It's time to back Wenger

Published: Monday, 28 August 2017

It was nearly everything and more that every pundit and headline writer was screaming at us this weekend. Arsenal were awful at Anfield. Best headline incidentally - my vote goes to the Daily Mail - 'Kop 4 Keystone Kops 0'. Brilliant!

So now a lot of the immediate hysterical reaction has subsided what are we to make of arguably the most inept performance I've seen from a top 6 side in PL history? There's no hiding from it - it was rank. I watched wondering whether those in Arsenal shirts had downed tools and were beginning the process of playing Wenger out of office. We've seen many examples of it in recent seasons - and there's precedent at Arsenal when the players at the time saw off Bruce Rioch.

Let's not pretend, Arsenal have a massive problem and it's all of their own making, but I don't want to be too critical. Here's why. In an era when we criticise almost everybody involved in the game for a lack of loyalty and respect, Arsene Wenger is unique. He loves Arsenal. It was put to me at the weekend, from a very respectable Arsenal source, that the Frenchman is 'caught up in a love affair' with the club. Well I don't have a problem with that. Good on him, but isn't it often the case that many of us lose sight of reality in that situation?

Wenger changed Arsenal. I'd go so far as to say he did the same across the English game. He's a gentleman and fascinating to listen to, but was he right to stay on last summer?

I never had a doubt that he would. I don't accept the theory that there's 'ten million reasons a year' why he would. Wenger is rich beyond his wildest expectation and had he walked away he'd probably be earning more somewhere else. No. He simply loves Arsenal.

The bigger question is 'should he have been given the chance to stay?' That's another matter altogether. But who was going to tell him it was time to go? And was it?

Football is not a perfect science. There are so many factors that can bite you just when everything seems to be going so well.

Those who believe in 'loyalty' should back Wenger's stance on Sanchez. I don't. I'd sell. The truth is Sanchez left Arsenal three months ago. He's a distraction in the dressing room in exactly the same way as the uncertainty surrounding Wenger was last season. Get rid of Sanchez. Take Aguero in exchange if you can - if not, take City's money. I still believe they will, but this should've been done so much earlier in the summer.

What chance Wenger will re-think and walk? For me, none. Not only is he a proud man, a man in love, he's also a stubborn man. So Arsenal fans and their Board got to back him. What choice is there? Exactly. None.

Liverpool were ruthless, but as John Barnes said on beINSports, it's really hard to judge a performance like that when the opposition were so poor. He went on to say 'let's judge them against West Brom'. I know what he means - teams that sit in and make life really difficult. Even so, I thought Licerpool were terrific and the win allowed Jurgen Klopp to escape further scrutiny as to why he left Simon Mignolet out. Did he rest him? No chance. I hear Simon was a naughty boy and stayed up late  Saturday night for some reason!

I've been very complimentary about our officials so far this season. I think they've done really well. Of course, they're never going to get everything right but there hasn't been too many howlers - until the weekend. Mike Dean - why didn't you just blow your whistle once you'd gone beyond the allotted five minutes that you'd added at Bournemouth? All the trouble that followed was Dean's fault. He looked intimidated by Pep Guardiola on the touchline and he definitely was by City on the pitch in those dying minutes. As for Asmir Begovic calling for an inquiry into why the big teams always get the big decisions - forget it Asmir. It's an historical thing and it won't change now. But was it a foul by Lys Mousset on Otamendi on the half way line? Was it hell. The winning goal came from it. Bournemouth were hard done by. But once again City did what was asked of them.

A special mention for Tony Pulis. Here's a guy that's been beaten as black and blue as the Baggies kit down the years! What a start Tony. Fantastic. I was equally pleased for Mark Hughes and his 'Tafia'. Hughes has also been the target of much unwarranted criticism this season.

I predicted a struggle for Palace. In fact, regulars will know I had them down as one of my bottom 3 before a ball was kicked. This is no reflection on Frank de Boer, quite obviously a talented coach, but he and Palace are not a fit. I believe the Palace hierarchy are beginning to think the same.

Well done The Toon. It was a much needed win v West Ham. I said on Twitter Saturday afternoon I thought West Ham were 'unlucky'. Let me explain with more than 140 characters. Not 'unlucky' because they got beaten, but having correctly seen Arnautovic sent off last week they had good reason to complain that Mitrovic should've gone for his challenge on Lanzini. Judge for yourselves.

Naughty. And the difference between that and what Arnautovic did? The score was 2-0 when Mitrovic scored a goal he shouldn't have been on the pitch to get and I'm not suggesting him being sent off would've affected the outcome, but we want consistency.

So the window 'slams shut' Thursday! Why does it always 'slam' shut? Why can't it just close? I expect hundreds of millions to change hands yet. Will all the deals get done that we were told might? No, they won't, but it doesn't mean to say they haven't been discussed. Had Real Madrid got Mbappe then United would've got Bale. They still might, but it's less and less likely.

Do Barca get Coutinho? Well if they don't now, chances are they will going forward. They got Suarez didn't they?  Do City get Sanchez? Watch this space. In the meantime, it's time for Arsenal fans to lick their wounds and stand by their man. It's time to back Wenger, whatever he decides to do. Read that last line carefully.