Arsenal Really Beginning To Look Like Specialists In Failure


Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger – Flickr Creative Commons

Arsenal hosted Manchester United at the Emirates in the blockbuster game of the weekend. How they contrived to lose a game against such a depleted United side, is just amazing.

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The Red Devils came to London during one of the worst spurts in the club’s history, and they were supposed to leave the Capital with heads hung low. The Gunners — who aren’t having much good of a season either — had other ideas; despite having the majority of possession and chances, they managed to lose 2-1 to a United team which only got one shot on target.

Arsenal took charge from the onset, keeping the ball and creating several chances in the first half, but they could not get past David de Gea. The keeper — who recovered from a finger injury in time to suit up for the match — was praised afterwards for keeping his team in the game, but that praise is unwarranted.

Sure De Gea made several saves, but could he help it? The Gunners aimed most of their shots right at his gloves, leaving him with little to no work to do.

Manager Arsene Wenger bemoaned his teams poor luck (which they created themselves), and their inability to make the best of their chances.

"” At the end of the day we were not efficient enough in the final third, defensively, and we made a mistake at the back which they took advantage of. That’s the story of the game. We had plenty of chances. Their keeper is man of the match. That tells you the story of the game.”-Arsene WengerSource: Arsenal FC Official Website"

Lately, Manchester United have been losing to any and every team (MK Dons get a special mention) — except for Arsenal. It seems like there is just a mental block when it comes to facing United. At some point last season, the Gunners were in red-hot form while the Red Devils were just the opposite, form had no bearing on the game, as United walked away with all three points.

“It’s a game that we dominated for 80 percent of the time and we haven’t dominated a game like that against Manchester United for a long time.” – Arsene Wenger

Yesterday, the opportunity was there for the taking. The Manchester club came into the game with several players out injured — seven to be exact. By the 16th minute, that number had risen to eight, as left back Luke Shaw was forced to exit the game after suffering a foot injury.

Surely, a back line consisting of Paddy McNair, Chris Smalling and Tyler Blackett should cause no problems for a team such as Arsenal. Somehow, they were able to keep a clean sheet until Olivier Giroud scored after the 90 minute mark.

"“We missed a few opportunities in the second half, even in the final 20 minutes. You have to be efficient in top-level games and we were not efficient enough in our good periods, but there were a lot of positives in the game today. Even if we are very, very disappointed, we have to keep that and rectify. At the moment defensively we are a bit naive.”-Arsene WengerSource: Arsenal FC Official Website"

A bit naive? Who is he kidding? Clueless would be a much better word. Kieran Gibbs — who took his keeper out, and scored an own goal, all in the blink of an eye — could be forgiven for his blunder, but Rooney’s goal should have never been. The Gunners gave United a chance out of nothing, allowing them a two-on-one advantage on the counter.

"“It was just after a corner and we were not cautious enough. I don’t know why we had nobody at the back at all — you could see straight away that giving a two against one in your own half means you will be punished against these players.”-Arsene WengerSource: Arsenal FC Official Website"

This isn’t the whole truth though — Arsenal had at least three players who were in a good position to prevent the break, one of them got sucked in trying to cover Fellaini instead of running with Di Maria, while the other simply allowed Rooney to sprint forward unattended.

Arsenal repeated the mistake a few moments later, leaving Angel Di Maria to find himself one-on-one with their keeper. The Argentine tried to be too clever, and his dink went wide.

Wenger’s side have now slid down to eighth on the Premier League Table, they are in desperate need of a lifeline. Last season, Arsenal won their first piece of silverware since 2005; they even beat Manchester City in the Community Shield at the beginning of this season. They were expected to progress, but at this stage, they are at their absolute worst.

Wenger needs to change his tactics or leave, his stubbornness has cost the Gunners too much. Jose Mourinho was being too kind when he branded the Frenchman “a specialist in failure.”