Arsène Wenger’s final year in charge of Arsenal FC will end without silverware. The Gunners lost the Europa League semifinal to Atlético Madrid on aggregate 2-1. Now, with Laurent Koscielny on the treatment table and Mesut Özil’s character under attack, insults and injury plague the Emirates.
Arsenal are Knocked Out Amid Insults and Injury
The second leg got off on the wrong foot fort he visiting team again. In the first leg, Atlético Madrid saw their right-back Sime Vrsaljko sent off in less than ten minutes. In the second, Arsenal saw Laurent Koscielny stretchered off in less than fifteen.
Wenger confirmed after the match that it is an Achilles problem for the French defender. The veteran Koscielny has struggled mightily with injuries this season, and his very Arsenal career seems in doubt if he cannot regain fitness.
From the Arsenal website,
“It (the injury) doesn’t look very good. His Achilles is… You can always hope for a miracle in the scan that he will have, but the first signs don’t look very good.
It looks like it could be that (a rupture). I’m a bit cautious (about confirming that) because nobody could say that without looking at it clinically.
That (his World Cup chances) depends on the scan; if he has a ruptured Achilles his chances are non-existent. We will know more after the scan.”
Just as it is a cruel yet deserved fate for Wenger to leave Arsenal after a trophyless season, it is cruel yet deserved that Koscielny, once one of the Premiership’s best defenders, will miss his final last World Cup through injury.
Not Fit to Wear the Shirt
Meanwhile, Mesut Özil’s character is under question yet again. This time, it is former Arsenal man Martin Keown doing the attacking. According to him, the German playmaker is not fit to wear the shirt,
“These are crocodile tears I’m seeing. He’s not conning me. I bet he doesn’t play again this season. He will have some emotional breakdown and won’t be able to play at the weekend. He wasn’t fit to wear the shirt for me tonight, and I have seen this a lot this season.”
Time and time again pundits find fault with Özil and his perceived lack of work ethic. However, adding insults and injury after a major defeat is surely not productive.
Anyway, it seems Mesut is being labelled a scapegoat. Whenever a top club does not perform, a witch hunt always ensues. Whether it is Wenger’s lack of tactical nuance, Alexis’ ball-hogging or Özil’s work ethic, there is always a neat and tidy answer to all of the team’s problem.
Bigger Than One Man
However, this is too simplistic to be the real issue. Just as a club’s performance is only down to the manager so much, so too is a team’s loss down to one player so much.
If Koscielny and Mustafi could have stopped Griezeman’s goal in the first leg, it would be a different tie. If the team had put away one of several missed chances in the first match, it would be a different tie. And, if Aubameyang was available it would be a different tie.
But, none of those things came to pass. We must remember that, like any other club, Arsenal is bigger than one man. Through insults and injury, every player is accountable and every loss is down to eleven men, not just one.
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