The Arsenal View
Before we welcome Arsenal to Selhurst Park on Monday evening, TEB caught up with Gunners fan Mark Harrison about their season so far and thoughts ahead of the match up.
Q. Let us begin by finding out your views on the game between our two clubs earlier in the season at the Emirates?
I thought Palace let us do what we like to do, and that is play open football without much pressure on us. I was surprised to be honest, because the way to get at this Arsenal team is to go at them and pressure from the start. It didn’t happen, plus we had the referee ignoring the fouls on Wilfried Zaha!
Q. How has the season been since that game?
Not good at all. We are playing the the most tepid football I’ve seen under Arsene Wenger in twenty years. This crop of players lack courage and commitment.
Q. Did the club address all their needs in the January transfer window?
I think so as we have a squad full of internationals, twenty-five of them and talent all over so there was’t much to sort to be honest.
Q. There has been plenty of unrest among the fans over the position of Arsene Wenger at the club but has it been blown out of all proportion or are the fans right to want to have their say?
It is scandalous quite frankly in my opinion. Some of the abuse he’s taken is ridiculous and also extremely embarrassing. Top four for twenty seasons, watching Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in a 60,000 stadium isn’t that bad. I’m not saying he’s above criticism but lets be realistic and respectful of the clubs greatest ever manager.
Q. Should some of the players shoulder some of the blame or is Wenger being rightly criticised?
The players have to shoulder a lot of this in my eyes, they have severely let him down. It’s worse also for him as he’s backed some very average players for a long time and they’ve chucked him under the bus this season if you ask me. Take Theo Walcott. At what other club would you get ten years to become a good player? Not many. He has however been one of the better performers recently. Wenger deserves some criticism for sure, but nothing like he’s getting from a small section of the “support”
Q. Would you like to see Wenger stay or go? If the latter, who would be your pick to replace him?
That’s tough for me. Let’s put it like this, I am open to change, but it has to be right. He’s struggled this season and there is no doubt the younger managers like Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte etc are way ahead now. The biggest problem for me is there is no outstanding candidate I could point to.
Q. If you had the power to make one change to the game of football, what would it be and why?
Has to be television evidence helping referees. The standard of officiating is bad enough as it is, difficult I know for them, but its so frustrating watching them get it wrong week in week out, so every help they can get should be utilised for me.
Q. Is the gap between the Premier League and the Championship growing wider with the latest increase in money now available in the top division?
Yes it is and it’s something I absolutely do not agree with. I think the wealth should be spread far and wide in football, too much greed around. I hate seeing clubs, especially historic ones going out of business almost whilst Premier League clubs pay eighteen year old kids £30,000 a week, it’s wrong.
Q. What is your view on Palace both as a club and how the season has panned out so far?
I think Palace have come a long way in the last five or six years. From administration to the Premier League is no mean feat as so many in that situation go one way, down. So brilliant to see. In terms of this season? Well a tough first half indeed, Alan Pardew outstayed his welcome in the end but I do think clubs are too quick to sack managers so I can see why Steve Parish wanted to back him. However, the change had to be made and Sam Alladyce is a good choice, knows how to keep a team up and and is an organiser and motivator. He’ll do the job for you I’m sure.
Q. Name one player from each team that the opposition should be concerned about.
Easy for me that one. Sanchez for Arsenal, just pure class and for Palace, one of my favourite players outside Arsenal, Zaha, got it all for me.
Q. Your prediction ahead of the game?
I think it will be 2-2.