By Dan Ferguson
2017 Bayern 5 2017 Arsenal 1
What do you expect?
2017 Arsenal came into this game on the back of some awful results and performances.
Munich had nothing to fear.
2017 Wenger picked a side that was not his best because he was trying out Pochettino’s tactic of going out of the Champion’s League in order to qualify for the Champion’s League.
Absurd you say?
2017 Arsenal played in a very similar way to 2016, 2014 and 2013.
There was a complete lack of trust amongst the players, they did not believe in each other on the ball, off the ball, in any of the thirds and more. The 2017 keeper didn’t trust the 2017 defence, who in turn didn’t trust the movement and inefficiency of the midfield, who didn’t look like they wanted to help the defence, or the false forward line of 2017.
Whichever way you look at it, the players this time round did very little to convince us that they have learned anything from previous tonkings. I predicted that this score wouldn’t happen unless we presented them with the chances time and time again.
That is not a game plan. It is panic, lack of trust, lack of movement, rabbit in headlights. The 2017 side are on a lose/lose, because they know they aren’t currently anywhere near their best.
They also know that the manager may well not remain as coach next season now. They know that both their best players this year will probably leave. They know that the manager will point to the quality of the opposition to deflect from his 2017 side’s failings. He will suggest that the opposition were more measured and lethal, but he won’t call out the irresponsibility and inexperience in his 2017.
The 2017 left midfield looked threatening and tried hard but could not pass to another player… which matters at this level. The 2017 number 8, playing at number 10 was a waste of a shirt. The 2017 right midfield had a bright 45 minutes, yet after half time played like some big kids had turned up to the park and taken over his game and his ball.
Arsenal’s 2017 centre forward was awful. He was a liability, wasteful, miserable and lacked control of the ball and his head.
The style of play was so similar to 2015 Arsenal, that there is little point in naming names.
It is the time of year for improving teams to thrive, and stagnant teams to be demolished.
It doesn’t matter if it is Monaco, Barcelona, Bayern, Milan etc, the outcome is always the same because the players continue to play in the same style. 2017 Arsenal’s captain went off, and the capitulation was redolent of many other Champion’s League nights.
There were some interesting pointers to consider.
One being 2017 Arsenal’s celebration of their goal.
Quite grateful, if a little guarded due to such obvious antipathy for the goal scorer. Not one 2017 Arsenal player likes our number 7. I don’t think he likes himself and what he’s become either.
For the first 20 minutes 2017 Arsenal couldn’t get near the centre circle, let alone out of their half.
They could not communicate with each other all over again. The talking minimised, heads went down, chance after chance for 2017 Bayern went begging, and the first half could have ended up 10-2 to be fair.
In the second half, 2017 Arsenal started to run around and it took about 6 minutes for the spaces to appear between the banks of players, and Bayern didn’t even hit hard. They jabbed their way to a 5-1 win.
Arsenal were not lightweight; they were clueless, cumbersome, riddled with poor timing, not looking up and reluctant to question the implementation of their game plan.
The return leg will probably be a narrower score. Hell, Arsenal might even go 2-0 up and give their fans a chance to drop their cameras and ‘foot-longs’ because they have 65 minutes to get only 2 more goals.
It really doesn’t matter. The board make their money. The manager makes his money, the players make their money, the kids and tourists got a coloured carrier bag with the date and opposition printed on it, (has anyone ever noticed how shit the handles are on these bags and they cannot carry more than a book for a single journey before breaking?), and the ‘real fans’ will fight each other over the same old shit.
“We demand change!”
“Careful what you wish for!”
Everyone outside of the club who once showed admiration for the team and the manager has burnt their bridges. They all say the same things. Yet everyone inside the club will find a way of appealing to the masses who still believe, or still feel that you put your team first and never criticise because it can only harm them more.
Sport is about cycles.
Arsenal has had a puncture for several years now and invited the world to see how nice their stadium is, their kit and sponsorship deals are, their community outreach programme is, the quality of their pitch, but they cannot ride, they cannot stay injury free, the coach doesn’t trust his players anymore, and the players sure as shit don’t often enough play to their potential.
So I say have a pop. What difference does it really make? Will Arsenal wobble against Sutton or collapse against Liverpool? What difference does it make?
The season is over.
It only matters if we get relegated from the imaginary mini-league that is the creation and obsession of the manager.
If Arsenal comes 5th, we just might see a significant change to erode all that is so ingrained in the fabric of the club. That will bring with it years of potential wilderness before it can possibly produce fruit. So what? Really? Does it matter. We are football fans, many of us support Arsenal no matter what, but this is not about falling out and falling back in love again. We aren’t teenagers any more.
This is a nadir, but it isn’t sad.
My immediate, medium-term and long-term view is this: Arsenal means as much to me as I mean to them.
You owe us more than answers.