Hindsight is a wonderful thing and when Arsenal have just slipped to a shock defeat at home to West Ham on what was supposed to be the first step on the way to a great season in the Premier League, the knives are bound to be sharpened for the manager.
So did the Frenchman get his tactics wrong against Slaven Bilic and his team? Or did he pick the wrong line up to implement those tactics? Some will say both but I am not so sure. I do think that Wenger was perhaps a bit too negative and he hinted as much in his post match interview reported by Arsenal.com.
Suggesting that he was worried about the fact that West Ham have been playing competitive games for some weeks now while the Gunners were facing our first, Wenger hinted that he would have been reasonably happy with a draw and perhaps that is why he played Giroud to hold up the ball and Chamberlain and Cazorla on the flanks to keep more possession.
He said, “West Ham are a bit more advanced in their preparation than us. They’ve played many competitive games in the Europa League. I knew before the game it would be a tricky game on that front. A big part of it was not to concede, even if we played for a 0-0. The way we conceded the goal just before half-time, with experience we have in our team, is difficult to understand.”
To be fair to the boss, if his plan was to keep things tight it was working as there was nothing in it until the goal and that was almost at the break. And with their second goal in the 57th minute coming from their second shot on target and us dominating possession over the 90 minutes you could say that Wenger´s tactics were okay but their implementation was not.
However, even though he was getting ready to put Walcott on when they scored, which is early for Wenger, I think we should have been more adventurous from the start. Arsenal are better when on the attack and I think we needed to start fast, use the confidence around the club and put West Ham under pressure from the off.
I am not going to be too hard on Wenger as there is not a lot a manager can do about individual mistakes leading to goals or so many players having an off day, and I can understand his concern about the teams´ relative fitness levels, but it does feel like we played into their hands a bit. What do you think Gooners?