I sometimes think that we Arsenal fans are harder on Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal players and their failings than anyone else is, probably because we are so desperate from them to do well and to get everything right both on and off the pitch.
We certainly feel the defeat of a defeat like yesterday’s latest Premier League frustration against bogey side Chelsea. That frustration has led to many of us questioning whether the Gunners have really got what it takes to keep up the title challenge.
The manager’s tactics have also been placed in doubt once more after the decision to take the big French centre forward Olivier Giroud off in order to bring Gabriel on after Mertsacker’s red card. Former Tottenham star and current pundit, Jermaine Jenas, certainly thinks it was the wrong call, as he explains in a BBC report.
Jenas said, “The Arsenal fans and Giroud himself made it very clear what they thought of the decision, and I agreed with them.
“I can honestly say I have never seen that happen in any game I’ve been involved in. If a team has a defender sent off, it is usually one of their ‘luxury’ players who gets dragged off – not the big striker.
“Personally I would have taken off Joel Campbell, but I would also have chosen to lose Mesut Ozil or Theo Walcott rather than Giroud.
“It was 0-0 when Wenger made the switch and it is possible he was already thinking he would take a draw, but he must surely have been thinking that he might need a goal at some stage.
“If Campbell came off and Arsenal conceded quickly as they did, Wenger might have regretted his decision but he had another similar player in Alexis Sanchez on the bench who could have come on to try to rectify the error.
“The main problem with taking Giroud off was that Arsenal did not have another striker like him. Once Wenger made that decision, then tactically he was totally committed to playing one way.”
Even though he is a spud I have been quite impressed with Jenas as a pundit and the intelligent way he looks at the game so I am willing to take on board his take on the Giroud sub. However, he also had some very positive things for Arsenal fans to take from the game, mainly the fighting qualities that we have showed in the last three difficult games. In fact, surprisingly enough the Spurs man is backing Arsenal to bounce back from this and claim the Premier League title in May.
He said, “Arsenal’s defeat means they have only taken two points from their last three games, but I do not see their recent form as real cause for concern for their title hopes.
“Gunners fans will be worried, of course, because of their side’s recent history of falling short in the latter stages of the season.
“But I would focus on the performances they have put in against Liverpool, Stoke and now Chelsea, rather than the results.
“Wenger will not be happy with the way they conceded on Sunday, but I think he will be proud of the way they responded and the effort his players put in. Chelsea were hanging on at times.
“Yes, Arsenal’s second home league defeat of the season was a set-back but they again showed the kind of character they will need over the next four months.
“The way they have responded in tough situations, to draw at Anfield and the Britannia Stadium – and fight with 10 men against Chelsea – is a sign they have the mental strength to be champions, and I am standing by my prediction that they will win the league.”
Is he right Arsenal fans?