There is something terrible in the air around the Arsenal, they have got to be smoking something really bad. Like funky, and not the funk of the James Brown variety but something really putrid and insidious. How else can one explain the sheer dereliction of duty by everyone at the club, from top to bottom?
When news broke earlier in the week that Italian club Inter FC were bidding for Arsenal’s German defender Shkodran Mustafi and the manager in his pre-Liverpool press conference refused to categorically deny the possibility of his sale, it set the alarms ringing all across the fanbase. Selling one of your senior players, particularly one that plays in an area of the team that surely needs improvement without a plan in place for a replacement, only a week after selling another defender for what seems like a nominal fee is not how a professional football club should be run. I don’t think.
And the rumours that the players the manager is selling/sold are those recruited on the recommendation of StatDNA, the US-based data company that promises to provide expert analysis about everything from identifying new players to post-game tactical analysis does not really help matters.
Something is not right with the club for sure. You can almost smell it.
The spin the club put out after Arsene Wenger signed a new contract last season was that it would be a catalyst for change at the club, particularly when it comes to player recruitment and team improvement. And the first and two signings of the summer seemed to prove that the club was keeping to its word. But that is where it all ended and began to fall apart.
The first two matches of the Premier League season didn’t provide much comfort though, the familiar failings of the past repeating themselves once again. And any hope that there would be the beginnings of a change to the way the team is prepared for big games disappeared with the release of the team sheet for the Liverpool game.
Once again, the manager persisted with his three at the back formation with captain for the game, Laurent Koscienly returning to the side in place of summer signing Saed Kolasinac. The other summer signing, Alexander Lacazette, Arsenal’s record signing, also missed out with want-away Alexis Sanchez making his first appearance of the season. Makes you wonder what the thought was when he was recruited if he can’t start in big games like this.
From the get-go, it was clear the Arsenal was going to stink the place. So when Sadio Mane turned the incomprehensibly terrible Rob Holding inside out and bent the ball past Petr Cech into the net to double the lead for the home team, it was fully deserved.
Time and time again, the Arsenal team gave away possession cheaply and failed to maintain any grip on the game. The midfield pairing of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka seemed nonexistent and were bypassed by will by the effervescent Emre Can. Despite Liverpool playing the shaky Karius, the Arsenal frontline of Danny Welbeck, Sanchez and Mesut Ozil never threatened his goal. The writer of this piece could have been in goal and the timid attackers wouldn’t be able to do anything about the scoreline, despite that the last time this writer played as a goalkeeper for more that five minutes, Emmanuel Petit still played for the Arsenal.
It didn’t even get better in the second half despite the change in players and formation; Francis Coquelin coming on for Aaron Ramsey and the team reverting to a back four. Admittedly, there were early signs of improvement in the team’s play but everything was undone by Hector Bellerin’s erratic touch from an Arsenal corner.
When you have been watching football for as long as I have been (more than two decades now), you begin to notice certain patterns common to each and every team, no matter the level of play or country. For example, when a team has a corner, at least one centre back has to go up for the corner, with two defensive players, usually the two full backs, staying back around the halfway line to deal with any counterattack.
But that is too good for Arsenal. Instead when Bellerin failed to control an easy high ball, he was the only Arsenal player not encroaching on the Liverpool penalty box. Absolutely ridiculously defending. Ditto for the fourth goal.
There is definitely something smelling going on at the club. It cannot be a coincidence when both senior players and the manager seem to down tools on the same match day. I don’t like conspiracy theories but something doesn’t smell right.
I also do not like to overanalyse and armchair-manage the club. I am only a fan and not privy to the inner workings of the club. I just want to see my team play exciting football and win occasionally. Is that too much to ask?
Something needs to change and change pretty soon. If someone needs to leave, be it the manager, owner or uncommitted players, then that person needs to get the hell out of the club. Pronto.
Right now, this team stinks to the high heavens!