Will he or won’t he? That’s the question; Arsene Wenger’s job is still probably safer than his opposite number on Saturday, Steve Kean’s, but whilst no-one foresaw a 4-3 win for Blackburn, the defensive calamity (2 own goals) and collective shortfall that have been recent Arsenal handmaidens were still much in evidence on Saturday.
A noisy pre-match protest by disgruntled Blackburn fans may yet get its aim but, if the club’s owners flex their jittery trigger fingers as they did with Allardyce (a move which made no sense either then or now) then that protest will get what it deserves and so will the owners.
Those two own goals were a commendable gesture on Arsenal’s part, but Yakubu’s own brace will be welcome straws at which to clutch. Bursting onto the scene eight years ago at Pompey with explosive pace and power, the Yak still has these gifts in sufficient quantity to drag Rovers out of the morass. A canny signing.
For the Gooners, meanwhile, and as recently mentioned in these quarters, Arsene’s missed the boat on some key personnel who could have made his bacon at least a little more saveable. The Manyoo Massacre was followed by a low-key win against Swansea and a draw in Europe against a decent Borussia Dortmund side but that aside, the old frailties linger still. They were decent enough on Saturday, outplaying Blackburn for long periods, but flimsiness at one end plus profligacy at the other – how did Mertesacker miss that header, by the way? – spells only one thing.
Arsene Wenger is either blind to the issues (unlikely), in the same way he’s blind to contentious refereeing decisions, or unable to remedy matters and therein lies Arsenal’s quandary. Slipping further away from top-level competition they may be but who would they task with filling Arsene’s shoes, whilst ensuring their finances don’t go up the spout? The guy is a little too learned and lugubrious to be guilty of panic-buying, but failure to win anything in six years is why their established star acts upped sticks.
Fabregas was always going to “return home” sooner or later, and every other Premier team has to contend with the ludicrous resources which saw Nasri lured to Man City. If Arsene had those same resources, would he throw it away like a man with ten hands or make proper use of it? Sager judges wouldn’t bet against him, but Arsenal are unfortunately light years away from being contenders.
By Alex Hales