Like all Arsenal fans, I have my own views on the club’s management and strategy including frustration around transfer policy and tactical awareness in big games. I was however surprised to hear chants of, “You don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at Arsene Wenger on Wednesday night. Have we not been complaining about a lack of tactical awareness for years especially away from home? Should we not be applauding the creation and execution of a game plan to nullify a top side?
Arsenal set up with Welbeck and Iwobi in the wide positions as a deliberate ploy to stay compact, focused and disciplined, with the ultimate aim of keeping a clean sheet or a score low enough that we could overturn it in two weeks. Remember the same tactics were used at Stamford Bridge back in September achieving a very credible away point which to any other club would be considered a positive result.
Why the derogatory chants then? Clearly, they weren’t aimed at Sanchez, our most talented player so one presumes they were aimed at the substitution of Lacazette as opposed to Iwobi or Welbeck. How can we say that Wenger is tactically naive away from the Emirates and then hammer him for creating a game plan (that was working) and then sticking to it including substitutions? The point missed was that although Welbeck and Iwobi weren’t pulling up any trees offensively, their positional play and tracking was exemplary benefitting the defensive approach. Why would we change that with a more offensive player and undermine the objective of a clean sheet?
It should also be considered that Lacazette wasn’t having his best game. I am sure he will become a world-class forward but right now he looks like he is still adjusting and is low on confidence. “New signing bias” coming from a section of fans refusing to take a balanced view is also starting to distort wider media opinion. Team selection and substitutions should only be based on form and not on arrival date, the same bias exists for example with Kolasinac who has struggled defensively one on one this season and yet our manager is tormented every time he is dropped or rested.
Whatever your view on the Manager, criticism should only materialise with justification and certainly not in situations where we are following a game plan which if Conte or Mourinho employed, would be lauded as a tactical masterclass. In fact banners and derogatory chants during games border on stupidity anyway, do what you have to at the end of the game but not while play continues. Remember negativity filters through to the players so the very nature of chants and banners (whilst the game is ongoing) is doing nothing more than hurting our own chances of success.