Just about everyone concerned with Arsenal Football Club will have been absolutely astounded at what they saw against Anderlecht at the Emirates last night. And most of us have been trying to pick the performance apart to see just how the Gunners managed to throw away a three goal lead against one of the minnows of the Champions League.
The man whose job it is it see that these things do not happen or at least try to prevent them from happening, Arsene Wenger, had a few ideas of his own including; insisting that the Belgian champions are a better team than most people think, an all round poor defensive performance from start to finish from Arsenal and dropping off because the players thought the game was won.
But in his post match statement reported by Arsenal.com the Frenchman was asked the main reason and he claimed that it was the forced withdrawal of the club captain Mikel Arteta.
Wenger said, “I think when we lost Mikel Arteta we lost out because he was one of the few who defended well. That didn’t help. Apart from that maybe we underestimated subconsciously Anderlecht and got punished. In the Champions League you need to be at the mental level or you get punished and certainly we were not.”
The timing was certainly right because the Spaniard was already struggling with his hamstring when they scored their first goal and he was replaced by Flamini right away. So you could say that Arteta was not playing for all three of their goals. And maybe it was not just his defending ability we missed, but his leadership to get everyone organised and not to leave the back four so exposed.
But we still had experienced players like Flamini, Ramsey and Cazorla who should have done better, while Per Mertesacker as vice-captain should have been barking orders. Does this show exactly why Wenger gave Arteta the captain’s armband?