Things keep getting worse for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, with another defeat against a top side that shows a team that’s soft and might be even tactically inferior, not for the first time. The exact opposite might be said about Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool, who don’t have the depth and talent in the squad like others in the title race, but are finding answers each and every week.
Injuries have been a problem for Arsenal this season, but after years of only complaining about Wenger not signing players, it seems that now the arrows being pointed at him, filled with venom and hatred, are talking about tactics. The Professor, the man who identifies talent better than anyone and knows how to develop players better than most, might not be up to the job he claims he does so well.
Bottom lines always speak strongest, and Arsenal are once again going to finish fourth, at best. Their recent poor form which includes not just losses but embarrassing results – beginning with the loss to Liverpool at Anfield (5-1), the crushing blow at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea (6-0) and now a 3-0 loss at Goodison Park against Everton without really looking like a side capable of making things look different in these matches casts a huge shadow on Wenger’s future at the club.
The tactics remain the same, it’s only the names on the shirts that change. Same one-striker formation, same Mikel Arteta who isn’t really a defensive midfielder and too many times players being caught out of position against counter attacks. Maybe it’s the players’ fault as well; correction, it is the players’ fault as well, but someone has picked this team, trained them, and has tried to convince everyone that they’re good enough to win a championship.
Everton now have the edge over the Gunners in the race for the final Champions League spot, but even if Wenger does “accomplish” that after 38 matches and even wins the FA Cup, maybe it is time for a change at a club that has slowly regressed over the last 10 years, despite all the fancy words and often fancy football, which is a direct result of who they have as manager.
At Anfield things are different right now. Liverpool winning 2-1 at West Ham without playing all that great is suddenly slightly disappointing. A team that started the season with 1-0 wins that included parking the bus on more than one occasion are suddenly the definitive marker for style and goalscoring along with Manchester City.
Brendan Rodgers tried going in that direction last season but it didn’t really work, at least not initially. This year, it took him some time, including for Luis Suarez to come back from suspension, in order to find his magical formula, that includes Jon Flannagan playing as a left back, Glen Johnson suddenly looking all responsible, Steven Gerrard as a defensive midfielder to mask his decreasing speed and quickness and finally moving Jordan Henderson away from the wing.
A fifth place finish at the beginning of the season seemed like the most Liverpool could hope for. Chelsea and Manchester City were stacked, Manchester United the confident defending champions, Arsenal had just signed Mesut Ozil and Tottenham were the biggest spenders of all. Brendan Rodgers’ road to glory should have taken a bit longer.
It’s still going to be decided by more than just the two huge matches (at home) against Manchester City and Chelsea – Norwich, Newcastle and Crystal Palace won’t be walks in the park. But Liverpool will finish this season, no matter what, with a feeling of a great achievement, and the hope of a very bright future. Arsenal? The exact opposite, and maybe sensing that now, more than ever, is time to make a change that in the eyes of some (including me) should have come a few years ago already.