Apr 182010

Wigan 3 (Watson 80, Bramble 89, N’Zogbia 90) Arsenal 2 (Walcott 41, Silvestre 48)


It has been a fine season. These players have exceeded expectations time and time again, defying the injuries, the pundits writing them off, and even the fans claiming the title challenge was over. That we were still in the race with four games to go was a remarkable achievement. There can be no doubt that the mental strength Wenger attributes to them is present in abundance.

But those impressive feats do not excuse the complacency and sheer laziness on display today, in a game that could have brought us right back into the title race after Chelsea’s defeat to Spurs yesterday. Two goals to the good, and with the opportunity of drawing within three points of the leaders, we simply stopped playing, stopped putting in challenges and invited Wigan back into the game.

About an hour in, there were various rumblings on Twitter, concerns that we were coasting far too much, and references made to the West Ham game, where we cruised to a 2-0 lead before letting a single goal change the complexion of the match. On that day, we dropped two daft points, and while accidents like that can happen, the important thing is to learn from them. Wenger should have stressed not to take the foot off the pedal. Coast when you’re three goals to the good, but 2-0 is not a safe scoreline. How many times do we have to be taught that lesson?

With ten minutes to go, Wigan scored the goal that set the wheels in motion. Despite having seven defenders in the box, no-one picked up Ben Watson, who slotted past a blocked off Fabianski. From that moment, an equaliser was inevitable, especially given the lack of any kind of reaction from us. Nasri cleared one off the line, but even that close escape only delayed proceedings.

When the equaliser came, it was another goalkeeping howler. Almunia was ruled out of the game with a ‘wrist injury’, a suspicious tale made all the more so by Wenger’s pre-match assertion that while the injury was minor, Fabianski would play the rest of the games. In other words, even a fit Almunia will not feature again.

But every time the Spaniard misses a game, his place in the side is secured yet further by the ineptitude of his competition. I’ve defended Fabianski for ages – I think he is a fantastic shot stopper, and when his composure improves he could be a fine keeper – but time and time again he betrays the faith shown in him with basic errors. Early on, he flapped at a corner, and in the 89th minute he dropped another routine catch on Titus Bramble’s head, and the ball dribbled over the line.

The equaliser finally killed our flagging title hopes, so in a way, the Wigan winner made little difference other than to highlight how comprehensively we’d thrown the game away. Credit to N’Zogbia, whose finish was unstoppable, but the defence collectively invited him inside on his left foot, which was naive in the extreme.

Wigan fought to the end, and they deserve praise for that, but in reality we gifted them the points with a performance so lacking in effort, drive and passion that you would have thought we had nothing left to play for. For me, the main culprit was Diaby, who was appalling in the centre of midfield, giving the ball away on countless occasions, and requiring far too much time on the ball. And this was against a Wigan side hardly snapping at his heels.

But in truth, everyone took their foot off the gas once Silvestre’s header had doubled the lead given by Walcott’s neat touch and finish in the first half. The likes of Rosicky, who worked so hard early on, drifted out of the game, and the only energy was supplied by Eastmond, who was trying to prove his worth, and Campbell, who was justifying the award of the armband at the back. Around him, Silvestre, Clichy and Sagna all responded to his rallying cry on occasions, but those moments were few and far between.

It is tempting to solely blame the players, to believe that Wenger reminded them of West Ham, and tried to stress that the game wasn’t won until we were a few goals to the good. The manager’s post-match fury suggested as much. But his own substitutions sent the message that Wigan were a beaten side.

Eboue’s introduction seemed reasonable, given his defensive abilities, but why was Fran Merida brought on in the final ten minutes? It is apparent that the young Spaniard is leaving in the summer, so what was this, a farewell appearance? If we’re at the final game of the season and we have nothing to play for, then fine, but this was just after Wigan had gotten themselves back into a critical match. With no other defensive players available, surely Van Persie should have been called on to re-establish momentum?

Whatever the reasons, it was a truly bizarre decision, and Merida did nothing to justify his place on the pitch. Van Persie was belatedly brought on at 2-2, but by then all fight had gone from the team.

I am a staunch defender of these players – regular readers can attest to that – but even I found myself unable to find positives from the match. If the players come out against City next weekend and react in a positive way, then perhaps this debacle can be pushed to the backs of our minds, but any repeat of the kind of complacency shown today will simply not be acceptable.

This sort of performance could tarnish the impression many have of the season, and too many strides have been taken to allow that to happen. Three matches to go. No excuses.

  19 Responses to “Complacent Arsenal get exactly what they deserve”

  1. What a desastrous performance! I could see this coming about a quarter of an hour into the second half. All of a sudden, they were stronger in the tackle, bolder and retaining the ball more. What I could not understand was how our team could fold up so dramatically. They were a disgrace. Ship the whole lot of them out!

  2. This reminds me of the game against Villa during berghamps time . The gunners were leading 2-0 until they lost 3-2.The thing is all players must realise football is 90 min plus aet and concentrate 110 %repeat 110% to ensuer a win.You seldom/never find the red faced cunt throwing away a 2 goal cushion and get beaten. A draw perhaps.
    I think I have lost faith in Arsene.He has won trophies and built the ES but a a manager is as good as his last game.
    Frankly his football philosophy as a beautiful spectacle cut no ice with me.You play to win not to entertain.You look at how some teams play. They don’t have that number of passes as the gunners who like to pass sideways/backwards but never the long ball which Wigan used to devaststing effect. This is not beautiful. Who cares. Wigan won playing this style. Of couse this style cannot be used in all games.
    Arsene failed to shore up the gunners . He got the cast offs thinking they and the kids would come of age.
    Alas it’s another season full of despair after another.Don’t be surprised he signs some more bright faced kids. He is too arrogant to concede his philosphy aint working and if it is more of the same be prepared for another similar season eg getting humiliated by Chelsea/MU/ Spurs.

  3. I bet the red faced is laughing all the way to the finishing post. AW was once his deadliest rival. Now the rfc can sleep in peace knowing his once closest rival is in serious trouble getting at team to challenge him.
    Once you slip from the top,it aint easy to climb back even with tons of money thrown to get new players. By that I don’t mean kids.Even then you have to integrate them into the team.

  4. Frankly Arsene has nobody but himself to blame for the current Arsenal problems.He had plenty of time to fix them but chose to continue his trust.
    He is a proud man. I hope he doesnt sink with Arsenal. Before that happens he better go to RM where he can play his beautiful soccer. He will realise if results are not forthcoming he will be shipped off.

  5. Folks, I think we’re going a bit overboard. One defeat and some of you think the entire squad and manager must go.

    Easy, now.

  6. Pete- Its not just the defeat its the manner of the defeat-the laziness of some players-the seemingly “could’nt care less” attitude of some of them when there is so much to play for.Some of this team don’t deserve to wear an Arsenal shirt and they’re making Arsenal and their supporters a laughing stock around the country.

  7. i said it long ago, albeit no one remember it as i ain’t a blogger……..AW should go. that is what i said at the beginning of the season

  8. for all the money they earn, it’s unimaginable just how these arsenal players perform so poorly! i think the club news a total overhaul, with only about 5 players to be retained.

  9. Guys, Wenger caused all this disaster on us when he intentionally refused to let robin in at the start of second half. Our troubles did not even start in the last ten minutes, but just before the end of first half.

    Wenger was a total fool yesterday. and now we are left to fight for the third spot which is really hanging in the balance. We have lost nine crucial points, of which if added to what we have now, we would be ahead of manchester and chelsea by atleast two and three points accordingly. Adding the two points lost at westham, we would already be winning the league.

    Someone in the board needs to come out strongly and force wenger either to buy strong players or himself out.

  10. l still stand firm on my view;some players are not worth being on the starting line up or furthermore wear Arsenal shirt.WAlcot can not dribble he has few show stoppers then thinks he is great football is not all about running;pace & nice looks you have to be sharp be creative have the killer instinct;time ur runs;read the game;its a team effort not a one man show;loose the ball fall back to help;open the field;use you skill wisely.Others the likes of Diaby-out rightly not a whole season guy,lazy,lost focused,contented with position at the club………Silvestre a waste why we bought l cant understand;Bendtn should stop feeling nice even if he has scored crucial goals should review his work rate & commitment to team work;AA is a wake up call l believe you can do something do it for the funs not the board!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! we are dying for trophies restore our pride

  11. Arsene wenger is just overrated just because the competition EPL wasnt really tight when he was winning and even then he had strong maybe non technical players…example…nasri/denilson/diaby are good but not a match winners/fghters.wengers pride is makin it hard for him to concede he has lost it.he talks too much comparing arsenal with chelsea/mam utd.we are not in their class for now maybe before.wenger is far behind ferguson.truth be told…i will always love him but if someone like pep / jose could come..i wouldnt mind.i pray we dont end up cursing him if he decides to leave cos the image of the club is going down.

  12. Note..there is a difference between wantiing established players and established players wanting to join us.with our current record..city/spuds might attract better players.maybe kids love to join us.to cap it all..he doesnt like spending but prefers giving excuses like crooked injured players like eduardo are like new signings.heard man city have gotten boateng,ferguson snaped smalling under his long nose.i dont doubt his abilitites but i doubt and question his arrogance and pride…..he is the only coach that leaves a stupid/incostent player like diaby keep playing till the damage is done..

  13. These are the players worthy for now..
    No goalkeeper,SAGNA,CAMPBELL,CLICHY,VERMEALEEN,SONG,GIBBS,GALLAS,FABREGAS,ROBIN VAN PERSIE,ARSHAVIN,EBOUE,NASRI,RAMBO,WALCOTT,rosicky,bendtner,eastmond,….ADD EXPERIENCE TO THIS SQUAD,THEN WE WILL BE THERE.THE ONCE IN CAPS ARE THE MAIN PLAYERS SO FAR.wilshere still has time,djorou am not sure,am sure he wil be a new signing next season,bendtner and walcot will still come up better just 22……any player not mentioned does not deserve getting wages in arsenal even if they are in the team. am so angry

  14. WOW….i went to bed last night and woke up in the early hours with a panicky feeling. I thought was my family okay?, was my dog okay? was my house okay? all the answers were yes, then i remembered…it was a panicky feeling about my gunners. I am so proud of them for what they accomplished this year, no other team could have suffered the injuries we have and still been in the fight for the premiership, but having got within touching distance, we have crumbled, the scum first now wigan. Why have we not learned, its only a mistake if you make it twice, but this has happened too many times now for excuses. Bolster this young squad with a quality experienced keeper, midfielder and striker. even if the boys thought winning was a stretch too far, what about second? beating the man-ure would have been almost as sweet.

  15. There will be no trophies for Arsenal for a few years now, we’ve dug too deep a hole for that. Wenger dumped too many players too soon and slotted in too much average youth, it will take some years to clean up this mess.

    We are just a top four business plan now. AFC is all about the financial numbers, the club has lost its heart and doesn’t have the stomach to win things.

  16. Thanks for your continued comments everyone.

    I do think we’re in danger of swinging too rapidly from praising the team to ripping them apart. Yesterday’s performance was abject, but they can go some way to redeeming themselves if they show fight against City. It would at least show an understanding of what went wrong.

    On a technical level, I don’t have a problem with these players, so I don’t agree with them being labelled average (with a few notable exceptions, of course). The main problem is the attitude, and that is Wenger’s biggest challenge now.

  17. Arsene Wenger has lost the plot…the end is near HAHAHAHA!…. from a very happy and proud spurs fan… Spurs2-Arsholes 1 and 4th place in the bag

    • A Spurs fan being “very happy and proud” at perhaps managing to finish just fourth puts Arsenal’s season in a better perspective.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.