So here we are with one game left in January and our only match winner of 2012 being Thierry Henry against lower league opposition. For the third time this year we were beaten by a better team. No complaints about who won. Plenty of concern about who lost.
The most positive result from the round table score prediction in the pub before the game was 1-1. The other seven of us went for defeat so it wasn't unexpected. Fulham was a punch in the stomach. Swansea was the killer upper cut. Our glass jaw exposed. Expectations floored. Had we been playing Wigan the predictions would've been similar. Team news filtered through just as the spuds conceded a late penalty. The Ox unleashed. Our spirits and eyebrows were slightly raised. In at the deep end and why not?
The first half was forgettable rubbish. Man u spent 10 minutes playing with us, attacking in waves & finally breaking us down just before the break. There was an eerie silence from our end. Conceded goals are normally greeted with groans and swearing. Not this one. It was so expected it was almost a relief. To go in only 1 down was a miracle. Man u attack in waves. Toying with us until they spot the weakness or Djourou. They are like predators waiting for the kill. They attack with 10 men. We countered with 4. Mission impossible.
The loss of all our full backs is killing us. We looked like the away team on our own pitch. We also lacked any fight, heart or desire. This was personified by poor Djourou. He was targeted as the weak link mainly due to his ability and the fact he had no help and often faced 3 mancs on his own. I felt a bit sorry for him being so openly exposed however there was a moment which summed up why he really should be nowhere near the first team even with an injury crisis. The ball was lumped forward and it was a straight chase between the Swiss and Nani. One of them sprinted and got to the ball. One of them jogged casually in the general direction of play as if he was in the park with his kids. Not good enough. At least look like you care! At half time Djourou was subbed for a child who was so much better. If that doesn't make him have a good look at himself I don't know what will. Maybe he'll get round to it when he can be bothered.
We were vastly improved in the second half, well for about 20 minutes of it anyway. We created more, fought more. We looked bothered. The equaliser came and briefly we actually believed we could win so much so that the Mancs had to invent an injury to break up our momentum. It worked. We lost the impetus and Man u attacked us again in waves. And then it happened. The Ox, who had impressed and must be a worry for Theo, looked to see his number was up. The loudest noise you hear at the Ems these days are the boos and boy did they ring out. The crowd were disagreeing with the manager. We wanted to win and this particular teenager was going to deliver it. The captain visually booed too. It was a strange one but we really don't know the manager's thinking. Maybe he had good reason. Maybe he was wrong. However, chants of 'you don't know what you're doing' are extraordinary.
The boos at the decision turned to a standing ovation for the young man. He had shown why Arsene paid so much for him - a good long term decision, but let's not consider that, lets just boo the manager at subbing him. The applause then turned to boos again as Arshavin ran on. Incredible way to welcome a player low on confidence that we need to perform. How does that reaction bring the best out of a player? I understand we all pay too much to watch The Arsenal. I understand the frustrations but surely the bare minimum is we get behind the manager & team while the games are actually going on. To boo the manager & players is as stupid as sending abuse to players on twitter. What are these people trying to achieve. Whatever happened to 'We are the Arsenal?'
By all means get on t'internet and have your say. I understand some people who want Wenger to go it's just I don't agree. He has done so much for our club he deserves more respect than he is getting from sections of the crowd. I suggested on twitter last night that these people never offer an alternative. I was bombarded with suggestions, most Guardiola! Excellent! He can bring Messi and Fabregas with him. Everything's going to be OK. Sack the man who has installed these high expectations into you and give the job to the Barcelona manager who I'm sure has always wanted the Arsenal job. What if Pep prefers the Spanish weather? Neil Warnock?
Sack the manager who oversaw our move to a massive new stadium and yet kept us in the top 4? Sack the manager who built the invincibles? Maybe these people are right. Maybe Arsene has lost his way. Maybe things have gone stale. The spirit seems low. The passing, breath taking football has gone. We seem to stumble into wins instead of beating them. The squad's quality is as poor as ever. Things have got to change but changing the manager is the last resort. We need to buy some more quality. It's clear to see yet the manager refuses. He is far too experienced to neglect the obvious need that I really believe the money isn't there. The wages we are wasting on average squad players is draining and this needs addressing. There are 3 utterly crap goalkeepers we could dump for a start. I'd also look at the backroom staff. There are enough people like Adams, Keown or Winterburn knocking about who could do a job in installing discipline and a winning mentality. I'm still very much an Arsenist & will be until things get much worse and the board can convince me they are able to find a competent replacement as I wouldn't trust them to pick me a sandwich at the moment. There is so much we can do before the best manager this club has ever had is sacked starting with backing him and the players we have in the stadium at the very least.
- written in bits throughout the morning in various North London locations and posted using magic.