If there was one word that summed up everything about Arsenal at the moment it would be frustration. The manager is frustrated, the fans are frustrated, the captain is too and that showed in his post-game interview following Blackburn.
Pulling no punches, van Persie said:
It just frustrates me, and it is happening too often. Every time we start positively we just keep making the same mistakes.
No arguments from me because that’s exactly what frustrates the fans. The reptition of the weaknesses, and it’s clearly frustrating the manager too. He rarely, if ever, criticises a player in public, but speaking about the own goals on Saturday he as much as pointed the finger at both Song and Koscielny, saying:
I believe as well when you score an own goal, you have to look at yourself. It’s never, never, never, never, never completely out of reach, or very rarely. Out of 100 own goals there are maybe 5 or 6 where you have no chance at all, all the rest you have to look at yourself.
It does seem to be a bit like missing the woods for the trees, as there were other issues with the defending before both the own goals. I’m all for players having to take responsibility but if you vaguely criticise the ones who scored the own goals then you can’t ignore the players who failed to attack the limp free kick, nor the pathetic attempts to stop Olsson by Djourou and Song. Yes, the players who scored the OGs could have done better but then, you know, so could everyone else.
And if the manager talks about a lack of focus, urgency and communication, if he wants to castigate his defence, from where are these players taking their instruction and motivation if not him? This is his defence playing the way he’s teaching them to play. I get he’s frustrated because he’s seeing experienced players commit basic errors but he’s assembled these troops and it’s down to him to get the best out of them. A little more introspection is required, I think.
Anyway, there’s little point dwelling on Blackburn, the manager says he wants to take the positives out of that game, and good luck to him with that. We did score 3 very good goals but I think there’s a lot more to learn from the negatives than anything else.
The idea of the defensive coach is doing to little to add clarity. The Mail says Wenger has the go ahead to the make the appointment, The Guardian says he’ll stick with what he’s got, while in The Express Remi Garde says Arsene needs David Dein back. I didn’t realise Dein was a defensive coach on top of everything else. And to me the idea of Dein returning just smacks of desperation, the vague hope that Arsene might re-kindle an effective sporting relationship so we can get the old Arsene Wenger back.
Dein left Arsenal in 2007, football has moved on enormously since then, and doesn’t it show a complete lack of forward thinking and planning for the future if the best people can come up with is something that worked in the past? And worked under completely different circumstances and structures. Why not bring back Don Howe as a coach while we’re at it?
And sure while we’re back in the day, former boss George Graham believes a badly managed summer is to blame for the current problems. He says:
I think they left it a bit late to bring in all these players. Two weeks of the season had gone by, and he’s not had time to work with the players he’s brought in. Especially among the defence and some of the players he’s brought in, the fans don’t even know who they are.
Still, George was keen to accentuate the positives, saying things would get better:
It should be better, I don’t think it could get much worse.
Looking on the bright side, I like it! Tonight provides a bit of escapism, with any luck, from the problematic league campaign. A win in the Carling Cup won’t do anything to fix anything but with a clutch of youngsters and some of the new signings set to be involved, there’ll be a certain freshness to the team which is always enjoyable. The manager says we’ll be seeing Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coquelin, Frimpong, Jenkinson and Miyaichi as Arsenal take on Shrewsbury at the Grove tonight.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Santos start again as he clearly needs match practice and we’re likely to see South Korean striker Ju-Young Park for the first time. Wenger says of him:
Park is good in every area. He is good in the air, good technically, he is mobile and that’s why he is an adaptable striker who can play up front behind the striker. That’s why we went for him. What I like with him is that he is very mobile and that’s the basis of our game.
I’m interested in seeing him mostly because I have no idea what he’s like as a player, except for a few YouTube clips, so fingers crossed he gets a start tonight. And in a transfer window when we finally brought in some experience, it’s still very Arsenal that our most expensive signing of the summer was the 17 year Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton.
Comparisons will be drawn with Theo Walcott, for various reasons, but the manager says they’re very different players:
Walcott is a bit more a striker and Oxlade-Chamberlain is more a midfielder. I believe that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be a central midfielder one day and Walcott a central striker one day. That shows the difference between the two players.
Fairly subtle difference all right. The Ox made his Arsenal debut at Old Trafford, chucked on into that shitstorm in what seemed a rather unfair and arbitrary fashion, and I’m pretty sure that when he thought about his first game for Arsenal the scenario that played out was pretty far from his mind. Tonight he’ll get a chance at home to put that behind him and while fans are frustrated in general I think the youngsters out there tonight will get great support from the crowd, as they always do in the Carling Cup.
I don’t think the game is being televised, and I suspect streams will be relatively hard to come by, so it remains to be seen if we can provide live blog coverage. I’ll update you via Twitter during the day.
And that’s about that. If you haven’t already spotted it there are two pairs of tickets to be won for Saturday’s game against Bolton with thanks to Thomas Cook Sports. Just go here to enter the competition which closes on Wednesday afternoon (winners announced on Thursday).