Tuesday 20 August 2019

John Giles: Arsene Wenger looks weak after Alex Iwobi incident

Alex Iwobi and (inset) Arsene Wenger
Alex Iwobi and (inset) Arsene Wenger

John Giles

I was very surprised and disappointed to see that Arsene Wenger was happy to pick Alex Iwobi in the team which drew against Chelsea in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final in midweek.

Iwobi's discipline lapsed badly in the run-up to the FA Cup tie against Notts Forest which Arsenal lost 4-2 and despite that, Wenger felt it was fine to pick him twice in four days.

He has used Iwobi regularly in the last few months so this is no bit-part, fringe player, called in at the last minute to fill a gap. Even if he was, there is no excuse for what he did.

I must say, this looks very bad for Wenger. This is the man who revolutionised English football by meeting a partying culture at Arsenal head on with new ideas about training, diet and physical and mental preparation.

His methods produced unprecedented results for Gunners fans who have stuck with him patiently for a long, long time and must now be very concerned indeed to see incidents like this on top of some less than committed performances on the pitch.

Arsenal have been in something of a mess since the summer and it is hard to avoid the reality that Wenger's grip on the club is slipping and that standards have dropped.

By no stretch of the imagination does Iwobi's behaviour 48 hours before a game fit in with Wenger's vision of how professional footballers should live their lives and it points to an absence of control at the club.

It sends a very bad message to all the other young players at Arsenal, particularly those who behave themselves and now see someone being rewarded for going on a night out so close to a game.

Wenger has always prided himself on his ability to develop young players into mature young adults as well as good footballers.

By giving Iwobi a pass and letting a principle slide, Wenger's hold on his squad looks weak.

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