What have we learned since Arsenal lost to Stoke City?
Rewind back over a week and Arsenal fans were calling for Arsene Wenger’s head. The 3-2 loss to Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium left the Gunners deflated. Since that debilitating defeat, the north London club have responded in style, netting eight goals and conceding just two.
They are odds-on at 2/5 with Coral to do what comes naturally and finish in the Premier League top four this season. Following the result in Stoke, after which Wenger had abuse hurled at him in the train station, the last place they would have wanted to go was Turkey.
However, it could have been a blessing in disguise. It is likely that there wouldn’t have been any difference in terms of the crowd they faced in terms of hostility whether at the Emirates or the Turk Telekom Arena, three days after the trip to Stoke.
Crushing Galatasaray 4-1 was the perfect response. A brace from Aaron Ramsey, which included what is arguably the goal of the season so far, showed that the midfielder can step up when it matters. Lukas Podolski also struck twice, proving that he could well have a future at the Emirates, following reports that he may move away in January.
Following on from this, they welcomed an in-form Newcastle side to the Emirates and recorded another 4-1 victory. Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud both showed that they will be important players for the Gunners going forward, after scoring two superbly taken goals apiece.
Throughout all of this, however, we have learned that Wenger’s players are 100 per cent behind their manager and accept full responsibility for what happens on the pitch.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is a doubt for the match against Liverpool with a groin strain, has spoken in support of his manager. “It’s a hard one for me to say what I would say to the fans,” the player said. “I understand their frustration. I would definitely say that and they are completely entitled to their own opinion. They pay good money to follow us around and support their club.
“I am sure they have supported us for a number of years so they are definitely entitled to their opinion and I can understand their frustration. But I wouldn’t put that on the manager. We have to stand up ourselves as players.
“On that day [at Stoke], it wasn’t the manager’s fault we went 3-0 down like we did in the first half. It was us as a group of players — we were not at the required level. On that day, it would have been harsh for a fan to completely blame our manager. As players, we are adults and we need to stand up and take some of that blame ourselves,” he continued.
“All I can say is from my point of view, Arsene Wenger is an unbelievable man off the pitch and as a manager. He’s been brilliant for me in my career and I can say that for a number of players at this club. He has helped us massively and so it is not just him to blame when things go wrong.
“It is us as well as footballers to take responsibility but he would say the same thing in the same position as me [speaking publicly]. I am sure he will take responsibility because that’s what a great manager he is. All of us as a group need to work together to make things go the right way and we are trying to do that.”