At the risk of being tagged as a Wenger ‘hater’, I have to comment about the last two matches played by Arsenal and try to find the right words to describe how those games turned out. It should be noted that had the bench done their work and been a little bit more proactive, the team should have come away with the maximum points in those games.
Take for instance the game at Schalke, having gone into an unbelievable two goal lead in the first half, Wenger should have called his players to ‘order’ towards the end of the first 45 minutes by instructing them to ‘close shop’. Taking a two goal lead into the second half at an away ground in the UEFA CL should be more important than trying to look for the third at the twilight. Carzola lost the ball in midfield and the return pass was beautifully converted by Huntelaar to turn the game around for the hosts.
Waves after waves of onslaught by Schalke ensured that Arsenal survived only by their skin. Others may argue that Walcott should have won the game at the death but the truth of the matter is that had Huntelaar and Farfan took the chances that fell to them in the second half, Schalke would and should have been out of sight.
A similar scenario played itself out on Saturday at the Emirates when a game that should have been wrapped up in the first half turned into a nightmare for Arsenal. As if throwing away a two goal lead is not enough, they went ahead to miss a golden chance to win the match when Arteta’s penalty was saved in the 93rd minute.
When one considers and compares these results with the performances of the two Manchester clubs, one would realize that the missing factor in the Arsenal squad is the belief that they are better than the opponent. While dwelling on this over the cliff could be termed as arrogance and overconfidence; the need for it in any endeavor cannot be over emphasized.
As Arsenal continues to fritter away points in the EPL and CL, the onus is on Le’ Professeur to stop playing to the gallery by justifying mediocre performances week-in, week-out. The key towards ensuring proper performances from players is to use the man that is in form. Any player found wanting should be dropped.
The critical and major difference between Wenger and Alex Fergusson is the philosophy of constant competitiveness. While Wenger is willing and ready to wait for a player to mature and learn from terrible mistakes, Fergusson moves on and uses a more prepared, competitive and determined personnel. And so it has never been a problem for SAF to extricate stars like Nani, Berbatov, Anderson and even Rooney if they are not pulling their weight.
It is true that Managers must stick with their players through thick and thin but only when such are doing their bits. The ease of making changes also depends on the bench. If the bench therefore lacks quality, the man in charge should be blamed. In this case Wenger should bear the brunt of the poor results being churned out by the team in the two most important competitions they are currently involved in.