The week in Arsenal: "Pathetic capitulations" haunt the Gunners again

As part of a new series on FourFourTwo, Andrew Mangan – a writer from the popular Arseblog site – reports on yet another disappointing overall display from Arsene Wenger's Gunners...

The week in five words

Typical Arsenal, blowing it again

What went well

The first 40 minutes against West Ham were an extension of what we saw against Everton and Watford. Arsenal played well and cleverly, exposing West Ham’s backline time and again. Alex Iwobi got two assists and the goals from Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez put them in the perfect position to go on and win the game. 

Having then fallen behind, I suppose you could be kind and say they showed some character to come back into it, but the reality is they should never have let that happen in the first place.

What didn’t

When you’re 2-0 up and go down to 3-2 in eight minutes of game play, you have to question the team’s concentration. Rather than seeing the first half out by playing sensibly, they left themselves wide open to the kind of attacks that Andy Carroll thrives on. 

There wasn’t enough pressure on the men supplying the crosses and the central defensive pairing of Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel was unable to cope with the balls coming into the box. The Brazilian in particular seemed completely befuddled by what was going around him.

It’s the eighth time this season Arsenal have conceded three goals or more in a game and Arsene Wenger’s admission afterwards that a season long inability to deal with the aerial threat of their opponents begs the question why he hasn’t done more to solve that particular problem. 

All in all, a classic case of Arsenal putting themselves in a great position, then self-destructing.

Doesn't the fault ultimately lie with the manager?

Quote of the week 

Speaking after the game, Arsene Wenger said of the threat of Andy Carroll: "We should have made life a bit more difficult for him. On the first, second and third goal, we were a bit naive defensively.”

Just the three goals then. 

The need-to-know facts

  • Andy Carroll is the first Premier League player to score a hat-trick v Arsenal since Wayne Rooney in August 2011.
  • Carroll’s hat-trick was the fastest in the Premier League this season at seven minutes and 14 seconds (between first and third goals).
  • Mesut Ozil has scored six times for Arsenal this season, his best return in a Premier League season for the club.
  • Alex Iwobi has scored twice and assisted another two goals in his first three PL starts for Arsenal.
  • The Hammers are unbeaten in their last 14 home games (W7 D7), the longest such current run in the top-flight.
  • This is the first time in the Premier League since November 2012 (v Fulham) that Arsenal have led by two goals and failed to win the match. That game also ended 3-3.

Video/GIF of the week

Winner of the week

Two assists for Alex Iwobi highlighted his growing stature and confidence. You could point to the fact he conceded possession in the build-up to the first West Ham goals, but those were a small part of a much wider failure on Arsenal’s behalf. The 19-year-old created goals for Ozil and Alexis and ended up playing out the game in central midfield as Wenger threw on every forward he had to get a winner. He is a light in the relative darkness. 

Loser of the week

There were individuals who played poorly at Upton Park for Arsenal, but in the end these are Arsene Wenger’s players, bought, picked and trained by him. These kind of results, these pathetic capitulations, have been part and parcel of his teams for the last 10 years. The players are different, the assistant manager is different, the coaches have changed along the way – Wenger is the only constant and ultimately it’s his job to manage his team before and during games. On that basis, he failed on Saturday.