Laurent Koscielny has been speaking with the French media, claiming that although it’s not Arsene Wenger’s fault, Arsenal do have a mental problem at the moment… as if we didn’t already know.
Speaking to RMC, the centreback, who was subbed off during Arsenal’s 5-1 loss against Bayern Munich with a hamstring problem, admitted that the Gunners need to work together more in big games.
“It is a mental problem,” he said
“We have the technical and physical qualities.
“We must make efforts on a whole match
“Against the big teams, it takes more than talent.
“It takes more commitment, helping his partner defend.
“We need to find other resources. On some games, we lacked the envy in the duels.
“We are in a complicated situation, we must remain united.
“We must have the hatred of losing.”
This isn’t the first time Arsenal’s ability to grind out results against the bigger teams has been called into question. In fact, Arsenal have had a habit of losing against our rivals for a long time. Somewhere along the line, all our training breaks down and we stop believing. It’s as if we don’t know each other and have completely forgotten what we’re there to do.
And it’s not as if we’re not capable – we are – but, as Kos says, there’s some sort of mental block there.
It’s a habit we’ve found hard to break, despite occasionally seeming to improve.
A tale of two halves
Another point that Kos brought up is the fact that the players need to work hard for the entire match. Arsenal have been performing terribly in the first half lately. Often, we concede early, look lost and then spend the second half trying to undo the mistakes from the first. Bournemouth, Sunderland, Manchester United. All games in which we’ve had stage a late comeback.
Is this a matter of tactics, getting fired up or, as Kos implies, focus? Could it be that Arsene Wenger needs to prepare the team better for the first half? And what does he say at half to get them ready for the second?
Who’s to blame?
Kos was very eager to claim that Wenger is in no way responsible for Arsenal’s current shortcomings, although I’m not sure what else he could have said.
“I want Arsene Wenger to continue,” the France international revealed.
“He developed me. I owe him a lot.
“I think the group is always receptive to Arsene Wenger’s message.
“The coach is there to prepare the players physically, tactically and put an organization on the ground, after it is up to the players to do what is needed on the pitch to win the matches.
“I wish that he extends. I have been under his command for seven years, and I am very respected by him.
“He gave me that chance to come here. He made me grow as a player and as a man. I owe him a lot for my career.”
It’s clear that all the players have respect for Wenger; some more than others. However, it’s difficult to know whether he’s to blame or not considering the players are never going to say that. The respect they hold for him means they would never publicly throw him under the bus, no matter how much the media probe.
As Kos said, they must be respective to a certain degree if they’re coming out in the second half and somehow grinding out results but this only brings up the question of where they are in the first.
So, where do these ‘mental problems’ come from? The manager, the players or a combination of the two?