Some pundits were shocked by last night’s Champions League humiliation at home to Monaco, some fans were too. I wasn’t. I thought Arsenal would win 2-0, because half of Monaco’s first team was injured, but I wasn’t shocked at what happened – not in the slightest.
However, Wenger’s incompetence reached a new low last night. I didn’t think Wenger’s ineptitude could get any lower, but remarkably it did.
As soon as I saw the team sheet, I knew Wenger could easily mess this up.
I couldn’t believe the inexperienced Coquelin was left to protect the back four with only Ozil and Cazorla ahead of him. In a big Champions League game, a player who was playing for Charlton a few months ago was tasked with being the enforcer behind two clueless man markers that will never track a late run from midfield.
At the very least, Monaco were going to get chances.
As the match unravelled, it was plain to see how Wenger’s tactical set up was failing. Full backs Gibbs and Bellerin’s ineffective bombing raids forced Sanchez and Welbeck to come in-field, which only played into Monaco’s hands. And because both defenders were too far advanced, manager Leonardo Jardim’s wide players had more space and freedom to receive the ball at the other end, which gave Coquelin too much ground to cover in the absence of his full backs or fellow midfielders. Mertesacker’s lack of pace was frequently exposed as the centre backs got stretched.
Arsenal fell behind to a deflected shot, but Wenger is to blame for that for allowing his opponents too much space in a non-existent midfield.
Wrong players, wrong tactics - Arsenal were beating themselves, but I knew Wenger would not change anything tactically. At half-time, I thought the players would get a rollocking, redouble their efforts, but if Monaco could keep it tight for 5-10 minutes the game would sink back into the same pattern, and not only did that happen, but it got worse as Arsenal grew frustrated and lost what little discipline they had.
With no leadership from the manager and none on the pitch, Monaco’s counter-attacking threat increased. As Arsenal pushed up, Mertesacker’s pace became yet more exposed. If Wenger was going to risk a high line, he should of at least taken the German off and put Gabriel on. Instead, he made the worst substitution I’ve ever seen him make – he removed Coquelin and replaced him with Oxlade-Chamberlain, leaving the defence brutally bare.
That decision was an abomination. It ended up 3-1, but could have easily been 5-1!
Arsenal’s attack was completely dysfunctional. Giroud is an unpredictable finisher – even from 5 yards, Sanchez won’t hold his position, Ozil looked lost in the maze, Cazorla’s runs came from too deep, and he kept losing possession. None of the players could predict a pass or pattern of play; it simply didn’t work.
Ozil is an arrogant big-head, but so is Dimitar Berbatov. Neither have anything to offer unless you build half the team around them; a team that does all their running - because they shouldn't be running if you play them right; they're the metronome that the attack functions around. Only an intelligent manager can get the best out of either player, but Wenger’s tactics made that game perfect for Berbatov, while Ozil looked like a £42m joke. What’s more, Jardim had the balls to take Berbatov off – despite the player's annoyance, and his replacement scored. Wenger was too scared to remove Ozil – he chickened out!
Wenger is a colossal halfwit that’s so out-of-his-depth in the Champions League it’s embarrassing.
Did he scout Monaco effectively? No. Did he set up his team correctly? No. Having got it wrong, did he adapt his team’s shape to counter the opposition/rectify his mistakes? No. Did he provide leadership/instructions from the bench? No. Did he underestimate Monaco? Definitely; playing a 5-man attack tells you that. Pure arrogance.
I wouldn’t blame the players – they didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing. Even if some players should shoulder some of the blame, it’s up to the manager to sort it out at half-time; calm things down, instil confidence, change the system, make substitutions, issue new instructions – but things only got worse.
Sanchez needs to get out – he’s too good for this shambles. Ozil can’t be happy – he’s going to ruin the rest of his career playing at Arsenal. Both players must be looking at Wenger and comparing him to previous managers they’ve worked with. One minute you’re working under prep kings like Mourinho/Klopp/Guardiola, the next a tactical dumbass like Wenger.
Can the Gunners turn this tie around? Only if the pressure gets to Monaco and they have some sort of horrible brain freeze.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Arsenal is the living dead with Wenger in charge. But I enjoyed the game, and laughed out loud when the third goal went in, because humiliation and embarrassment is exactly what Wenger, the board and his braindead supporters deserve.
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