West Bromwich Downs Arsenal at Emirates: Obstinate Arsene Wenger the Reason?

Robin SAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2010

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  Manuel Almunia of Arsenal looks dejected as he fouls Peter Odemwingie of West Bromwich Albion for a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on September 25, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

West Bromwich pulled off an upset at the Emirates Stadium with a 3-2 win over high-flying Arsenal thus ending the latter's unbeaten start to the season. Roberto Di Matteo's side stuck to the basics and in the end deserved the win against a hugely disappointing home side.

West Bromwich executed their plans with ease, and Arsenal found it extremely tough to penetrate through the tight and organised defence.

One may ask "was it the usual tactic of physically overpowering the Arsenal's diminutive stars?" No, West Bromwich is not the most aggressive side in the league. It was a totally spiritless performance from the Gunners.

The most optimistic and biased fans might argue that when completely healthy, Arsenal could even go to Stamford Bridge and destroy Chelsea! I don't think anyone would dare say that after today's game.

Where did it go wrong for Arsenal? Their passing was reckless. The defence was all over the place. The wing backs were awful. The midfield never got into the game. Last but not the least, goalkeeper Manuel Almunia's howlers at crucial stages of the game completed the Gunners' collapse.

Once the away side went 3-0 up there was no coming back, although Samir Nasri's two goals late on got the home side close to snatching a draw in stoppage time.

In the first half, Almunia made a brilliant penalty save after the goalkeeper himself conceded it.

However, he was at fault for two of the goals later on in the second half. Wenger must also be unhappy with the way his wing backs are going about their business of late.

Last week at Sunderland, we saw how Gael Clichy's poor clearance in the dying seconds of the game gifted the home side an equaliser.

This time around, it was Bacary Sagna who had a miserable game. He should be better than this as he is one of the most experienced members of the current Arsenal squad.

Wenger's decision to start Abou Diaby and Emmanuel Eboue couldn't have come at a worst time. Both of them were lacklustre.

You should also question the logic of deploying Eboue in an advanced role when he can neither shoot nor make those precise attacking passes.

He's a uni-dimensional player and doesn't have the skill set to be dangerous in the final third. His natural position is right back and that is the only position in which he should be used.

It's baffling to see highly talented striker/winger Jay Emmanuel Thomas warming the bench and a right back starting the game as a winger with very little to offer at that position.

After a solid 2009/10 season, Diaby's form has gone from bad to worse with a few less than decent performances in to begin the new season. He was extremely poor today and was substituted in the second half.

With the emergence of Wilshere, Diaby will struggle to hold on to his place if his form doesn't improve in the forthcoming weeks.

Andrei Arshavin is another contender vying for a place on the bench alongside Diaby.

Arshavin had the chance to put Arsenal ahead but his shot as well as rebound came off the post. Most of his passes were misplaced, and his body language doesn't convince that he's happy at Arsenal.

Maybe a transfer in the near future would help? Arshavin was awfully terrible to say the very least.

Arsenal's best player on the pitch was Nasri.

Nasri once again showed why he's rated so highly and made a donkey out of former France coach Raymond Domenech.

Nasri's brace wasn't enough in the end, but that is four goals in the span of just a few days from a player who has been criticized for not finding the net with enough frequency.

Although Nasri did all he could in the absence of his captain, his passing wasn't as precise as that of Cesc Fabregas.

In the first half, Nasri mislaid numerous passes even when he wasn't under much pressure. Though he came back strong by leading Arsenal's resurgence late in the game, it was too little too late.

Finally, West Bromwich's hero of the day, Manuel Almunia's performance deserves special applause. He couldn't have done anything more to stop West Bromwich's first goal, but he could have blocked the second and third.

The second goal went in after taking a huge deflection off Almunia's body, and the third came as a result of Almunia's indecisiveness.

Ironically, this comedy of errors happened on a day when Fulham's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, a summer Arsenal transfer target, registered one of the best games of his career against Everton.

He made save after saves to keep Everton at bay and earned a point for his team. After all that had happened during the summer, it's a shame that he's not protecting the Arsenal goal instead of Almunia.

The result of the game against West Bromwich could have been different had Schwarzer been in goal.

So yet again who is to be blamed? No prizes for guessing!

It was Wenger's decision to stick with his mediocre goalkeepers, and not too long ago, he said he would take the responsibility if his goalkeepers let his team down again this season.

It has happened and now how many believe he is going to take responsibility? Arsenal announced record profits recently, but even that was not enough for the Gunners to see off a team that probably has one of the worst away records against the big four.

Wenger is busy nurturing the careers of his players while forgetting the need to win a trophy. Nobody associated with Arsenal Football Club should accept the mediocrity surrounding the goalkeepers with such a healthy coffer at Wenger's disposal.

However, Wenger's priorities lie elsewhere. His obstinacy would never let him spend a few extra millions to strengthen the blatant weaknesses of his team.

Now that he's making profit for the club year after year nobody should complain except the fans, who pay to watch their team win and play competitive football, not to see goalkeeping blunders season after season.

The fans have stood by Wenger through thick and thin, but now the manager is betraying the fans by sticking with a goalkeeper who should never have been at Arsenal to start this season in the first place.

It came as a shock when Wenger failed to sign a goalkeeper this summer, but still those loyal fans kept backing Wenger and supported the goalkeepers. How long can they do the same as there is a tolerance level for anything and everything?

Recently, Arsenal's fourth choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny lamented the lack of opportunities for him at Arsenal.

He even stated that Wenger had forgotten him. He accused Wenger of not being brave enough to show faith in his abilities. He can't be any worse than Almunia so why not try him instead?

The only excuse to keep him out would be his relative inexperience, but he is not going to gain experience by sitting on the bench and watching his senior glove man making ludicrous blunders, or is he?

The goalkeeping situation is not going to improve any time soon. You can't help but think 'what might have been' yet again.

Next up for Arsenal is mighty Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea suffered their first defeat of the season today at Eastlands after a gruelling encounter against a tough-tackling Manchester City team managed by the astute Italian, Roberto Mancini.

By losing against West Bromwich, Arsenal lost a golden chance to make up ground on Chelsea.

Now, the game against the Blues becomes all the more important. But how many believe Arsenal can still go and get three points at Stamford Bridge after two setbacks in as many weeks?

Maybe Wenger should consider himself lucky if his team can come back without conceding more than five goals in the London Derby again Chelsea next week!


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