If you believe the widespread news reports, Wenger apparently went berserk on the training ground, and let the players know exactly what he thought of their pathetic display against Milan. Wenger’s anger will have reminded them that they are better than what their recent displays suggest. The confidence of this team, since the beginning of the season, has been fragile. This team, despite the obvious weaknesses, has talent, but you would never guess that based on the last two months of football. The Milan loss culminating in what was a very difficult, confidence sapping, period for this Arsenal team.
Wenger’s training ground tirade would have told the players that Arsene Wenger still believes in you. That he expects better from you. We are only disappointed by and get angry at people whom we expect better from. The supporters’ anger can often adversely affect a players’ confidence, because we the fans are not personally connected to the players, nor are we really qualified to judge. Upon hearing jeers from the crowd, the player can explain it away as a misunderstanding, as an unfair attack from a mob. But when your coach, who knows you well, and whom you have respect for as an expert and a teacher, shows anger and disappointment, it can mean nothing else other than the player can do a lot better than he has shown.
I don’t think even for a second that this was Wenger turning on his players. He knows better than to lose patience with the very people that he needs to trust to be successful. No, I think this was Wenger telling the players that the 4-0 scoreline did not do them justice. It was him reminding them that they can do a lot better, and be successful. But they have to start producing results. There can be no excuses, nothing they can hide behind. It really is now or never. Either the players turn their performances around now or face the consequences of a mediocre, embarrassing end to the season, and the prospect of Europa League or no European football altogether.
So I expect the players to respond positively from the 4-0 mauling against Milan. How the match itself will play out doesn’t concern me. We know what to expect from what we saw last week. If Milan has taught me a lesson, it is to not be too optimistic with my predictions. 1-0 to The Arsenal will do for me.