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Arsenal's Season Isn't Over Yet So Let's Support Them

Match Review: Arsenal 1 Watford 2 - FA Cup 13.03.16

If you thought the 4-0 win over Hull and the fabled player meeting signalled the end of our poor run of form, you’d have been wrong, as our alarming collapse nears completion. With the Champions League elimination a certainty and our Premier League challenge hanging by the thinest of thin threads, the FA Cup, once again, represented pretty much our only option for silverware this year. But after sixteen games, four trips to Wembley and two consecutive titles, we were finally beaten in the Cup and a season on life-support took a lurch towards death’s door.

Wenger named a mix of first team and fringe players in the team, with Chambers and Gibbs starting in defence while Alexis and Özil both started in attack. Elneny continued in midfield with Coquelin back from suspension and the manager kept faith with Giroud and Campbell too. It’s a shame then, that no matter which eleven Arsene Wenger sends out at the moment, the story is the same.

I feel like I could reach back and do this match report from any number of games in the past. Maybe I should put some templates together, because we’ve seen this type of game many times before, more than we should have done over the last ten years. You cannot afford to underestimate teams and only show up once you’re losing against any team, let alone a well drilled Premier League outfit like Watford. Replace Watford with any team you like over the last ten or so years that we’ve thought we can roll over and then been beaten by. Watford didn’t even play particularly well to beat us, we gifted them the goals through shoddy defending.

Danny Welbeck’s goal and late chance to draw us level proves that we had the ability to create and score chances and yet for 87 minutes that ability was absent it seemed. Why on earth can’t we start games the way we finished the game on Sunday? We’ve shown that we can on occasion and when we do we can blow teams away spectacularly. If we’re going to be arrogant and turn up with the mentality that we’re a level above the opposition, why is it not an attitude of ‘we’re going to stick three past you in the first twenty minutes’. Instead we turn up thinking we can just play the ball around nonchalantly until an opening appears. Even when that opening appears though, we never take the chance.

It’s hard to not look at this pattern and think that big changes are needed and that Arsene Wenger is no longer the man to preside over these changes, more that he is one of the things that need changing. Wenger is a club legend, the greatest manager in our history, the most successful in our history and he has sacrificed a lot for the Arsenal. He’s given us trophies and guided us through one of the most difficult periods in our history as we built the Emirates. I will not entertain abuse and false accusations towards him, the man has his flaws as every one of us does, but he cares deeply about Arsenal and will be as disappointed as anyone at our recent form. You can argue that his time is up without the vile and vitriolic abuse.

The trouble at Arsenal is that while Wenger continues to achieve top four league finishes, Stan Kroenke will be more than happy to let his investment tick over. Arsenal is simply a tool for silent Stan, used to finance other ventures and to secure his company’s financial status. He does not give one solitary shit whether we win the Cup or the League as long as we continue to achieve a respectable league position and turn a healthy profit. Kroenke’s only interest is in maintaining the financial status quo. That’s not to say he’s against us winning things, he just doesn’t care either way and he has openly admitted as such.

There is also the problem of who we could potentially replace Arsene Wenger with. I doubt that he will leave before the end of his contract, so the managerial merry-go-round may well have shifted the managerial landscape again, but if he was to leave this summer we’d struggle to find a suitable replacement. Ancelotti will be at Bayern, Guardiola at City, Klopp has committed to Liverpool and beyond that, there isn’t a huge amount of choice. Now obviously Arsene Wenger came out of nowhere and was an instant success, but Wenger is a one in a million manager. We simply won’t find another manager like him ever again. You only have to look at Manchester United to see what potentially lies ahead for us.

However, whilst it has been a bitterly disappointing early end to the season, there are still nine more games to play. I’m not saying that we’ve still got a chance in the league, I’m saying that we have to get behind the team and hope they can turn their form around enough to hold on to our position in the top four and maybe even overhaul Sp*rs. We can debate about Wenger and the board and whatever else vexes us, but things aren’t changing before the end of the season. Let’s get behind the players and try and lift them as they limp towards the end of the season.


Arsenal (4-2-3-1)
Ospina, Chambers, Mertesacker, Gabriel, Gibbs, Coquelin, Elneny (Iwobi 67’), Alexis, Özil (Y), Campbell (Welbeck 68’), Giroud (Walcott 68’)
Macey, Bellerin, Monreal, Flamini, Walcott, Iwobi, Welbeck

Watford (4-4-2)
Pantillimon (Y), Nyom, Prödl, Cathcart, Aké, Behrami, Watson, Capoué (Anya 73’), Guedioura (Abdi 77’), Ighalo (Amrabat 82’), Deeney
Gomes, Suarez, Jurado, Oularé, Amrabat, Anya, Abdi

Player Ratings

Ospina - 7/10 - Didn’t do anything wrong
Chambers - 4/10 - The more he plays at right back, the more he looks like a centre back
Mertesacker - 5/10 - Poor for both goals
Gabriel - 5/10 - Solid apart from a horrible lunging challenge that should have seen red
Gibbs - 6/10 - Can’t remember him doing much wrong, reasonable going forward
Coquelin - 5/10 - All over the place for their second, lost the ball a few times
Elneny - 7/10 - Continues to look like a tidy, promising player, needs shooting practise though…
Alexis - 5/10 - Continues to look frustrated and lost
Özil - 7/10 - Must be horrible to see so much of his work go to waste
Campbell - 6/10 - Reasonable, but his reliance on his left foot hampers him
Giroud - 5/10 - A poor follow up to a good performance in the week
Iwobi - 6/10 - Looks a talented player, but his end product is poor at the moment
Walcott - 4/10 - Did sweet f/a
Welbeck - 7/10 - Looks our best attacking option at the moment, despite his bad miss

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Tags: FA Cup, Arsenal vs Watford, Arsenal crash out of FA Cup, Season Over

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