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Anorak | Arsenal balls: Wenger’s hubris gets just rewards

Arsenal balls: Wenger’s hubris gets just rewards

by | 21st, May 2017

One day we will know what happened in December 2016 that destroyed Arsenal’s chances of winning the Premier League. Having failed to qualify for the Champions’ League for the first time in 20 years (during which Arsenal have been champions just three times; a fact that tells you a lot about that inflated competition’s credentials), the team’s manager, Arsene Wenger, tells talkSport:

“We were a force this year until December, fighting for the championship [but] after we dropped off. I will say one day the real reason behind that…”

Was it something to do with the death of Indian economist Sulabha Brahme, 84, who passed away on December 1? Did that bring Mesut Ozil to a standstill? What about the murder of Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, who was shot dead on December 19? Did that put lead in Francis Coquelin’s boots? Or did it all go wrong when Toyah returned to Coronation Street?

Or was it something to do with losing matches? In December Arsenal lost 2-1 to Everton and 2-1 to Manchester City in back-to-back away defeats. The Everton game was very close, with Arsenal having shots twice saved off the line in the game’s dying moments; and in the Manchester City match they were hard done by when the referee allowed two goals that could both have been ruled out for offside – City’s second was egregious. But in each match Arsenal only scored one goal. Not enough.

Maybe something else happened – something extraordinary and uniquely damaging? Wenger’s pretty good at saying one day he will reveal all. On buying Danny Welbeck in 2014, he said: “I will tell you that story one day.” Why so mysterious? Is it hubris, gnostic or self-serving balls?

And what about what else Wenger told us today? He added:

“I believe since January we have played in a very difficult environment for different reasons.

“Some you know about and that’s very difficult for a group of players to cope with that – and some other reasons we will talk about on another day.”

Tell us now. Go on.

“Psychologically the atmosphere was absolutely horrendous. It has been difficult, yes, and certainly my personal situation has contributed to that but you can never question my professionalism or commitment.”

What happened was that after 19 matches of a 38-game Premier League season, Arsenal were nine points behind leader’s Chelsea. After 38 matches, they are 18 points behind Chelsea, the champions. Arsenal never were in contention.  As Roy Keane put it when Arsenal were annihilated by Bayern Munich in the Champions’ League, “Well, what did you expect?”

We expected Arsenal to be league also-rans and enjoy a good FA Cup run playing bouts of incisive football punctuated by moments of abject, laughable ineptitude. It wasn’t a season of disappointment for Gunners’ fans. It was season of complete predictability. Wenger will tell us all abut it one day – and that nine seasons of the same that preceded it.



Posted: 21st, May 2017 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Key Posts, Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink