Other than the player ratings, there’s not really much point to go over Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to Swansea. I’m sure most of you saw the match and can form your own opinions on it. Two late goals may have decided the result on paper, but the contest on the pitch was over long before that. Swansea simply outplayed the Gunners and earned all three points.
Of course after each draw or loss there are calls for manager Arsene Wenger’s head. Now even those who hate the Frenchman at the moment due to the mess the team is in, will probably be the first to admit that Wenger was once a brilliant manager and has done things for the club that nobody else has and maybe never will in the future. Wenger used to fit Arsenal like a glove, but after 16 years, it’s wearing pretty thin, which is just natural.
It’s not very likely that the squad is going to be drastically altered during the upcoming January transfer window. There are some clubs that might have some decent players for offer because they may lose them for nothing in the offseason. However, the odds of finding a top-class player at a good price are pretty slim as most clubs are going to be hanging on to their best players. In fact, Arsenal could even lose bodies before adding them. Theo Walcott, the club’s top scorer with 10, comes to mind.
This is more or less the team Arsenal is stuck with for the rest of the season so they might as well make the best of it. It’s possible that the players could perform better under a new manager or system, but it’s usually a 50/50 gamble. There are still 23 games to go and 69 points up for grabs, so the season isn’t a write off just yet. But whatever happens between now and May, Wenger should come to the realization that it’s simply time to pass the torch on to somebody else. It’s time for the stagnation to end and for new blood to take over the reins.
Wenger has nothing to be ashamed off and in fact he can hold his head high for what he’s done for the club. But if he truly cares for and/or or loves the franchise and its supporters he should face up to the fact that the players just aren’t performing for him. It’s time to move on from the manager’s position. This doesn’t mean he has to sever all ties with the Gunners, but it’s doubtful that he’ll want to pack in his managerial career right now for another position with the club. There’s a great chance that he still has something to offer, but sadly for many supporters, it’s just not with Arsenal. There are sure to be some other clubs interested in his services, but there’s not really any sense in believing every rumour you hear either.
The 63-year-old manager is the subject of thousands of boos at home games these days as well as some pretty horrific hate emails on many football-related websites. There’s no need for him to go through that torture week in and week out, but unless he can turn things around immediately, he’s going to be subject to them from here on in. With the Gunners in 10th place and earning just 21 points from a possible 45, the fans aren’t going to be easy to calm down unless it’s done with points in the table.
The players have to look at themselves in the mirror when they have a bad performance, but ultimately Wenger is responsible for this squad as he put it together. A player is only as good as his abilities and skills will allow him to be. Players can realistically give 100 per cent and nothing more. If members of the squad simply aren’t good enough, then Wenger has to answer for that. Why did he buy them in the first place then? For instance, player acquisitions such as Gervinho may be questioned.
On paper, Arsenal has some excellent footballers and any other team in the league would love to have them. The game isn’t played on paper though and for some reason these guys just aren’t gelling together. Who knows why? You can analyze and dissect the squad all you want, but it’s just not happening for them up to now. Wenger has apparently weakened his stance a little and according to the statements he’s made to the newspapers, he may reconsider his position at the end of the season. If the team can’t turn things around then I feel he should thank everybody and walk away while he can still evoke some tremendous memories at Arsenal.
In other news, Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood is recovering in hospital after suffering a heart attack that was brought on by a case of pneumonia over the weekend. Here’s hoping that the 76-year-old gets well soon. It also puts football into its proper prospective when you consider just how irrelevant it really is compared to somebody’s state of health and life.
Arsenal player ratings against Swansea on Dec. 1 at the Emirates
Wojciech Szczesny 8
Made some great saves and kept the team alive. Couldn’t be faulted for wither of the two goals allowed.
Carl Jenkinson 5
Was getting by ok until making a bad play that led to Swansea’s second goal. He didn’t do too much when he had the ball though.
Kieran Gibbs 6
Gibbs didn’t have a great game and his crosses were poor. He needs to be more consistent.
Per Mertesacker 6
Another player who was doing alright until the end of the game when allowing both goals.
Thomas Vermaelen 6.5
Was probably the best of the Arsenal defenders and tried to make things happen up the pitch
Mikel Arteta 7
Probably the best Gunner on the pitch, but he just doesn’t seem to gel with Cazorla, at least not as of yet.
Jack Wilshere 6.5
Wilshere started the game impressively, but wore down as it went on. He still needs a few more games under his belt after missing all of last season. Was taken off after 79 minutes.
Santi Cazorla 5.5
Cazorla didn’t do too much noticeable in this match. His performances seem to be slipping.
Theo Walcott 5.5
Walcott was poor on his crosses and didn’t take anybody on one-on-one. His skills were wasted.
He hasn’t done much since the start of the season and unfortunately I think this is the true Gervinho, not the one who was putting the ball in the net earlier on. Taken off after 66 minutes
Lukas Podolski 5.5
A disappointing performance from him. He’s either great or invisible. Was taken off in the 67th minute
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain 5.5
Came on for Gervinho in the 66th minute, but didn’t do any better
Olivier Giroud 6
Came on for Podolski in the 67th minute and was an upgrade.
Tomas Rosicky 5.5
Came on for Wilshere in the 79th minute and it was good to see him on the pitch for the first time after being injured. However, the two goals were scored shortly after.