Before I start writing this piece, I would like to clarify that this is not a knee-jerk reaction to Arsenal’s shock FA Cup exit to Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.
I would also like to add that I am not an Arsenal fan, and this has been written from an unbiased perspective.
However, I was at the Emirates on Saturday and while I was there it was the first time I was able to understand the mind-set of what being a ‘Gooner’ can feel like.
And what was that overall feeling? Without doubt it is frustration.
No Arsenal fan needs reminding that it is currently eight years since their club last picked up silverware – with the FA Cup in 2005.
For opposition fans this is something they indulge themselves in, but for those associated with the North London club there is an insurmountable feeling that enough is enough now.
Every season it seems like this is the case, but it appears that this current 2012/13 campaign has prolonged the faith and patience too far.
The Capital One Cup quarter-final defeat was an embarrassment for the stature of Arsenal. No disrespect to, the winners of that tie, Bradford City as they deserved their victory but with the line-up that the Gunners fielded that night you would have expected to come through that match.
Credit due to the League Two Bantams though, who reaped their rewards.
One could put that December defeat down to simply as a cup shock perhaps. Away from home, on a less than pleasing surface, David overcame Goliath.
The trouble for Arsene Wenger’s side is that this has become too frequent at times.
Judging by the reaction of the fans on Saturday, a lot of them have had enough also. A precession of boos rang out at full-time as they had just seen their team get knocked out at the fifth-round of the oldest club competition in history.
Once again, credit has to go to Rovers for winning. The Championship club were dogged and resilient in defence and took their chance when it came to score.
Yet for Arsenal, the defeat was again unacceptable.
It was the first time in the FA Cup that Arsene Wenger had lost to a team outside the top flight, but the manner of the performance is what should be most worrying from an Arsenal perspective.
‘A lack of urgency and professionalism’ were just some of the comments that were being bandied around where I was sitting. These were season-ticket holder’s views, who have witnessed many a performance like this beforehand.
“We’re just a rubbish Barcelona” is how one fan described it.
To my amazement, I was shocked at how Arsenal failed to win the match. Clearly dominant in all areas of the pitch – this is a game they should have comfortably won.
Fielding a starting 11 with nine internationals, and a further three that came on as substitutes, you would have expected a display of real quality.
However, this was the opposite. Yes the Gunners played their usual neat and aesthetically pleasing football but it was all done at a jaunty pace that their opposition found all too comfortable to deal with.
A cause of derision amongst the fans was the performance of Gervinho.
The Ivorian, it appears, is almost seen as comedic value by the fans. Quick to laugh at his failed attempts to create an opening, they seemed all to frequent to it. “Best player in the world” they mocked sarcastically.
French duo, Olivier Giroud and Abou Diaby, were also under the scrutiny of the fans for their displays.
It wasn’t until Tomas Rosicky hit the crossbar that the inept play of Arsenal quickened and the introduction of Jack Wilshere, in particular, helped. By then though, the damage had already been done through Colin Kazim-Richards’ strike.
So where does that leave the club now?
The UEFA Champions League is the only realistic chance the side has of ending their eight-year trophy drought. Yet that seems an enormity in itself as they face German giants Bayern Munich in the last-16.
Four-time winners of Europe’s elite competition, Bayern were finalists in the tournament last season and many tip them to go one step further 12 months on.
The fact that the Bayern are romping away in the Bundesliga, 15 points ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund and having conceded just 7 goals in the league all season, shows how difficult this tie will be for the Gunners.
In his pre-match press conference, it was clear the negativity that has been targeted at Arsene Wenger had irked the Frenchman, as he snapped at journalists.
A lot of fans think it is time he should leave the club at the end of the season.
‘Thanks Arsene for everything, but we can do better.’
The question is though, can they?
The calibre of managers in Wenger’s ilk are all currently employed at top clubs themselves, so if they did replace him would it not be a downgrade on the man who has brought them many a fond memory?
‘The Invincibles’ anyone?
As one fan put it, “Arsenal have all the resources and facilities in place, the board just need to pressurise Wenger to spend – he’s done it in the past.”
That fan has a very valid point, with the Emirates a great example of their facilities.
Perhaps it is the board then who should be accountable? Since David Dein’s departure as vice-chairman of the club, in April 2007, an exodus of the team’s influential players from Thierry Henry to recently Robin van Persie have all left – with the majority of them having won medals at pastures new.
Wenger has repeatedly stated that once UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) is imposed next season then the club will be back challenging for honours, as the financial disparity evens itself out amongst the top teams.
This may sound all well and good, but as any Gooner will tell you they’ve heard similar promises before.
It always seems to be that in two years’ time the club will be contending at the top, but for the past eight years this has proved otherwise.
Is it time for a new pasture at Arsenal. Who knows? Something has to be done though, or it will only be more anguish at Arsenal for the foreseeable future.
Courtesy of Tibs News