Typical, Typical Arsenal

There is a Facebook post from ESPNFC.com that describes Arsenal as the definition of over-rated. Well… Tell me who was dumb enough to rate them in the first place? Yeah, they won their group in Champions League this season, but group success is no guarantee of future results.

It seems like every time the Gunners win their group, it’s in the same year that top clubs A) underperform; B) are drawn into the same group as another excellent club; and/or C) some other club comes out of nowhere. Bayern Munich is not crap, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that they slaughtered Arsenal.

Champions League needs a winter break, because any number of domestic leagues take one as well. On the positive side, it allows players to rest and recover. The negative is that it can be a momentum killer; that is if you buy into the momentum theory. The English Premier League does not observe a winter break, which I see as a good thing, since it gives me something to watch during the holiday period while most TV series are on hiatus, and all that is on are college bowl games.

It is usually during this time period that I refer to as the “yellow ball portion” that Arsenal drop a few spots in the table. Why this is, I do not know. Maybe it has to do with all the fixtures that come thick and fast. Squad rotation has never been manager Arsene Wenger’s strong suit. Hell, a strong squad and deep bench seems to be an anathema to him.

I understand having a starting eleven that work well together, and a few quality subs on the bench, but Arsenal always seem to be a side plagued by injuries. When those injuries occur, the replacements are not of a similar level.

The players start the match on the bench are usually there for a reason, and that reason, more often than not, is that they aren’t the kind of guys you want on the pitch for the full ninety. And any number of starters over the years couldn’t last an entire match. Not because they lacked fitness, but because they would get sent off. I kind of miss those days. At least Arsenal played with a bit of passion, which is something that has been lacking of late.

With a few exceptions, Arsenal are a fairly anonymous lot. I’m not saying big time names equal big time results; remember the Real Madrid “Galacticos” of the early 21st Century? Wenger used to be able to find good players and turn them into household names. Now, with a few exceptions, all Arsenal has are a bunch of garden shed names.

Everyone knows who Peter Cech is, but he made his name at Chelsea. He still has some good seasons left in him, but how many? I am glad he moved across London, and I would hate to think where the Gunners would be without him. What happened against Bayern Munich had nothing to do with Cech–he was on the bench. For some reason, Wenger has been putting his faith in David Ospina during Champions League matches, but the latest clusterfornication had little to do with him.

If you are looking for positives, you could say that there is still another match on March 7, during which Arsenal could turn this thing around. Even I am not that delusional, er… I mean optimistic. You could look at the most recent Super Bowl as an example of a team that flipped the script. But in that game, I was supporting my home state Atlanta Falcons, and that didn’t work out well for me.

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