Saturday, 22 March 2014

Milestone should mark end of an era

It is my view that at the end of the season Arsene Wenger should go. The regularity of these humiliations isn't good enough, it's actually embarrassing. The fact that 3 have happened in one season is beyond a joke. He's never learnt from his mistakes, it's always been my biggest problem with him. Whether he doesn't learn out of arrogance I don't know, but you can be a manager of a club trying to win titles when you're so tactically inept in big away games and you never even learn from your mistakes. He doesn't deserve a new contract. He's tactically inept + costing us year after year.
Yes he's done a decent job under financial restrictions over the last few seasons and I respect a lot about him as a manager. But unfortunately nowadays he's costing us. There's no financial excuse for his amazing lack of tactics, wisdom, evidence of experience and a game plan in these big away games.

The reason we go battered today wasn't because of a big gulf in quality of players between us and Chelsea, it's because of the manager's lack of tactics + game plan. We're about level with Chelsea's squad in my opinion, and let's bare in mind we had a few key players missing today. But our manager just doesn't have the tactical nouse that all the other managers of top teams do, and that's why we fall short where others don't.

I think he's got too comfortable and his incredible mistakes in the big games in terms of selection + tactics are baffling and embarrassing. Not playing your only proper and experienced leader of a defensive midfielder in the big games away from home is just astounding. It's basic. Why wouldn't you play Flamini in these games? It's no coincidence we've lost all 3 conceding 17 goals in the process when Flamini hasn't started any of them.
You need someone protecting the back four and we didn't have that again today. Chelsea had 2 players doing it, and look how good they do in the big games overall. Why? Because of their ability to instill tactics, a wise team selection and a carefully prepared game plan.
Wenger's preparation for these games isn't like that at all, it's like a 6 year old kid has done them on FIFA.
It's not us getting beaten in these games so much as the way we're getting beaten, and the not learning from mistakes- not just from games this season but from years gone by. It's the same stuff every year.

You aren't a top class manager capable of winning big titles if you're so tactically inept in big away games + don't learn from mistakes. How can you say someone like this deserves to be paid a new contract of £100k or so a week? We all know he will unfortunately, but let's hope the powers that be see sense and replace him with a winner, and a tactically astute one at that.

Friday, 7 March 2014

The weirdest fixture ever...

Saturday’s FA Cup tie between Arsenal and Everton is somewhat of a predicament for me. Naturally, as an Arsenal fan I want Arsenal to win. But on the flip side, with me having a season ticket at Everton and therefore being able to qualify for Wembley tickets when Everton get there, there is the possibility of a glamorous looking trip to Wembley and a weekend in London enticing me- but only if Everton progress.

So either Arsenal go through and no Wembley/London trip OR Everton win and no Arsenal in the cup semis and probably another trophy-less season. Arsenal and Everton getting each other has often been a nightmare of mine in recent years when the cup draws are made. And it’s always been avoided until now. And of all rounds, the quarter finals- the final step before Wembley.

Emotionally it’s an absolute killer for me- it’s win/win but it’s also lose/lose- something great will be lost on Saturday. Either my hopes of an Arsenal cup win or an exciting weekend in London and a trip to the spiritual home of English football.

I want Arsenal to win, but still even then I’d be walking my dogs late Saturday afternoon thinking about how there’s no Wembley trip to look forward to. But I think seeing Arsenal play (and win) there on TV would be good enough for me.

The game itself is interestingly poised- both sides are on indifferent form and their league ambitions are starting to fade a little bit. Arsenal have been stuttering in recent weeks and Everton have been slipping further away from 4th spot. Arsenal also look highly likely to exit the Champions League in a matter of days so for both clubs it’s their biggest chance for success this season.

It’ll be interesting to see what team Arsenal pick- Wenger will have one eye on Bayern on Tuesday but I think he’ll know he can’t afford to rest too many without getting pelters from the fans if we subsequently get knocked out. He surely can’t seriously rest a lot of players for a tie where we look very unlikely to go through. Putting all his eggs in the Bayern basket would be very risky to put it mildly.

Everton however have no midweek distraction and will return to the venue of one of their most tactically astute performances of recent years. A performance which prompted many Arsenal players and fans to claim Everton are the best side we’ve played at the Emirates this season. They also, Jagielka impending, have their strongest lineup available (typically), including a seemingly refreshed and raring to rediscover his early season form Lukaku.

It’s quite finely balanced, a lot depends on how similar Everton’s approach is to the league clash in December and what team Arsenal pick. My prediction is 2-1 to the Arsenal.

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