Wigan, an embarrassing victory

If there was ever a ‘bad’ way to win, this was it, as Arsenal limped towards the FA Cup Final like a neutered cat.

The semi-final was dire to watch. Wigan looked every inch the toothless Championship side, against a bunch of frightened chickens, shot to pieces by Wenger’s non-existent motivation and outmoded tactics.

The same people that decree Arsenal “don’t have the money to compete” seemed to find it perfectly acceptable that Arsenal might struggle, despite fielding a team that cost £92.2m compared to Wigan’s £12.6m.

Injuries, injuries, injuries. What would Wigan give to start a game with any player fielded by Arsenal on Saturday?

Moreover, watching the Arsenal players celebrate winning the penalty shootout as if they’d won the competition itself was pretty demeaning. Although I understand the sense of relief, the wild celebrations were embarrassing considering their level of performance and lowly opposition.

This is the result of the environment that Wenger has created within the club, where standards are lowered to match his excuses, and players think beating a championship side is a great achievement.

People say it’s ALL about the result. In a final perhaps, but generally speaking, it’s not. Performances are an indicator of the future, and win or no win, nothing in Arsenal’s performance on Saturday was anything to be proud of. That’s not to say Arsenal did not deserve to win any more than Wigan did, but it was just another placard displayed in front of the nation’s millions of yet another horribly sub-standard performance reaffirming yet another end-of-season capitulation.

If winning the FA Cup means getting rid of Wenger on a phony high, I hope Arsenal win the FA Cup. And if he intends to leave should Arsenal cock-up the final against Hull, then I hope Arsenal lose.

Meanwhile, two teams continue to make a mockery of the no 1 excuse Wenger bitterly offers up when his back’s against the wall. Liverpool and Atletico Madrid are both now within touching distance of winning their respective leagues on a budget lower than Arsenal’s and way below the likes of their cash rich competitors: Chelsea, Man City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

I hope they both do enough to win their respective titles, and even if they don’t it’s another huge vindication of what I’ve written for years – money gets you into a position to compete, no more than that.

Wenger knows this of course, but even up to his press conference on Friday the oily coward was still banging on about injuries and FFP. I long for the day this duplicitous liar leaves and I get my Arsenal back – please god it’s soon and the suffering can end.


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Damning verdict four years ago still stands today!

It's not often I look at posts I've previously written, but today I travelled back in time to April 2010 - four years ago, and read the content of my own Arsenal 2 Barcelona 2 match report.

The purpose of this blog piece is not to big myself up, but to try to gauge how I could foresee four years ago what so many Arsenal fans still cannot see today. And wonder what makes them think that if Wenger continued, things would be any different four years from now.

Here are some excerpts from that match report:

31/03/2010: Champions League Quarter Final Leg 1: Arsenal 2 Barcelona 2

"It was only a miracle that the Gunners were not a handful down as Wenger’s tactical ineptness was brutally exposed.

"For all Wenger’s genius in turning youth into world class talent and assembling teams capable of playing excellent pass and move football, I'm absolutely convinced that, tactically, he’s the worst top level manager in the business – and the first half proved that beyond any reasonable doubt.

"Yes, Barcelona are an excellent team, but for Arsenal to get utterly obliterated in this fashion on home turf is quite frankly a disgrace. Let's not forget, FK Rubin Kazan drew with and beat Barca in the group stages - but thanks to Wenger, they made Arsenal look a pub team.

"His choice to play injured players was selfish and detrimental; his team played too deep, and the man-marking was utterly shocking – both in open play and from set pieces. For some reason, players were closing down individually - not as a team, when one tackled, the others were standing 10 yards away so nobody was on hand to pick up the loose ball.

"As it happened, it didn't matter - for all their flair and technique, Barcelona won almost every tackle.

"The wide forwards did practically nothing to protect the full backs, there was no communication or leadership from anyone, anywhere on the pitch - and no organisation. Half the team was going one way, and half the other, meanwhile Barcelona were having a party in the space between.

"There were two or three occasions when three or four Barcelona players were left unmarked IN THE BOX!

"It seemed as if God was on Arsenal’s side at the Emirates last night as Arsenal were ripped to shreds by a rampant Barcelona, but through sheer good fortune – and good goalkeeping (for 15 minutes) – somehow clawed their way back into the match.

"The fact is, after watching last night’s game and despite the undoubted excellence of Barcelona, I have never been more mortified by Wenger’s tactical ineptitude. He sent that team out there utterly naked, reprehensibly clueless as to what to do with regard to team shape, marking, communication, gameplan – anything. It was an abomination.

"If Barcelona creates a similar volume of chances next Tuesday, they will pummel Arsenal into the ground. I simply can’t believe the Gunners will be able to get away with this sort of performance again – presuming you think a two goal home deficit is curable, and it will probably be even more painful to watch than last night.

"Good luck to these boys though. I feel sorry for them – and they stuck at it when they could have died of humiliation out there and completely surrendered to Wenger's worthless tactics."

 Arsenal lost 4-1 at the Nou Camp six days later. 


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Loyalty to Wenger is becoming absurd

Another dreadful performance from Arsenal yesterday as Everton demolished the Gunners and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners at Goodison Park. Everton are now one point behind in fifth place with a game in hand, but still have a difficult run of fixtures to contend with in the battle for fourth.

Personally, despite their excellent form, I think The Toffeemen will fall short. Arsenal would need to slide to unimaginable new lows in order to fail to make Champions League qualification; but anything’s possible when you have a tactical idiot of Wenger’s magnitude running the club.

Yesterday, Roberto Martinez was the latest manager to make Wenger look a prized plum; he’d evidently learnt a lot from the FA Cup defeat one month ago, and successfully put what he’d learned into practice.

Adopting Steven Naismith in a false nine position, Vermaelen and Mertesacker looked lost at having nobody to mark. Romelu Lukaku was deliberately employed wide right to dominate the scrawny Monreal and the pacey Kevin Mirallas wide left against Arsenal’s strongest defender, Sagna, with Leighton Baines doubling up, which caused all sorts of problems - safe in the knowledge Arsenal’s attacking wide players wouldn’t bother to track back, which they didn’t, even once.

Specific tactics for a specific game; and they worked an absolute treat with Everton dominating from start to finish with embarrassing ease. If only Wenger had 10% of Martinez’ flexibility and intelligence.

Everton’s elastic formation allowed players to float between the lines, leaving Flamini and Arteta dumbfounded – and equally Wenger, who sat in his seat the entire game, did absolutely nothing to assist his players either during the game or at half time because there were no tactical changes after the break.

Wenger is clearly no longer fit for purpose as a top flight manager, and supporters’ loyalty towards him is now becoming utterly absurd.

Forget “No plan B”, Wenger hasn’t got a plan A, and it’s so patently obviously the Frenchman is miles away from matching his peers at the top level. Even worse, he clearly cannot motivate numerous players to respond to poor results. OK, he’s left them in the lurch with his hare-brained tactics and zero preparation, but many of them gave up the ghost after Everton’s second goal.

Wenger’s increasingly bizarre press conferences are merely a futile exercise in attempting to avoid every issue pertaining to his bad management. And furthermore, his hollow adjectives – repeated ad nauseum like a broken record, clearly no longer have any effect on his players, which really is the death knell for any manager.

Sure, Wenger could still lift the FA Cup, but only because there’s a bunch Championship/relegation fodder left in it, and besides, that would be a paltry offering – there’s been zero sign this season of the legitimate progress that is required for this Arsenal team to be considered anything like a genuine title contender, or, god forbid, Champions League contender. Just a reaffirmation of Wenger’s hapless inability to compete, and stale, functional ideas - even the purchase of £42.5m Mesut Ozil has been a complete failure; largely due to Wenger’ tactical incompetence. Instead of asking “how do we get the best out of him”, Wenger just bungs him in midfield and hopes for the best. It’s this idiocy that shatters the confidence of players, and turns world class quality, or top class potential, into a lifeless shadow of their former selves.

As for next season, I expect to see most of the top tier Premier League clubs step up a level. My guess is Jose Mourinho will put right whatever’s wrong with his Chelsea side in his second season since his return to the club, likewise Manuel Pellegrini who has only just got his feet under the table at Man City.

Liverpool, meanwhile, is clearly a team on the up, while for all the criticism that David Moyes has received, Man Utd will spend big in the summer in a bid to reverse their post-Alex Ferguson dip. Moyes is finally showing signs of getting things right, and let’s not forget, Man Utd have the best away form in the Premier League. Getting the home form back on track is a far easier task than turning results around on the road, and whilst you feel Utd are still some way behind Man City and Chelsea, they’re better than Arsenal are now, even if the table doesn’t show it.

The question is, will Arsenal step up a level? Of course not. With Wenger in charge we all know he will not do what it takes, because he never does. Sagna will leave, and be replaced by Jenkinson or some duff import like Monreal, and my guess is he’d rather buy an understudy to the flogged Giroud than the striker that ought to relegate him to the bench.

Will the issue of lack of pace from wide positions be addressed when Walcott becomes fit again? Probably not. It will just get forgotten about, as Walcott will be “like a new player” – until he picks up his next injury of course - and everything gets blamed on that.

All the failings of this season and the past nine will be repeated. Lack of squad depth, lack of rotation, central midfielders playing wide, no width, injuries being put down to bad luck or hair dye – when clearly it’s because Wenger abuses them physically - like Ramsey playing yesterday after two days training following a four month injury. And of course, the same old tired tactics, the same old formation in every single game, irrespective of the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.

Meanwhile, you can expect Wenger to continue to sit perched on his seat like a constipated owl, utterly clueless about how to respond under duress, while the board says nothing and knows nothing about the reasons behind Wenger’s underperformance. No clarity, no vision, no expertise, but £140m sitting in the bank unspent for no reason whatsoever – it’s not used for debt, it’s not used for financial investment and, criminally, not player investment – because the clueless tactical berk of our times thinks he knows best; the great destroyer of his own reputation.

Add to that poor pre-match tactical preparation, key players being driven into the ground until they break down and Wenger blurting out the same pathetic, boring, patronising guff, lapped up by idiotic bloggers who write pro-Wenger garbage all season long. Utter sanctimonious cowards, afraid to cast an opinion, and uneducated ones at that. Forget insight, they don’t even use hindsight. God knows what their agenda is, other than to financially profit from the stupidity of the masses.

Evidently, certain players have clearly reached the limit of their ability; Arteta for one, while Flamini looks to have lost that crucial yard of pace and Rosicky’s not getting any younger. Podolski is lazy and ineffective, Monreal out of his depth and Gibbs completely unreliable. Meanwhile, Wilshere is making little progress, and as all of Arsenal’s star players are central midfielders, when everyone is fit key players will always be left piled up on the bench. Sanogo is looking like the signing of a manager that’s completely lost his marbles – as have so many in recent years; Park, Kallstrom, Santos, Miyaichi, Squillaci, Chamakh etc.

Next up, Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final, a match Arsenal can only lose – as winning means nothing at this point, other than Wenger signing a new contract and Arsenal’s future vanishing for another two years – and with it 20m quid into the greedy fraud’s pockets.

If Wenger has anything approaching intelligence left in that rat’s maze of his, because, come on, he knows he’s not up to the job – there’s no excuse for signing that contract other than putting himself ahead of what’s best for Arsenal Football Club.

I’d actually have a smidgen of respect for him if he walked.


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Scholes highlights Wenger's ineptitude

Didn’t watch all of Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Swansea. My bathroom flooded when the sinkhole in the shower became bunged up with, what looked like, matted pubes – these things happen in rented accommodation. Therefore I spent the second half listening to the game while draining water with a one litre bottle of Highland Spring.

After Arsenal went 2-1 up, I turned off the stream. Then my Live Soccer app vibrated at around 9:35; obviously there had been a goal in one of the three games, and somehow I knew it was Swansea that had levelled.

And so Arsenal’s feeble title challenge grinds to a halt, and once again it becomes all about whether Arsenal can hang on to a top four place. This time it’s Everton knocking on the door. However, there’s little point speculating any further than 6th April, when Arsenal travel to Goodison – the Merseysider’s fate will be decided on that day, if not before.

Meanwhile, Liverpool keep soldiering on following a 2-1 win at home to Sunderland on Tuesday. Massive admiration for what Brendan Rodgers is doing there, if only Wenger had an ounce of his vitality and intelligence. Rodgers knows Liverpool’s defence is weak, and that there’s nothing he can do about it until the summer, so he plays to the team’s attacking strengths.

Rodgers emits a sense of composure and has said all the right things to the media, which I believe has helped his team go a long way this season.

I hope Liverpool go on to win the title. It’s not entirely in their hands but there’s a big, big opportunity there as they have very winnable away games and are a force of nature at home. Luis Suarez is a fearless beast of a player who shoulders the responsibility in the attacking third despite the gifted Daniel Sturridge and equally electric pace of Raheem Sterling. Steven Gerrard now plays deep and acts as an inspiration, a  figurehead to the players around him. This is their big chance, as next season Liverpool will be playing Champions League football, which will stretch the squad, and obviously if Suarez leaves it will be a huge test of Rodgers’ ability to replace him – even if the fee he would command would be enough to buy a world-class replacement and kit out the back four.

I'd be amazed if Liverpool didn't attempt to sign Sagna on a free transfer.


Tomorrow, Arsenal face Man City but I won't be able to watch the game. Despite Sergio Aguero and David Silva missing, I can only see one outcome - defeat; how heavy depends on Wenger’s ludicrous tactics.

Some Arsenal fans are complaining about Arsenal’s injuries, but Wilshere and Ozil have both been very poor this season and shouldn’t be anywhere but on the bench.  

For too many Gooners, the excuse is that poor results are the victim of players that didn’t play, yet when those players do play the end result is exactly the same. If Ozil and Ramsey had played against Chelsea, Arsenal would still have got pummelled and supporters would have said Arsenal miss Cazorla and Rosicky instead.

When Flamini was suspended, he was the missing link, yet Wenger dropped him and, by all accounts, he was poor against Swansea and kicked the ball in his own net denying Arsenal a victory.

As for Ramsey? He had a great start to the season, but he’d only scored 1 in his previous 10 games prior to getting injured on Boxing Day, so it shouldn’t be assumed he’s that vital a player. After all, where was he in December when Arsenal dropped points at home to Everton and Chelsea, got thrashed by Man City and beaten by Napoli? He went into hiding like everyone else. Most of us got it wrong about Ramsey, especially me, but I’m still waiting to see if his goalscoring exploits this season were anything other than a freak occurrence. 

Meanwhile, in the media, Wenger responded to hilarious comments by Paul Scholes on Sky Sports (here) who pretty much nailed it when suggesting Wenger sends his players out with no tactical game plan, almost as if they’re clockwork dummies you wind up and let go with no discernible instructions. According to Scholes, Arsenal are so badly drilled they have no idea how to respond to trauma except by doing exactly the same thing.

All Wenger could muster was “Maybe we have been a bit unlucky with the injuries. We had too many players out at the same period. We [also need to] strengthen the squad as well." And arrogantly repeated his favourite defence, "People who have managed zero games have opinions and we have to accept that."

Other quotes that signal Wenger's continued decline into senility:

"Champions keep going when everyone else gives up" – Well if Arsenal haven’t given up, what have they done?

"We live in an age where every game is a definite judgement forever." – No, we live in an age where losing 5-1, 6-3, and 6-0 to your rivals is scrutinised, exactly as it should be.

"Life is movement, life is change. Life is about having disappointment and transforming them into positives.” – So what disappointments have you transformed into positives over the past 10 years? If any manager in world football has not changed, it's Arsene Wenger.

"If people say that Everton can catch us [for fourth place], that means we can catch the teams above us as well." – No, because Everton are chasing a crumbling team, Arsenal are not.

And on and on it goes. As Edmund Blackadder once exclaimed: "The eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed."


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Wenger’s ex-girlfriend puts the boot in

Superb insightful journalism from the Daily Star today, who reveal that, according to Arsene Wenger’s ex-girlfriend from a previous life, Stephany Cohen, the fumbling Arsenal manager was once "air to the French throne."

It’s conceivable that this highly respected bastion of journalistic integrity actually means "heir to the French throne", but considering Wenger is becoming legendary for ‘polluting his status’, I’ll run with it.

The 53-year-old seems to have great insight into Wenger’s character, remarking, "He was the same man we know him to be today. Highly intelligent but very stubborn."

It seems that even in the afterlife, some things never change!

According to Ms Cohen, who was Joan of Arc in a previous life, Arsenal won’t be winning the Premier League this season, chiefly because Wenger "never has a plan B."

According to her spirit guides, it will be "Manchester City who will win the title."

Although it’s probable Ms Cohen has been intoxicated by the wrong sort of spirits, it wouldn’t be the first time Wenger’s demonic strategies have fallen foul. She would do well to call Jose Mourinho for an exorcism; Wenger’s never beaten him when it comes to psychological mind games.


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