Here we are again, wondering what went wrong after a disappointing loss. Arsenal have lost to a Watford side that have no business stealing points from Arsenal. But as a fanbase we are no strangers to situations like this. In fact, it feels like we’re stuck in a mediocre Groundhog’s Day, perpetually losing to clubs that are far below Arsenal’s stature.
Then after the match the pundits all say that Arsenal “lack grit” or a “certain toughness”. Oh, and don’t worry, they won’t forget to bring up Patrick Vieira. I know three things to be certain in an Arsenal season;
- Our best players will be linked with Chelsea or Barcelona.
- “Wenger Out” brigade come out strong in January.
- Pundits will bring up the lack of “a Patrick Vieira type”.
But the aftermath of this match was a little special. Troy Deeney of Watford insulted Arsenal twice in post-match media coverage. TWICE. He did it right after the match while he was still catching his breath, claiming that Bellerin couldn’t see the penalty because of the long hair in his face. THEN, he went into the locker room, showered, put on fresh clothes, walked into a studio, sat down next to Martin Keown, and said Arsenal lack “cojones”, or “a bit of nuts”. I’ll say it does take some cajones to say that on television next to Keown, so maybe Deeney is actually an expert on the subject. Let’s take a look at the rest of Deeney’s comments, which may hurt more than the whole “cojones” thing.
“Whenever I play Arsenal, and this is just personal, I go up and I think ‘let me whack the first one, let’s see who wants it’”.
Okay, that’s not great. But he’s not lying. If you go back and take a look at the highlights, Deeney imposes his will on Arsenal’s defense. He is the one that tucks away Watford’s first goal. He also nutmegged Elnenny in the box (I think he is now the legal guardian of Elnenny’s first born?), creating a chance that saw Capoue’s smack the post. On top of that, he is responsible for causing that chaos that eventually led to Tom Cleverley scoring the winner. Deeney charged the box and collided with Cech in a challenge, bringing Cech down and ultimately making it impossible for him to save the shot from Cleverley.
Staying true to his “see who wants it” approach, Deeney just takes a run at Arsenal’s defense and causes it to collapse.
“I came on today, I jumped up with Mertesacker, didn’t even have to jump actually, nod it down, the crowd gets up, and they all just backed off.”
These words will sting a little because , as Arsenal fans we know the “backed off” thing rings true. Arsenal almost never come back from being down. This year, we’ve lost to Stoke, Liverpool, and Watford. All of those performances were underwhelming. Opening night against Leicester feels years ago at this point.
Now, I will say that Mertesacker is not the first person I would accuse of having no cajones. I feel that he is a true leader, but plenty of those around him feel slightly weak. In fact, if you take Mertesacker out of the equation, I’m not sure who the leader on the pitch is for this match. It may sound ridiculous, but I think Kolasinac is the next guy to be a physical leader. Sanchez did not play, so there goes his unmatched tenacity. On top of that, Ramsey wasn’t available and he is no stranger to grabbing a match by the scruff of the neck. If I asked “Remember Ramsey’s FA Cup winner?”, you would have to reply, “Which one?”.
So, if you look at the squad for the match against Watford, you can’t necessarily blame Deeney for thinking he can take a run at the entire team. The problem here goes beyond the team. It goes up to the manager as well. If a player is insulting the club, the manager should come to the defense of his players. There are plenty of “Wenger fires back at Deeney” headlines around. But let me tell you, he did not fire back. Wenger gave a very generic and uninspiring response. It can be boiled down to “that’s not fair to say”, and I’m personally disappointed with Wenger’s response. We need a bit of fire from the man in charge as well as the men on the pitch. REMEMBER WHEN WENGER PUSHED MOURINHO??? That’s what we need right now. I’m not saying that Wenger should track down Troy Deeney and give him a shove, but I’m not not saying it either.
Jokes aside, we as a fanbase would love to see more passion from this team, and I don’t think it’s an unfair request at the moment. The reason that Deeney’s comments have been talked about so much among the fans is…well, it’s because he is kind of right. We didn’t respond on the pitch, and we haven’t off the pitch either. The only player to come out and respond in a real way has been Jack Wilshere, and we barely see him anymore.
We are heading full speed toward a transition period after this season. If we want to bounce back and compete in a real way…and continue to be a great club after some key departures, we need to buckle down and start playing with some “cojones”.
Let me know how you all feel about the situation in the comments or twitter!