Arsenal couldn’t afford any more slip-ups in the race for Champions League football, but they suffered another disappointing defeat to Crystal Palace. They are now firm outsiders to finish in the top four and this would mark the first season that they haven’t done so under Arsene Wenger. The Frenchman has an uncertain future and he has yet to publicly announce whether he is going to sign a new contract or not. This defeat will increase the pressure on him and the protesting could increase as a result. After the game, Wenger said the following to the BBC:
“We lost too many duels and we paid for that. There is no obvious reason why. We prepared well. It’s difficult to explain just after the game.”
Arsene Wenger looks a broken man on the touchline at the moment and these comments suggest that he is running out of ideas. He is correct that his side lost too many duels and a reason for that could be the lack of fight that exists in the team. The players aren’t putting their bodies on the line for their manager. Palace wanted it more on Monday and that is a big worry for Wenger.
Theo Walcott was the captain on Monday night and his comments after the match suggest a deep motivational problem in the Arsenal squad. He said that Palace wanted it more at Selhurst Park and that is the reason that the home side ran out victorious. Jamie Carragher couldn’t believe what the Arsenal man had to say and the following quote is being reported by the Telegraph:
“He says this isn’t Arsenal, it is! It’s been Arsenal for the past 10. 15 years; year in, year out,”
“Sometimes these players, they come out and try to look out for themselves – don’t tell me what happened after the game, show me in the game!”
The Sky Sports pundit is right to heavily criticise the Arsenal squad as Walcott’s comments are unbelievable. There is clearly a lack of motivation and that stems from the manager. The Gunners have become set in their ways and the players are too comfortable. They are no longer pushing themselves and their performances show that there is a desire for change among the playing staff. The easiest way to solve the numerous problems at the club would be to change the manager. It now looks to be the right time for Wenger to leave his post.
Alisher Usmanov who owns more than 30% of the club has given an interview, in which he states that the board are also to blame for the Gunners’ lack of success on the pitch. The Russian isn’t on the Arsenal board and these comments will come as a direct attack on Stan Kroenke. He isn’t directly involved in the running of the club and this interview could be seen as a power-play from him. The following quotes were reported by Bloomberg:
“I personally, unfortunately, am fully isolated from decision making in the club. All the responsibility for the fate of the club rests with the main shareholder.”
All of the blame has been directed Wenger’s way, but it is worth remembering that the board have allowed the club to stagnate as well. Many believe that Usmanov would be a better owner for the club and from these comments, it is clear that he follows the goings on closely. The club will come under scrutiny during the summer and everybody will be looked at. If Wenger does leave, the board will be the next to come in for criticism as they are equally at fault for the failure of this season.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Stuart MacFarlane