Arsenal’s bottlers kiss the title goodbye

by Michael Wade

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Patrice Evra was right. Arsenal are a club in crisis and a side which will never win the league under Arsene Wenger again.

The French manager has built a team of bottlers – the likes of which Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira would cringe at watching.

On Monday night against Manchester United the Gunners never had a better opportunity to capitalise on their position as league leaders and get one over on their old rivals in a big way.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, although unbeaten so far this league season, are distinctly average, and without the firepower of Wayne Rooney are simply put nothing special.

But at least they have some big match temperament, the ability to close games out and turn a bore draw into a win.

They didn’t deserve to beat Arsenal, in truth neither side really deserved to win, but on Tuesday morning it is Manchester United who sit at the top of the tree heading into Christmas and approaching the halfway stage of the season and it is due to their killer instinct.

Jack Wilshere is young and Cesc Fabregas not fully fit – they can be forgiven – but Marouane Chamakh, Robin van Persie, Andriy Arshavin, and Samir Nasri had no excuse. With the game there for the taking and the chance to open a lead at the top of the Premier League they bottled it.

They looked scared and nervous going forward. Bereft of ideas and confidence and lacking in the killer instinct and the mettle to go for goal. Despite dominating large periods of possession Arsenal had nothing to show for it.

Evra’s assertion that people remember title winners and that Arsenal have none to show is spot on, he hit the nail on the head.

Arsenal were too scared to take the initiative. Are any of the players in the Arsenal first-team at the moment winners? With the exception of Fabregas and Wilshere they are not. If they are winners why haven’t they won anything by now – they have had the opportunities and now they are throwing away another golden one.

In a distinctly average season domestically they have been handed the chance to make the most of others shortcomings and end their title drought but Wenger’s pampered babies do not have the winning mentality forged at Old Trafford by Fergie.

The like of Darren Fletcher, Anderson and Park Ji-Sung may not have the technical ability to pass the ball around with the breathtaking quality of Nasri, Arshavin and van Persie but they will retire with their trophy cabinets bulging – and as Evra so succinctly put it last week, that is what really counts.

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  • wing

    I suppose you used this title to draw clicks huh?

  • anonymous

    That is crazy. After losing 1 – 0 at old trafford you can say that. its just insane. I hope you eat your words at the end of the season you chop.

  • Sam Wheatley

    I agree – Samir Nasri looked like a fan who’d won a competition to play against Man United, Chamakh had no presence and Arshavin was abject.

    Not only that, but the back line was decidedly dodgy again and even when United sat back after half time with a somewhat fortuitous lead Arsenal failed to assert any authority. When a team sits back, it shouldn’t matter who the opposition is, you should be completing passes and trying to create. Arsenal didn’t.

    Also I think Theo Walcott deserves a special mention for being simply awful when he came on.

  • Mystical Mike

    The author is right, we were simply woeful. Lesser teams have gone to old Trafford and offered more.

    We are crying out for a leader, a ya ya toure, a steven gerrard, someone with presence, we still look like a team of kids.

    The irony is if we beat Stoke, and Chelsea and united draw we are back on top.

    We can take some positives in that we have played all the big boys away from home. But are we good enough to beat them at home?

  • ghost

    in Arsene we still TRUST,Gunner 4 life!

  • ManOfDestiny

    I largely agree with the sentiments expressed in the article but this match was indicative of a phenomena that occurs frequently in sport and is what is known as a “Shut-Out”, the term being used predominantly in boxing. This is simply when the boxer/team has ‘sussed out’ their opposition’s strategy/gameplan/tactic for beating them when they step in the ring/cross the whitewash. The skilled, adaptable boxer tailors his style and stance to counter-act what he knows his opponent will be throwing at him, and as a result the ‘sussed-out’ boxer becomes (1) frustrated and begins going in gung ho looking for the knock-out but usually only chasing shadows and punching air (2) inhibited and predictable, thereby handing the initiative to the smarter boxer who can counter-punch or be the aggressor as they see it.

    Most people lack the sporting knowledge to recognise this when it happens and usually comment on how the boxer/team “didn’t turn up”, “ran out of ideas”, “didn’t even try”, “bottled it”. Such opinions do not give sufficient credit to the victorious sportsperson/team for outclassing, outwitting and outfighting the loser. “Bottling it” is definetly something that Arsenal have done in the past but it’s important to give credit where it’s due also for making such a talented team of footballers look so abject and average. Do your homework in future

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