You can tell it is the weekend because Arsenal have been oversensitive, people have started to talk rubbish about Michael Carrick, Jack Wilshere has been exceptionally Jack Wilshere, and there are bad jokes on the internet. Let’s have a look at the very worst of it.
Because Arsenal have been fairly wretched this season, winning just two games in the league so far, they have been the object of deserved and sustained criticism. It was obvious at the time that Arsene Wenger should have replaced Thomas Vermaelen with a senior defender, and it was obvious that he should have purchased a defensive midfielder. Instead, he elected to do neither of these, and bought Danny Welbeck while he was refereeing a charity game.
That was the background, but on Saturday it was simply a case of them being consistently poor against a limited but organised and ambitious Hull City side.
The disdain Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho feel for Arsenal now appears to be bleeding out to the mid-table sides too. There is a way to combat Arsenal that has not changed in a decade. Mathieu Flamini was off the pace, Welbeck cannot lead a side from the front, and the defence was shaky again. All this was pointed out, and yet when the BBC’s Jacqui Oatley and others asked Wenger who was to blame for this particular failure, which represented a general failure, Arsenal fans could not stomach it, and were actively livid in their defence. Wenger himself appeared to have an attack of the vapours.
Here’s the thing: Wenger is a 65-year-old man who is utterly comfortable in his position at Arsenal. If he wanted to change things, he has the clout to do so. He has chosen not to. The reason Wenger does not want to blame people is because he would then have to blame himself. It appears there is a similar reluctance amongst some of the fans.
Last season on Sky, as well as notably speaking out against the state of Manchester United under David Moyes, Paul Scholes also summed up his opinion of Arsenal. It was a mixture of lost patience and amused contempt. He had a special mention for Jack Wilshere: “he doesn’t look any better a player now than when he was 17.” He was, essentially, correct.
In response, Wilshere said: “Scholes was right in a certain way. When I first burst onto the scene there was all this noise and then I got injured. There comes a time when you stop being a kid and I think that's what he's referring to. 'He's young, he's got all this potential ' - you have to start putting that potential in. This season I have improved a lot, scored a few more than I have in the past and got a few more assists. That side of things, you can keep the ball and you can look good but it's those stats that matter.”
Against Hull, Wilshere underhit countless passes into the box as Arsenal chased an equaliser. He got no assists, he got no goals - those stats that matter. He admitted it was time to stop being a kid, and blamed injuries in part for his lack of progress. Showing his new maturity, he exited the game after fouling a Hull player and injuring his knee, as he careered around the pitch with no sense of the game. Wilshere said the right things, but he can’t stop doing the wrong ones.
Raheem Sterling jokes
I am tired of them.
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Michael Carrick fans
“Michael Carrick will strengthen the midfield with his experience.” “Michael Carrick could do a job in central defence with his ball playing skills.” “Michael Carrick is the type of player that Louis van Gaal will love.” Michael Carrick is 33, has been out of form for more than a year and is incapable of tactical discipline.
At Brighton, Gus Poyet made fun of Patrice Evra reacting to being racially abused. He was suspended by the side around the time a ‘brown egg’ was left in Crystal Palace’s dressing room, and his former midfielder Vicente Rodriguez said of him: “‘He is the worst person I've come across in football. For me he is a selfish person, very egocentric. I say that because it's how I feel. I won't talk badly about my team-mates, because they have been fantastic with me. What I think is unacceptable is that the manager makes fun of his players. I've seen things here that I have never seen in my career. If you miss with a shot in training, he makes fun. For me, that is unacceptable in football.”
Poyet took his side to an 8-0 defeat at Southampton, and claimed to be embarrassed by the collapse. You get the sense he is rarely embarrassed over the right thing, so hopes that he will turn this around must be suspect.
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