Abject Arsenal display against Schalke will make for turbulent AGM

The Gunners fell to only their second home defeat in 44 Champions League matches on Wednesday as they were punished for a woeful performance with a 2-0 defeat to the German side
By Greg Stobart at Emirates Stadium

Many of the furious Arsenal supporters who streamed out of the Emirates Stadium before the final whistle blew on Wednesday night will be back in similar mood today for the club’s annual general meeting.

It promises to be a particularly uncomfortable day for majority shareholder Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who sat side-by-side in the directors’ box as Arsenal were torn apart by Schalke in an insipid display that ended with the few remaining fans jeering the team off the pitch.

An absolute stinker from the Brazilian. Yes, he was isolated far too often. But he was guilty of frequently ball-watching and just could not cope with Farfan and Ushida's pace.

Guilty of giving the ball away early on which almost led to a penalty for Schalke. Made little impact on the game as Schalke dominated the second half.

At his frustrating best, his movement was good and he had a couple of great chances but dawdled. Looked short of confidence and indecisive. Was rightly booked for a ludicrous dive after he had beaten Jones.
Arsenal should still comfortably qualify from Champions League Group B but their first home defeat in Europe to foreign opposition in nine years will be seen as further evidence of decline, especially after Saturday’s defeat at Norwich.

Arsene Wenger, serving out his touchline ban, could only watch helplessly from the stands as late goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay punished a toothless performance in which they registered just one shot on target. The only surprise was that it took so long for Schalke to find the finishing touch in front of goal.

Fragile at the back and lacking any creativity in attack, the home crowd could not conceal their frustration as the campaign so far begins to represent the usual oscillating season in north London, one that in the last seven years has delivered some promise, plenty of disappointment and no trophies.

With Kieran Gibbs absent through injury, Andre Santos was asked to play at left-back and produced as inept a defensive performance as you will see all season, continually torn to shreds by Jefferson Farfan, Schalke’s effervescent winger.

Perhaps the Brazilian has been walking to training since being banned from driving, because he looked utterly exhausted as he toiled under the lights at the Emirates, gifting the German side chances before being partially responsible for both goals.

At the other end of the pitch, Arsenal’s bluntness in attack was summed up by Gervinho, who was asked to play as the lone striker but for most of the night found himself running down blind alleys and tripping over his own feet.

While the Ivorian may be a useful squad player, but he is not a striker, and fans used to the likes of Ian Wright, Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie responded with ironic cheers when he was finally replaced by Olivier Giroud 15 minutes from time.

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Both Santos and Gervinho, signed in the summer of 2011, highlight the lack of ambition at Arsenal that shareholders will criticise at today’s AGM. They are the type of players that clubs with genuine title ambitions - Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea - would hardly have glanced at.

Incredible signings like Santi Cazorla will keep the Gunners ticking over as Champions League regulars, but he deserves a better squad around him. Otherwise, the Spaniard could join the likes of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song and van Persie in looking for greener grass sooner rather than later.

The frustration is that Arsenal have so much to build on. Off the pitch, they are set up better than any club in the country to deal with Uefa’s Financial Fair Play rules. On it, they have a strong core to the squad and are incredibly consistent, having played in the Champions League for 15 seasons in a row.

Yet they are already ninth in the Premier League table, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, and supporters are tired of being to told to trust in Wenger and the club’s model. They have heard it for years but nothing has changed.

Every year, Arsenal’s AGM seems to be more heated, more fractious. Expect today to follow the same pattern.