Newcastle United 2 Arsenal 1
Feeble Arsenal slumped to defeat at St James’ Park on Sunday, our 11th loss of the league season.
That is just not acceptable for a football club the size of ours.
Yes it’s clear Arsene has absolutely no interest in the league now and I guess if he wins the Europa League some will say he’ll be justified in his selection choices for these last half dozen Premier League games.
But let’s not beat around the bush. Eleven defeat in 33 games is unacceptable for Arsenal Football Club and a string of results that should end in the manager’s duties being relieved of him next month. But don’t count on it.
Watching this team in recent weeks it’s abundantly clear that two or three of them simply aren’t up to they standard they are playing at.
For a forward player Alexander Iwobi looks completely lost when the goal comes into sight and at the other end of the pitch I am struggling to fathom how Shkodran Mustafi has a World Cup winners’ medal. It makes no sense. He is a complete liability and another case of Wenger’s blindness when it comes to defenders.
The problems with Arsenal have remained the same for more than a decade. We need a new goalkeeper, a good central defender and a proper holding midfielder. Calum Chambers and Rob Holding have looked OK in recent weeks but both still need to take giant leaps if they are to stake a claim to be regulars - and regulars capable of helping us mount a title challenge.
Cech is past it in goal. Chelsea must have thought he was when they sold him to us and although we had a couple of good years out of him when he first came, the last two seasons had proved that he is well past his best. Two of the culprits I mention were to blame for Newcastle’s first goal today - Mustafi ball-watching to allow the goal scorer to ghost in front of him, and Cech for criminally being beaten at his near post.
It’s not all bad, Alexandre Lacazette up front looks the real deal, and his partnership with Aubameyang looked good today, but 54 points after 33 games represents one of our worst seasons under Wenger - in fact almost certainly our worst, but it’s too depressing to reach for the record books and confirm it, you’ll have to do that for yourself.
We know that our only chance of silverware and a route back to Europe’s top table is through Europe. But this is The Arsenal, Mr Wenger, we have some pride. It’s now a serious possibility that we could end the season below Burnley. If that doesn’t cost the boss his job then absolutely nothing will. No disrespect to Burnley, they’ve had a tremendous year, but finishing below them would e embarrassing.
The draw for the semi-finals of the Europa League has pitted us against Atletico Madrid. We knew there was a big chance we would have to face them eventually, and here we are. My initial reaction was this is as far as we’re going in Europe, but Atletico are not the side they were and if only we can find a couple of half decent defensive performances from somewhere then maybe we can get through.
The season is still just about alive, but it’s all about Europe now, as it has been for some time in fact.