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Dropping Alexandre Lacazette? Arsene Wenger has lost the plot

Dropping Lacazette? Wenger has lost the plot

06/11/2017 at 11:21Updated 06/11/2017 at 11:50

Arsenal’s joke status shows no sign of ending after Arsene Wenger benched record signing Alexandre Lacazette for the trip to Manchester City.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Arsenal fell to a predictable defeat at runaway leaders Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday – although the 3-1 loss was tinged with controversy.

Gabriel Jesus’ third goal was blatantly offside at the Etihad Stadium, while Gunners manager Arsene Wenger was also aggrieved at Raheem Sterling’s role in winning a second-half penalty, saying the winger "dives well".

Arsenal's fourth defeat of the season left them 12 points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s side in the Premier League and level on points with Burnley.

In truth, the hullabaloo over offsides and penalties only swerved from the true narrative: Arsenal are no longer a force in the top-flight – and they haven’t been for some time.

Video - #WengerOut: Episode 481

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WHERE WAS LACAZETTE?

Social media was awash with dismay when the team sheet landed.

Not only was Francis Coquelin recruited into a makeshift back three, but there was no place for £46.5 million man Alexandre Lacazette as Alexis Sanchez was preferred in attack.

Lacazette was eventually called upon from the bench, halving the deficit before Jesus’ third goal, as his impressive cameo helped further alienate a disgruntled fanbase.

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebrates

Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal celebratesGetty Images

THE PUNDITS ON LACAZETTE

Alan Shearer, Match of the Day 2: "You spend £50m on a striker and think he will make the difference in the big games. He has scored six league goals, more than double anyone else in that Arsenal team.

"He [Wenger] played Sanchez today, who doesn't want to commit himself to the football club, what does that say to Lacazette and his team-mates? He has got every right to go and knock on Wenger's door tomorrow and say, 'do you not fancy me or something?'"

Ian Wright: "He must be thinking what he has to do to get in this team, especially when he's watching how poorly Sanchez is playing. It must be so frustrating for him."

FANS SENT INTO MELTDOWN

YET ANOTHER REASON TO SACK WENGER

‘Be careful what you wish for’ no longer applies to Arsenal. It’s almost impossible for them to get worse under a new manager. How long can Wenger hide behind his Invincibles triumph?

Fair enough, if Sanchez was in scintillating form and playing at 100%, few would argue with the decision to start him – contract dispute or not. But Arsenal are locked in a ridiculous situation where their prized asset is not only refusing to sign a new contract, but is utterly detached from his club’s struggles, sauntering around with only a modicum of interest.

And yet the Chilean is still Wenger’s preferred candidate for the biggest matches, with Sanchez also getting the nod over Lacazette in the 4-0 defeat at Anfield in August. But the stats don't lie: he has just one league goal this season.

Perhaps the most damning indictment of Arsenal’s deterioration occurred without them kicking a ball. While the Gunners were negotiating Thursday nights in Europe's reserve competition, Tottenham proved how to compete in the Champions League by taking four points off Real Madrid. It painted Arsenal’s sorry hidings to Bayern Munich and Co. across the past few seasons in an even darker light.

There isn’t one good argument for keeping Wenger. He’s had so many chances to reshape the club, to prove he can forge a team capable of challenging for the title. Currently, the top four looks beyond them. And if Wenger can’t even find a way of getting his record signing into his team for the biggest matches, then the end must come. And soon.

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