Was The Crystal Palace Loss Our Worst Under Wenger?

I know your mind is reluctant to revisit trauma. It is the brain’s way of protecting you from reopening old wounds. To ensure you carry on, no matter what is inflicted upon you.

Being a Gooner means that your grey matter has a full inventory to deal with, an ever-increasing storage space jam-packed with terrors that will make your goosebumps get goosebumps. We have a huge array of horrific moments that have unfolded on the pitch to choose from if we wish to open Pandora’s Box, and some of them really should be  forever consigned to the darkest depths of memory.

Under Wenger, we were fortunate enough in the first decade of his Arsenal stay, to be able to inflict these painful defeats unto other teams. In the last five or six seasons however, these scorelines have been reversed with a distressing raised frequency. What first appeared to be anomalies have begun to occur not quite with regularity, but often enough to raise worry amongst us all. 

This season, we have seen some truly erroneous displays and scorelines. There was our humbling at the hands of mid-table West Brom. There was the double 5-1 hammerings at the hands of Bayern Munich. That is just this season. 

We have had the 5-0 and 5-1 losses to Chelsea and Liverpool to stomach in the last few years. There have been real shockers when we were defeated by Bradford, Birmingham, Olympiakos. We have had more nightmares than Sean Spicer’s Twitter account.

Our recent spanking via the hand of Crystal Palace resonates more than most though. The Eagles comprehensively dismantled our brittle side with desire, precision and technique. They made us look like lower league opponents. They left our apparent ‘world class’ superstars looking like lost children.

What was most disconcerting about this game was the lack of wanting from our players. The first half saw perhaps only Mohamed Elneny and Nacho Monreal, along with Emi Martinez, go into the dressing room at half time with any semblance of pride.

The second half stripped them of that emphatically. The second forty five minutes should have seen a different Arsenal take to the pitch, frantically covering every blade of grass and squeezing the home side into their box as we search for an equaliser. 

Instead, what we were given was a timid Gunners side who were bested in every area of the pitch. We were second best in every vital part of the game. Simple five yard passes went astray. Chasing back to aid defensive efforts were lame and uncoordinated.There was zero effort put into pressing the Eagles. It was plain awful.

This was a side that included some stellar names and proven Premier League, Champions League and international players. They were playing against a team that had never beaten Arsene Wenger in the top flight. The Eagles were battling to avoid relegation and by the end whistle, the roles had seemingly reversed.
It was so comprehensive, so emphatic, that there could be no excuse. Theo Walcott, captain for the game, rightly or wrongly called it like he saw it in the post-match interview, stating that ‘Crystal Palace wanted it more.’ There was fury regarding his comments, but this was not becuase of his candid comments. It was due to the fact that it was true – and that is far from acceptable.

Most consider our 8-2 hammering to Man Utd in 2011 to be the biggest blot in Wenger’s results copybook.  The six goal gap, but especially the way United – once our rivals but now light years ahead – swatted us aside was humiliating. 

The fact is though, that United were one of the best teams in Europe at the time, and we were still floundering in footballing purgatory in a vain attempt to balance books. 

The 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace was with our strongest squad since 2005. It was against a side we are expected to defeat. It was a game that had the onus on our side to show our credentials. The motivation to win was obvious. We should not have lacked any fight whatsoever. 

This is why this embarrassing defeat was the worst we have suffered under Wenger. 

This is why it will need a separate room in your mind to house it. It cannot be forgotten, only hidden from view. 

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