Today's choice of picture is entirely to serve as a reminder of the one thing this team is missing more than anything else. The thing is, the players - individually and as a unit - are good enough to win trophies. But my god, there isn't a thimbleful of fight or spirit to be found among (most of) the lot of them...especially among the English core, who are supposed to be the ones to generate it.
Make no mistake - this is quite possibly the most disgraceful and gutless performance in the 25-ish years I've been supporting this club. This is worse than the 8-2 in this very fixture a few years ago. Why? Well, think of it this way - that happened when we were in a horrible state of flux and forced to blood a bunch of callow youths and other guys played out of position.
I don't even really want to do this, so you get bullet points and you'll like it.
- Before we get to anything else, my god did Arsene ever cock up the team selection. Giroud on the bench, Theo alone up top, Gabriel in place of BFG, Iwobi on as the last sub instead of Campbell...yeah, I'm Monday-morning quarterbacking a bit, but he got literally everything wrong today. Giroud should have come on at halftime, too.
- Cech, both fullbacks, Ozil and Welbeck were the only ones who weren't an absolute, abject disgrace to the shirt.
- I am way, way, done with Walcott. Just absolutely done. This is who he is, he's going to flatter to deceive exactly like this for the rest of his career. The one game where we need everyone to stand up and be counted, he was nowhere to be found. I'm so tired of his disappearing side-of-a-milk-carton act. I honestly try not to be the over-reactive "DURRR SELL HIM" type after one bad performance like, say, 75% of Arsenal Twitter. But, he's had a decade or so here now. This is what he is. We can do better.
- Alexis Sanchez is a great player but it is so obvious that he has nothing left in the gas tank. He's had nothing but constant football for like two years, and the spark that makes him better than his peers just isn't there. I feel like a stronger manager would sit him for a few weeks, both to recharge his batteries and to light a fire under him. It'll never happen though,
- Gabriel is an utter joke of a footballer, by the way. He was badly at fault for the first two goals, and we never recovered. If BFG is in there, we probably go up 1-0 with our first goal and this is likely a much different story. As someone I was talking to in the pub said today, "Why do we always get the shit Brazilians?".
- Ramsey is another one who could do with about a million years on the bench, but who are we going to play in that position? Arteta? Flamini? C'mon.
- We need to talk about that team that they put out, too. Children. Dudes playing out of position. I mean, they had two central midfielders as their center-halves. A zygote came on for Rojo when he got injured. That kid whose name we'll all forget in a season and a half when he runs up against someone who doesn't do the "Ole!" defense up top. There is absolutely no reason that we shouldn't have eviscerated this lot, let alone fucking lose to them. Especially once that kid came on at left back, with both center-halves on yellows, the smart thing to do would have been to go direct and really force the issue on them. But, nope. Same old tippy-tappy sideways-passing glacially-paced nonsense that we've been watching for 6-7 years now. It's enough to do your head in. De Gea was also clearly rushed back from injury - he moved for Welbeck's headed goal like my grandfather - who's been dead since 1984 - and we never tested him. NO shots on target after our second goal, with 20+ minutes to go. I mean, what can you say?
I am usually as optimistic as any Gooner you'll meet, but the title is dead and gone as of today, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We got outfought, out-hustled and outplayed by a team that inexplicably wanted it way more than we did. How we could have done with a Tony Adams type today.
But, don't worry. We only have to go to the Nou Camp to get wheat-threshered by Barcelona, then the NLD, and who knows if the players will approach it with the fight and heart that it deserves. Fuck this season. Go on and win it, Leicester.
Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford, but fuck's sake, we didn't make it half easy for him.