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The FA Cup Fourth Round

Wenger was right to rotate

FanZone's Arsenal blogger JC insists all is not lost for the Gunners and blasts the boo boys who berated their side at The Emirates.

Last Updated: 19/02/13 at 11:46 Post Comment

Arsene Wenger: Criticism unfair

Arsene Wenger: Criticism unfair

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After another painful cup exit at the hands of lower league opposition, the media tirade was inevitable. Pundits, journalists, ex-players, and fans are all running around screaming bloody murder. We are a club in crisis; Arsene Wenger has completely and utterly lost the plot; the sky is falling down at The Emirates.

It would all be terribly troubling, if any of it were actually true. So I'm sorry to all the drama queens reading this, but I'm going to hit you with a bit of reality.

Let's start with this whole 'club in crisis' nonsense shall we? I'm not entirely sure if it's simply their love for hyperbole or whether they don't actually know what the word means, but those who claim we are in crisis always sound to me as if they are entirely oblivious to the world outside of Ashburton Grove.

Even if we forget about what the rest of the world is going through, and focus solely on our favourite little bubble that is football, we are still not a club in crisis. Nowhere near actually.

Glasgow Rangers are a club in crisis. Portsmouth, languishing at the foot of League One, are in crisis. Leeds United between the years of 2001 and 2007 (when they fell from Champions League semi-finalists to relegation from the Championship) were a club in crisis. Those situations, those clubs, that is what crisis means in football.

I mean, we're not even doing as bad as 'the other club' on Merseyside did back in 2009-2010 - when they finished 7th and decided to sack Rafa Benitez. And we all know how well things have gone for them since then.

In terms of Saturday and the defeat to Blackburn, most complaints seem to be about team selection. Frankly, as I said in my previous post, I think Wenger was right to rotate the squad. Paul Merson posed the question of why we didn't start with our best possible team and then take players off once you're 2-0 or 3-0 up.

Well, for one, you can only take 3 players off and Arsene wanted to rest six - Mertesacker, Sagna, Cazorla, Wilshere, Podolski and Walcott. Secondly, we may have never been 2-0 or 3-0 up. Football is unpredictable like that.

And you can bet your bottom dollar that had Wenger sent out his strongest side and someone, say Jack Wilshere, got injured, regardless of whether we won the match or not, people like Merson would be hammering Arsene for risking his big guns in such a game. 'It's an unnecessary risk to take. It's only the FA Cup, it's only Blackburn,' they would say. Sometimes there is just no pleasing people.

Let's be honest, even with rotation, the 11 he sent out should still be making fairly light work of Blackburn. Of all the fringe players who were given a chance to impress, only our Little Mozart did himself any form of justice.

While the players did let themselves down though, this is where one of my few issues with Wenger lies. His reason for not spending more in the winter transfer window was that it is hard to find players of a quality better than that which we already have.

While the difficulties of January shopping are well documented, and the quality argument may be true of our starting eleven (unless you are willing to shop in the £20-30million range, which Arsenal never have been), I fail to see how it is a struggle to find a forward of a better quality than Gervinho. Or midfield muscle more reliable than Abou Diaby. Or a utility player more gifted than Francis Coquelin.

On their day, the first eleven can be menacing. It is the fringes of the squad that needed most attention in January.

But as Wenger said, the season is not over. I understand that fans have a right to vent their frustrations and boo, but just because you have the right to do something doesn't make it the right thing to do. Booing just creates a hostile atmosphere and that is far more detrimental to performances than it is helpful.

We are still in with a good shout for the 'like a trophy' spots and, more immediately, the players will need all the support they can get for the Bayern battle on Tuesday night.

By JC London, FanZone's Arsenal blogger. Follow @FanZone on Twitter!

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