Like most pundits and fans I was surprised to see Szczesny dropped for the return leg in Munich, Arsene told us he was mentally tired, less surprising and more welcome was the dropping of Vermaelen who despite being our Captain has been our weak link on too many occasions this season.
Vermaelen has in truth been troubling me with his displays since mid March last season, shirking defensive stability in order to roam forward in to the opposition box (it worked for Newcastle at home but after that he seemed to think it was his new role in the team…QPR away!). This season he has been asked to defend first and in truth he has been found wanting. But is there perhaps a deeper reason?
During this season I have questioned the body language of some of our team, for me there has been a bit too much finger pointing and blame put on other players. This has been done by the experienced and some would say star players in the team, Sagna, Vermaelen, Podolski, Walcott etc. There appeared to be a couple of cliques appearing, some players like BFG, Cazorla and Arteta seemed to straddle the divide.
What we have seen in the last two games is a far greater work ethic from the players, they haven’t appeared to criticise each other but instead worked together to achieve something. Or is it a coincidence that only Walcott from the (maybe my wholly imagined) star player clique was on the pitch. Around him 10 players who were prepared to take responsibility for the whole team.
By all accounts BFG and Arteta when they arrived were surprised at the divided nature of the group at meal times etc, they suggested to the skipper that they do something to change it, judging by the team body language at times this season I would guess we have gone back to how it was before they arrived.
There is something to say for smiling on the pitch (and not just when a goal is scored) it’s one of the things that I used to love about the early Wenger teams, it’s why Cazorla is so likeable, you rarely see him complain about a misplaced pass he just gets on with it.
Whilst Vermaelen, Sagna and co continue to point the finger of blame at others they will surely see the exit door at some time in the future. If so and if they are indeed as up their own backsides as it sometimes appears then its surely a good thing.
Gooner in Exile