After the game against Watford on Tuesday night, Arsene Wenger was sure his team had been prepared for the challenge in hand.
Of course, as we saw in the first 45 minutes, they certainly were not. They looked as if they’d turned up expecting to get all three points and promptly got their shorts pulled down.
It’s a familiar problem with Arsenal, albeit seemingly lessened this season. It’s also something fans have pondered for at least six years – do Arsenal turn up for so-called ‘easy’ games thinking that’s all they have to do – turn up?
I’ve highlighted the Wenger comments I think speak to this:
“We are of course frustrated and angry but I am confident in their self-belief to go and win this game,” Wenger told reporters at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
“You are not at that level if you don’t care about losing, these guys are highly concerned and disappointed when they don’t win.
“I believe the most important thing is we turn up, we have shown we can beat Chelsea in the first game so let’s turn up with the same quality.
“What is at stake here is how we respond, in a united and determined way.
“Naturally we would be more on alert than we were against Watford. We are more likely to be on the edge of our concentration.
“That’s competition, when you accept that and want to be at the highest level you have to accept you have defining moments and games.
“If you don’t want that then it’s better you don’t compete – go and work in administration or something like that.
“Everybody knows we have to recover, the team is united and there is a desire to put things right and everyone is focused on tomorrow’s game.”
While I don’t think anyone expects Arsenal to be at 100% focus 100% of the time, to fail to be ‘on the edge of our concentration’ at the start of any Premier League game is simply not acceptable. It shouldn’t just matter when it’s one of the ‘big sides’.
These are supposed to be players at the very top of their profession, being paid obscene sums to do one thing – win football matches.
The very least fans can expect for the extortionate amount of money they pay out every season is that the players f***ing pay attention. And you, Arsene. You get paid millions every year to make sure that’s exactly what they are doing – no matter who the opposition is!