing out his contracts, I think there is at least some possibility.
Albeit let’s face it: how much worse can it possibly get before summer 2019? We are not fighting for the league title now and we won’t be next season. We will very likely miss out on the Champions League, but probably still make Europa League. I can’t see us slipping further than 6th next season, even with Wenger in charge. The domestic cups, meanwhile… Well, we’ve won a bunch recently, so failures there won’t really have a serious impact.
We are a team without an identity, toiling closer to the relegation zone than 1st place, with an expensively-assembled squad and a half-empty stadium, and not solely because of bad weather. Realistically, how much worse can it get from this point onwards?
I’m sincerely hoping that either Wenger sees the light (unlikely) or that someone plucks up the courage to fire our experienced manager, as I’m not sure I can take another season like this. Something absolutely has to give this summer, it just can’t continue like this. We are a big football club with a long and celebrated history, surely there’s someone in a position of power who understands what needs to be done before our reputation is tarnished even further?
Surely someone takes a look at the table from time to time? Follows our form? Yesterday was loss №13 this season, 7th this calendar year, 3rd on the trot in all competitions. Just let this sink in. We have played 13 times since January 1st, and lost MORE THAN HALF of those games, winning just 4 times. In what world can this be considered acceptable?
That’s a rhetorical question more than anything. We know that any big club worth its salt will have fired the manager with such a track record regardless of how long, and how successful, he has been in the job. Not Arsenal, however. Obviously those in positions of power think it’s alright, because today Wenger woke up still employed, on one of the highest managerial salaries in world football.
Our half-empty stadium tells its own story though. People ceased caring and stopped going. I was genuinely surprised there were still Arsenal fans in the stands at full-time. I presume most stayed behind to express their dissatisfaction. I don’t know for sure as I was watching the game on mute.
An empty stadium is a powerful message, especially when coupled with some of the stories regarding tickets last night. My favourite one was a lady turning down two Club level tickets for FREE. No one wants to look at this team even for free, minus travel money, obviously.
Last season Wenger managed to weather the storm of fan dissatisfaction. He batted it away like a cumbersome fly, stayed on and renewed his contract. The current state of apathy we are witnessing is a direct consequence. People can’t watch this anymore, and they can’t even bother to go to games to voice their concerns, because they know no one gives a damn. They know it for a fact after last season.
It is an incredibly sad situation. All we can do is hope bad times won’t last (long), however the lingering feeling of disrespect towards fans will remain even if managerial change is forthcoming this summer. This situation doesn’t cast anyone in a favourable light, from players to owner. I wonder just how long it will take for someone to realise just what reputational damage they are inflicting upon this Club.
Russian Gooner. No, it’s not always cold in my home country 🙂
A staunch Arsenal supporter since 2004. Started writing about the Gunners in 2013.
Currently in London to get a degree in journalism.