4th Place Trophy Not Dead Yet

By Kevin Whitcher

Online Ed: Arsenal bounce back against unambitious Man Utd

It was a strange sort of game, nothing like this fixture used to be in terms of its intensity. Jose Mourinho waved a metaphorical white flag in the build up to the fixture by stating he would be forced to field a weakened team and sure enough, there were eight changes from the Thursday evening win against Celta Vigo. A couple though, were improvements, with David De Gea returning in goal and Chris Smalling at centre back. The former pulled off a couple of good saves in the first half as Arsenal managed to create far more chances than they put together over 90 minutes during their last outing, the previous weekend.

United generally played deep, dare I say an element of bus parking, rarely committing significant numbers forward. You got the feeling in what was, theoretically, a must win game for both sides that Jose Mourinho would have been happy with the draw. There were two changes for the home team, both for the better. Gabriel and Giroud were dropped to the bench with Rob Holding and Danny Welbeck coming in. Holding played a ball into the area thinking Koscielny would be ready to take a pass, but the Frenchman had completely switched off and Wayne Rooney was only foiled by the reactions of Petr Cech. It was a real gift of an opportunity, but the dice fell Arsenal’s way yesterday afternoon.

The opening goal in the second half confirmed that, with Xhaka’s speculative shot being deflected and looping in over De Gea. There seems to have been an increase in shots from distance recently, and of course if you don’t buy a ticket you won’t win the lottery. Against a defence organized by Mourinho, there was little point trying to walk the ball in. The second goal within three minutes was a thing of beauty, great cross by the Ox and the header converted convincingly by Danny Welbeck. Dare I ask, Olivier Who? The goal reminded me a bit of Thierry Henry’s winner in the corresponding match during the first season at the new stadium. Edwin van der Saar was the keeper that day.

United tried to restore parity with some attacking substitutions, but Wenger’s team played a mature game and the visitors’ chances were generally distant. Arsène Wenger finally achieved his first Premier League victory over Jose Mourinho in what may prove to be his last opportunity. On that one, we watch and wait.

So, with Liverpool drawing, Arsenal have been shown a chink of light. They need one of Jurgen Klopp’s side or Manchester City to drop points, as well as winning their own last four fixtures. Southampton away? Are the Saints already on the beach with talk of a change of manager in the summer? Stoke away? You can imagine if there is one match Mark Hughes’ will get his team up for it will be this one and the home crowd won’t need much encouragement. Sunderland at home? Everton at home? Four winnable fixtures with a carrot in sight, but who knows with Arsenal in 2017? In fairness, yesterday’s match makes it difficult to judge if the team are going to finish the season strongly, due to the nature of the opposition gameplan.

As for whether or not a top four finish would justify a further two seasons of the current regime, there are plenty of stories flying around, but for what it’s worth, my feeling is that there will be a new first team coach in place next season, with other recruitments behind the scenes to modernize the club’s footballing operation. That’s just a hunch. I do not believe a contract has been signed already by Arsène Wenger and that the club are waiting for the right moment to announce it. There is talk of a mass boycott of the Sunderland match to send a message that season ticket holders want to see some change and results between now and then could see a crowd of less than 30,000 at that game. It would be difficult to see the manager survive that kind of spectacle.

Anyway, let’s see what happens on the road in the next two matches. Dare I suggest that suddenly, things have started to get interesting again? The title may be as good as done and dusted, but we are waiting to see which team below the top two will implode, and whether or not Mourinho’s masterplan of getting into the Champions League via the back door comes to fruition.

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8th May 2017 12:58:51


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

The Man From UNCLE  13:29pm 8th May 2017

Surely the only team we can realistically catch now are Coco The Clown's mob. Citeh are too far in front and have better GD. - Post No. 106984

TonyEvans  13:36pm 8th May 2017

Shame we are reduced to hunches and guesswork when it comes to next season and who will be in charge. If we had certainty that it was au revoir to Wenger then top four could be seen as providing a platform for the new manager rather then, God forbid, a reason to hand Wenger two more years. - Post No. 106985

Time for change  13:43pm 8th May 2017

Too little, too late (as per usual). Wenger and Kronke out now. - Post No. 106986

Moscowgooner  13:44pm 8th May 2017

Not meant to be a racist comment, but I just saw a photo in the DM showing some guy holding a Wenger Out banner surrounded by tourists waving half and half scarves. Can we ban these from Emirates next season and selfie sticks along with them?? No wonder other clubs supporters take the piss out of us.... - Post No. 106987

mbg  13:50pm 8th May 2017

If the usual happens and other teams cock it up and blow it, and do the old fraud the usual favors there's a chance the weasel could scrape through yet again, we can just imagine the ejaculations whooping and celebrating from the AKB wengerites for the invisible trophy, but apart from that there's no chance TOF has run out of luck, a win against man yoo's stiffs or second string might have the AKB's getting moist again but others know better. Any resignation yet ? We want wenger out. - Post No. 106988

GoonerRon  14:07pm 8th May 2017

Just nice to beat those bastards really, especially one managed by that knob. Talk of a second string team but I'd imagine their starting XI was cost over £200m and another £150m on the bench - we're not talking a team of teenagers....I've been away this weekend so don't know how the protest march went, has there been any estimates of participant numbers? - Post No. 106989

Redshirtwhitesleeves  14:13pm 8th May 2017

Bloody typical- the one and only time I want Rooney to score against us he misses a sitter. The one and only time I want Maureen to beat us the horrible little narcissist isn't bothered and throws the game. Wengers luck was in big time with the timing of this fixture but nobody who has seen the countless surrenders and collapses is going to be fooled by beating a weakened, unmotivated, poor Utd team. Nobody except kroenke and gazidis anyway. The smell of that new 2 year contract just got stronger.... - Post No. 106990

Yes its Ron  14:47pm 8th May 2017

It was a good watch even if only to have my detest of that pr--k Mourinho re inforced. Narcissist is absolutely correct redshirts. Is it just me or does he become more odious the older he gets? He suffers badly from small man syndrome i reckon. Lack of stature gives him inferiority complexes and that he tries to compensate for with what he thinks is his smart mouth. Im can fully empathise with AW in his dislike of the cretin. All that stuff about Arsenal fans being made happy by him after? The f-----g self obsessed w----r. AFC could head for League 2 and i wouldnt want him riding into town for us. Im not totally sure that he ll last long at Manure either. That Boardroom there must grimace at the weekly borefest they offer up. Is that really the Club of Best Law and Charlton. They wont put up with that for long. I was glad Wenger broke his duck and i hope Ajax thrash them in the Europa. The way that the media have had it as a formality for months that Manure will win that is sickening and more to the point, i think Ajax could do them. Listen to all the ex Manure pundits busting a gut to make the result yesterday meaningless. Bunch of c--ts, almost without exception. OK, it wasnt the match of old but i for one will always welcome beating them. - Post No. 106991

markymark  14:48pm 8th May 2017

Poor old Leak the Squeak, he's just typed up his Wengo / Ming the Merciless post claiming that he's pulverised us with his Death Ray and what does he get in reply...... 'I am sorry but you do not have permissions to enter this site please direct any queries to the Website Editor.' I shouldn't giggle but I am! - Post No. 106992

Moscowgooner  15:24pm 8th May 2017

A boycott of the Sunderland game makes a lot of sense - but sadly the tourists and plastics will still be there with their disgusting half and half scarves and selfie sticks.... Forcing an abandonment of the Everton game - whether with tennis balls (a la Charlton), smoke bombs (see PSV) or a out and out pitch invasion is now the way to go. No way we will tolerate another two years of the old fraud mugging us along with his creepy sidekick, Kroenke. - Post No. 106993

Redshirtwhitesleeves  16:22pm 8th May 2017

Ron- re mourinho, for me he is the most disgusting man in football for all his antics (i.e. Having a go at the Berkshire ambulance service, poking the Barca coach in the eye, the lady doctor at Chelsea etc the list goes on and on!) and his complete and utter lack of sportsmanship and class. I too hope Ajax stuff them, the look on his face will be priceless! - Post No. 106994

mbg  16:49pm 8th May 2017

Did you see the nice boys having a picnic on the bench passing round the maltesers ? Does nothing embarrass them ?No doubt they'd have been at it even if we were being stuffed 4 or 5 nil. What a bunch of soft centred little nice boys we've become thanks to an old past it fraud of a manager. Go now wenger you embarrassment. - Post No. 106995

Gaz  17:09pm 8th May 2017

Went over to the Emirates yesterday for the protest march. Disappointed with the turnout of 150 but we saw it through to the end despite the odd bit of abuse from some AKB muppets. Just nice to match alongside a load of like minded Gooners! Oddest part of the day was walking back to the tube station past swathes of latecomers and not once feeling dissapointed that I wasn't actually going to the game. How times change eh? As for the game itself? Who ****ing cares. - Post No. 106996

Alsace  17:20pm 8th May 2017

Fourth place is not a trophy. Why is anyone, apart from Wenger, getting excited about finishing fourth if the equally useless teams above up continue to implode ? Seriously, I mean I hated old Liverpule and Old Manch but they seem to be made of tissue paper nowadays, as of course do we. The spoils go to the properly coached teams, and Chelsea and Spurs seem to be it this season. Black despair every time we win now I'm afraid. We just can't seem to kill the beast and get free. - Post No. 106997

Bob Bayliss  17:56pm 8th May 2017

The most depressing thing is that our "fanbase" seem to have the memory capacity of a gnat. We have produced endless pitiful performances recently - Munich x 2, West Brom, Palace, Tottenham....yet scrape past Man City and beat a United team with bigger fish to fry than us and all is well in the Wenger world? Pathetic. It has been a dog of a season even if we should somehow beat Chelsea (we won't get top 4). Wenger Out - Post No. 106998

markymark  18:35pm 8th May 2017

Mentally I think we maybe better off taking the view he's got two further years whilst of course carrying out whatever protest we see fit. Whether he is given 2 years or 10 years the result will be the same. Collapse, painful wrinkled facial expressions, a whipping boy for the press and crowds of 30k. He'll be out within a year. - Post No. 106999

Suker  19:29pm 8th May 2017

I pray to the heavens that is is dead and done. Wenger out......and to think this was THE fixture once upon a long time ago..... - Post No. 107000

jjetplane  19:35pm 8th May 2017

It was the most meaningless of victories in that Community Shield sense but very much a Wenger win to be likened to his other great victories where the horse had already bolted. Think the selfie sticks and half and half scarfs are just perfect for the Ems. Now beating any rival in any match of real value just won't happen. Manchester have just had a bit of an off month but perhaps is is just the case of feeling sorry for Wenger the Serial Failure. Whatever is said JM has been to places Wenger can only dream about. Expect normal business next season with both manc teams swatting away Wengo's 'warriors' without Sanchez or Ozil though reckon the latter will stay because he is like a global version of Wally - pure ****! - Post No. 107001

mbg  19:46pm 8th May 2017

Bob bayliss, yes indeed mate, like I've said it's surprising or rather not surprising at all what a draw or a win does for our fickle fans, pathetic, but just wait and listen to them if TOF does sign on again and the same mistakes are still been made, the same embarrassments, humiliations, stuffings, start again (which they will)after the obligatory two or three second raters are signed (which they will)that's if TOF doesn't come out with his usual shyte with his sly grin this team has tremendous speeritt and menteel strength and just needs tweeking (which he will)and the realisation sets in they've fallen (or been lured)into the same old trap again and we're still at square one and we still have TOF talking bollocks with his excuses and lies and spin, they'll all be up in f*****g arms again crying and wanting change but it will be too f*****g late, pathetic. We want wenger out. - Post No. 107002

Exeter Gunner  19:47pm 8th May 2017

The PLC will be fine with becoming a top 6 club that makes tilts at top 4 over next few years, they'll just adjust the business model accordingly and continue to make a profit. Wenger is the politician continuously rehired to manage expectations down in the face of his own failure. No reason to suppose that won't continue. Enough mug punters out there to buy into it. Any future top 4s will be seen as a sign of his 'genius'. In fact it's already started with this season, if he makes it. Just a case of managing the expectations of an already docile audience. - Post No. 107003

CORNISH GOONER  19:56pm 8th May 2017

Don't know about "bounce back" - more like flopping back in the Emirates sunshine perhaps. Until the goals arrived I thought the ref could have stopped the "fight" to save the audience from taking any further punishment & dying of boredom. However, I thought the smirking M. Hulot was looking STRONG & STABLE. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!! - Post No. 107004

mbg  21:51pm 8th May 2017

markymark, you could be right, but like I keep saying (and make no apologies for it)if the old snake does manage to crawl and slither into another two years, (and I hope and pray Kevin's right and he doesn't) (thanks to the AKB's, and fickle fans along with those fans who want him out but are to nice to protest) just think of the fun we'll all have, all those fans who never flinched in their protests will have, not only slagging him off, making fun of him and laughing at him after every bumbling defeat, embarrassment, spin, when the same things happening all over again only worse, but his AKB wengerite luvvies too on places like here, that at least is something to look forward too. wenger out. - Post No. 107005

David1  21:55pm 8th May 2017

The hard reality for the club in all this is that Arsenal have been well and truly eclipsed by Chelsea in the last 10 years. Who woulda thunk it - and who gives a stuff for winning a dead rubber against another past-it manager. Both are yesterday's men. Although Mourinho still has time on his side. Zippy must go. Boycott the Sunderland game. - Post No. 107006

Moscowgooner  23:42pm 8th May 2017

Monreal's antics in the tunnel before the game were a disgrace: I think it was Keown who said he looked like he was attending a 'christening' not a football match. Not fit to wear the shirt; should never ever play for Arsenal again. (But then that applies to at least five or six more of the current squad...) - Post No. 107007

markymark  8:41am 9th May 2017

MBG - I'm debating about what the victory drink will be. It will be a quick announcement so no chance to book a holiday so will just have to go into work with a sore head. Please God don't make me retired by then! - Post No. 107008

markymark  8:55am 9th May 2017

Lots of press talk surrounding Jardim of Monaco. Good to see the press keeping hope alive! - Post No. 107009

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

16th February 2018

Frozen North Provides Relief For Arsenal

Rare comfortable away win for Gunners v Ostersunds