Gunners Impotent At Olympic Stadium

By Kevin Whitcher

Online Ed: No score bore v West Ham

I haven’t seen any coverage of Arsene Wenger’s post match comments after yesterday evening’s scoreless game at West Ham, but to me it demonstrated his team has run out of ideas. Fresh impetus is needed.

After a disappointing performance at Southampton, the manager tried to provide this by ringing the changes. Out went three at the back, as Mertesacker was sacrificed. The biggest surprise was the selection of right-footed Ainsley Maitland-Niles instead of the benched Sead Kolasinac on the left side. In came Jack Wilshere as Aaron Ramsey was injured. The extra player up front was Alex Iwobi, with Olivier Giroud replacing Alexandre Lacazette at centre forward.

Arsenal dominated possession and territory, their hosts often putting nine outfield players behind the ball. Wenger’s team played into their hands, with more crab football than a Ray Wilkins highlights reel. Frankly, it was deathly dull, although the Gunners did try to provide some excitement by allowing the Hammers the odd chance at the other end, although fortunately when David Moyes’ side did score, it was flagged offside. In the first half, Arsenal, in spite of their having most of the ball, registered a solitary shot on target, a tame effort from Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean did not have a good night, his passes often going astray, or his shots blocked. There is a view that he is playing more for himself than the team, but has he really changed? The brightest moments came from Jack Wilshere, who at least attempted to burst through the West Ham lines. Playing Giroud should have meant more success with crosses into the box, but he was well-martialed and often there was not another player close enough to him to benefit from knock downs.

The rain poured down in the second half, to reflect the cold, damp squib of a game. Arsenal got into danger areas, but generally fired their efforts high or wide, an Alexis free-kick the closest they got to scoring. He was subbed eventually, and didn’t seem too bothered. The passion has gone. And the same could be said of the team generally of late. Nice easy wins against Huddersfield and Bate Borisov should not deflect from the reality that when the team face credible resistance, they struggle. There seems a lack of wit or invention to overcome more committed opposition. Leicester beat Southampton at St Mary's 4-1, where Arsenal laboured for most of the game to score a solitary goal.

It’s end of days stuff we are watching here. There are decent players in the squad, but few are playing to anywhere near their potential. They do what Arsene tells them to – keep ball, work the angles, try and break through the lines with incisive passing – and more often than not, frustration results. The away end has apparently been fairly mooted this season. They go, out of habit, but have already given up. The only saving grace of this match was that, for most, the trip home would not have been as lengthy as some.

It’s difficult to see any justification for allowing the manager to oversee more of the same next season. With the recent changes, it would not be too much of a surprise to learn that a new first team coach is already being lined up for 2018-19. On current form, Arsenal will struggle to make the top four, and their chances of winning the Europa League will surely fall apart once they draw a team with a decent manager who knows how to play two-legged result football. Arsene will receive his final year’s salary as pay-off and a new coach will arrive to re-invigorate the players that remain and, critically, the new arrivals scouted by Sven Mislintat and bought by Raul Sanllehi. The latter won’t start work until after the January transfer window, but this season’s gone already, as most people who watched Arsenal the previous campaign could have predicted. The club needs one more change before they can start the job of meaningful re-building. Hindsight tells us this process should have begun in 2009, but better late than never.

For most of the second half yesterday, Arsene Wenger, unlike in the first, remained rooted to the bench, some 30 metres away from the touchline. When interviewed for one of the books on his Arsenal that I co-wrote with Alex Fynn, he was asked why he preferred to sit at pitch level, when he could see much more from a higher pew. He responded to the effect that he could not bear the separation from his players. The second half yesterday suggested the separation is now terminal. As his players have given up on him and his stale approach, the manager has given up himself. He tried a couple of late subs in the form of Welbeck and Lacazette but it made no difference.

West Ham celebrated the 0-0 wildly at the full time whistle. Arsenal fans were dejected. It’s all about perspective I guess. In their position, every point is precious.

I’ll leave you with something to enjoy more than last night’s match. On Sunday Doktor Schneide sent me a text after watching the Southampton game. I responded to say I wasn’t doing the editorial on it, but would use it in future. I didn’t have to wait long. His take on things…

Arsenal: Guilty of possession with little intent to supply

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14th December 2017 11:50:33


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

The Man From UNCLE  12:00pm 14th Dec 2017

West Ham should have won that right at the death too. It was like watching a 90 minute training session defence v attack. Why play a 6ft 4 striker and spend all night trying to thread balls through the eye of a needle? Why pay £50m+ for a forward and bring him on 10 minutes from time? Why play a right back on the left? Why why why why? We know why don't we. - Post No. 111159

Paulo75  12:08pm 14th Dec 2017

It certainly feels like end of an era stuff. Very little to get excited about during the last 180 mins of football. A clean slate, fresh impetus, a new era - The Club is crying out for all of these things. Its long overdue that the powers that be put us all out of our misery. As Rio Ferdinand pointed out post match - Giroud gets his first start of the season and all the play is directed through the middle with no intention to hit the byline and get crosses into the box. Answers on a postcard please. - Post No. 111160

Redshirtwhitesleeves  12:29pm 14th Dec 2017

This season, like the last 10 or so before it, is just so utterly boring. Arsenal are probably the dullest team in the league to watch with the constant sideways and backwards passing seemingly lulling not just us fans but the players themselves to sleep. I only hope that the new backroom signings have been put in place to support a new manager next season- the only person with any appetite for more of this pergatory is Wenger himself - Post No. 111161

jb1109  12:40pm 14th Dec 2017

As Claude on Arsenal FanTV said 'watching Arsenal now is like going to the dentist'. Its not enjoyable anymore and hasn't been for some time. - Post No. 111162

Moscowgooner  12:40pm 14th Dec 2017

Far too optimistic to believe that AW is going to be on his way any time soon. Big Stan won't worry about drawing 0-0 at WHU; even finishing 11th or 12th at the end of the season won't faze him - and he calls the shots. I can see another 5 or 6 seasons of this. Perhaps more. - Post No. 111163

1971 Gooner  12:51pm 14th Dec 2017

Well, Gazidis will have seen that and I suspect he is wondering what next for his “objective measures” now we sit a point behind Burnley in the table. I can’t believe I missed last night’s Peaky Blinders to watch that rubbish. We had two top players who don’t give a monkeys, eight very average ones, and Jack who played well I thought; the only bright spot in an otherwise depressing spectacle. Wenger out. - Post No. 111164

GSPM  13:00pm 14th Dec 2017

Rinse & Repeat , wake me up when he's Gone....Zzzzzzz - Oh wait, win against the Toon , all will be well. No it wont, we are treading water with a threat of drowning while TOF is still there...... - Post No. 111165

RobG  13:02pm 14th Dec 2017

End of days, is right. But at the risk of playing Cassandra, I don’t see Wenger leaving before the end of next season. - Post No. 111166

Bard  13:38pm 14th Dec 2017

A pretty dismal game. We lacked any sort of urgency or intent. I honestly dont think Wenger will be here come next season. He would have to do something special in the second half of the season to stay on. We look like a side going backwards. - Post No. 111167

MAF  13:45pm 14th Dec 2017

£30m for Granit Xhaka, please do me a favour. £35m for Mustafi. help me out. defensively we are an utter shambles, likely to be outsmarted by anyone. the front 5 run around in circles with Zero tactics. Pep, Jose, Poch, Klopp, Conte are so so far ahead of Wenger its no longer funny. we really look completely disjointed and unlike a Team, moreso a bunch of individuals thrown together. its bad.... - Post No. 111168

Paulward  14:17pm 14th Dec 2017

Agree with Kev that it looks like end of day stuff, but how long are these end of bloody days gonna last ? There’s no evidence that Wenger will walk away before the end of his contract, and we all know he won’t be sacked so we’ve got at least another 18 months of this malaise to endure. Thoroughly depressing . - Post No. 111169

Yes its Ron  15:18pm 14th Dec 2017

Total tedium from both teams. In all fairness, the majority of PL games are like kids playing attack v defence like we did at school. Its so chronically bad, propped up by Sky and BT hype. How do people justify to themselves the price of going to these appalling games involving the so called top teams? Must be short of some thing better to do! - Post No. 111170

mbg  15:26pm 14th Dec 2017

Ed, he blamed the bubbles and the bubble machine. wenger out now. - Post No. 111171

mbg  16:06pm 14th Dec 2017

Yes TOF's done finished now, we're witnessing his death throws, he's lost the dressing room too, it's obvious, the reason the nice boys are staying stum and doing nothing about it is their on lovely juicy contracts they know they wouldn't get elsewhere, and under no pressure whatsoever to perform and get results that they know they would certainly be somewhere else by proper fans, and wouldn't last six Months. wenger out now. - Post No. 111172

GoonerRon  16:47pm 14th Dec 2017

I hope you’re right about it being end of days, it’s certainly got the whiff of it. Hopefully Gazidis’ proclamations of title tilts and 85 points together with Wenger recently hinting his position will be reviewed at the end of the year means change is coming for next season. We’re certainly readying ourselves structurally for the post-Wenger years so hopefully something comes of it. As for game, in these tight affairs you need to take one of your half chances and Ozil/Wilshere fluffed their lines. Really like A-MN and can see him becoming a very useful squad player. Oh, and for those who say the Emirates is a soulless bowl, we’ve got nothing on the London Stadium - it was undoubtedly the weirdest match day experience I’ve had at football - it just didn’t feel right at all. - Post No. 111174

markymark  17:38pm 14th Dec 2017

Toad - 10 more years of Wengo? I know your Alt Right pal Badarse wants him to stay. Your thoughts please! - Post No. 111175

mbg  18:13pm 14th Dec 2017

MAF, and half a dozen others also, Moyes, Fat Sam, etc, etc, etc, an old long past his sell by date laughing stock. wenger out now. - Post No. 111176

Alsace  18:25pm 14th Dec 2017

I'm very happy with four points dropped in a week against weak opposition. Along with 35000 paying abstainers against Bate Borisov, we are starting to look very much like a mid table team. Ozil will now be yearning for his midwinter break and we can look forward to a mediocre Christmas football wise. I am going to both Newcastle and Liverpool games but I'm really going for a trip to the pub with my mates. This is beginning to unravel in slow motion for Wenger. He may not be sacked immediately but that doesn't mean that he and what passes for his team aren't dying inside in the process. Watched the highlights of the West Ham game and it's just the same old story. We so desperately need a change. - Post No. 111177

Exeter Ex  19:54pm 14th Dec 2017

There is an end of days feel... but weren't we all saying this just 8-9 months ago? Cynically, I fear the 'structural changes' are mere window dressing to lull the gullible and keep the gravy train running, and that Gazidis will say or do anything to keep his salary. He is a corporate lawyer, after all. Wenger is a hopeless football coach now but Kroenke has simply signed over the running of the club to him and doesn't want to think about it any more than that, and that's what matters. I hope I'm wrong. I do think that sustained awful form for the whole of the season is the only hope of getting him out. No late run and an FA Cup this season, please. - Post No. 111178

markymark  20:18pm 14th Dec 2017

Toad and Badarse - the true measure of a team is the league isn’t ? Let us know your thoughts, When you’re both back from the Alabama primary of course. - Post No. 111179

mbg  20:24pm 14th Dec 2017

Did you see him in the dugout/bench arms around his waist bent over rocking back and forth looking clueless, like he had a dose of the trots or dying for a slash, he reminded me of Steptoe in the sink having a wash, all was needed was the packet of Flash. wenger out now. - Post No. 111180

John F  20:54pm 14th Dec 2017

New song for our disinterested away fans to sing.He's put his left players right,his right players left.làca in out in out just to shake it all about,you do Wenger cokey and you turn around,wondering what's it all about.Whoo whoo Wenger Cokey ,whoo whoo he must be joking,whoo whoo what's he smoking,finger point fourth official Wenger out out out. - Post No. 111181

Exiled in Pt  21:15pm 14th Dec 2017

Not wanting to repeat what I and many others have been saying for years , it like watching Cloughie in his last year at Forest but he had the excuse he was pissed !! Fock knows what the clueless zip fiddlers is ! He is not man enough to stand down and the board are not man enough to sack him! He is only interested in beating Fergie's record of games in charge not in the future of our once great club!! Rotten to the core . Wenger & the board f#ck off now. - Post No. 111182

markymark  21:35pm 14th Dec 2017

I think I’ve just spotted the legend that is Amos on Untold. Oh how I miss his bean counting postings regarding Arsenal turnover against league position. Conveniently forgetting that Wengo is paid zillions more than most Managers. - Post No. 111183

Roy  22:28pm 14th Dec 2017

Mbg, he lost the dressing room last season mate as most of us well know, and it was a disgrace he got another contract. Ah well, at least the countdown is on. 18 months max left, hopefully 6. - Post No. 111184

mbg  23:40pm 14th Dec 2017

John F, nice one, love it, lol. - Post No. 111185

mbg  0:54am 15th Dec 2017

Exiled in Pt, good post, wengers been repeating things (and we all know what)for years, so your well entitled to, (just like us all) your dead right it has been said on here before, even way back at the time/times, if he'd had any scruples or balls or love of Arsenal or the clubs best interests at heart he'd have stood down after the mam yoo 8-2 humiliation years ago, and all the other embarrassments right up to the present day but the arrogant c**t has neither, any other manager worth his salt, Top, middle, lower league, Europe the world would have without a doubt, but not this arrogant good for nothing fraudster, yes without a doubt that's what the fraudster has his eye on too, fergies record that's all he cares about, he'd see that as one in the eye for fergie, and you can just imagine his grinning and smirking at that if it were to happen, regardless of where the team/club is or would be, we certainly wouldn't be in a good place so god forbid it ever does. wenger out now. - Post No. 111186

peter wain  8:19am 15th Dec 2017

another poor performance and you wonder why that swiss guy is selected. His passing is powder puff and too often inaccurate. We desparately need 6 or 7 players and if we lose Ozil Sanchez Wiltshire in January mid table obscurity beckons - Post No. 111187

Moscowgooner  9:13am 15th Dec 2017

Amazed at the level of confidence that AW will be gone - soon. Why??? What has changed? This could be just about any season from about 2009 on - minus a Champions League thrashing. There has never yet been a strong enough supporter movement to get him out and this season apathy seems to have reached record levels. He will just go on and on and on and on..... Unless WE stop him. - Post No. 111188

mbg  14:55pm 15th Dec 2017

markymark, them and their ilk are as big a laughing stock and figure of fun now as wenger. wenger out. - Post No. 111189

mbg  0:40am 16th Dec 2017

Moscow, indeed you could be right, (unfortunately) as someone has already said, bully the soft toon tomorrow and that will keep the faithful quiet for another while, and on we'll go same old same old, Mr bumble bumbling about with his zipper until the next embarrassment and the next scrape through, no it will take the realisation of mid table mediocrity (and we're more or less there now) to waken the wengerites up, or even the smell of relegation, which will surely waken these other so called fans out of their slumber who know wenger is the problem but just can't let go and bring themselves to say/shout it and/or do something about it, but it's getting to the stage now where it's to late to do anything about mid table mediocrity, as it also will when the smell of relegation comes along, whether we go down or not, now is the time to do something about it or would you rather wait ? because it will not only be wengers fault then, but one things for damm sure fans like me yourself Moscow and a lot of others will be blameless and have a clear conscience. wenger out. - Post No. 111197

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

21st January 2018

Life Without Sanchez Gets Off To A Promising Start

Online Ed: Arsenal enjoy a comfortable afternoon against Palace