Arsenal slumped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United as boos rang out after Arsene Wenger inexplicably substituted Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the score at 1-1
The nippy, technically astute youngster was having his best ever game in an Arsenal shirt and after much persistence from the hosts, set up striker Robin Van Persie for the equaliser in the second half.
Following the expected rejuvenation which came courtesy of ‘RVP’s’ fine finish and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s equally fine run-turned-assist, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger bizarrely chose to substitute the Arsenal winger to the horror of Gunners fans everywhere.
Thunderous boos rang out with stunned Arsenal (and Manchester United) fans baffled by Wenger’s decision to take off the best player on the pitch.
In came Andriy Arshavin, on stayed the hopelessly ineffective Theo Walcott, and minutes later United winger Antonio Valencia gleefully sidestepped a poor Arshavin tackle to burst into the Arsenal box as Danny Welbeck slammed home the winner.
So Why Did Wenger Take off Oxlade-Chamberlain?
The question on the lips of anybody watching the game is why, oh why did Arsene Wenger take off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain?
The reality is nobody knows. In fact, nobody knows exactly what is running through the mind of the current under-fire Gunners boss.
The North London side slumped to a third straight defeat and remain a full five points behind fourth place Chelsea with qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League again looking ominous.
Theo Walcott Should have Been Subbed
Only a blind man would not have noticed that the person to have taken off was Theo Walcott who, yet again, flattered to deceive in an Arsenal shirt.
This is of course the same Theo Walcott who is regarded as one of the more ‘senior players’ at the Emirates Stadium having spent some six seasons at the club.
Perhaps bringing on Andriy Arshavin was not the problem. It is the fact that the out-of-sorts Russian is terribly ineffective and painfully a shadow of his old self.
The jinking, unpredictable Arshavin who smashed in four against Liverpool in 2009 remains a distant memory much like the 2005 FA Cup final win over Sunday’s conquerors.
Taking off Oxlade-Chamberlain was the number one turning point in the game for Arsenal – a turning point for the worse. The hosts were firmly in the ascendency and controlling the play; looking the most likelier and to compound the madness of the decision, the actual player who came on (Arshavin) was at fault for United’s winner.
Robin Van Perise Reaction To Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Substitution
Managers live and die by their decisions and Arsene Wenger’s actions will kill him. Why? Because Robin Van Persie’s reaction to the substitution.
Baffled, stunned, bemused, worried, call it what you want, it was nevertheless emblematic of the mutual feeling in the mind of the average Arsenal fan.
Arsenal lost, true, but was this also the day were they lost the mercurial Dutchman who, finally, demonstrated a petulance and lack of faith in his coaches’ actions?
No Champions League football next year equals no Van Persie; which equals the end of Arsenal as a Premier League/European Cup chasing outfit.
Why did Arsene Wenger substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain???