33 Comments

The Sanchez Catastophe: Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Ozil

IMG_3324

Surely no smiling matter, Alexis?

The false dawn of the West Ham result has proven to be a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

That game was a convincingly dominant, effective and exciting performance and one we all believed would surely herald the start of our traditional end of season run-in that would see us stake a place in the top four, at the very least.

What we got at Palace was something very different on a night when our supposedly star players were anything but regal. And almost immediately after the game the ‘war chest’ stories being floated had seen their headline sums inflate from a more modest £100 million to a snappy £200 million overnight. Walcott let the cat out of the bag, post-match, by confirming what we all feared – that our opponents somehow, surely inexplicably, ‘wanted it more’.

It was the single most damning and telling thing to come out of a dressing since Robin van Persie’s ‘updates for the fans’.

Quite what is the nature of the relationship between Theo’s cat and Alexis’s dogs remains undisclosed but we can probably assume it’s messy.

I’ve done the maths and whilst there is always a danger of getting to five when adding 2+2, I’m pretty sure that the handy extra £100m that has suddenly been added to our transfer budget by the forces of rumour, speculation and leaks from inside the club, will come from the £50 million Arsenal will expect to get for each of Sanchez and Ozil.

It was evident from the extraordinary performance of both players that neither were exactly ‘playing for a contract’ but instead playing very much for ‘a transfer’.

For me Sanchez has always looked like a square peg trying to fill a round Wengerball-shaped hole. Actually, he’s just looked like a square peg. Admittedly a supremely gifted and a dynamically attacking one. But not one that ever seriously countenanced fitting in with the team, assuming he ever actually understood that that was precisely what was expected of him.

We have seen, periodically, over many years, what happens to Wenger’s sides when the machine doesn’t fire on all six cylinders. It very quickly breaks down and invariably takes time to fix. As a rule, it’s been the influx of new players following a transfer window that has led to a temporary dislocation of the side and often with hilarious results with pundits falling over themselves in the queue to write off Arsenal prior to the bedding-in process of the newbies seeing a return to the stunning free-flowing stuff we all know and love.

Sadly, this season it’s all gone Pete Tong with the reverse of the above taking place with alarming results. The team this year is, uniquely, looking vulnerable and struggling for form and consistency at the end of the season, with our best matches all far behind us.

The signs with Sanchez have been evident for some time. His very public castigation of fellow pros on the pitch. The tantrums. His apparent ‘undropability’. His evident, barely concealed and juvenile jocularity during the Bayern Munich debacle that saw him giggling on the bench at the team’s ‘misfortunes’. To the acute discomfort of his nearest neighbour On said bench.

Not the actions of someone who cares a jot about the club and I can’t wait for him to clean out his kennels, roll up his poxy poster and take up a solitary berth on some other tramp steamer. Preferably a slow boat to China.

Ozil on the other hand is the greater tragedy, for me. I think he did (and possibly still does) care about the club and his team mates and Le Boss. He looks to have witnessed Sanchez’ antics and is heartily sick of the whole thing. Sick of the permanently squandered possession. Sick of the failure to play in better positioned team-mates. Sick of the selective industry brought to bear on his day’s work. That Sanchez is above and beyond the audible abuse of the fans – indeed the ignorant veneration of this ultimate non-team player is, instead, one of the last straws.

Ozil remains to this day, in the eyes of many, falsely accused of being the lazy one alongside the heroic Alexis who at least ‘always tries’.

If Arsene could level a criticism of himself it would surely be, for whatever reason, his failure to being Sanchez to heel. When he needed a lead put on him, Sanchez was allowed to run free, playing in every match, playing just however he felt like playing.

One suspects Ozil is a modest but proud man. If ever there was an actual final straw for him, our abject capitulation to his fellow countrymen on two successive occasions was it; the white flag of surrender to Munich was one that should never have been packed let alone waved on his watch.

I don’t for one second believe Wenger is ‘past it’ although I think he will always regret his handling of Sanchez, one way or another.

But Arsene is presently in a deep hole and whilst the truth will inevitably come out, for now he appears to have taken a huge hit.

There is no togetherness amongst the players and no talk of mental strength from the manager. The season can’t end soon enough. But the degree to which a heavily splintered, dysfunctional and misfiring squad will continue to free-fall was hard to gauge from the Palace match which, like countless others this season, saw multiple game-changing aberrations from the referee, universally to Arsenal’s disadvantage.

But it may already be too late, even if Middlesbrough were to represent another dawn of sorts. The points chasm now looks like needing a bridge too far.

The loss of Sanchez, whilst regrettable, is hardly the catastrophe that awaits.

The loss of Sanchez, Ozil and Wenger will be.

Finishing outside top four will most likely see our genius Frenchman say farewell.

Attempting to replace our star players from a non-Champions League berth will prove more than a little tricky.

Replacing Arsene will be impossible.

About ArsenalAndrew

Annoying, perennial optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen. My support for the club manager and every single player is non-negotiable, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Retain all options on fellow fans.

33 comments on “The Sanchez Catastophe: Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Ozil

  1. A very strong piece Andrew,sort of sad to read in many ways too, as you’ve summed up things as they stand at this moment.Certainly nobody last Oct would have thought things would have gone this way.
    Still hope though, and I will cling on to that.Thanks again. Despite all on the football front heres to a happy Eastertide to everyone at PA.
    COYG!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve got it bang on in regard to the Chilean. Mesut in a functioning team with ‘big’ personalities who can take the heat off him – is a wonderous footballer. However, he’s playing in a something that, at the moment, isn’t even a team, never mind a dysfunctional one. Arsene’s done. It’s bad enough the team losing but the hiding he gets from the rabble that make up Arsenal TV and a large chunk of internet ‘fans’ is too much. The club needs an overhaul of epic proportions to stop the slide but that’ll take a huge investment, in time, effort and most obviously – money. Ain’t going to happen. The dwindling ‘global’ support isn’t going to bit Stan for a while and until it does, fuck all’s going to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I disagree with you here. Alexis can seem a little wild and not playing with the team. But I don’t think he’s disruptive to the team. It didn’t seem to be a problem at the start of the season when we were playing with Cazorla and Coquelin in the centre and Alexis up top.

    He’s an individual talent and as such he’s going to play a little out of kilter at times. That the team isn’t playing well isn’t down to him mostly. Nor is it down to Ozil. (I think the problem stems from midfield)

    I think those two are our best players, and if we can, we should keep both of them. If we can renew their contracts, good. If we can’t, maybe we look to sell them and then spend the proceeds. Without CL, it might be tough to replace with adequate quality. But playing with those two could perhaps convince a few players that we intend to get back up into the CL, and win titles.

    As for the smiling bit. I remember some years ago Rosicky accused of laughing when Arsenal conceded a free kick. I tend to not read too much into such signs. Every person reacts differently to things at different times. Alexis is paid to play football for Arsenal, and on that basis, I think he, more than most others, deserves to stay. UNLESS, he doesn’t fit the manager’s vision, but I don’t think that is the case.

    As to our struggles. We really have to turn it around, but I think the team has given up on this season now. Maybe they’ll start playing just for fun now and this might see an upturn in form. They certainly aren’t going to play for the fans now.

    But I do get the sense that we’re going to see some pretty big changes next year. Both in the squad and the club as a whole. Whether that includes a change in manager, or the sale of either/both of our star men, remains to be seen. But if it were up to me, I’d focus on revamping other areas of the squad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. By the way. I don’t think Wengerball is a regimented style of play. Based on Bergkamp’s book, Wenger is somewhere between the Cruyff and Van Gaal schools of total individual freedom and system being everything, but I think he definitely leans towards the Cruyff. His system is designed as a master work of art based on the players he has, and as among the best players, Alexis’ skills/weaknesses went towards him formulating this plan. That the system isn’t working, I feel is more due to Cazorla being irreplaceable in that system, and no one else stepping up to stake their claim to running the show, than any of Alexis’ excesses. (That phrase has a nice rhythm to it)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting article and comments. Alexis , like all players has his faults, his high risk style means he gives the ball away a lot, and his frustrations may ….or may not affect the team. But stil really like him as a player, as I do Ozil..
    Not sure if finishing out of the top four alone would do for the manager, however it would make life very hard for him, you then get the scenario where the critics say it is only Arsene and Stan keeping him there, that is not healthy, true or not. I also doubt if any other major club would be inclined to renew his contract after this season, but we do things differently, for better or for worse.
    What I think could make the manager leave is enforced changed, in my view, with a transition on the horizon, quite reasonable changes….such as a DOF, and making a few changes in the backroom staff. I am not sure Wenger will stand for what he may regard interference. Ivan has reportedly said there will be big changes at a recent fans group meeting……we shall see where all that leads.
    I suspect that if the manager goes, or is forced into changes, we will soon see a more robust, if, at its best, less entertaining brand of football. Wengers purist game, especially without his best player is not working against highly organised and drilled, of lesser teams. We cannot continue to defend like recent months either.
    Yes, there will be big changes, and as an admirer of the man , his character and his achievements, I currently fear for his future at this club unless things change dramatically and quickly.
    I hope, whatever is or isn’t going on behind the scenes, the players give all for this giant of the game, indeed it may be in many of their interests to do so

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Lovely player – may he grace our starting line up as long as he has energy in his Latin spring

    Like

  7. Can’t agree on this one. Does far more good than bad things on pitch. Think he’s a special player, in his prime.

    Still looks to me like him and Ozil look for each other a hell of a lot, maybe even a bit too much on occassion. Not the way it normally goes if players don’t get along

    Liked by 2 people

  8. If we were having a season similar to the one Chelsea endured last year I might buy into all the apocalyptic talk. Simple fact is we aren’t. And even if we were as bad as that, having one sudden unexpected poor season does not preclude a wonderful return to form in the following year. Again just look at Stamford Bridge.
    Sorry but all this doom and gloom seems unnecessary to me. Football clubs experience ups and downs. Ours has experienced unusual stability for an incredibly long time so this may feel like a disaster but it isn’t.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. just a few points on the article and the comments

    yes the extra £100M the media now claim is according to them going to come from the sales of Alexis, Ozil, Wilshere, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ospina and Gibbs, of course the same publications have claimed also that all of the above are signing new wage busting contracts at Arsenal.

    The photo of Alexis laughing during the Bayern defeat was actually taken during the streaker interruption late in the game.

    Alexis’s passing stats are of late very poor, yes some of it has been down to awful passes, but more of it has been down to him trying for the more difficult defense splitting pass, yes he has done this many times when a much easier and simpler pass was on. I find his head down dribbles more annoying, and the most annoying part of his game is how it looks like he refuses to pass to certain team mates, he has built up an understanding with Ozil, but has failed to link up with Giroud and Walcott, and even Ramsey too. Why I don’t know.

    Yes there are certain to be big changes at Arsenal this summer, simply put some of the big changes we are almost certain to see are

    1. players leaving
    2. players joining
    3. Director of football appointed
    4. Head of Academy appointed

    but lets look at those big changes
    1. players leaving
    happens every summer, at every club up and down the land, we have something like 9 players with one year remaining on their contracts, its very likely some of them will not sign new deals, and some of these likely to be sold, especially if they are not deemed vital to us.
    2. players joining
    happens every summer, at every club up and down the land. Reports today suggest we have already agreed our first summer deal with a new left back from Shalke 04. There is very likely to be a few new players as there is most summers
    3. Director of Football
    It has been something that Ivan Gazidis has mooted for some time, most big clubs have had one for some time, and in reality Arsenal have had people performing the role just not one person, and also not one with a top level playing background, and that seems to be what Arsenal intend doing this summer. By the way I’m told that if Arsenal do appoint a Director of Football that Dick Law will be offered another role at the club, and he would still be part of our teams that works on transfers.
    4. Head of Academy
    well we have a vacancy and we will fill it

    so despite the media frenzy about big changes, the reality is far more mundane, but then mundane does not fit the club in crisis label that provides the clicks they crave

    so other than those 4 changes who knows, maybe we will see

    Change of manager, it has to happen sometime

    Change to coaching team – there may be an addition or two, but it will not happen, and should never happen without the full approval of the manager, what would the point be in doing it, if the manager was not in agreement, like the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink, and similarly you can add a new coach but you can’t make the manager take his advise, or even make him give him a meaningful coaching role

    additions to the scouting and medical teams – the club have been upgrading both in recent years, and have said they will make further improvements to both this summer.

    so all this Catalyst for Change in reality is likely to be little more than a soundbite that covers what the club has already been doing and will continue to do.
    Of course if Wenger leaves, a new manager will be a big change, but I don’t see any new manger meaning a change to how the club is run, Arsenal FC is self sustaining, and its likely only a change of ownership will change how the club is run, and does anyone even give the slightest chance of Kroenke selling up, I certainly don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Wenger on Alexis, China and wages

    Arsène Wenger says that the priority for top players remains to play “the best football with the best players in the best league”.

    And that’s why he thinks that even the huge money on offer in China does not make it more attractive than the Premier League.

    The boss was asked about China, Alexis and wage levels when he spoke to daily newspaper reporters on Friday.

    Here’s what he said:

    on whether huge wage offers are destabilising…
    Always, but we must accept that modern life has changed a little bit. We always had wages structures that were respected and players earn so much money now that the cases have become much more individual than global. You have many different opinions there. Some people tell me ‘just give him what he wants’. But then you cannot respect anymore any wages structure and you put the club in trouble as well.

    on whether certain players like Alexis are worth it…
    That is why you have to make the decision in an objective way. Always the club has to be the priority. I understand as well that top players are a big priority but at the end of the day even for important players you can only pay as much as you can afford.

    on the lure of China…
    I think every club and every player has to make decisions. Where are your priorities, where do you want to play? I think the first priority for top players is play to best football with the best players in the best league. You go to China because you earn big money, but you make big money in England as well. So the best combination of playing at the top and earning big money is in England at the moment. So China for me is not a debate.

    on China inflating salaries…
    It certainly contributes to the imagination of the players.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170414/wenger-on-alexis-china-and-wages#SjfMkGkf2iH6iHCl.99

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Arsenal U-13s win national cup final

    Congratulations to our U13s, who won the inaugural Premier League National Cup at the weekend.

    Our young Gunners beat Sunderland in the final at St George’s Park on Sunday to secure the title.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170413/arsenal-u-13s-win-national-cup-final#Tw1RwuwCrs3dGwzt.99

    Liked by 1 person

  12. afcstuff‏ @afcstuff 13m13 minutes ago

    Alexis is reported to be ­demanding wages of £384,000-a-week while Mesut Özil is also targeting a similar pay rise. [@JWTelegraph] #afc

    that would be an increase of around £250,000 a week, plain crazy

    Like

  13. RickyGee‏ @GeezyPeas 2h2 hours ago

    Sounds like we’ve signed a decent LB. Get a new GK, CB, DM, CF, owner, board, manager & fanbase and we’re all set imho.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. If Alexis and Ozils performances are suffering, I would put it partly down to the absence of a rather important player. The way Wenger plays it it vital we get Caz back, or another who can do what he does, as a confirmed Cazorlaista ,I would suggest that is no mean feat.
    As for backroom staff changes, if there are areas for improvement…..whether it be in the GK coaching dept, fitness or scouting, hopefully Wenger would be accepting of change….improvement must come above loyalty.
    We all hope this season will end well, but if it does not, the likes of Ivan, who on the commercial side, answers to current and future sponsors, amongst other things will be under huge pressure to implement some degree of change, whether the manager likes it or not…..at the moment , we know nothing. Think a well chosen DOF will be pretty valid, if he….or if they want to be radical, she can help with the transition when Wenger goes. I hope our manager would understand and support this along with any genuine upgrades behind the scenes….it is not always just players that need replacing.
    I hate this season!

    Like

  15. Blimey!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Looks like we’ve signed this Kolasinac fellow then.

    Watched Bosnia a couple of times at World Cup and remember the name but can’t recall performance.

    Unless appearances very deceptive, safe to he’s a strong lad.

    For me the idea we are full of soft players is obvious bullshit- no one picks out most of the same players as soft with their national teams, nor before they join us, or after they leave- but, things being as they are, I think it will help us to have a few more who are downright mean and extremely robust.

    Like Xhaka, they’ll be picked on excessively by refs, but I’d rather push them on the hypocrisy front- i.e where they are penalising us even more for things they let go elsewhere- rather than continue as we are, with many of our players looking demoralised at present by how teams are allowed to push them about and the discrepancy between that and what they can do.

    Like

  17. I would sell Sanchez to any club that stumps up the money we want. Especially a rival. That’s a double whammy for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. eduardo at 9.49

    Excellent comment.

    Like

  19. Glad you’re not the manager PG.

    Like

  20. At a rival, he’d get what he does for us, plus earn about five pens a year, plus get the type of protection Hazard does, with all the benefits that brings. He’d be an absolute monster.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Would he get a brain? Pep tried-failed, Arsene has tried-failed. If those two can’t manage it, who the fuck can?

    Liked by 2 people

  22. PG don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m surprised that you would choose to attack one of our players in this way, channeling Mr Pelanty Waddle on Theo.

    Really, why doesn’t Alexis, as an Arsenal player, deserve the same support as the others?

    Like

  23. He gets the same support until he repeatedly shows he doesn’t deserve it.I have never seen such a skilful player, fuck the game up as often as he does.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Stew at 920

    Good comment

    Like

  25. If you need arsenal fix and brave enough to risk livestream world (always worry It’ll crap up my computer), link here for future cup

    won it last year and gave an early chance to see Nketiah and Smith Rowe do stuff.

    No Trae Coyle (shame) but a few good prospects and a few complete unknowns, to me, playing.

    game right now- 12 uk

    http://live2all.net/football/2007398/aegon-future-cup-2017-u17-teams-live/

    My picture’s poor but you technical whizzes might know how to get it better for yourself.

    Another two or three games this weekend so presume this site will work for that as well.

    Like

  26. MIA yesterday. I make no apology for taking a greater interest in issues of War and Peace than a 1 year in 20 meltdown by many in the Arsenal fanbase. If the North Koreans and the Americans start firing nuclear weapons all this wailing and caterwauling will be effing moot.

    At the risk of being repetitive, there is something glaringly obvious over the past three years; our fortunes rise and fall based on the presence or absence of Santi Cazorla. Without him the team balance is definitely out of kilter. One may blame Wenger for building a machine that is so finely balanced but nobody seemed to care when things went relatively well for 20 years. Given how well things went until last October; it would seem the unpredictabilty and individualism of Alexis needs the stability and technical excellence of Santi.

    Furthermore the last time I checked, when Arsenal did well it had at at least three world class players in its ranks; Henry, Bergkamp, Viera and arguably Pires. Can we say that we have the same level of talent available?

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Anyone any ideas how Tottenham look so fit, athletic, and relatively injury free at this stage of the season? These Bielsa based teams usually slow at this time.
    Assuming all is above board, perhaps some of our coaches and fitness staff could learn a thing or two

    Like

  28. Mandy: There is nothing inherently superior by Spurs coaching staff. Less games than AFC. They were dumped out of Champions and Europa League relatively early. Have had injuries to many players (Dembele, Sissoko, Eriksen, Walker, Vertonghen, Kane) but not for long periods and none of them, Kane excepted, is as critical as Santi is to our team. Tbf, they have a good manager who plays an agressive pressing style. Finally if you have the refs behind you (net 7 penalties-for I read earlier) that is a nice wind in your sail.

    Liked by 4 people

  29. Forget that damn live stream site for youth team. Load of shite.

    Like

  30. I’m assuming this provocative article was posted to create a talking point? As frustrating as Alexis can be with his ball hogging and ball losing in the most inopportune parts of the pitch, he has also scored and assisted a lot of important goals for us this season. I think he is unfortunate that when the team around him is not working well it tends to amplify his faults. On balance I would want to keep him because he is a world class player and on his day he can win you games with the odd moment of magic. It’s just about Arsene finding the right combinations in the absence of Cazorla to make the most of what he has to offer

    Liked by 3 people

  31. The wisdom of Passenal…..

    Like

  32. Evening all – a new post from @MuppetGooner to take us into Sunday

    Like

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