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Familiar problems caused an all too predictable collapse

There may be 37 games left; the transfer window may still be open and Arsenal will most probably sign one or several players; however Arsenal’s shocking performance was one we should have expected.

I do not want to give full responsibility to Arsène Wenger for this disaster but there are a number of things that I just do not understand. Against Liverpool the defence was the main issue, with only two young, inexperienced centre-backs available, one of whom has just arrived at the club.

Wenger cited a “lack of experience” as a deciding factor in the result and you have to question if he was being serious or not. Wenger likes talking about experience, especially at the back and in big games, so why did we play Chambers and Holding? They had never played before in a competitive match and the more experienced of the two – Calum Chambers – struggled to string two games together last season. He doesn’t get any experience when he isn’t playing so Wenger can't say Arsenal needs more experience when he isn’t giving any to players who need it the most.

We've desperately needed a new centre-back for a while now – even before Gabriel and Mertesacker's injuries. We had all summer to sign one and we didn’t. Then we lost two senior players to injury, knowing our third senior defender wasn’t fit and we still didn't sign anyone. Why? We've known the PL fixtures for two months now, so we knew we were facing Liverpool as the opening fixture and that is was always going to be a tough game and there was a good chance Koscielny would go so far with France he’d miss the start of the season. We knew this.

This is why I question Wenger's way of thinking; you can’t say we lack experience at the back and then not move to address that problem timely. In fact we haven't addressed any of our recurrent problems. We can point out two specific positions: centre-back and striker – we’ve known what we’ve had to do and we haven’t. And that’s before even mentioning the tactical issues we have and the lack of creativity.

Let’s look at tactics for a moment. We played our first game of the season with Alexis Sanchez up front when he has never been (very) convincing in that position. It was always going to be confirmed once more against Liverpool. Is it a surprise to hear Wenger told Akpom he wouldn’t be considered for a loan until the end of August because he may be needed? It’s a bit different for Chambers who should be learning alongside a Mertesacker or Koscielny but when you play a lone striker you can’t start your season with an unexperienced youngster as a genuine option.

I agree 100% we must play some young players, but to promote youngsters you've got to put them in good conditions, not use them as “gap fillers” only to throw them in at the deep end because we’re already sinking.

I don't like the idea of spending money for the sake of it, but we know the areas where we desperately need to spend. We need to because first of all you want Arsenal to compete with the other super teams, and then because you want to strengthen the team. Nobody will convince me that the current squad is good enough and that we can win the title in its current state – even when Özil, Koscielny and Giroud are back.

It seems we are not really trying to do business with long thoughts, but rather reactionary moves. We’re making signings based on injuries, not shortcomings. Trying to sign a defender after two injuries or trying to sign a striker after when your 2nd choice out of two is long-term injured is madness. What impression does it give to the market? That we can be taken advantage of which leads to overreliance on players we should have cut adrift a long while back.


We've had days, weeks, and months to shape a balanced squad and lay the foundations of a competitive team yet here we are giving great importance to players who have had dozens and dozens of chances to prove Wenger right and haven’t.

We're not aware of everything that is for sure. We don't attend every training session, the media can’t report every single club action so we can't factually say what it's down to, we can only guess. I believe Wenger has his preferences, in terms of individuals, and sometimes, I must say, I feel he does pick players regardless of their impact or level during matches.

I know Arsenal probably can't compete financially with some other teams, I know that Arsenal isn't always the players' first choice when they seek a move, but we can surely bring in a few quality players that can be more than just “good for the squad” or “could do a job”. Let's stop thinking about the could-do-a-job players and focus on improving the quality of the squad.

I'm not asking for marquee players who'd cost +100M, I know it won't happen and probably it's a good thing, but just some players who would improve the quality of the team and address some flaws.

What struck me most when I look back at it now, is the arrival of Xhaka, in May. It was ridiculous. We never usually do business so early and I thought it was encouraging. I thought we'd be done by now and could focus on playing football.

Losing at home and conceding 4 goals on opening day doesn’t mean we can’t still win the league but it’s a dreadfully scary start. Overall I wasn't surprised by our defeat, and wasn't surprised when we were 4-1 down. Arsenal played with an inexperienced pair of center backs, a weak midfield and a silent attacking front. And that is without Liverpool being all that good.

We haven't been great at defending for years and I have my doubts that we even play beautiful football any more. I doubt that we can even be considered tactically strong and have no idea what a realistic hope for this season is. I do know that the club has failed to give us any optimism and the concerns of fans today cannot simply be dismissed as club-bashing negativity.

Only Arsenal’s actions in the next two weeks can give the fans a semblance of hope. Will they do it? I want to be optimistic but our summer activity, much like this result to Liverpool, is all too familiar.

With love (and anger) from France.

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Tags: Arsenal summer transfer window, Match thoughts, Summer transfers

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