Premier League wrap: More misery for Benítez and Wenger
Both Rafael Benítez and Arsene Wenger are left facing unrest from fans after Chelsea and Arsenal both lost at the weekend
After 16 minutes in each of the three games since Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by Chelsea last month, the fans have chanted: “There’s only one Di Matteo” in unity. Rafael Benítez doesn’t stand a chance.
He was booed as soon as he entered the dugout for his first game – and an inspired West Ham comeback on Saturday pushed Benítez into further trouble and further verbal bombardment from the Chelsea faithful.
Blues fans must change their approach. Roman Abramovich is clearly not going to sack Benítez after only three games, despite the dire performances, although the erratic Russian must regret his decision to hire the ex-Liverpool boss now.
The squad has an abundance of talent but won’t be able to prosper in such a hostile environment.
The former Liverpool manager is a tactician. What Chelsea really needed was someone to come in and react to their slump in form and get the players motivated – because up until a month ago they were playing sensational football, with the attacking trio behind Fernando Torres really impressing.
The Blues now haven’t won a Premier League match in seven, their worst run since 1995 which is compounded by Torres’ goal drought. He’s gone 12 hours and 19 minutes in the league without a goal.
Torres needs to put more in, look desperate to get on the ball and sprint into free space. Instead, the Spaniard floats around and acts like a petulant child whenever he is tackled.
In his defence, the service from the midfield has been below par recently but at some point Benítez will have to acknowledge that Torres, has become a shell of his former self over the past 20 months .
The transfer window will be intriguing at Chelsea, that’s even if Benítez remains in charge.
It’s clear they must invest in a striker to either replace or compete with Torres. The lack of product from Daniel Sturridge means Torres is comfortable, with no-one hot on his heels.
First, Benítez must get results as soon as possible, with Chelsea 10 points behind league leaders Manchester United.
Rather like Benítez, another manager desperate for results and being met with a cacophony of boos is Arsene Wenger.
Now, the Arsenal boss certainly isn’t an interim manager but he is enduring his worst start to a league season in his 16-year reign at the north London club. The Gunners can definitely forget about challenging for the title, languishing down in 10th – and once again the top four is the season’s aspirations.
Michu was absolutely outstanding for Swansea at The Emirates but for all the praise for the Welsh side, it can’t cover up how stale, predictable and pedestrian Arsenal were.
The finishing is comical, with Gervinho an embarrassment when you look back to recent Arsenal legends such as Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry.
The midfield lacks pace and creativity. Wenger might be correct in suggesting the Gunners are jaded but the fight isn’t there. Jack Wilshere has returned from injury, showing his class but few in the Arsenal side are matching his grit and passion.
The same problems of the past few seasons remain for the Gunners on the pitch, particularly in defence, but what is new is the sustained anger from the fans.
Last season when Arsenal had a dismal start, sections of supporters turned on Wenger but the Frenchman managed to turn it around and guide them up to a respectable third-place finish.
Despite reaching the last 16 of the Champions League for a 13 consecutive season, the league form has once again suffered. Can Arsenal now be seen as title contenders? No. The resurgent Tottenham and the consistency of Everton is presenting Wenger with his toughest challenge yet.
Unlike Benítez, it is unlikely Wenger will lose his job, but he has to turn around Arsenal’s league form quickly against West Brom on Saturday otherwise he could face an increased supporter backlash.
‘In Wenger we trust’ is the motto. Will it stand for much longer?