They say it is darkest before the dawn but for Arsenal fans it feels as if we are stuck in some sort of weird Groundhog night where instead of acting to make thing better things only seem to be getting worse. There is no light on the horizon at the minute and dawn has decided it’s just not going to bother.
Last month I wrote a blog about how things were always going to get worse before they got better, that Wenger has operated under restricted spending while taking the flak for a board who are happy to let him be abused but what happened at Bradford has nothing to do with any of that.
It is easy to say that last night was about a lack of effort from the side, that was certainly my position after the whistle went and I sat starting at my screen, unable to digest fully what I had witnessed. But upon closer examination I think Wenger was right, the team couldn’t be faulted for effort, they had really tried and if that is true then it leaves only one other explanation – this team is simply awful.
You cannot, of course, take any credit away from Bradford, who played above their level for 120 minutes, showing an organisation and desire that was beyond their Premier League counterparts. But even on a bad day a side from the top half of the Premier League should be able to defeat a team from the bottom tier. That isn’t wishful thinking, that is just a fact.
How many years now have we watched as Arsenal teams failed to be able to find a way through a well-organised defence? Where is the creative key that can unlock a defence marshaled by players earning a fraction of what our players earn? The average wage in League two is just over £740 per week. The average wage of Arsenal last night was around £59,000. Per week. Gervinho (now downgraded to Gary) earns £2.4m per year alone while the whole Bradford squad collectively earn £1.4m. Ask a Bradford fan if they’d like Gary in their starting line up for the weekend.
I don’t wish to single one player out, unless that one player is Jack Wilshere and he is set to the side to be immune from criticism (even though a number of his passes last night were casual and went straight to the opposition). There was much to criticise last night and nothing to praise. How can there be when you concede to yet another set piece and at times be outplayed by a League Two side.
Penalties are, of course, a lottery, and Bradford have now won an record-breaking nine in a row, but missing two is not acceptable. I know we failed to score three, but one was saved and, in the interests of fairness, I’m going to credit their keeper even though it was a god-awful penalty.
If I’m honest, I don’t actually want to talk about Arsenal today. Last night there was no anger from me, just sadness. Deep, dark sadness. More times than I care to remember I’ve asked ‘where do we go from here?’ and I’m still yet to hear an answer. Sack Wenger seems to be the popular call this morning but I still don’t think that’s the answer and I know for that I will get abuse as if it’s somehow my fault.
Stephen Bradley manages to talk more sense than I have done today, you should give that a read. As for me, I think I’m gonna go hide away for a bit and try and heal this broken heart that Arsenal just keep stomping on. If they’d been a partner I’d have left long ago but perhaps more than anything else, Arsenal is a lifetime commitment and today the strain is starting to show. I’ll leave you with the words that young Nico Yennaris tweeted after the final whistle:
Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard
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