Arsenal Made A Mess Of By Messiís Men
Arsenal’s chase for four trophies has been reduced to a chase for one after they followed their shock Carling Cup final defeat with exits from the FA Cup and Champions League, re-raising the spectre of another trophyless season.
Manager Arsene Wenger let the pressure take its toll after his side failed to muster a shot, on or off target, in their 3-1 Champions League defeat in Barcelona.
And the Gunners supremo faces charges of improper conduct and “inappropriate behaviour” after a blazing post-match row with referee Massimo Busacca.
Meanwhile, his squad has been severely hit by injuries to key players. And Arsenal look likely to turn to veteran former Gunner Jens Lehmann to solve their goalkeeping crisis.
Arsenal remain Manchester United’s closest challengers for the EPL title, three points behind the Red Devils with a game in hand and a goal difference which is only inferior by three. But defeat in the FA Cup quarter-final last Saturday at Old Trafford may have given United a psychological advantage going into the run-in.
Wenger’s outburst in Catalonia came in the wake of striker Robin Van Persie’s dismissal for a second booking when he was adjudged to have shot at goal after being whistled offside.
Wenger accused Uefa of “dictatorship” when he criticised the charge. He added: “I deny completely any charge. It would be good for Uefa to show humility, to apologise, not charge people who have done nothing wrong.” French midfielder Samir Nasri was also charged after Uefa scrutinised Busacca’s match report. The disciplinary hearings take place today (Thursday).
Gunners keeper Wojciech Szczesny dislocated his finger in the Nou Camp and was replaced by Manuel Almunia. Szczesny will be out for six weeks.
Wenger commented: “We need an experienced keeper to cover for Almunia.” And he surprised everyone by approaching the 41-year-old Lehmann, who said: “I jumped at the chance to help them.” Lehmann kept goal during the Arsenal “invincibles’” unbeaten march to the 2004 EPL title but retired from top-class football last year.
Meanwhile Swiss defender Johan Djourou looks likely to miss much of the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder at Old Trafford last Saturday, although there is some dispute between Arsenal and the Swiss national set-up as to the extent of the 24-year-old’s injury.
Arsenal travel to struggling West Bromwich Albion this Saturday afternoon, seeking revenge for the Baggies 3-2 win at the Emirates last September.
Tags: Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, Gunners, Jens Lehmann, EPL, Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri