Arsene still knows best after Messi masterclass

If you’d have offered Arsenal fans a Champions League quarter final and a chance to still win the Premier League title in April at the beginning of the season, you can bet the vast majority of them would have grabbed it with both hands. So to hear Gooners calling for Arsene Wenger’s head after their sides defeat at the Nou Camp really belies belief. Manchester United were dominated in a similar fashion in last years final (but for some Spanish profligacy the result could’ve resembled tonight’s) but you can be sure that the thought of sacking Sir Alex never crossed the minds of the United faithful.

Stop me if I’m wrong but since when was a 6-3 aggregate defeat to the worlds finest team, and the planets greatest player, anything to be ashamed of. Don’t forget that this was a side stripped of its backbone by a seemingly endless stream of injuries. Mikael Silvestre’s departure on the hour mark meant that Wenger was without the use of five of his six first team centre backs, prompting the shift of Bacary Sagna to centre back.

Maybe I’m just getting used to it now, but my immediate reaction to the game was not one of embarrassment (see Chelsea and Man Utd 2010, and Tottenham 2008), but of admiration for the opposition. The way Barcelona play is unparalleled and though Walcott, Nasri and co. must feel shocked now, it can only serve as inspiration in the long run. Though it was abundantly clear tonight that this squad is far from complete, wholesale changes in the summer is not the right way to go. Don’t forget that fans and pundits alike were putting a top four finish out of our reach in pre season.

Instead of a demolition job, what Arsenal needs is a lick of paint. Ok, maybe a few licks of paint. With William Gallas the wrong side of thirty and Sol Campbell only ever intended as a stopgap, the priority must be a shiny new centre back. Add a goalkeeper (Joe Hart would be reluctant to sit on the bench at Man City), some experience in midfield and the expected arrival of Chamakh from Bordeaux and the gap between the top two and Arsenal could soon be bridged. Of course this could all be irrelevant if said signings are all made of similar stuff to our injury prone bunch.

Do those that ring 606 and condemn Wenger’s tight fisted ways forget that we’re a mere four points of the Premier League summit, or do they genuinely believe that this constitutes a poor season. Do they also forget that the small matter of a brand spanking new stadium places a serious restraint on our spending power? Perhaps they’re just being reactionary fools and feel very silly the moment they put the phone down.

Nevertheless there is the small matter of a North London derby on the horizon, and what better way to drown our Champions League sorrows than with a win over the noisy neighbours.


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