A new season, a new kit (3 in fact) and only a few new players so far. However the same problems seem to remain at Arsenal Football Club, one of English footballs grandest clubs. The team traveled to Leicester and left with 1 point but this maybe a watershed moment given the hostile chanting towards Mr Wenger, at the end of the match, by the away fans.
The journey to Leicester was filled with apprehension more than optimism given Arsenal’s poor record at the start of the season and the feeling of being “under-prepared” yet again. On arrival and walking to the Counting House pub, there was lots of talk about possible incoming transfers with most fans voicing their frustration at the lack of money being spent.
As fans got their last orders in, the teams were announced and there was huge relief to see the name Laurent Koscielney in the starting line up after he’d had a busy summer with France at Euro 2016. By contrast there was disappointment that Giroud was on the bench leaving Alexis to lead the line one more time.
Arsenal kicked off and set themselves under pressure from the off as new boy Granit Xhaka gave the ball away cheaply, which was played forward to Jamie Vardy, the man who rejected Arsenal’s attention over the summer. A chorus of boos and jeers from the travelling support greeted the Leicester forward as the danger was cleared.
The Gunners began to get in their stride with Cazorla trying to pull the strings in midfield and making Arsenal play. The flanks were proving to be Arsenal’s best option but there were numerous occasions when the final delivery was disappointing. The fans then slowly started to bemoan the lack of presence up front with Alexis playing as a makeshift forward.
Another Leicester man, Riyad Mahrez, who like Vardy, rejected Arsenal’s advances was next to be hounded by the away support every time he touched the ball with one man in the upper tier chanting “you could have played for a big club, played for a big club, you could have played for a big club!” Then on 24 minutes play was brought back as Francis Coquelin picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on the rattled Jamie Vardy who was sent sprawling to the floor.
Arsenal began to work through the gears with Hector Bellerin charging forward at every opportunity. The fans then began to turn on Theo Walcott who seemed to be non-existent and fans were getting angry at his lack of runs. Fans began to question his £120k salary per week, with one young fan screaming “you’ve done nothing in 10 years apart from grow a beard!”
Then Arsenal’s first attempted shot came from the lively Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain which brought some to enthusiasm to the fans. Then the first contentious decision of the game. Cech came racing out of his goal to deny Leicester, Drinkwater want crashing to the ground. Mark Clattenburg waved away the penalty claims as Laurent Koscielny was deemed to have got a touch on the ball with his momentum taking Drinkwater down.
Half time and much of the talk in the concourse was about Arsenal’s lack of cutting edge with the play being too predictable and intricate.
The second half began and Leicester ramped up the pressure with Mahrez looking to unlock the Arsenal defence. The fans were warming to young Rob Holding who alongside Koscielny was delivering a very resolute performance winning his aerial duels and keeping Vardy in check.
The Arsenal fans began to turn on Mark Clattenburg as Mendy was forced to go off the pitch with the stretcher coming out but the player standing much to the displeasure of Arsenal fans who wanted the game to continue. One fan shouted “how is Clattenburg a World Cup referee!”
Again Arsenal were up to their usual tricks of trying to overcook the ball with Chamberlain being the culprit trying to play the perfect ball through leaving supporters fuming and Walcott again looking lost and low on confidence with supporters chanting for Mesut Ozil to appear. Bellerin then tried his luck from distance but his shot was easily saved. Walcott then had an effort ruled out for offside and Chamberlain faded as the game progressed. Vardy was then off target as his shot was too high with the ball landing in row z.
Arsenal fans were then pleading with Arsene Wenger to show more desire and stand on the touch line with supporters asking “how the f**k can the players be inspired when all he does is f**king sit down!” In contrast his counterpart Mr Ranieri was in his technical area barking instructions at all times.
Finally some substitutions were made but fans were moaning about how late these changes came. Wilshere and Ozil came on for Xhaka and Cazorla and the difference was glaring. Ozil was a delight to watch as he forced the issue and was trying to make the team go forward in search of that elusive goal. Olivier Giroud shortly followed coming into the pitch after Walcott was through only for his take effort to be deflected wide. Then moments later Walcott was through on goal with Giroud free for what would have been a simple tap in but Walcott went for glory himself and missed and the this was the turning point for the fans who were fuming more towards the manager than the players. The chant “spend some f**king money” was ringing around the King Power Stadium with Leicester fans finding the whole episode rather amusing.
Ozil had a late chance but was denied and then a Leicester free kick late on never troubled Cech. Ahmed Musa was sent to the ground under Hector Bellerin with the young Spaniard very fortunate not to have given away a penalty in the dying moments of the game.
During the last 10 minutes the supporters were expressing their anger and the majority of the away support where chanting ‘Wenger out’. This is why it could be a watershed moment as the support for the manager is waning fast with perhaps it being 70-30 in the Wenger out camp. The chant was deafening and there was no denying that the atmosphere at the end was toxic amongst the away support. The game was over and it was a case of 2 points dropped rather than 1 point gained and the Arsenal fans were left pondering what might have been. Some pressing concerns for the supporters as the aggressive chants continued as fans headed for the exits.
Outside the ground there was fighting between Arsenal and Leicester fans and reports of missiles being thrown at the Arsenal supporters end which struck a child, a young Arsenal fan. This left Arsenal fans reeling resulting in clashes with Leicester supporters. Online reports claiming the fighting was between Arsenal fans was wide of the mark and nonsense.
Again a poor start to the season.. I ask myself why do we put ourselves through this every season. Maybe us fans should be in the dug out and on the pitch. Maybe then we will have a club who will show the desire to reach the top of English football once again.
We want our Arsenal back! UTA!!!
Written by Sir A