Arsenal stutter as the embarrassment continues
New weekly article by Dominic Athwal, a lifelong Arsenal fan, focusing on all things Arsenal.
What transpired over this weekend was probably the lowest point in my time as an Arsenal fan. Sure, I’ve experienced defeat many times and it always hurts, but this felt much worse and I’ll explain why. Arsene chose to field a number of players who he has consistently showed little faith in; Wilshere, Holding and Chambers together with a number of players who are completely unproven; Iwobi and Maitland-Niles. As a result, I wasn’t surprised with the defeat. Yes, the players didn’t play well but can you really blame them? Chambers, Holding, Iwobi and Maitland-Niles are not of a calibre to be classed as top tier players and it would be naïve to think so, just because they play for Arsenal.
The game itself was a pretty drab affair for 60 minutes with neither side showing much cutting edge. A fairly simple move on the right hand side of the pitch led to Bellerin’s goal and Bournemouth’s subsequent fightback. From there, it was all Bournemouth as they began playing at a tempo Arsenal simply couldn’t handle. Two well taken goals from inexcusable goal keeping and defensive errors left the Gunners staring at a 5 point gap between them and 5th placed Spurs and an even larger 8 point gap between them and the Champions League spots. Simply put, the team selection, performance and tactics were poor.
The game itself was a product of the thinking that has been going on at Arsenal over the past decade. The lack of ambition, the willingness to let their stars go and the reluctance to spend money are just a few of the factors which led Arsenal to field such a weak team. Gone are the days where the smaller teams would just roll over and die. All teams in the Premier League have big budgets together with some of the best young managers in the world and often what separates the “big” from the “small” is the presence of world class players and elite talent. The lack of top talent in that Arsenal team was so glaringly obvious, it makes one wonder whether this approach has been calculated (for what reason, I’m still not sure…..).
Talking about world class players, Arsenal are on the brink of losing the only two they own. News over the weekend was at fever pitch regarding Alexis Sanchez’s imminent departure to one of the Manchester superpowers. It appears Manchester United are the likely destination, but it appears the player would prefer a move to Manchester City instead. I think at this stage (Monday 15th January at the time of writing) the only thing that’s certain is that he will not be an Arsenal player next week.
There is a modicum of positive news for Arsenal fans though as the club is being linked with a number of stars, none better than “bad-boy” Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. If Arsenal could somehow keep hold of Ozil and bring in Aubameyang they would definitely have an outside chance of reclaiming a Champions League spot. However it doesn’t feel like a very Arsenal move, so I won’t be getting excited until it actually happens.
I’ll leave you with this, after the Bournemouth game a passionate Liverpool fan and long-time Arsenal hater told me “I no longer think its funny, I feel sorry for you guys. Its sad, very sad”. Can it get much worse? Europa League anyone?