Arsenal Embarrassed by ‘Wednesday on a Tuesday Night
Sheffield Wednesday 3 (Wallace 27′, Joao 40′, Hutchinson 51′) – Arsenal 0
Before yesterday’s game, it was evident that Arsene Wenger was going to rest some of his key players ahead of the weekend’s clash against Swansea,
“We want the players who come in to the team to show they are able to make the squad successful, and do absolutely everything to help us win. That’s the job of a footballer. When you get the chance, you have to be ready.”
So it wasn’t a surprise when the gaffer fielded a squad that had a blend of youth and experience. The likes of Glen Kamara, Alex Iwobi and Calum Chambers provided the youthful exuberance to compliment the likes of Matt Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Per Mertesacker and a host of other players that on paper would have been good enough to see out a second division team like Sheffield Wednesday.
As soon as the Gunners tried to hit the ground running, the gods of injury struck yet again. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player that has had a shaky campaign thus far would have been hoping for a game like this to show what he’s made of. Sadly, he sat on the turf and the combination of Colin Lewin talking on his mic and Theo Walcott stripping for action clearly signified that the Ox’s time on the pitch was up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Walcott had been on the pitch for barely 10 minutes before he suffered an injury as well, causing widespread panic across the Arsenal world. Losing Ox and Walcott with games against Swansea and Bayern Munich coming up didn’t go down well with Arsenal fans. On came a debutant, Ismael Bennacer.
To add insult to injury…literally, Sheffield Wednesday took the lead thanks to some shambolic defending from Matt Debuchy and Per Mertesacker. Debuchy was caught out of position on his flank before the fullback fed Ross Wallace on the edge of the box. A Laurent Koscielny or Gabriel Paulista would have anticipated the looming danger and would have attacked the ball, but Mertesacker in his awesomeness decided to watch as the midfielder sidefooted the ball around him and past a hapless Petr Cech whose view was clearly obstructed by the BFG. Just hilarious.
On the other end of the pitch, the Gunners were simply toothless. Olivier Giroud received little or no service, Joel Campbell ran all over the place like a headless chicken and made a nuisance of himself without any contribution on the final third, Alex Iwobi was busy showing off skills he probably inherited from his legendary uncle, Jay Jay Okocha and as you’d expect from untested 17-year-old, Bennacer was overwhelmed by the more experienced opposition players.
As if conceding one goal and playing so poorly wasn’t bad enough, the Gunners conceded a second goal in typical Arsenal fashion. Nobody closed down a Sheffield player from a corner and he simply lofted the ball into the danger area and it was headed home by Lucas Joao with Cech rooted to the spot yet again. It was really sad seeing the Czech goalie suffer the way he did with such a terrible defense in front him. Where is David Ospina to take the blame when you need him?
At the start of the second half, you would have expected the Gunners to at least put up a fight but the paucity of quality on the pitch was there for everyone to see. Debuchy and Gibbs offered absolutely nothing in attack with the French fullback unleashing his inner Sagna with his erratic crossing. I just don’t understand how he became this terrible in his defending. This is a player that was meant to be the ideal replacement for Sagna in the team before Hector Bellerin rightfully took his place. I was also embarrassed by Mathieu Flamini that was overran by an industrious Sheffield midfield. It was when Wenger brought on Kryztian Bielik that there was some assurance in midfield. The youngster always wanted the ball and tried to make some meaningful passes.
With the Gunners failing to take the initiative, Sheffield put the nail in the team’s coffin when a winger drilled a cross that missed three Arsenal defenders, yes, Mertesacker, Chambers and Debuchy, before Hutchinson poked the ball in to make it 3-0 to the home side. The ref did the Gunners a favor by blowing his whistle. Arsene Wenger didn’t look too happy in his post-match press conference and I’m sure he was more concerned about the fitness of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain than the overall result,
“The injuries are two muscular injuries (Walcott – calf, Ox – hamstring) and the injury damage I do not know. You have to wait 48 hours for the scans to see how big the damage is.”
While it’s quite a disappointment seeing the Gunners crash out early from the Capital One Cup, I am deeply concerned with the performances of Kieran Gibbs and Matt Debuchy in particular, that are meant to be the back up players for Nacho Monreal and Hector Bellerin.
You wouldn’t expect Monreal and Bellerin to play every game till the season ends but in the five games Debuchy has started this season, Arsenal has lost three and he has massively underperformed in all the games. He is a far cry from the solid player the Gunners signed from Newcastle and while we may attribute his bad patch to his long-term injuries and lack of match fitness, I certainly hope he shows some improvement as the season progresses because Wenger needs to play with players he can trust. On the back of Carl Jenkinson’s outings in West Ham, Debuchy’s Arsenal career might be reaching its climax sooner rather than later.
Well we need to move on from this disappointment.
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