No matter how much blame you allocate to Arsene Wenger for the poor performances of Arsenal this season in big games like the home defeat by Watford, the limp display away to Chelsea and most obviously the complete battering at the hands of Bayern Munich, you must realise that the manager does not send the side out with instructions to play poorly or not put much effort in.
It seems to keep happening though, so you can understand why the Frenchman might be concerned that it happens again in our FA cup trip to face Sutton United this evening. A game against a team from the National League that the Gunners are expected to breeze past is just the sort where you might expect some complacency from our big name players and I think that Wenger has real fears that Arsenal may flop again tonight.
Reading between the lines of his pre-match comments reported by the Arsenal website, I get the impression that the boss is really not sure whether his team will turn up for this crucial clash and he appears to be almost pleading with them to take it seriously.
Wenger said, “Sutton played very well against Leeds. They did it in a convincing way and overall we have to be warned that that game should put us on alert.
“The football is a bit different on an artificial pitch, so it gives them a little advantage. We have to prepare, to adapt, and to play our game, because the disadvantage of the pitch is that we are not used to it. The advantage is that it is a flat pitch and that you can pass the ball well.
“For us, it would be absolutely unexplainable and inexcusable not to take the game seriously. It’s a cup game and you know you have to turn up on the day or you’re out.
“I believe that if you have any ambition, if you play for Arsenal Football Club, you have to take every game seriously.”
They certainly should but the sad truth is that too often we see a below par showing from this Arsenal team. Will they do it again tonight or will the Bayern beating have shaken them into life?