For one glorious week, everything at Arsenal seemed brilliant.
The club had bought Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, got rid of Alexis Sanchez and his negativity, landed Henrikh Mkhitaryan and signed up Mesut Ozil. To celebrate, the trio, along with Aaron Ramsey, tore Everton a new one.
It looked, for the briefest of moments, as if Arsene Wenger might have found one emaciated rabbit left in his magic hat.
On Saturday, we watched Tottenham stomp that rabbit to death.
We were fools. All of us, but perhaps me the most.
I allowed a performance against Sam Allardyce rekindle some sort of hope but after just one week with the Arsenal coaches and Arsene Wenger’s tactical plan at London Colney, that has all been snuffed out for good.
Against Tottenham in the first half, Arsenal more than held their own, but as soon as Mauricio Pochettno’s men stepped it up after the break, Arsenal didn’t have a clue.
Wenger is famous for trusting his players to know what to do to get themselves out of trouble, a grand plan of action if you have players who don’t need guidance. But part of the job that the manager is paid £10m a year to do is to identify players who need a little instruction and then – and I know this is a radical concept – actually offer it.
Against Spurs Arsenal looked lost. The players went about dealing with Tottenham as if I’d delivered their tactical instructions, and I’m a tactical moron.
For years I’ve been saying that this side needs a new sports psychologist if they aren’t going to get a new manager and that was again evident at Wembley. I can’t think of another team that lets their heads go as quickly and as often as Arsenal under latter-day Wenger. That speaks loudly to the way he has hugely misjudged the mental make-up of the majority in is squad.
Arsenal have lost eight games this season and seven of those defeats have come away from home. Arsene Wenger says he doesn’t understand it. There is, he says, no difference playing at home or away. Yet here we are. Defeated once again, lucky that Tottenham aren’t as good as everybody thinks because a side like Manchester City would have won that game by six.
This team is floundering and it has been for a while. They are crying out for leadership, not only on the pitch but off it. They are a bunch of players who desperately need guidance yet they are being trusted to work it out for themselves despite proving repeatedly that they simply cannot do that.
Look at that starting team against Tottenham. It was loaded with top players yet we managed just one shot on target.
Between them last season Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored 59 league goals, yet on Saturday they had two efforts (both Lacazette and neither on target) despite the creative firepower of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jack Wilshere behind them.
In total, those five players got five shots off, with one on target. They played a combined two key passes.
That’s like inviting Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo and Pablo Picasso to paint your house and coming home to find it top-to-toe in nothing but beige.
It’s impossible to believe that under the hand of a different manager the finished composition wouldn’t be entirely different than what we are getting right now.
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