Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Monaco 0-2 Arsenal: Lather, rinse, repeat

Match Report | Match highlights | Wenger's thoughts

It's hard to feel any regret today. Yeah, you read that right.

On earlier occasions I would have been downright furious at the referee for not awarding Alexis Sanchez a penalty. Or towards Giroud, for his intervention towards the end meant the Chilean could not head the ball in the net. Or, predictability, towards Arsene Wenger and his suicidal tactics which led to the 3-1 deficit in the first place.

Not today. Familiarity may breed contempt for some, but it tends to make me bored. I didn't feel enough anticipation or excitement last night because, well, we've already seen this before haven't we? At Munich, against Milan and against Barcelona. We know the spoilers. We know how it ends.

Last night was a commendable performance, but it still doesn't do anything for the progress of the team. It's not turning a corner and it's not a significant morale-booster. Much as we'd hate to admit it, this season was yet another wasted one.

Yes, we can win the FA Cup and we can finish higher than fourth and I'd love it if we do. But is that what we should come to expect of Arsenal FC? When last season ended I immediately expressed my expectation of wanting to see Arsenal challenge for major honours next season. I refuse to believe I was alone in that line of thinking.

Look at the fourth prediction (heh) I had given last season about this season.

"4. Arsenal will not win the EPL, nor will they come close to winning the Champions League. We might win the FA Cup or the Capital One, but we won't win trophies a club of Arsenal's stature should win."

It's about time we stop easily forgiving failure. It's about time we call a spade for a spade and realize that while Arsene Wenger has done excellently in building a base for the club, he is not the one to reap its rewards. We cannot afford to be mucking about when it comes to the success of Arsenal FC.

I trust that many would agree when I say that Arsene Wenger is not bigger than Arsenal, but I'm unsure they understand the significance of that statement. It means that we should keep sentiment to the side and look at options who offer progress. While Arsene has assembled a very good team, he looks incapable of making them realize their potency. And make no mistake, if we give Wenger yet another opportunity to make things right "the next time around" and he fails, the players won't be as forgiving.

Cesc Fabregas' transfer to Chelsea proved that footballers do not think about loyalty, gratitude or repayment anymore. All they want, understandably, is money and success. The brilliance of Ivan Gazidis has brought the big bucks to North London, but Arsenal are yet to witness any major trophies since 2004. Gems like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will not wait around for Wenger to resign to witness a rejuvenated Arsenal. They don't have the same levels of loyalty and patience towards the club as we do did.

The exodus in 2011 and 2012 wasn't entirely down to lack of funds. It was because players had lost faith in Wenger ambition and were hungry for footballistic success, not monetary ones. The warning signs were there back in the mid-2000s, when Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira left because they felt the team was losing ambition.

We took a huge fall in 2011. We lost Cesc, Nasri, van Persie, Clichy and Alex Song because they no longer believed in Arsene Wenger. Upon reminiscing, you may be reminded that it was a long and painful journey back to restoring their enormous voids and having a relatively stable platform again. It took a lot of time, money and patience to get back to the threshold of the elite again. However, Arsenal may be setting ourselves up for failure once again if we aren't proactive enough.

And by we, I mean Ivan Gazidis. Blaming Arsene Wenger and trying to expose his flaws is almost becoming a moot point. I know he's incompetent, I know he's not the final key to Arsenal's success, and I trust that there are others who know the truth as well. I know that under Arsene Wenger, Champions League scraps and elite purgatory is something of a given.

However, the onus is on Gazidis to ensure that we don't fall into the same manhole twice. Yesterday was a reminder of how far Arsenal are away from Champions League and Premier League success, but it was also a reminder of how we can get there. In terms of players, we almost have the real deal. All Gazidis needs is a manager who can make them flourish, and he needs him fast.

I'd love to say that the reason I haven't been blogging for the past two months was because of work commitments, which is partly true. However, although I have had my pockets of opportunities to vent my thoughts on Arsenal, I've chosen not to take them. I love Arsenal and I love the supporters and the players, but seeing Wenger waste yet another season (and, crucially, not seeing the board do anything about it) has bored me. I haven't written because Arsenal, to an extent, have begun to bore me.

I want the CEO of one of the world's biggest organizations to grow a pair. I want a manger past his sell date to depart. I want unpredictability. I want competitiveness. Is that too much to ask from a football club as big as Arsenal? 

-Santi [Follow me on Twitter @ArsenalBlogz ]