While Man Utd bask in their enviable 19th title, spare a thought for those they’ve left behind. Arsenal were once pretenders.
They’ve become the public spittoon for every team badly in need of clearing their throat. Stoke might have lost the FA Cup final but at least they can pride themselves in shooting down Arsenal the previous weekend. This time it was mortally wounded Aston Villa without a manager who stuck a knife. The Gunners suffered their fourth home loss and have dropped twenty points.
They did things no differently than many others relying on a long ball which saw Sebastien Squillaci do a two footed mambo allowing Darren Bent to go onside and score with a deft touch. Within four minutes it was two down as Bent benefiting from a Vermaelen slip up and Squillaci’s indecision race through to slot the ball past Szczesny. Comical defending all around and perfectly sticking to theme.
Lets also add if it wasn’t for bad luck, Arsenal would have no luck at all. Aaron Ramsey was denied a legitimate claim to a penalty as Richard Dunne tackled him in the box. Marouane Chamakh had a goal waived for a non-existent foul. And well before Van Persie got one back he was denied a first when his umpteenth shot hit the upright. He’s been the silver lining in this soulless epitaph to a season. Vermaelen is back from an eight month layoff and apart from the slip up performed creditably.
For those brave souls willing to fork out six percent more for season tickets there is no indication things will get better. Arsene Wenger and Pat Rice are still figuring out whether the players need a course in astrophysics to figure out the trajectory of the ball. Till then they’re little bit naive. A little lacking in height. A little lacking in mental strength. Whichever is the excuse du jour.
Wenger has become the quintessential insider seemingly more interested in who inhabits the boardroom and who sells how many shares. He has a firm footing when it comes to such topics but it is disheartening to see a manager flounder when it comes explaining what is happening on the pitch.
One thing is clearly evident he’s not getting the players to respond to him for one reason or another. Another is that there are only five or at most six players earning their right to the starting squad. The rest of them are just in it for the ride.
It is also not coincidental that Arsenal have switched off after ensuring Champions League participation after Wenger made remarks which can be construed as shifting benchmarks of success. A huge motivation killer if there ever was one.
Whatever the off season brings one hopes Wenger comes to self realization on his own. Since financial fair play rules ostensibly affect other clubs more than Arsenal’s self sustaining model, offering it as a rationalization for future improvement gains little traction. A Squillaci signing is a bad signing whichever way you want to slice and dice. It highlights basic flaws in Wenger’s ten year plan.
If autodidactic processes fail then Wenger should give us, his armchair critics, the benefit of the doubt without resorting to his usual prickly self defensiveness. There is nothing to suggest that Stan Kroenke will be anything more than a rubber stamp in a cat and mouse preoccupation with Alisher Usmanov for ownership control.
A status quo that John Henry, Liverpool new owner is unwilling to abide by. Wenger’s first act should be to make each and every player earn their right to represent Arsenal. Pride. You can never have enough of it.