There have been many debates about the various problems Arsenal have had already this season and no doubt there will be many more. The Arsene Out Brigade and the Arsene Knows Best faction may never see eye to eye but when the team are struggling on the pitch, the debates are always more strenuous and heated.
The AOBs have recently had the upper hand because of the way the Gunners have stuttered so far in the Premier League as well as failing to win the Champions League group and suffering an early exit from the league cup. But a few good performances and results have swung the pendulum back to the AKBs a bit and now the Arsenal star midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has added his own voice to those Gooners that are fully behind the Prof.
Whereas Mathieu Flamini laid a lot of the problems this season firmly at the feet of our bad luck with injuries, which is a fair point in my book, the Ox has gone the other way and stated that the players have been responsible for some of the worst moments, like the first 45 minutes at the Britannia stadium.
He told the Evening Standard, “It’s a hard one for me to say what I would say to the fans. I understand their frustration. I would definitely say that and they are completely entitled to their own opinion. They pay good money to follow us around and support their club.
“I am sure they have supported us for a number of years so they are definitely entitled to their opinion and I can understand their frustration. But I wouldn’t put that on the manager. We have to stand up ourselves as players.
“On that day [at Stoke], it wasn’t the manager’s fault we went 3-0 down like we did in the first half. It was us as a group of players — we were not at the required level. On that day, it would have been harsh for a fan to completely blame our manager. As players, we are adults and we need to stand up and take some of that blame ourselves.
“All I can say is from my point of view, Arsene Wenger is an unbelievable man off the pitch and as a manager. He’s been brilliant for me in my career and I can say that for a number of players at this club. He has helped us massively and so it is not just him to blame when things go wrong.
“It is us as well as footballers to take responsibility but he would say the same thing in the same position as me [speaking publicly]. I am sure he will take responsibility because that’s what a great manager he is. All of us as a group need to work together to make things go the right way and we are trying to do that.”
To be fair to Wenger, it was not a tactical problem against the Potters, just an all round bad performance from the team. But there have been times when Arsenal have been naive or slow to adapt to a problem. Is that the fault of the players, or should Wenger have them better prepared and act faster from the touchline?