11
Mar
18

Has Arsene answered his critics?

 

 

It is difficult to remember a start to a calendar year more difficult and uninspired than the start of 2018. Before the visit to the Giuseppe Meazza Wenger’s side had the worst record out of all 72 English league sides domestically, put that up against Gennaro Gattuso’s unbeaten run of 14 games in all competitions – you would have said there was only one winner going into the 1st leg of Arsenal’s last 16 tie of the Europa League.

Professional Performance

In truth what transpired was a solid, professional and clinical performance; one that has not been seen for quite some time, especially in the last 16 of a European competition, to accurate for over 6 years, Wenger managed to find  places for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey in a supporting three behind Danny Welbeck. Even Granit Xhaka looked capable alongside Jack Wilshere in a holding role, (whether this is down to Milan’s inability to maintain possession in important areas of the pitch is anyone’s guess). There was good fluid movement in the final third and Milan could not cope with the level of speed and movement. Well taken goals from Mkhitaryan and Ramsey killed the game off before Half Time.

Yes, it is a good performance but under Wenger, especially recently these have been few and far between, like gold dust. As the old saying goes “one swallow doesn’t make a Summer”. For weeks now many in the Associated British Press have been ending their match previews with “a win could be a turning point”, In March it is far too late for that. Going out without even a whimper in the FA Cup to Nottingham Forest, getting embarrassed by Guardiola’s Manchester City in the League Cup final and a whopping 33 points off the Premier League leaders. Wenger has put all his eggs in the Europa League basket, not that he planned to. Only a couple of weeks ago when asked about whether he will target the competition as a way into the Champions League next season, he as good as shrugged it off. If he couldn’t see then, that was the only way back in then he is more ignorant than I ever believed.I couldn’t put an exact figure on that one, but it’s very high.

Back to the Premier League

Arsenal host Watford at the Emirates with Burnley holding on-to Arsenal’s coattails. Like every matchday, since the turn of the year, only a win will do. Watford come into the tie with only one loss in five, while Arsenal have only the one win in as many games.You write Watford off at your peril, last season should not be forgotten in a hurry, Watford came away with a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Arsenal have injuries in the full back positions with Calum Chambers and Ainsley Maitland-Niles expected to both start. The ageing and calamitous Petr Cech is expected to keep his place ahead of David Ospina who kept a clean sheet last time out, something Petr Cech has not done in the Premier League since the 1-0 home win over Newcastle on 16th December!!!! – not a sign of a “safe pair of hands”. If you put your house on him you would only be contributing to the obscene level of homelessness in the United Kingdom.

A win for Arsenal in today’s 1.30pm kick-off would see them close the gap to Chelsea to eight points. For a season now we have been ridiculing Tottenham for “putting the pressure on”, sorry guys, but we are not even doing that.


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