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Arsenal in danger of pushing the ‘self-destruct’ button on a promising season

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With Arsenal’s exit from the knockout stages of the Champions League at the hands of the brilliant Barcelona still very fresh in the memory, manager Arsene Wenger must somehow attempt to rally his playing staff and focus them quickly on the competitions that they still hold weight in.

Wenger and some of his talented men have, unfortunately but understandably, looked to pass blame wherever possible. The supposed villain of Tuesday night’s piece, referee Massimo Busacca, has been lambasted for sending off striker Robin Van Persie after he shot at goal after the whistle had been blown for offside. It was without doubt a harsh decision, but the referee has followed the laws of the game to his interpretation and has acted correctly once he believed Van Persie has kicked the ball away. Van Persie may well have not heard the whistle, as he claimed after the game, but it conveniently seemed to be the only whistle any player didn’t hear during the whole match. A furious Wenger has since been charged by UEFA for improper conduct.

What is much more worrying for the Frenchman are the mistakes that are creeping into Arsenal’s usually fluid, lucid style. They are costly errors that threaten to curtail a season where at one stage even Wenger himself was contemplating a historic quadruple for the Gunners. Although being second best in the first half at the Nou Camp, Arsenal were minutes away from reaching half time at a craved stalemate. As the ball was cleared from another unsuccessful Barca attack, it fell to the feet of inspirational captain and leader, the mercurial Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard attempted a cute back heel on the edge of the box, which was seized by Andres Iniesta and fed to Lionel Messi, who took a couple of mesmerising touches before volleying into the net. Fabregas was obviously aggrieved, yet the immediate dangerous situation could still have been rescued. Gael Clichy tried and failed to position himself correctly after Fabregas had lost the ball, giving World Player of the Year Messi too much time to score the first of his two goals that evening.

Barcelona perceived to take control of the game despite Arsenal getting back on level terms through a Sergio Busquets own goal. Xavi scored, and Messi converted a penalty. Still, with minutes to go, the London club remained in the tie. In a rare chance, Jack Wilshere squared the ball for Nicklas Bendtner. Through on goal, his first touch was incredibly poor, and the possibility of going through into the quarter finals evaporated. It must have been exasperating on the touchline.

Wenger will only have to retrace his steps back less than two weeks to see that a calamitous error between Laurent Koscielny and goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny possibly cost his team their first trophy for six years; Obafemi Martins took advantage, Birmingham the profiteers and Carling Cup winners. It is these split second lapses in concentration from great players that are holding Arsenal back, not referee’s whistles or linesman’s flags. Wenger has to work well, and quickly, to shackle the complacency and misjudgement within his own realm, as criticising powers beyond his control can and will lead to sanctions against him.

By no means does this suggest the end of the season for Arsenal. It is a big ask to go to Manchester United and win, but Arsenal are definitely a club who can emerge victorious when they take on their title rivals in the FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford on Saturday evening. Failing that, a draw brings United back down to London, where Arsenal have usually been dominant. Add to that a game in hand on United in the title race and the exciting venture of Alex Ferguson’s side visiting the Emirates at the start of May, it is clear to see that Arsenal’s wait for silverware may not be much longer. For it to happen, though, there is now no room for error.

Can Arsenal still salvage something from this season? Please leave your comments below:



  1. gilbert murungi

    March 10, 2011 at 10:14 am

    spot on!everybody is ridiculing us.hear pep say arsenal are never under pressure to win silverware,mascherano calling us hypocrites and every other negative comment in the media.shockingly arsene will never reflect on these happenings because i believe most comments are true but trust him to find an excuse.tactically we were below average like most other times!WHO WILL TAKE RESPONSIBLITY AND CHANGE THE WRONG COURSE THIS CLUB IS TAKING

  2. Daniel Marino

    March 10, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Arsenal need to avoid Stoke game for ever. Every year injuries happen after the ruggby players.

    Last year, the same happen at stoke. If Arsenal is playing with this players we have, it is important to play the reserve team against stoke on both Away and home games.

    This year atleast we can salvage either of the cups if not both.

  3. BUMI

    March 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

    massimo busacca must have caught his wife having affairs wit an english man, he is only taking reveng

  4. Rob O'Connell

    March 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Nice piece Tone, i agree that after ‘ the back heel’ Cesc could have brought him down there and then and Clichy or someone else should have got a foot in and stopped them, and Almunia could have stayed big and not collapsed….I believe had Szczesny been in Goal he may have saved that, Messi knew that Almunia would go to ground, (see last years quarter final where he lobbed him)….having said that Almunia played excellently when he came on (i was fearing the worst when i saw him brought on)….
    I agree that we were completely outplayed, outclassed but we were in London and look what happened later on. I strongly believe (do i sound like wenger) that we would have caused them more trouble with 11 men and i also KNOW that had Van P been on the pitch at the end when Nicky Bentdner SHOULD have scored, that he would have put that chance away…Sure it would have been a smash and grab but I would have slept comfortably believe me !!! The ref, for me, seemed to want to give a lot of silly free kicks against us but i didnt see too much coming our way and as for the red card…i watched the game and on many many occasions i didnt hear the whistle…the game seemed to just keep stopping, and i dont know if anyone else agrees with me but i rarely saw the ref raise an arm to signal which direction a free kick was given !!? Im not sayin that with 11 men we would have won on the night but we may have had a chance and we will never know now because the ref made a stupid decision….

  5. Andy

    March 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Arsenals problem is there are too many excuses. They didn’t lose because of one decision, they lost to a better team, but such is the financial nature of football questions are asked in stances of football.

    The main problem at arsenal is the lack of experienced older players. Yes they have experienced players but these are still young themselves. Eg fabregas, van persie, glichy. They have never been shown the guidance required from older players as they have been blooded into young teams. Whilst the faith placed in youth is admirable it is not winning any trophies.

    Compare this with Manchester united – they mix the experience of scholes, van der sar, neville (until recently) and giggs with the likes of smalling, rafael, Hernandez etc. In the past 2 decades this has always been the case and has lead to then becoming the mist successful PL team and second most successful team in english history. Coincidence?

    Arsenal need to move away from the business model of constantly aiming for profits and start aiming to win trophies in order to justify tickets, esp season ticket prices to the fans.

  6. Shaleya

    March 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    I’m not going to say that Van Persie’s sending off didn’t change the course of the game, because it did. I truly feel that Arsenal could have at the very least held Barcelona off if not for that.

    However, I can’t overlook the sloppiness that this article mentions plagues the Gunners. Every game that we “should have” won this season, in my opinion, was lost due to carelessness and sloppiness. When things go bad for Arsenal, they tend to fall apart. Let’s not forget giving up a 4-0 lead to end 4-4…

    The Barcelona game, we were seriously outplayed. It was evident from the start. Barcelona danced circles around us. I heard someone make the joke that we had so little possession in the game that we couldn’t even score our own goal, Barcelona did that for us, too. Even the opportunity that Bendtner had, he couldn’t close. This is not uncommon for this Arsenal team, unfortunately. There have been many an opportunity squandered.

    I agree with Andy that the Gunners lack a serious experienced presence. It’s not hard to see that when things go awry at ManU, all Fergie has to do is bring on Giggsy or Scholes, and they can completely change the game. They both play with the kind of calm finesse that is necessary to lead the team in difficult situations.

  7. Aussie Jack

    March 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Come the end of May I will be happy to apologize if I`m wrong but to me Arsenal pressed the `self destroy button `some time ago. Unless there are radical changes in the summer months with the introduction of senior top class players and the exit of the `deadwood` we`ll be listening to the same tune this time next year.
    “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”

  8. Pingback: Arsenal in danger of pushing the ?self-destruct? button on a promising season | My celeb news blog

  9. Pingback: Arsenal in danger of pushing the ?self-destruct? button on a promising season | Absolute Football Info

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