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Post Match Review

A gulf in quality doomed Arsenal before the start

In any kind of addiction, you come to a point at the end of the road where you can begin to make significant changes – it’s called acceptance. And while many Gunners faithful have accepted where we are now long ago, last night drove home exactly where we are right now.

In any kind of addiction, you come to a point at the end of the road where you can begin to make significant changes – it’s called acceptance. And while many  Gunners faithful have accepted where we are now long ago, last night drove home exactly where we are right now.

Simply – we are not good enough.

Forget who is to blame for not being good enough, there is plenty of blame to go around. And while I always feel optimistic before a match as is my way of things, it has been clear to me over the course of this season that while there are certainly talented individuals on this team, there is not enough quality to actually do anything of merit – except, maybe finish fourth.

Let that sink in. Scream, do whatever it is you need to in order to get it all out. But it is the truth.

Last night we watched on the pitch a team that was efficient, mechanical and world class absolutely dismantle us. Forget the goals, there were spells of Bayern possession where every single player for Arsenal looked lost.

Arsenal looked like they had a plan to press and create mistakes but Bayern where so efficient with thei ball they hardly ever were troubled by the pressure.  They didn’t use meticulous passing and ball control to get in around the box, they used 2 to 3 effective passes to get the ball to a player who moved into space to create opportunities.

Look at the third goal, Lahm does what a full back is supposed to do and continues his run past Robben (who also exploited open space) whom he has just passed to, in order to get into space. Arsenal don’t track effectively he has a clear path for a good low cross and it sets up the 3rd goal. Effective.

What was maddening still is even with the goal we hardly ever looked like we were in it. The gulf in quality is so wide.

Now on one level there is no harm losing to a team like Bayern. This is a team that has been in the Champion’s League final 2 out of the last 3 times and won one of them. This is a team that has steam rolled its opposition. I don’t think there are many teams right now, with the exception of Barcelona that could hold court with these guys.  On that level, I’ve got no issues.

Where the issues lie is that even with a modicum of hope the result shouldn’t be surprising. The din post-game  of frustration and anger is loud not because of this result but because of this result combined with the previous result and the lackluster performances all season long.

And we all know why that is. I said it earlier, there is talent in this squad. But the squad overall is deficient of any sort of substantial quality. Sure,  Jack Wilshere is the only one who you could single out as truly world class (I don’t think he’s there yet, but he will get there.) Some are good, but maybe not good enough for the big stage like last night.  Some, well some simply aren’t good enough for any stage.

It’s been a downward decline that had other things happened may have been arrested. Had Eduardo not gotten injured maybe the team keeps it together and wins the league. Had Koscielny and Szczesny not had a colossal brain fart in the Carling Cup final, maybe the season doesn’t crumble and team doesn’t fall apart.

But those events didn’t happen. Winning hasn’t occurred and players have moved on for greener pastures. Some of those movements have failed, some haven’t. I love the list of honors players have won since leaving Arsenal as if they’ve gone on and been the catalyst for doing it. Right now one maybe two players have left and been the catalyst for winning for their new team – that’s happening right now with Van Persie and United. But I digress.

The fact is since those events didn’t happen and winning hasn’t occurred we’ve watched as star player after star player has left. Sure, it is likely that since they were all foreign players there is no base desire to stay committed to a club. That’s not a knock on foreign players. But one of the reasons clubs like Bayern do so well is that they are heavily built around national talent and as such it’s very hard to pry a German away from a German club.

But if we had won something in this drought, those players likely would’ve stayed because winning begets winning. And winning leads to solidifying the club core. Since winning hasn’t happened those players, the good ones from other nations, don’t feel an innate reason to stay and eventually move on.

Don’t believe me? Well, for all his professed love of Arsenal, you only need to see many of Robin Van Persie’s recent interviews and see veiled backhands at his former club.  Again, I am digressing.

As those players have left, they have hardly been replaced for like for like. While I generally like the signings of Podolski, Giroud, and Cazorla, there is still a gap in the squad. And it’s clearly because that even though we made good moves this season and some last, overall in the last years we have hardly been consistent in bringing in quality.

Again, I’m not going to sit here and lay blame at any one person’s feet. There is plenty of blame to go around and we’ve discussed it ad nauseum.  The board doesn’t provide leadership. Wenger, is showing signs that he doesn’t know how to manage the players of this new era, and the players don’t have the heart to actually show up and play on a consistent basis.

Last night confirmed what many have thought for a while – we are in dark times. There have been dark times before  – ’53 to ‘70 and ’71-’89.  We’re in another one. And sadly, I think it will only get worse before it gets better.

While I do believe the time has come to move for a new manager, I do not think we will do so. The lack of leadership from the board and majority shareholder show a marked lack of desire to do so. Even if they miss out on the Champion’s League. And even if they suddenly find that they are vertebrates and have a spine, their lack of vision and seeing beyond the bottom line only means we’ll be saddled with a new manager like Roberto Martinez.

I think top 4 is still achievable (not that it’s an achievement) but if as is often the case after runs like this, Arsenal go into a shell, all bets are off.

In the end, we were beaten by a better team. No harm in that. The Invincibles also lost to Bayern.  The harm is in the fact that this decline and malaise was avoidable.  Even when money supposedly wasn’t available.  No one ever argued for £25 million signings. But everyone has argued for quality signings.

Bayern again is the example here. While they have recently bought in a player or two over that £25 million mark the overall cost of the team we faced last night was only about £10 million more than the Arsenal squad that was on the pitch. Bayern have built a team around a core of quality German players. The players they’ve brought in aren’t major stars (with some exceptions) and don’t cost an arm and a leg (again with some exceptions) but overall they’ve reinforced where needed and have a squad that is likely to challenge Barcelona’s grip on European supremacy.  And it wasn’t done with £500,000,000. So don’t tell me it can’t be done.

I’m not angry. In fact my heart is heavy. We are a proud club. With great history and traditions. I am saddened to see supporter infighting. I am saddened to see our board effectively fleece us. I am supremely saddened to see my club ridiculed in the press and now pitied. And I am saddened that a manager whom we all once adored now seems completely lost and will only come to a dirty nasty ending with much acrimony.  But overall I am saddened that the quality in this squad is missing and there is very little to link it with the great squads of our history.

My only hope is that someone gets it. But I had hope for an Arsenal win and we saw that turned out.

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