We are under performing because of four fundamental issues in our club by Ollie Adler
Watching Arsenal has become increasingly more frustrating. This decline hasn’t been one of just this season but of the last five or six. It isn’t just the results that anger me but the nature of the results; the poor performances, the lack of desire and as Troy Deeney said, the lack of ‘cojones.’ However, one thing Wenger seems to always praise is our ‘mental spirit,’ something I believe is non-existent. The old Cliché goes: it is easy to play well when you are losing and this is a position we have been in too many times over the last few seasons and over the short course of this one too. This piece of writing is going to be a stream of consciousness, a continuous rant. The irregularity in structure and points made in this article is a microcosm of the lack of structure and care about the club in this moment in time, from the top to the bottom.
My number one problem at the moment is our poor results. This season we have been humiliated at Anfield against Liverpool, suffered a demoralising loss against Stoke, got overrun in the midfield whilst losing to Watford, played poorly against Red Star Belgrade and got schooled in what is supposedly our own game against Man City. The poor results have sprouted from three main issues.
The first issue is the fact that our players don’t care. They are simply playing without passion. I want to see tackles flying in, quick passing and rapid buildup play, intricate and delicate runs and class in tight spaces and at least a bit of defensive ability. This season I have seen none of that. The performances have been diabolical. The defending has been woeful and the buildup play is simply a string of backwards, backwards, sideways, backwards, sideways, forwards and towards the corner flag, backwards and then back again before getting caught in possession and conceding as a result of a counter attack. These events have happened far too much recently, as was seen with Jesus’s goal on the weekend, albeit offside and the Swansea goal the previous weekend against us. The players are lazy, lethargic and lackadaisical but ultimately they aren’t good enough.
This leads me on to the second issue which is causing our poor form and poor performances and this is the fact that the players simply aren’t good enough. In the transfer windows, we don’t spend enough money and don’t show a will to compete. The lack of ambition from Gazidis and the owners demonstrates the lack of respect and the disregard the board have for the fans.
The third issue which is causing these poor displays and therefore poor results is the fact that the 3-4-3 formation is useless. This is because we are playing with seven defensive outfield players on the pitch. The three at the back are defenders, the two center midfielders are put in there to sit deep and the wingbacks are Bellerin and Kolasinac who are defenders. When the 3 men up top are Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette, there isn’t enough support for the front men and therefore they are ineffective as teams playing against us with ten men behind the ball will easily close them down.
However, what is even more of a problem with this formation is the fact that Ozil is not a winger. This formation is forcing him out wide and therefore we cannot see the best of him. His position is a number 10, playing behind forward runners. A 4-2-3-1 formation would allow us to get the best out of Ozil. More often than not this season, the three men up top has been dysfunctional to say the least. The players in those positions haven’t been consistent and as we saw on the weekend, Wenger was delusional enough to leave our star purchase in Lacazette on the bench. Too often it has been Iwobi in one of those positions. What on earth does that add to the attack?
The fact is that we aren’t going to be able to demonstrate any attacking prowess, which Arsenal are renowned for basing their game upon when there are such few attacking options on the pitch. There is no drive, no forward runners and quite frankly this is what is causing this boring and slow build up involving backwards and sideways passing. However, there is a more fundamental issue with this formation and this is the fact that there is a lack of options. With three at the back, there is a link missing in the chain between the defence and the midfield and with no number 10 role allocated in the team, there is a link missing between the midfield and the attack. There is no balance to the team. There are just three mini dysfunctional layers to the team who are failing to collaborate. It is a shambolic mess, not a team! Therefore, either the defence get caught in possession, or the ball gets given to Xhaka who gets unfairly criticized for being caught in possession because he has nobody to pass it to. Under pressure, it is difficult to spread it out wide and with a team playing ten men behind the ball, it is nearly impossible to role it into the forward players. One option is open and that is Ramsey who is either sideways or backwards. If the ball doesn’t go to Ramsey, the ball is lost and the opposition are away.
This links onto the final reason why we are under-performing and that is the manager. He is a clueless dinosaur who started brilliantly in his first few years here but is now past his time. As Claude from Arsenal Fan TV continuously says, ‘The milk has gone stale’. Wenger is past it. He is lost for ideas. He claims he changes because he changed to the 3-4-3 formation but he can no longer change back. His selection is all over the place, leaving out players like Lacazette on Sunday and not playing the three main players together until Everton a couple of weeks ago. He can’t see the formation isn’t working. When I checked the line up before the game on Sunday I was convinced Wenger turned over a new leaf when I saw Xhaka, Ramsey and Coquelin starting. I thought they were all going to start in midfield and he was reverting back to four in the defence with five in midfield and ozil at the tip of that with Alexis up front. However, I was wrong. Wenger slotted Coquelin into that defence and played with a back 3. As soon as I realised we were playing a 3-4-3 formation, I believed the game was over. It was lost before it had started. What frustrated me more is the manager’s rhetoric. In his pre match press conference he said ‘sometimes the best form of defence is attack.’ Believe me, we didn’t play to attack and had such a negative attitude up until we went 2-0 down. Why didn’t we start the game as we played after City went 2-0 up? Why didn’t we start to increase the pressure on City at 1-0 to them? Even when we pulled one back and the score was 2-1, it never seemed as though we could get an equaliser. We went and sat deep again. It seemed as though we scored, and showed we could compete with City so that we would be able to praise ‘mental spirit’ again after the game even though we never really had the desire or the ambition to really push for an equaliser. At the end of the day, it finished 3-1 as a result of an offside goal. However, we weren’t good enough and were never really in that game. Wenger is so lost for ideas, he ranted about the officials and complained that City didn’t deserve a penalty. Before, he hasn’t attacked them as much. He is now a fish out of water and if he had any dignity, he wouldn’t have signed a new contract and he should leave before the end of the season. We all know that won’t happen though.
There are some serious fundamental issues within our club that need addressing such as the manager and this poor formation. This formation won’t change though. In the second half against City, the formation actually changed and we began to have an improved performance. Wenger won’t stick to this second half switch. It is almost guaranteed that we will revert to the 3-4-3 against Spurs on November 18th and it must be said, I am not optimistic. As a club, we are going through crisis, not just because of the results but because of the manner of the results whereby we show a lack of commitment, intensity and dedication. The performances are next to useless and our football is boring to watch. To get out of crisis, the manager will need to go, the formation will need to change, the players will have to improve and there will have to be a new attitude installed in the club. In all honesty, if we miss out on Ancelloti and keep Wenger for the next two years or more, I will be livid!