First comes rage…

That was as pitiful a performance as I have seen since Spurs beat Arsenal 5-1 and promptly had a bunch of mugs and tee shirts and videos printed up.

There is this sort of starry-eyed optimism that Wenger often preaches.  Of course, you have to have faith if you’re going to manage a team at the highest level.  But Wenger’s faith in a player like Eboue is mind-boggling at times.  As I said when he first moved Eboue to the central midfield role, we would have to wait and see if it was a master stroke or enormous flop.  As of yesterday?  It’s a flop.

Lost isn’t a strong enough adjective for what Eboue was doing in the center of the park.  Was he loster?  I don’t know.  I do know that Denilson was actually “loster” than Eboue. Which would make Denilson’s performance yesterday what?  Brimming over with lostitude?  Nah, it was just pitiful.

And, of course, without a proper midfield the perfect little world that Wenger creates on the pitch, that world where movement and passing is king, falls to pieces rather quickly.  Without a proper midfield stopper, the defense is exposed.  Without a proper midfield creator, the attack is toothless.  And since neither Denilson nor Eboue seemed able to make a pass we didn’t even have beautiful football to watch.  It was the kind of game that you want to switch off.  The kind of game you want to leave early to beat the traffic.

Yesterday exposed the fact that more than ever, this team has nothing to fall back on.  I don’t mean the personnel, personnel be damned for a moment.  I mean a playing style.  The team, like a religious fanatic, just kept trying the same formula over and over.  When the beautiful game fails, you need a backup plan.  If the backup plan has to be Lump and Crunch that’s fine by me but a backup plan, any backup plan is surely needed.  Because even if Arsene spends Chelsea money to bring players in (as everyone seems to want) there will still be days like yesterday and champions overcome days like yesterday.  Certainly, Fabregas’ target and this writer’s fantasy signing (Xabi Alonso) would have added a lot of quality to the center of the park yesterday.  But the facts are that even with Alonso, Arsenal could have played poorly yesterday.  What Arsenal need, to be champions is both new signings and a backup plan.  And the truth is that Arsenal, right now, are not a championship quality team.

And who is it that’s supposed to whip the team up?  Change their formation?  Make them win?  The captain.  And yesterday, captain fabulous made one mistake and crawled into his sulking little shell and let the whole game just fall apart around him.  It was as poor a display from William Gallas as I have seen both in letting in the goal and in the captaincy.  I keep imagining the theatrics that Gallas would have launched into had Toure let that big oaf score on him like that; so completely and without even a hint of effort from the defender. Whenever I think of something like that it’s actually comical to me to let that man continue as captain of this team.  For me, addressing this issue of William Gallas as cheerleader captain of Arsenal is actually more important than signing new players.  Because Denilson’s going to be called upon to perform again, and if he starts having the kind of nightmare he had yesterday the captain needs to snap him out of it.  William Gallas just cannot seem to do it.

Up front, you can’t really be too mad.  Ade only had the one chance, really, which he narrowly missed.  And for all the criticism that “Adebayor is profligate” it was RvP who looked wasteful to me, not Ade.  But that’s what happens when you can’t get service and you’re not Thierry Henry quality.  Neither of Arsenal’s strikers, right now, are Thierry Henry quality; take over a game and create something from nothing.

If either of them were, Arsenal would have at least rescued a draw.

The boss has his work cut out for him now.  He’s calling for an enourmous performance against FC Twente.  Hell, I just want a decent performance.  Let’s start there and work our way up, shall we?


7 Responses to “First comes rage…”

  1. 1 Matt
    August 24, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Strip him of the armband and he will sulk even more.

    Or will it maybe light a fire under him?

    With Cesc hurt however, I see no other player that could fill the role any better.

  2. 2 Matt
    August 24, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Oh, and I still believe this is a championship quality side that is hitting a rough patch, mainly do to injuries.

    Better to have those injuries now than in April.

  3. 3 James
    August 24, 2008 at 7:59 am

    For the life of me I cannot understand why Djouro was dropped after his outstanding performances so far in pre-season /west brom etc.

    And why oh why did Denilson not get subbed yesterday……Wenger has clearly lost the plot and I have lost a great deal of respect for him after all that has happened in the last few months.

  4. 4 meditation
    August 24, 2008 at 9:35 am

    what nobody has mentioned on all the blogs is that arsenal have had to play internationals . toure eboue adebayor was in africa . clichy and sagna and gallas played 90 minutes. vela in mexico. nasri injured. wenger said he only had 1 player in training this weak. van persie played for holland ,song in the olympics and some of these players started pre season late. players have had to cover and became tired ie wilshire and ramsey so no rotating has happened. we have played twente on the wendsday then westbrom on the early saturday then the flying and playing around the world with internationals then playing a fulham side that isnt really full of internationals. it isnt no crisis . we will be strong. how come man u and chelsea have played on the sunday and then chelsea this sunday and man u on monday yet th,ey have not had any champions league qualifiers. i thought the premier league fixtures list is supposed to be random. bollocks! negativity brings negativity so how can the negative fans be angry at their own manifestations. liverpool fans understand the 12th man theory thats why they support the players on that pitch no matter what. we as fans have just as big a job to help win as the players ,managers and board. negative fans are going against the clubs motto. hence bringing unbalance aswell. ive never heard fans booing somebody who chose to stay loyal. they are just doing rival fans jobs but inhouse which will have a much more detrimental effect. arsenal fans need belief beyond belief to be assumed but to allow the supprise to commence . to have faith that this team can be great beyond what they are now. nobody expected the ac milan , real madrid , inter milan, roma, manu 1-0 results. or fabregas, henry ,reyes, viera,anelka, toure, wilshire,edu,silvinho,many more and many more to come. yet people doubt. arsenal have broken football records in world an domestic football. which means it hasnt been done before so there is something consistently special there which i bet is down to arsene. now is the time for total support because the wind is pushing against us but that doesnt mean the sun cant shine at the same time. peace

  5. August 24, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Good point about staying upbeat. The title of the article is a play on the “stages of grief” theory; acceptance will come, the fans all support Arsenal, don’t worry.

    The only problem I have with your statement is that it’s an excuse. Yes, Arsenal were tired. Yes, they are all just now recovering fitness. Yes, only Denilson and Almunia were available for practice. Those are all excuses. It’s not like Internationals were suddenly sprung on Wenger. He knew what was coming up.

    And worse, the internationals don’t explain Denilson’s performance because he was rested. Frankly, his work rate was not up to snuff, his passes were poor and his vision was poor. This has happened to him before. He’s well known for putting in one good performance and following it up with a bad.

    Sorry, I can’t put it down to just saying it’s the internationals. There were more problems than just saying “oh the guys are tired.”

  6. 6 Gooner_14
    August 24, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Thank You, Matt and Meditation. Firstly i would like to say this is just a one off performance. Not many of the players who played yesterday have had a full pre season so were still rusty and the internationals didn’t help. Van Persie still needs games as he has missed a lot of football.

    As for Eboue playing in midfield Wenger can’t be blamed, Fabregas and Diaby injured, Ramsey looking tired with Song only just back from the Olympics he had no other alternative.

    Finally Denilson looked tired yesterday, he has started virtually every pre season game from Barnet to WBA last week. He lloked very good against WBA and will need a breather against Twente.

    With the Euros in the summer, the CL qualifiers and all the injuries the start of the season is the most difficult. Once the team lose their rustynes and the injured players return you will see Arsenal put together a good run for the league.

    ‘Arsene Knows’

  7. 7 jonnyz
    August 24, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t know what to think anymore, I’ve just read Wenger doesn’t plan on any ‘panic’ buying. Whose got time for panic when we’re busy feeling embarrased? I am of the same mind on Gallas. He’s supposed to be our leadership and precious experience on the squad and he’s proving the opposite.

    There are no excuses for a performance like that and there should be consequences. Several starters yesterday should be on the bench. With 30 mil to spend we can bring in more able players, but maybe Wenger’s too humiliated to look to the market for salvation? I still have faith in Wenger but the youth policy and associated transfer activity have been taken to the extreme and it’s not coming up roses. A couple of signings or even three if we get one steal such as annan, maybe spend 20 mil and we can have a shot at winning something.

    Wenger has stayed true and kept the faith with his youngsters but are they doing him the same? It’s early in the season and things change and for me it couldn’t be soon enough.

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