Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship side Blackburn yesterday, suffering a 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium.
The defeat was the second time that the Gunners have exited a domestic cup competition at the hands of a lower league side, after losing to League Two Bradford in the Capital One Cup earlier in the campaign.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger rotated his squad against Rovers, leaving out regulars Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski.
The team that the veteran French boss put out should have been strong enough to defeat the visiting team.
However, English-born Turkish international Colin Kazim-Richards’ goal was enough to secure a surprise victory for Rovers. The game was indicative of the state of Arsenal’s squad though.
In years gone by Arsenal had a squad strong enough to cope with a host of changes to the starting line-up. Arsenal’s performance against their lower league opposition proved that Arsenal can’t afford to depend on their squad players.
A lot of Arsenal’s problems have been caused by the lack of mental strength amongst their players. Nearly eight years without a trophy proves the Gunners players haven’t got the mental attitude to be winners.
At times the players show quality, but when the going gets tough a host of Arsenal players go hiding. The lack of leadership amongst the Gunners squad has been well documented.
The only player in the current Arsenal team that is showing any sort of mental strength at the moment is young midfielder Jack Wilshere. The England international is always looking to drive his team forward, but the Gunners shouldn’t have to rely on such a young player for leadership.
Wenger’s side showed some rare metal to win 1-0 at Sunderland last weekend, despite playing for nearly half an hour with ten men when defender Carl Jenkinson was dismissed for a second bookable offence. It was a rare display of steel from Wenger’s side.
However, the performance against Rovers lacked commitment and steel. These are the two qualities that have prevented Arsenal from winning trophies in the last eight years.
The quality of the players at Arsenal has been questioned in recent years and this season a number of their players have proved they don’t have the quality to be at a top club. The one player that sticks out for his inability to play at a consistent level is attacker Gervinho.
Sorry, the Ivory Coast international does play at a consistent level; he is consistently poor when he pulls on a red shirt. He couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo at the moment and he doesn’t look good enough to play for Arsenal.
Gervinho isn’t the only player in the Gunners squad that isn’t good enough to represent such a great club as Arsenal and that is the problem for Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal’s only hope of winning silverware this season is the Champions League. However, their opponents in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition are giants Bayern Munich.
The Bavarians are having a fantastic season and are considered one of the favourites for the trophy. Bayern are currently running away with the Bundesliga and cruised through their group to make it to the knockout stages.
It really is hard to see how Wenger’s side can progress beyond the Bundesliga side. Maybe if the Gunners were in top form and Bayern were stuttering they would have a chance. Unfortunately it’s the other way around at the moment.
There is definite need for change at Arsenal. As every season passes without a trophy Arsene Wenger’s legendarily status with the club becomes diluted. The Frenchman has produced some great teams in his time in north London.
Unfortunately for Gunners fans he hasn’t produced a great team in the last eight years. Fans of the club must be getting déjà vu. Every season the club promises so much, but delivers so little trophy-wise.
The team can play pretty football and win convincingly one week and then suffer a poor defeat the next week. Inconsistency has made the Gunners the nearly men of the English top flight.
Arsene Wenger is unlikely to be sacked and he is too stubborn to leave on his own accord. Sometimes great men don’t know when they are beaten and that can help spur on individual and teams to victory.
Sometimes though it’s even more important to know when you’re beaten and move on. I’m afraid that time may have come for one of the greatest managers the English game has ever seen.
Is it time for change at Arsenal?