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By Walter Broeckx
When Arsenal lose a game it is sometimes hard to keep the perspective. We are angry and focus on something that went wrong and we just cannot see the bigger picture. I think it is fair to say that our defeat against United can be branded as such a defeat. If one would have believed some of the fans it was as if we had been battered and lost 8-2. It was as if we had no chance at all in the game and we were poor.
I didn’t have that impression during the game. Then we had the upper hand, then United, then us again, then United again. For me this was the pattern of a top game between two good teams. But the final score is what it is and we lost the game. It could have gone our way if we would have taken our chances a bit better. In top games it is vital to take your chances and we let ourselves down in that compartment.
How come some blame the manager for all and everything when we lose but when we win it is the players that have done the job. It is always a mix of both. Not just one to blame. Except when it is the referee.
Of course it is the manager that picks the team and does the substitutions. But once out there it is the players on the field that have to do the job. When Robin scores a brilliant winning goal it is Robin that gets the praise, not the manager. Robin gets the deserved praise from all of us and we don’t give credit to the manager for having bought him, worked with him on the training ground, developed him and turned him from an injury prone player in a strong centre forward. When Robin misses an open chance to put us level it suddenly is the fault of the manager when we lose the game at the end of the day. And for those who see this as putting blame on Van Persie they should try to understand what I say. This is not an attack on Van Persie as I think that making mistakes is just part of football. Sh*t happens sometimes. And if you saw Robin his face after his miss that was 100 times more a “NOOOO” expression than the one with the substitution later on.
I know people have to vent their frustration a bit but it never is just the one or the other that should be given credit or the blame. Or you praise all of them or you blame all of them. But blaming only one person when things go wrong and never praising him when things go right is a bit simple.
If we now go back to winter of 2009. A cold winter with lots of snow and bad weather. For the whole month of January people were criticising Wenger because he didn’t bought Arshavin. At the last minute of the transfer deadline we did sign him. A big money signing. Well for Arsenal it was a big money signing. For other teams that we compete with it was a small change signing. Now with the amount of people being on the back of Arshavin saying he is useless and no good I really wonder how on earth can they ask us to sign a player like let us say Hazard for maybe the double amount of money than we paid for Arshavin.
For a lot of the angry people out there Arshavin is no good at all. And yet most of the people who want him out now, where the same people that are shouting the ‘spend some f*cking money’. We did spend some f*cking money on Arshavin and apparently it wasn’t a big success. He was what we were missing: older, experienced, ….. But now those people who want us to spend money want to get rid of him. Now let us just suppose for a moment that Arshavin was a failure at the end. Shouldn’t this be a warning sign to be careful when you are spending money? It’s not just sign someone as long as he costs a lot of money. Money that is gone forever after that by the way.
So spending a lot of money and not knowing how it will work out is always a risk and we are not in a situation like Chelsea or other City’s who can spend 50M on a player that doesn’t score. Even Arshavin scored more goals than Torres did last year. If we would have given 50M on Torres last January that would have been a terrible mistake.
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But does our manager dares to take a risk at times? I think he does. I remember some part of the Arsenal fan base going wild and asking Wenger to be sacked this summer. When Wenger bought Oxlade-Chamberlain for a big amount of money for a 18 year old boy it was a risk. And some fans saying: “yeah, just what we needed. Another youngster, another unproven player”. And some fans even started the disgusting insinuations about Wenger. Okay, scrap the word fans in that last sentence will you.
Wenger did spend the f*cking money on Oxlade Chamberlain. And he had his plan. The plan to bring him slowly. Not just throw him in the water and see if he can stay afloat or not. No he brought him slowly.
And every time Wenger played him you could see a lot of promise. But for those who had their eyes open you could also see that he lacked a lot of things. His tracking back was… well not that great in fact. Losing possession at times and places you don’t want to lose it. You could see the potential but also the need to work hard on the flaws in his game.
Last night he got his first PL start. And this against Manchester United. The absence of Gervinho and Henry gave him a chance. And it was Wenger who preferred Oxlade-Chamberlain above Arshavin to start this game. He could have gone for Arshavin. But our manager made a brave decision to start with the youngster.
The youngster didn’t let him down. In fact for a rookie of 18 years old he did a superb job. Of course this is down to the talent Oxlade-Chamberlain has. It is down to the work of the youth academy of Southampton where he got his training and got his chance in the first team. But if you compare the Oxlade-Chamberlain from July with the one from now the difference is immense. And that my dear Gooners is down to Arsenal. I’m not even saying it is down to Wenger himself. No it is down to the entire coaching staff that has worked with him.
Nobody seems to give credit to Wenger for having the guts to start with Oxlade-Chamberlain in such a game. That was in fact the first substitution Wenger made compared to last weeks game when he started with Arshavin remember. People blame Wenger for the substitution during the game. But then we should also praise him for starting the game with Oxlade-Chamberlain. If it hadn’t been for Wenger Oxlade-Chamberlain would not be an Arsenal player. Perhaps he would have been a United player now….
But the strange thing is that Oxlade-Chamberlain going from ‘What??? That kind of money for another unproven kid????” has turned in to “he must put him on the field player”. And when he is taken off in his first game in the PL that he started the manager knows nothing at all. He has lost it and he is useless. Don’t forget it is that same manager who put him on the field and took a huge risk by doing this. Imagine if Oxlade-Chamberlain would have had a poor game? Just imagine what those same people would say? You know what they would say. It would be something like this: “Has Wenger lost his mind? Starting a young kid against United? and then they would shout…”spend some f*cking money “
Maybe you can blame Wenger for taking Oxlade-Chamberlain off the field. In fact this was the most costly in money substitution ever made by Arsenal. A 15M player leaving for another 15M coming on the field. But don’t forget who put him there in the first place. Would you have started him in this game? Would you have taken the risk with “oh no another youngster”? Wenger took the risk. So before the game he was a great manager for putting Oxlade-Chamberlain on the field. And suddenly after 75 minutes he knows nothing and is a retarded fool? Somehow the logic of this escapes me. It’s always easy to speak with hindsight like many do.
Oh and lets be careful with Oxlade-Chamberlain. He looks strong and has a firm body but please let us not play him until he can’t play any more. Let us not burn his wings before he can completely fly. Remember Jack will you. And let us hope and pray that whenever Oxlade-Chamberlain plays a bad game in the near or further future, he will not be booed by the same people who booed on Sunday.
Because for some fans you can go from hero to zero very fast.