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Newcastle show Arsenal the meaning of ambition, but its the fans that suffer


If anyone on the Arsenal board wanted some idea as to why crowd numbers are dwindling, the Gunners latest display against Newcastle would surely reveal the reason. Newcastle had the desire and were playing for their Premiership survival, Arsenal were finishing off a season that has been rich with disappointment and underachievement.

Although I wouldn’t go as far as saying this result was intentional, I would say that Arsenal’s loyal traveling fans must feel short-changed, even a little bit conned. Yes, the North London club’s only chance of salvaging their season is via the Europa league but this result did nothing to encourage the clubs followers that this was at all possible.

Resting players is a concept that rather annoys me at times, let’s take Mesut Ozil as an example. The German has been afforded extra leave on occasion before the season has commenced and has suffered his fair share of tweaks, coughs, colds and splutters this term, which have made resulted in his absence. He is Arsenal’s only recognisable creative outlet at present and without him, the Gunners look incredibly poor and vulnerable.

No Ramsey, no Mkhitaryan or Wilshere, meant that the middle was a pale representation of what it should have been and results such that against Newcastle only heap uncertainty on top of instability.

Playing weaker teams at certain points in a season seems to be rife in the modern game. Managers such as Mourinho and Wenger decide which games are more important and what competitions are their priorities but the supporters don’t get that particular luxury. They pay hard cash week in, week out to watch and be entertained but sadly they seem to be the victims here.

Gunners fans have every right to feel as if they are being taken for granted because as long as the money is rolling in, nothing else seems to matter, although, empty seats at the Emirates tell their own story. Those vacant seats may not concern Wenger unduly or Kroenke but it is a disturbing trend for a top flight club and the only real way to address it is by way of success or improved performances.

Arsenal are now the only top club in the Premiership not to win a single away game in 2018 and they are also on a run of five consecutive losses away for the first time in their illustrious history. With only the Europa league left as Wenger’s ‘get out of jail card’, it appears he has decided to use the remaining games as an experimental canvass. His ploy of resting key players in the hope that they put all their energy into winning the last piece of silverware available.

As professional footballers, they should be prepared to fight for the club in every game, show commitment and passion even if at the risk of injury but Wenger, rightly or wrongly, believes his actions will provide a greater chance of success. So the premier league is now of little consequence and Arsenal show no signs of improving on their current abysmal sixth position and at this rate, it could get worse.

They are only two points above Burnley in 7th but are 33 points behind the Champions Manchester City. They are only 20 points above Crystal Palace in 16th and 30 points away from being in a relegation battle with WBA. So what does that all show? It shows that the North London side are as near to the top as they are to the bottom and that Arsene Wenger should either have a greater depth in his squad or should be embarrassed enough to play a side that can put daylight between the bottom clubs and close the gap at the top.

It’s easier to talk about the Newcastle game by considering the excellent job undertaken by Rafa Benitez than it is to go through Arsenal’s appalling defending. Newcastle showed great intensity, took their chances and were prepared to fight for every ball to preserve their status. They showed endeavor, creativity and resilience which was rewarded with three points that virtually guarantees their safety.

It’s a fantastic result for a club that has been the subject of a take over uncertainty and hasn’t had the funds to compete with the bigger clubs in the Premier League. Benitez has taken every hurdle in his stride and has turned any perceived negatives into glowing positives that have propelled his team forward, establishing them as a side worthy of the Premiership.

Arsenal made all the usual errors, individually and collectively and gifted the Geordies the game by showing almost zero creativity and imagination. Mustafi, Holding, Chambers and Cech were all guilty of defensive sins, although age and inexperience can be cited as a reason for the failings of Holding and Chambers. Mustafi and Cech have no such luxuries to hide behind, both have been inconsistent and incredibly poor at times and should be dispensed with at the earliest opportunity.

Mustafi continues to make bewildering defensive decisions that either lead to goals being conceded as a direct result of his actions or leaves others in a vulnerable position. I don’t intend to do yet another post-mortem on another insipid and uninspiring Arsenal performance but it is as much of concern at present as it was before a ball was even kicked. Quite what the next few weeks has in store is anyone’s guess but the issues that Arsenal have, like last season and the one before, will not be resolved by one trophy or the dubious high of doing well in one of the less recognised competitions.

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