Could Arsenal’s thorough demolition of relegation-threatened West Ham earlier today have been partially inspired by a scathing online rebuke they received days prior? Probably not, though it’s fun to imagine the bulletin board material (ok, e-mailed links more likely) provided to Arsne Wegner after When Saturday Comes’ James Dielhenn took issue with Cesc Fabergas (above) blasting Ipswich for employing “rugby” tactics in last Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final.
Fabregas’s bitter comments, inflammatory as they may be, as surely part of a deeper problem at Arsenal “ the fact that their defence dislikes defending, or that their midfield is made up of five-foot-somethings. The Gunners don’t seem to have the same ruthlessness in victory as, say, Manchester United do at the moment. They are very keen to blame someone or something (the Portman Road pitch in this case) for their failings, which breeds a lack of ambition among the players.
Can you imagine Ryan Giggs complaining that a lower-league team played long balls in a cup tie? No, because United have the professionalism to dig in and battle those kind of teams, as well as the ability to outplay other teams. Arsenal, frankly, can either beat a team with thrilling football or not beat them at all. And what is worse is that they seem to think every other team should try to play their brand of football rather than making them flinch with set-pieces and long throw-ins.
ArsÃ¨ne Wenger could go some way to solving this by breaking his stubbornness and signing a couple of players in the Tony Adams mould. Until he does that, it’s difficult to see Arsenal winning a major trophy, especially if they don’t like playing teams less gifted than themselves on pitches that are less manicured than the one at the Emirates.