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Clock End Boy: Arsenal have big problems but Wenger doesn’t see them

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Capital One Cup quarter final defeat to Bradford. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger during the Capital One Cup quarter final defeat to Bradford. Photo: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Thursday, December 13, 2012
8:00 AM

There’s nothing I can say that you haven’t heard since Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup penalty shootout defeat to League Two Bradford. It was up there with the worst.

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Wrexham's Mickey Thomas scores a wonder goal against Arsenal in the 1992 FA Cup. Photo: Malcolm Croft/PAWrexham's Mickey Thomas scores a wonder goal against Arsenal in the 1992 FA Cup. Photo: Malcolm Croft/PA

There was little direction, or passion. You wonder, you really wonder, when the time will come when young Jack Wilshere – the outstanding performer on the night in that awful blue kit – ponders if he should play with better players elsewhere.

I was at Wrexham nearly 21 years ago [when the Welsh minnows won 2-1 in the third round of the FA Cup]. Mickey Thomas’ free kick was arrowing straight for my head, only to be stopped by David Seaman’s bulging net.

About our blogger

Name: Jem Maidment:

Twitter handle: @jemmaidment

Attendance: Semi-regular (not as much as I used to)

Favourite player: (past) Steve Williams, Paul Merson & Patrick Vieira. (present) Jack Wilshere

Most Memorable Game: Arsenal 1-0 Parma 0, ECWC 1994

Predicted Finish: Comfortably top 4.

That was humiliating. Last night was just as bad.

Should Arsene Wenger go? Well, with each passing year – each passing game in fact – problems mount up, that is for sure. More and more fans are turning against him. The word ‘deluded’ springs up with increasing regularity. Praising his players after that defeat beggars belief.

Jack Wilshire lies on the pitch after Arsenal got knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICSJack Wilshire lies on the pitch after Arsenal got knocked out of the FA Cup by Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

He said we spurned a hatful of chances. The facts are we didn’t get a shot on target for 69 long, cold, minutes.

Gervinho gets dog abuse, but – unfashionably – I feel for the bloke. Hardly anyone can beat a player like he does. And he still wants the ball and gets into positions. He’s just not very good at finishing and decision making. That’s not his fault. At least he tries.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) talks to Marouane Chamakh ahead of the penalty shootout against Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICSArsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) talks to Marouane Chamakh ahead of the penalty shootout against Bradford. Photo: Mike Egerton/EMPICS

Is he good enough for Arsenal? Are eight or nine of the players in that team last night good enough?

Sébastien Squillaci, Denilson, Marouane Chamakh, Abou Diaby, Lukas Podolski (who looks more and more disinterested with each fruitless foray up front), Andrey Arshavin, Per Mertesacker and half a dozen others, are they good enough?

Probably not.

"Fair play to the brilliant broadcaster Guy Havord for his post-match interrogation of Wenger live on Sky. He could barely hide his disgust as he peppered the Frenchman with pointed question after pointed question"

Jem Maidment

Add up their collective wages and you could pay off a significant amount of the government’s deficit, or use it to spend big on top class players, or have paid Robin van Persie what he wanted.

Fair play to the brilliant broadcaster Guy Havord for his post-match interrogation of Wenger live on Sky. He could barely hide his disgust as he peppered the Frenchman with pointed question after pointed question.

Havord cares, unlike the disgraceful Chamakh. Havord is a massive Arsenal fan and that bias became evident as he took Wenger to task. Journalistic impartiality went out of the window.

Havord once edited the only fanzine really worth buying, the Arsenal Echo Echo, but that was 20 years ago and since then he has become one of the better football correspondents on TV. So he knows his stuff.

People talk about the dark old days of former manager Terry Neill, when he played the likes of John Hawley and spent too much money on the plodding Lee Chapman.

Chamakh is every bit as bad, if not worse. But whereas Hawley cost a fee in the region of £50,000, that is what Chamakh costs in wages each week – and that is a seriously conservative estimate.

Neill’s reign ended after a staggeringly dreadful defeat at home to Walsall in the FA Cup almost 29 years ago to the day. I am lucky to know Terry personally – he is a lovely bloke and still Arsenal daft.

But he once admitted to me he lost his passion long before he got the boot. You can’t accuse Wenger of that, I suppose.

But one pal said to me he was lost during that Havord interview. Why? Is it because he genuinely cannot see the problems himself? Maybe he can’t, but something has to give, that’s for sure.

The true heroes last night were the 4,500 travelling Arsenal fans. It was the coldest night of the year but their support was loud and constant. The likes of Wilshere appreciated it, the likes of Chamakh couldn’t give a toss.

I hate seeing Wenger being made to look a fool, being ridiculed the way he is. He is better than that. He stands up there with Herbert Chapman (manager 1925-1934) as his impact on the club will be felt for decades after he leaves.

But there are big problems and they aren’t going away.

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