Club Focus – Arsenal – International break means the Gunners must wait to move on from Newcastle draw

According to Andrei Arshavin, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was left speechless by the manner of his side’s capitulation against Newcastle United. Whilst this may be the case, it is hard to ignore the possibility that the silence was a calculated ploy from Le Professeur.

The Russian revealed: “He didn’t say anything at all to us,” before surmising: “He was disappointed and distraught too, like any man would be in his shoes and under such circumstances.” Wenger may have been as shell-shocked as the travelling support who witnessed their team cede such a commanding position, yet his tenure indicates a degree of objectivity and detachment from the fervour of the fans. Just over a week ago he resisted strong supporter pressure to reinforce the defence as he felt no suitable candidates were available at a reasonable price – a decision he may come to rue following Johan Djourou’s injury, yet one he was confident enough to take. Rather than lecture his players and lose his increasingly apparent temper – as several abused water bottles this season will attest – Wenger chose to let the players reflect on the disappointing result. The manager’s silence only made the impact of the result resonate deeper within his squad and no amount of barracking or berating would produce the same level of introspection.

Perhaps Arshavin was prompted to over-analyse the situation when concluding: “It was as if there was a magnet behind one of the goals because all eight were scored in it,” yet as the diminutive playmaker pointed out: “We need to analyse that unfortunate match and draw the right conclusions from it.” With the squad poised to break for international duty, the players will have plenty of time to analyse where it all went wrong and have even longer to wait before they can put the disappointing result behind them. Publicly, Wenger declared: “It is difficult at the moment to swallow. But time will help and we will get over that,” and the midweek break may prove a welcome distraction from an overwhelmingly disappointing week.

Given his recent form and Fabio Capello’s admission that he was wrong to omit Theo Walcott from the World Cup squad, the mercurial winger is in confident mood and even saw the positive side of Saturday’s result: “Wolverhampton Wanderers did us a right favour so it’s a gained point… It was a great game for the neutral to watch.” Unsurprisingly the manager also tried to accentuate the positives, lauding his team’s attacking play and first half performance. Yet, the timing of his decision to proclaim Dragan Stojkovic as a worthy successor to his tenure with the Gunners indicates there were not enough positives to mask the disappointment. Stojkovic has just led Wenger’s former club Nagoya Grampus Eight to a J-League title and played under Wenger commented: “We both strive for perfect football.

Far from being speechless, as Arshavin suggests, Wenger appeared well prepared for a disappointing result. How effective his damage limitation has been will only be apparent when his side face giant-killing Wolves on Saturday.

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