Arsenal fell to yet another embarrassing defeat, this time away at Bournemouth, as Arsene Wenger showed he is completely incapable of turning this total shambles around.
The big talking point before the match was the absence of Alexis from the squad and to be honest, that was as much excitement as the afternoon was to offer.
“He’s being vague at the moment. His situation is not completely decided, one way or the other so I left him at home.” Wenger said about where the Manchester-bound Chilean was.
With Mesut Ozil not recovering from the swollen knee that has kept him out for the past two weeks, Arsenal fans got to see into their future without their two main stars.
Bournemouth dominated the early exchanges as Arsenal struggled to get the ball, let alone keep it. This in itself is not new. No team in the top six has conceded more goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season than Arsenal. As a rule, we do not start well.
Thankfully, Bournemouth’s struggles scoring goals meant Arsenal were able to ride through the first 15 relatively untroubled and the best chances actually fell to the Gunners.
First, when Bellerin lifted a lofted ball into the box in the general vicinity of Welbeck and then when Lacazette did the same but found Ainsley Maitland-Niles who put a few defenders on their arse as he tried to work an opening before cracking his effort off the bar.
Alex Iwobi saw a deflected effort pushed away for a corner as Arsenal climbed on top, but sloppy passing across the team was still turning the ball over far too often for Arsenal’s liking.
A chance for Welbeck, which he hit straight at the keeper, led to a corner. From there, Bournemouth almost put it into their own net with Arsenal’s closest effort of the half. What followed should have been another corner. Kevin Friend, who had been booking Bournemouth players for nothing until that point, didn’t agree.
Before the break, Bournemouth had a right to feel aggrieved when Friend waved away penalty claims for handball. Replays showed that Iwobi had not only handled the ball but seemed to do it deliberately after tracking the ball for a while.
0-0 at the break and Arsenal were back to being bog average again. As I said before the Chelsea game, the measure of Arsenal was not in that game. Any Muppet can get up for a semifinal against Chelsea. The measure of this squad under this manager was laid bare long ago at Forest, Stoke and the rest too numerous to list.
Arsenal attempted just 3 dribbles but were tackled 11 times and lost possession 21 times while misconnecting on 78 of 281 passes. Without Alexis, Arsenal lost the ball 99 times in that half.
— 7amkickoff (@7amkickoff) January 14, 2018
Arsenal didn’t take too long to get the opening goal in the second half, Hector Bellerin finding the back of the net again despite not enjoying the best of afternoons in the final third.
Found by Iwobi who delivered an Ozilesque threaded pass, Hector rifled it at Begovic and the shot’s power helped get it under the Cherries keeper.
Only City and Tottenham have scored more goals than Arsenal in the first 15 after the restart, so perhaps whatever Wenger says to the team at halftime he should try saying before the match starts.
Despite taking the lead, Arsenal were still unable to get the game under their control and Bournemouth fashioned a few half chances. Like he had done in the first half, Calum Chambers saved us, this time with a crucial touch when they had a tap-in at the far post as opposed to the flying block he had deployed early on.
It was, of course, another display of terrible defending that allowed Bournemouth to equalise. Stealing in between Chambers and Bellerin, Calum Wilson beat the outrushing Petr Cech to the ball by about three hours to toe-poke the ball into an empty net.
That was Wenger’s cue to move to a back four, bringing on Aaron Ramsey and his new haircut while taking off Chambers. The immediate impact was to concede again. Shambolic defending (shocker) and a ball driven under Cech.
In a bid to rescue the game, Wenger turned to Theo Walcott in the hopes that another player who wants to leave, and has done nothing of note all season, would give enough of a shit to rescue a team he doesn’t want to play for.
He didn’t. But nor did anyone else in the side seem to either.
As I spoke about at length on Saturday night, things will most likely only get worse from here. I’ve thought Arsene Wenger should leave since around 203/14. Now, for the first time, I want Arsenal to sack him if he won’t leave voluntarily.
There is nothing he can do to fix this. If he could, he would have done it by now.