FURIOUS Arsenal stars are stabbing each other in the back over the club’s dreadful run of form.
The blame game in the Arsenal dressing room began after Brighton condemned them to a fourth successive defeat.
ARSENAL AT WAR
- Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the firing line for going missing against Brighton
- Players fuming at Shkodran Mustafi as he always passes the blame on to others
- Hector Bellerin furious with Arsene Wenger as he was dropped just TWO hours before kick-off
- Wenger rarely reviews games or shows players where they went wrong
- Frenchman's relationships with club directors at rock bottom
- His position is now being reviewed on a game-by-game basis
- Locals in upscale Totteridge - Wenger's home - worry about him being alone
- Potential replacement Mikel Arteta is NOT popular in the dressing room
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is desperately trying to restore team spirit after his angry stars turned on each other after the 2-1 defeat at the Amex.
Mesut Ozil, who recently signed the biggest contract in the history of the club, is in the firing line after another disappearing act.
January signing Henrik Mkhitaryan, struggling to find his feet at Arsenal, is under the spotlight for failing to track runners just as he came up short at Manchester United.
He and Ozil together are a soft under-belly which is being exploited by opponents.
Defender Shkodran Mustafi has also been fingered because he always passes the blame on to other players when Arsenal concede goals.
Hector Bellerin is also furious with Wenger after being axed just two hours before kick-off at Brighton.
Bellerin expected to play after training at right back in the build up to the latest defeat, but was told he was dropped when Wenger announced his team to face the Seagulls.
Wenger is desperate to rebuild team morale, but they are at war with each other after four straight defeats.
Arsenal have no hope of finishing in the top four of the Premier League and face a tough Europa League clash with Milan on Thursday.
Wenger is under massive pressure at Arsenal, but remains hopeful he can still get back into the Champions League if they can go all the way in the Europa.
But without a leader in the side, it appears an uphill task.
Against Brighton they went into the game without an idea.
They had no proper plans to deal with the Seagulls' set-pieces, no specific tactical instructions, no real insight from one of the game’s greatest managers.
Wenger wanted Arsenal’s players to work it out for themselves, to find solutions on the field after three hugely damaging defeats on the trot.
Fine if you have Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry wearing the club’s famous colours.
Not so clever when you are relying on Mustafi, Ozil and Mkhitaryan to get you out of bother.
Wenger’s voice, full of authority and conviction when the Gunners were one of English football’s leading clubs, is losing its impact.
Nobody is listening any more, nobody is really taking any notice.
The only murmur of discontent when Wenger named his side to start at Brighton was from full-back Bellerin.
The defender had trained for two days at right-back in the build-up to their trip to the seaside, but only found out he was out of the team when Wenger named the 11.
Calum Chambers, who played in the previous Sunday’s 3-0 defeat by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley, was suddenly pressed into action.
Bellerin, battered by Arsenal Fan TV for wearing slippers around London, believed he was being made the scapegoat for their dreadful run of form.
In the event, it did not matter what team Wenger put out at the Amex on Sunday lunchtime.
They were destined to lose anyway, beaten for the fourth game in a row after goals from Lewis Dunk and Glenn Murray set Brighton on the way to a 2-1 win.
When they came in at the final whistle Wenger barely said a word, leaving the players to sit and stare vacantly at each other again.
Chris Hughton’s side had done some extra training on set-pieces ahead of Arsenal’s visit, identifying some of the vulnerabilities in this shoddy defence.
Wenger used to have all the answers, passing on tips that turned the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Bobby Pires, Vieira and Henry into world beaters.
When Henry struggled for goals in his first few months in English football, Wenger pulled him to one side and told him to spend more time in the penalty area.
Those little touches, those chats with Wenger on the training ground, made all the difference.
More than two decades into the job, Wenger is starting to doubt his ability to rebuild this troubled club.
He does not review games, seldom showing Arsenal’s players where they went wrong, or telling them what to work on to get back into his team.
It is every man for himself now. The team spirit has been eroded, shredded after their morale-sapping 3-0 defeats by City in Cup and Premier League and the humiliation at home to Swedish minnows Ostersunds in the Europa League.
Arsenal, once a secretive, covert operation, is a leaky bucket now.
Wenger, 68, is all alone. The locals in Wenger’s neighbourhood of Totteridge, the upscale North London suburb that the Frenchman calls home, worry about him.
He often dines on his own, walking into some of the local restaurants instead of spending another night home alone.
Everybody at Arsenal — directors, players, supporters — are turning their backs on him.
He occasionally pops up to the boardroom before matches, spending a few minutes talking to some of the guests on the table reserved in the manager’s name.
Relations with the directors in London — chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Sir Chips Keswick and Lord Harris of Peckham — are not so good.
Wenger’s position is being reviewed on a game-by-game basis, with the names of various potential replacements being bandied freely around the club.
Unlikely as it is, the good work of Sean Dyche has been praised as Burnley close in on a top ten finish in the Premier League.
There are more and more names being thrown into the pot.
Henry, even though he has indicated he would be prepared to take it on, is not under consideration.
There will be surprise at boardroom level about the dressing-room view on their former midfielder Arteta, too.
Arteta, 35, is not popular at the Emirates. The Spaniard, now on Pep Guardiola’s coaching staff at Manchester City, is remembered for being far too happy with himself.
Arsenal’s board is terrified of making this appointment, fearful of the process as they prepare to replace the most successful manager in the club’s history.
They will have to come up with a name soon, identifying the right man to succeed Wenger as manager of this great institution.
Someone will need to come up with a bright idea.