Everyone's culpable

It is widely known that Arsenal has the biggest presence on social medias. Which is also particularly why it’s sometimes very hard to be on any social network after an Arsenal defeat. Especially in a week where we were trounced in a Champions League away match and knocked out of the FA Cup in a space of 3 days. There’s a lot of anger on the internet and unfortunately, rightly so.

I’m not going to sit here and judge what we’ve accomplished this season because the season is far from over. For a company, it is easy to review the performance of one single year. Targets set out at the start of the year versus the target achieved at a certain point of the year. For a football club, the judgement is a little tougher to make.

Many things changes over a season. While we don’t want to rely on the results of others, the reality is that what happens to the other clubs affects us as well. Imagine if both Manchester clubs and Tottenham had only won 5 games all of this season (hypothetically speaking). Would our season be considered a disaster? I doubt it.

Crashing out of competitions are always hard to take. Happens to the best of teams. TheInvinciblesteam never managed to reach a Champions League semifinal. Barcelona were beaten by Mourinho’s Inter Milan. Comes back to where we positioned ourselves at the start of the season. Many pundits/experts didn’t gave us a ghost of a chance of anywhere near Champions League qualification spot. I thought we would qualify for another season in the elitist European competition and perhaps a domestic cup trophy.

So, the chance to win any cup competition has passed us by. A two-legged tie isn’t over until the second leg is played but I’m not holding my breath out for a 5-0 win at the Grove. I would be lying if I say that is not disappointing at all. Going out to Sunderland is more disappointing because of the quality of the opponents. Man for man, we had the better player (speaking in general, don’t start naming names) and yet as Lee Cattermole said “they were more up for it”.

A former player and manager has come up with scathing remarks on the state of the club at the moment. Emmanuel Petit and George Graham has both come out and slammed the management of the squad. Not even Arsene Wenger managed to escaped the criticism. There’s a lot of truth in what both are saying. Though poignantly, both are in agreement that Wenger is still the best man for the job. A sentiment I very much agree with.

The questions has remained pretty much the same for a couple of years now. Mental strength and nous of defending as a team. On this topic, I beg to differ. Who says this team do not have mental strength. People seem to forgot how we regroup and churn out a run of positive results. Results that were testing every part of that attribute. What else can you read from coming back from behind to win away at Udinese, Chelsea and Sunderland or the home cup match against Aston Villa.

Then, the part about defending better as a team. Didn’t we do that away at Marseille, away at Dortmund and at home to Everton. You must remember that when we were lauded for our brilliant defending in those games, we did not field the same set of defenders for any of those games. Mixing and matching up defence almost never helps. This group of players have been able to achieve the task that was required of them.

The problem is not so much that we lacked those qualities, but rather we don’t show those qualities enough on a consistent basis. I only named 9 games as examples (there could be more depending on your interpretation) but we’ve already played 40 games this season. Slightly over 20% consistency is not good enough for any club, let alone Arsenal Football Club. If you think this is about a sense of entitlement then you’re at the wrong place because that’s not what I meant.

Where does the lack of consistency come from? The obvious one would be injuries. It’s no surprise that the best run of results we have this season is when we had the most stable selection of players. Perhaps during that period we were alternating between Carl Jenkinson and Johan Djourou for the right back spot, but the rest of the team remains almost always the same. The familiarity of playing with the same team mates definitely helps.

The other two is more individual. Manager or the players. I’ve never been in the dressing room during any of those matches, so I can’t say whether Wenger is an inspirational speaker or not. It is his job to ensure that his players are up to the task physically and psychologically. If the manager/coaching staff had done their part, then it’s down to the motivation of players. Are they already thinking of their future away from the club? Are they worried too much about getting their body on the line and injuring themselves?

The AST meeting yesterday seemed to have brought up a lot of discussion amongst fans and quite a few of those made the papers. The topic surrounds centrally on the money that’s will be made available to Wenger (or Arsenal manager, depending where you stand) in the summer. You can find out more here, here and here. As I’ve alluded to earlier, money may not be the answer to all the problems.