All Guns Blazing: Wenger is refusing to face up to Arsenal’s problems

Arsenal goalscorer Alexis Sanchez (right) is put under pressure by Joe Ledley of Crystal Palace

Arsenal goalscorer Alexis Sanchez (right) is put under pressure by Joe Ledley of Crystal Palace - Credit: Archant

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was meant to be different this time. But yet again a deflated, empty feeling hangs over us as the season drifts towards another mediocre end.

In February, Danny Welbeck’s late winning goal against Leicester felt like one of those moments you look back on at the end of the season and think ‘that was it’.

But as the boos rang around the Emirates at the end of Sunday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace, the only emotions swirling round were anger, apathy and perhaps most worryingly a loss of hope.

In fact some Arsenal fans just don’t seem to care. You could probably tell from the thousands of empty seats. And on Thursday, it could be even worse. Tickets for the home game against West Brom are now on general sale, with thousands also available via ticket exchange.

With hopes of winning the Premier League title gone, we’ve slipped into a familiar battle for fourth place. And that’s unacceptable given the extraordinary circumstances of this season.

What makes things worse is the revival of Spurs, who have produced everything a modern football team should be doing in abundance.

Defensively strong, young and vibrant, they play with an intensity and aggression sadly lacking in the red half of north London. They will deservedly finish above us and that’s probably the most damning indictment of Arsenal’s downfall.

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A staleness and sense of Groundhog Day is suffocating the club.

Three wins from 12 is simply atrocious form to have at this time in a season. Sixty points and 56 goals is a pitiful amount for team with ambitions of winning a title.

Arsene Wenger gave a telling indication of the attitude at Arsenal when he said on Sunday: “It is one of those days where you don’t want to do a press conference after the game.”

He wants to hide. He doesn’t want to confront the problems which are killing the team at present and that is also unacceptable.

He’s been the common denominator over the years of failure but this campaign in particular is the most damaging one.

With his contract ending in 2017, next season is likely to be his last. But what do Arsenal fans have to look forward to? What can they hold onto through the summer which will give them the belief that finally it will be different?

As it stands, there’s nothing. He can’t plead for any more time or patience. He’s run out of chips to cash in.

And if that’s the case why should Wenger be given another year? His past achievements are becoming distant memories as the club gets left behind by forward thinking and progressive clubs.

After everything Wenger’s done he doesn’t deserve to be disrespected. No abuse should ever come his way. But that does not mean he shouldn’t be critiqued and at the moment he doesn’t have the answers to questions which have been posed time and again.

He hates it when the character and mental strength of his squad is doubted. But what else can people do when they surrender so pitifully? No team who regards themselves as elite struggle as much as Arsenal do when they suffer a setback. Conceding a goal cripples their confidence and by the time they recover invariably it’s too late. Where’s the mental strength in that?

Certain players within the squad must also take a hard look at themselves given their level of underperformance, but the buck always stops with the manager.

So perhaps it’s time to say thanks for the memories but au revoir.

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