I’m slightly lost for words. It’s not completely unexpected, either. Arsenal are simply the best at raising and lowering hope. There was no Player of the Week last week, there was nothing to praise, all of it below average. I was hoping to integrate it into this week. I hoped it would get better with a hot rivalry. I was mistaken. It did not. It got worse. However, the Player of the Week is Koscielny.
No need to mess about here. He flattened Fabregas in the penalty area and got away with it. He had an average game in comparison to the absolute travesty that was Mathieu Flamini. None of the players were any good this week, all dirty with embarrassment, except Koscielny, and Sanchez – there is always Alexis Sanchez to rely on if you need to talk about Arsenal in a positive light. It’s good to have him back. But it’s not so good that we’re slowly getting the head-shaking Arsenal back. The brittle Arsenal.
I’ll rush over Kosicleny, because realistically there is no player of the week for Arsenal. How can there be? None of them deserve anything but a cold shoulder. He wiped Fabregas out. And that’s the level of analysis I’ve sunk to. He clashed into some heavy challenges as well, picking up some warnings and scary words from the referee. Well, I was just happy to see an Arsenal defender, like, defend, with grit and anger and all the things the players should have in their soft hearts when playing a team as despicable as Chelsea. None of that was there, it was sad to watch. Heavy exposure to a Ramsey/Flamini midfield has erased any enthusiasm I had for the remainder of the season. It’s not the points I’m concerned about. I appreciate the team is still within touching distance of the top, and could still go all the way. But it’s the sheer inevitability of it all. You know it’s going to come tumbling down. I’ll probably be super cheery by the time Barcelona come to dance, and this Chelsea game will be forgotten, but for now, I’m livid, full of anger and pessimism.
It does feel strange to be so angry about your team when they’re level with the best team in the league and three from the top with a team unlikely to stay there. But the thing with Arsenal is always the constant deja vu. And together with a heap of embarrassment it creates a sickly mixture. Seeing Mertesacker, with all of his experience, all of his leadership, lose a game within a few minutes was a slap in the face – made worse by Arsenal looking like a lost team at home. Arsenal shouldn’t be a rattled mess in their own ground, and not when facing a broken Chelsea side. But they did. Because there is no strength in Arsenal. Not when it matters. Sometimes the team puts in a stunning performance, outplaying teams like Bayern and overcoming a Greek fortress in the Champions League. But only sometimes. Games like Southampton will always appear every season because that’s the way this group of players are, it seems. I thought the team had developed some form of mental strength. The Chelsea game shows they haven’t. Devil incarnate Costa picked apart the brains of the team again, like sweets, it was all so simple for Chelsea. Games like this will happen every year because the team never grows up. The players weren’t useless, they tried, but the whole thing stank of incompetence, from Mertesacker’s blunder to Flamini’s diabolical defending – and seriously, what on earth was he doing? When you watch those moments building up to Chelsea’s goal it’s utterly mystifying. He ran back and forth, standing in front of the defenders – twice! – and then stood there baffled when the goal crashed like thunder. He delved further into hilarity becoming the only player to take the ball in the box with a clear sight on goal – again more than once. So, what was he doing there? That’s not his role. He ran around like a child all game. And yet, this is all intensified by the fact Wenger continues to stick with a player well past his time and quality when his replacement is sitting on the bench. What was the purpose of Elneny if not to replace the need to rely on Flamini? And don’t talk to me about integration. Please, he’s a professional athlete playing at the highest level, throw him in, be brave. Stop sticking with the same problems.
Wenger will never learn. And I’d put any amount of money Elneny doing a better job than the Frenchman. Taller, stronger, and as they say… 23 is a great age for a footballer, Wenger has even said that. That’s what Arsenal are always lacking. Energy. There is no energy in a Ramsey/Flamini pivot, it’s dull and feathery. It’s why the team gets torn to shreds. Wenger is paid all this money and he can’t even see the sore thumb. A strong midfield wins games. It’s as simple as that. Liverpool ran rings around Arsenal because they had energy in the middle.
That’s a whole heap of negativity right there. So, let’s talk about Sanchez. Because that makes everybody smile. He’s back. He looked very good and he was the only positive outcome on Sunday. That’s basically it. He caused more problems than the rest of players and he looked like he knew how to compete, which is always nice to see when cheering your team on. Standing ten thousands yards of an onrushing attacker, who also happens to be a slithering traitor, is not how you show the fans you’re up for the fight. It was humiliating to watch Fabregas control the game. He made a mockery of every player on that pitch. Until good ol’ Kos sorted things out. At least the Frenchman tried to rectify the pain. Yes, it was mad and he should have been penalised, but it was the first appropriate thing an Arsenal player did all day. The rest should hang their heads in shame. The manager included. Bringing Giroud off? Incompetence.