Arsene Wenger has blasted Arsenal for being complacent during their 2-1 defeat to Östersunds FK at the Emirates on Thursday night, despite harping on about not doing precisely that during his pre-match presser.
Wenger criticised his side for being too complacent against Östersunds FK in the Europa League after going 3-0 ahead in Sweden last week, which is precisely what he told them not to do.
“We were in trouble and in danger,” he said. “We were complacent, not focused, open when we lost the ball and no ideas when we had the ball. That’s why we were in trouble. People subconsciously think they have to just turn up to win but it doesn’t work like that.”
Ahead of the match, Wenger had said: “A big part is done but to be professional you have to finish the job. This is a good opportunity to show we have enough maturity, enough respect and enough love for the game we play.
“That’s why I believe it is important to win this game.”
If Wenger was so adamant that Arsenal weren’t to be complacent or underestimate their opposition, why did did they do it anyway?
Are the players just like the fans when it comes to Wenger’s cliches now? Do they just go in one ear and out the other?
Or are they just not listening to him at all now.
Surely as professional athletes, competing and not underestimating your opponent is sports 101. They shouldn’t need Wenger to tell them to actually try to win a game – they’re footballers – some of whom are on £100k or more per week.
The Östersunds FK clash, which Arsenal fortunately won 4-2 on aggregate, wasn’t the first time the players have totally disregarded what the manager has told them recently.
Against Tottenham at Wembley, Wenger insisted that Arsenal wouldn’t let playing at the historical stadium affect the way they played and the team would focus on improving the tactical aspect of their game.
“I just think that, for us, it will be more about sorting out the tactical problem,” he said. “To be at the level of performance we want to be, we have to play our fluent football. What Wembley gives you is a good quality of pitch to allow you to play the kind of game we want to play.”
Arsenal didn’t appear to make any changes to their tactics and were lucky to lose just 1-0 to their north London rivals.
And they certainly didn’t play ‘fluent’ football.
Before that, Wenger called for a total ‘offensive performance’ against Swansea after they had previously beaten Liverpool.
“When you don’t win you are criticised and I think Liverpool tried and what is a good warning for us is that Liverpool are an attacking team – you cannot criticise them for not attacking, they are very dangerous going forward and they didn’t manage to score against Swansea,” he said. “That is a good warning for us that we have to produce absolute total offensive performance.”
Arsenal didn’t produce a total offensive performance. They lost 3-1 and were completely penned in for large periods of the game.
“I would say Swansea won decisive duels offensively and defensively, which is what we didn’t do,” Wenger admitted post-match.
Are players just refusing to listen to their manager now?