Arsenal and the Painful Circle of Ogbanje

Ogbanje in Igbo mythology is a spirit child who takes the form of a human being, comes as a  child, lives a couple of months or a year or two, dies, gets born again, lives, dies in infancy again, tormenting its mother and family endlessly.

Ogbanje is the Yoruba equivalence of abiku. There are many today who believe this myth is more than mere myth. It is hard to argue with them because sometimes a child dies, they call in  a witch-doctor who cuts the child in the face, in the legs elsewhere before burying it. The next time the mother gives birth the baby comes in with all the mutilations of the previous child. Magic.

That is what Arsenal have become.

I have been a fan of Arsenal, I think, since 2002 and in these fifteen years I have seen Arsenal in its finest moments and in the last eight to ten years, I daresay, Arsenal is in their worst state. It is like a fish rotten in the head, for a die hard lover of fish, he can get the fish, eat its tail and middle but because the head is rotten, he cannot claim to have eaten the whole fish.

Arsenal have made top four every single year since 1997, they have won the FA Cup twice in eleven years, but because the head is rotten, they cannot get a complete season, every year they get humiliated and go home dissatisfied. They come back next year and like Ogbanje, they live to type.

Take a look:

Every single year since 2010 Arsenal have been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Every year since 2004 (except for a few random years) Arsenal have started the season strongly then fizzle out in February and end up struggling for top four.

Arsenal is the only top club that has never won the champions league.

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Arsenal is the only big club in Europe that has never won the league in 13 years. Let’s put this in the right perspective.

Since Arsenal last won the league, Mourinho came to England from Porto, won two league titles, got sacked, went to Italy, won the treble, left, went to Spain, won the league, left, came to England and won another league.

Manchini came to Manchester City, won the league, got sacked. Pellegrini came, won the league, got sacked, Arsenal are still waiting.

The year Arsenal won the league last, Leicester City was relegated to the Championship. From the Championship, they got relegated to League One. They they got promoted to the Championship, got promoted to the Premiership, nearly got relegated, survived, then won the league last season (they may be relegated) and Arsenal are still waiting. For Godot.

Conte will win the premiership in his first trying. Wenger is the oldest serving manager in the league, he hasn’t won the league in his last 13 trying.

Wenger is the Problem

The argument in defense of Wenger in the early draught is that Arsenal is financially handicapped, moving to a new stadium and all that. But since 2012, Arsenal have spent heavily (and wisely) bringing Cazorla, Ozil, Monreal, Sanchez, Cech, Xhaka and Mustafi yet Arsenal still manage to fall short.

Look at the league winners in the last ten years. One on one, squad against squad, they are not all better than Arsenal’s last four season squads. Between 2007 and 2009 Manchester United won three consecutive  league titles with an average team. Manchester City winners in 2012 and 2014 are not great. And we all saw Leicester last year.

In four of the last ten years Arsenal boasted the best player in the League, Febregas, Van Persie and twice Sanchez, yet this didn’t materialise into the title. When other teams had the best player they won the league. Cristiano, Rooney, John Terry, Aguero, Marhez all shoudered their teams to success.

What is the problem of Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger.

Arsene Wenger is the only issue that has been present since Arsenal began to rotten.

Wenger is the rotten head.

What is the Problem With Wenger

Tactics.

His tactics are outdated. In fact, Wenger has no real tactics besides a formation and selecting the team. Against small clubs, once Arsenal is winning Wenger will substitute a forward player for a defender, to defend one-zero, there is no hunger to high in case of head to head and for morale.

He never makes changes till the 70th minute no matter how badly a player plays. He never changes formation in between a game. He never yells at the players to charge them up or correct a slump during a game. He would rather struggle with his zipper or complain to the fourth official.

Wenger will never drop a player performing poorly just to protect the prayers’ ego. Ozil. We saw this with Walcott, Gallas, Ramsey, Arteta, Mertasacker and, of recent, Petr Cech. He lacks the balls to make big decisions.

Again, Wenger has rewarded loyal or humble or cool headed players with a starting role even when it is ice clear they do not deserve to play. Imagine the Sunday school approach.

Wenger will never study a team and successfully beat them if they have a big coach or an excellent squad. Since 2006, Barcelona have knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League four times. Bayern Munich easily brush Arsenal aside. And you can count the number of times Arsenal have beaten Chelsea/Man United in the last ten years.

Wenger has never beaten Mourinho in a competitive match inside thirteen years.

Wenger always loses heavily against tactical teams. Take a look:

Against Ferguson, he lost 8-2 (2011).

Against Mourinho, he lost 6-0 (2014)

Against Guardiola, he lost 4-1 (2010); 5-1 (2016)

Against Ancelotti, he lost 5-1 (last night).

It is not coincidental.

Even if you argue that the squad is poor, it is Wenger’s squad, he built them, he selected them, he prepared the formation and it is entirely his duty to bring out the best in them.

Look at Dortmund and Atletico. They don’t have a better team than Arsenal but their teams are more organised, tighter and their teams have beaten these teams that have humiliated Arsenal above. The difference is the bench.

Look at this squad, we don’t seem to be deficient in any section. The problem is about applying the players judiciously. Motivating them and keeping their morale super high. Wenger has consistently demonstrated he is incapable of doing these.

Wenger has too much power and Arsenal board are too timid to hold him accountable, they are too petty to take any success above the trophy of top four. They have no balls.

Wenger Must Go

The only reason he shouldn’t be sacked right away is for old time’s sake. Let him finish this season then get out with his ineffective midas touch.

Most people who are reluctant to see Wenger go want Wenger to leave with a bam, covered in glory. Haha. But the more we wait for Wenger to leave gloriously, the deeper we sink in the quagmire that he allowed develop under his nose.

Others point at Man United and wave their struggles in our face as what Arsenal stands to suffer when Wenger leaves. Not necessarily. We mustn’t suffer like Man United if Wenger leaves. And even if we will suffer when he leaves, I vote that he leaves immediately. The earlier the suffering, the sooner we’ll get to fix it. Because Wenger must eventually leave!

And what is this we will suffer? A lost of champions league football. Nonsense. We have never won the champions league, we haven’t gone past the round of 16 this decade, so what have we lost? I could exchange not filling the attendance form of the champions league between 2010 and 2014 in exchange for one league title. Just one. Anything but this annual disgrace every February.

We Need a Fresh Man

Personally, I will go for Thierry Henry. He has played for Arsenal, he loves the club, he has played under great mangers, in three big leagues, and has a winning mentality that we so lack. He would turn our club around. Simeone is another person who would charge Arsenal up. AC Milan might take him this summer. No cry. There are quite a number of managers in Italy, Spain and Germany who would turn this club around and turn it around for good. If the person fails we can always fire him and take another.

No? You want consistency? I also want consistency but not the consistency of one coach who specialises in losing. Chelsea, Man City and Madrid are a bunch of sacking clubs. Compare their trophy cabins with Arsenal’s in the last ten years.

Other Changes

Ozil should go. He must this summer. He is a good player but he is a luxury we can’t afford. Ozil only functions in a 4:2:3:1 formation as the foremost man behind the striker.  in a 4:4:2 Ozil will be lost, in a 4:3:3, Ozil can’t be found. Let’s not even think of a 3:4:3 formation or 4:1:4:1.

In the pitch Ozil doesn’t show the grit of winners. He is easily frustrated and it doesn’t take a lot to hide him in a match. Deny him the ball for fifteen minutes or man-mark him for twice that time and Ozil’s match is over.

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Ozil is Arsenal’s biggest name, most expensive player and most adored idol. But consistently, when he is most needed, he betrays the trust and hope the fans have on him.

Dropping Ozil to the bench might destabilise the team. The press won’t stop talking about ‘Ozil dropped again’ and linking him with other clubs. He should go. It will serve as a warning and a lesson for incoming Arsenal superstars. Perform or get out. We mean business, Arsenal is not a nursery of egos and over pampered adults.

Others like Ramsey, Walcott, Mertasacker, Gabriel must follow suit. Enough of the underachieving. We need fighters (have you noticed how opponents will surround an Arsenal player pushing him around and no Arsenal player will come to his aid?).

And whatever it costs Arsenal must keep Sanchez, for one more season at least. The new coach will need his fighter spirit and hustling to steady the ship.

My Argument

Arsenal is an ogbanje that comes bubbling with energy and eventually dies off every season. We the mother and family are tired. We need a new witch-doctor that would seize this child and design its body with a razor of determination and winning mentality. We love Arsenal and we’ll rather see a mutilated Arsenal competing strongly than a beautiful Arsenal that is a laughing stock of other fans.

I am outta here.

Tweet me @Oke4chukwu

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EPL Preview: Chelsea to Win, Question Marks for Mourinho, Man City, Arsenal

 

The last time I had anything to do with football review was in March 2015. being a while, you can say that again. Let’s get to business.

Saturday, 15 Oct., 2016

Chelsea V Leicester City, 12.30PM

This lunchtime match is set to produce mouth-watering sparks, a must-watch and if it plays out like their EFL cup match of last month then it is worth missing lunch for. Shame this one cannot go for 120 minutes. Leicester are learning that premiership hates fairytale, although Chelsea ain’t bourgeoning people I expect this to be another big match that will show Leicester that their miracle ended in May. Costa to score.

Final Score 3:1 #CheLei

Arsenal V Swansea, 3.00PM

The last two times this Welsh club came to the Emirates they left with a whopping six-points sauce. Arsenal usually finds it difficult handling the deep-seating fluid game of Swansea. Now they have a new coach in Bob Bradley and they should get something out of this. Arsenal are in descending form, beat Chelsea 3-0 (hot), beat Basel 2-0 (warm), beat Burnley 1-0 (lukewarm). A cold (draw) will complete this circle. And remember Fabiansky usually becomes invisible against his former employers. I see a score draw, I hope I’m wrong.

Final Score 2-2 #ArsSwa

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Bournemouth V Hull, 3.00Pm

No one in the Milky Way cares about this match, except you nairabetters. Ok, ok, the match will be played for ninety minutes that I am sure. Uhm, er, I think the home side will win. Don’t bet on it.

Final score 2-1 #BouHul

Man City V Everton, 3.00PM

Now the league has begun for Guardiola; premiership, he has seen, is no expressway to be sped through. There are bumps and potholes. A reality check from Spurs last week might see a change of approach from the blue side of Manchester still lacking the magic wand of De Bruyne. Everton’s brilliant start under Koeman will face its stiffest test yet. It will be entertaining but Aguero’s genius might prove the slight difference. A cracker, this one.

Final Score 3-2 #MciEve

Stock V Sunderland, 3.00PM

The top of the table battle, if you turn the table upside side, sees perennial relegation battlers Sunderland visit the Britannia.  Coached by David Moyes (Ferguson’s kinsman and chosen one), who has being dismissed as a small club coach and who is proving that even that is a generous praise, Sunderland would be happy with a draw. But Stock who took an undeserved point in Old Trafford a fortnight ago should be too motivated for shared spoils.

Final Score 2-1 #StoSun

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West Brom V Tottenham, 3.00PM

West Brom are nineth in the table with nine points after seven games, not bad for them but they are going to answer the call when Pochettino’s brigade stands at the door and knocks. Dele Alli, Sun and co will have a lot of questions for Tony Pulis’ boys when the door is opened. I doubt if the West Midlands club can proffer all the answers for them. They will lose this and it doesn’t make them bad, not that a win will make Spurs finish above Arsenal in May.

Final Score 1-3 #WbaTot

Crystal Palace V West Ham, 5.30PM

West Ham are having a nightmare. Their worst start in the league in thirty years is set for an extension in this London derby. The brilliance of Payet and Mitchail Antonio’s big head will still fall short. Slaven Bilik’s poor form won’t continue forever but will it end in Selhurst Park on saturday? The safest bet is for a Palace win but I have a hunch West Ham will get something from this one.

Final Score 3-3, #CryWha

 Sunday, 16, Oct., 2016

Middlesborough V Watford, 1.30PM

A one-all draw in West Ham last week is a fair result and seeing how Watford almost lost at home last match this battle seems to favour the Boro. Although Watford haven’t found their form since they earn a season highlight victory over Man Utd, I think one of Deeney, Ighalo and Isaac Success (they say he is injured, lies) should trouble Aitor Karanka’s backline.

Final Score 1-1 #MidWat

Southampton V Burnley, 4.00PM

I don’t see Burnley getting anything from this one, period (not in Donald trump’s voice.

Final Score 3-0 #SouBun

Monday, 17 Oct., 2016

Liverpool V Man Utd, 7.45PM

It feels like Christmas for Man Utd foes as pundits rule them out of top four finish. Mourinho’s haters should be giddy with joy. So much have been said about Klop’s chemistry with his player, the hugs, the hand holding and all. They have beaten all the big teams this season, that is if you count Leicester and Chelsea as big teams, and their 4-3 victory at the emirates is a preseason match according to the epistle Wenger wrote to the Inefficians. Mourinho and Pogba are yet to convince but Mourinho is a tactician and should out-fox Klop in this one. It doesn’t look llike it but with Mourinho most surprises are possible. Fancy Rooney with another false assist.

Final Score 1-2 #LivMun

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