Arsenal lost 3-1 to Liverpool earlier this weekend, putting their long-running streak of finishing in the top four of the Premier League in real jeopardy in this, quite possibly final season with Arsene Wenger in charge. While the defeat itself wasn’t a surprise — especially given Liverpool’s tendency to play their best against the other top six teams — an Arsenal starting lineup without either Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil, was.
Supposedly, Ozil has an “unknown illness” while Wenger claimed that dropping Alexis was a tactical decision.
“The thinking was that we had to go more direct, to use players who are strong in the air. I have no regrets, except that we lost the game. I don’t deny Alexis Sánchez is a good player, I bought him, and it was not an easy decision to leave him out, but I have to stand by it. I am strong enough and lucid enough to analyse the impact.”
-Arsene Wenger; source: Guardian
If that sounds like it’s nonsense, that’s because it is. According to multiple reports, including the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent, and so on and so forth, Alexis was actually dropped because of a training ground bust-up. (No word on how truthful the Ozil situation might be.)
The 28-year-old Chilean superstar has cut a despondent figure in recent weeks and months, and apparently has had enough of his teammates ineptitude earlier this week, storming out of the training session and then having “angry words” in the dressing room with several players. He’s got hurt feelings, you see, and not just because nobody mentioned his casserole.
Combine all this with Arsenal’s terrible form, the contract situations of both Alexis and Ozil, the questions over Wenger’s future, the questions over Alexis’s attitude, the disillusioned and angry mob in the stands and in front of the fan TV cameras, and you’ve got so much palpable discord even Jose Mourinho might be impressed.
Grab the popcorn, boys and girls.