Having had some time to reflect on Arsenal’s recent showings during the break from domestic football it turns out I’m still frustrated with the club mainly because our situation hardly improves before club football is back.
The defenders we need in Laurent Koscielny and Mathieu Debuchy will still be out and the thought of Nacho Monreal up against a fired up Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie (and potentially Radamel Falcao too) frightens me.
It just made me ponder on why we have to be so worried when all looked so promising a few months back.
At the moment our performances are shocking and if you were to forget Arsene Wenger’s history for just a brief moment, just a second and judge him on this season for managing the club on and off the field, ask yourself if you think this season and the current situation we find ourselves in is acceptable.
I’ll leave you to it.
I pledged to back Wenger after the summer due to my belief he’d change. The things I questioned him on previously was a lack of trophies and spending.
He initially rectified both situations therefore believed he deserved the support of any doubters at least. The big thing I was incorrect about however was the opinion that he changed.
Using the same tired excuses about ‘finding quality’ in the market and failing to justify why certain players were let go by the club (notably Thomas Vermaelen) made me realise that change is incredibly distant.
So where did we go wrong and how had Wenger transformed this promising year into an uninspiring one? Here’s a list of all Wenger’s errors made up till now.
Loaning out Jenkinson
Initially this decision had some logic to it. Carl Jenkinson needed more game time and experience and we brought in two right backs whilst promoting Hector Bellerin to the first team.
Debuchy’s injury was very unfortunate there’s no doubt about it but little did I know that his deputy player was going to also be back up for the key central positions too.
It’s a brilliant conversion and I think Calum Chambers should be deployed more centrally from now to be honest but we’ve demanded way too much of him here to constantly switch him between the two positions.
It also seems that Bellerin is not trusted enough to fill in otherwise he’d be playing a lot more now!
Loaning out Jenkinson was a huge error on Wenger’s part and I’d like to think a back 4 of Jenkinson –Chambers -Mertesacker- Gibbs would be more comfortable than the one we use now where Monreal features in it.
Two natural centre backs
As mentioned I can appreciate Chambers’ potential conversion into a central based player but whilst we have injuries to a first choice CB and RB, we’ve seen Chambers feature more in the wider position than so I’ll consider him a full-back for now which highlights a massive problem we have.
We only have two natural CBs!
Considering the club were aware of Koscielney’s injury niggles and also aware of Per Mertesacker’s prolonged stay in Brazil it’s criminal not to bring out and out back-up for them never mind competitors.
I’ve always been keen to see Mertesacker replaced largely due to his lack of pace which hinders what we can do going forward as we can’t afford to employ a high-line.
It looks like now Mertesacker is undroppable which is nothing to do with form but the fact that he’s the only available CB we have.
He revealed a lack of motivation this season and I can’t blame him, he’s just won the World Cup and now finds himself back in a top four scrap. Not to mention that he has nobody to keep him on his toes.
He can score three own goals and purposely allow forwards to glide past him and he still knows he’ll the play next week. That’s not a situation an ‘ambitious’ club should find themselves in.
Persisting with 4-3-3
I sympathise with Arsene here because I’ve seen what he’s tried to do and it was to accommodate both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere whilst being allowed to play Mesut Ozil.
Unfortunately for it to work the way you want it to you have to be a tactically good manager, Wenger’s not quite good tactically and we’ve seen this formation not only fail miserably but produce some of the most dire football I’ve seen Arsenal play for quite some time.
Also if you’re going give Ramsey and Wilshere the platform to explore the central areas then the selfless defensive minded midfielder behind them MUST be of good quality and mobile to cover up the gaps vacated by the players ahead of them and also the adventurous full-backs we now have on both sides since Bacary Sagna’s departure.
We have Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini who every man and his dog knows are not good enough!
Playing Ozil wide after impressive games central
To bring in a world class No. 10, the best in Europe for that matter then play him out of position is pretty senseless, especially on the left.
Mesut’s best games this season have come from the central positions (Galatasaray & Aston Villa) then the massive 6 pointer comes along and we put Ozil back out wide against a resolute Chelsea defence.
It was so obvious that Cesc Fabregas (who don’t forget already has the team built around him with targets to aim at in Diego Costa, Eden Hazard etc. and a top class presence doing the dirty bit in Nemanja Matic) was going to outshine him and knock Ozil’s confidence and it did.
Ozil’s the best playmaker we have yet he’s hardly the main one as we usually have all Santi Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey coming to the ball, this limits his game to short laboured passing and his influence is also limited.
Even if he plays central the men behind him (Flamini or Arteta) are usually chasing shadows anyway so it’s not like we afford him as much opportunity on the ball as we should.
David Silva is backed by Fernando, Fernandinho and Yaya Toure, Cesc has Matic and Ramires yet people wonder why Ozil can’t produce similar quality.
Lack of rotation
Our squad depth is quite underrated if you ignore the defence and defensive midfield positions we have decent alternatives for one another but Wenger’s so keen to play all his favourite players at the same time that it results in a lack of fierce competition as well as resulting in injuries.
We only dip into the depths of our squad when we’re forced to and slowly a large amount of back-up players all end up on the pitch at the same time.
Cazorla should be tussling with Ozil for the No. 10 role whilst the flanks should be a strict battle between the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell, Lukas Podolski and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, yet we play our No. 10’s there more than these options.
CF position is an obvious battle between Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud whilst Wilshere and Ramsey should compete for the one deep-lying midfield spot alongside a DM.
A lot of players would be kept on their toes and our squad would look more balanced for it but we play too many similar players at the same time and then lose them all.
Not taking advantage of Campbell’s Value
It’s a sad situation for Joel Campbell because I’m a believer in his talents, but after the World Cup £15m price tags were being quoted around his name yet we refused to take any offers and dumped him in the U21’s squad.
Maybe Wenger has seen him more regularly and remained unconvinced, maybe his publicised desire to play more games annoyed Wenger I don’t know but the lad deserved an opportunity at least and if this wasn’t to happen then we should have made use of his squad space and brought in someone we need more.
I feel we’ll regret letting him go so easily and cheap.
Loaning out Francis Coquelin
Another silly loan if you ask me. Yes it makes sense because he doesn’t play enough but that’s the problem, he should!
I don’t know how he’s fallen so out of favour but I’ve always rated the lad yet he’s being kept out by average players who aren’t as mobile.
He can also operate in both full-back positions yet during a crisis still doesn’t get a look in.
He was solid in 11-12 season and should have developed into a brilliant squad player at least due to his potential and versatility but he’s become an outcast.
He reminds me of the younger Flamini and in my opinion is no worse a player than the current one so due to the added mobility should have seen a lot more opportunity in the team.
Buying an injured back-up keeper
Let this sink in.
Nothing we could do about Lukasz Fabianski’s departure unfortunately but the good thing was that we were aware of this before last season even ended we had a very long time to identify and find a solid FIT keeper.
The progression of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain always interests me because I’m a great believer in his talents.
After seeing what Raheem Sterling produced for Liverpool last season I’m confident The Ox can also do great things if not greater but he’s not managed correctly.
After a good game he’s dropped and after a bad game he starts. Whilst Theo Walcott takes his time to regain full fitness The Ox should be an absolute shoe-in for him but he’s not.
I like the idea of him being an impact player if Theo is to take his place back but The Ox should’ve made that target so much harder for Theo considering he’s been away for 9 months.
It’s not just this season but it’s since he joined the club he’s never had a fluent run in a pinned down position, it’s either left, right or central midfield where Wenger believes the latter will become his main position despite being yet to solve this Ramsey-Wilshere dilemma.
Wenger seemed convinced Diaby had a big role to play this season for us but we’re yet to see him.
Now why is this the case? I’ll take a wild guess and assume he’s injured, real shame for both him and us if this is true but then why is Wenger rumoured to be readying a new contract for the lad?
It’s a sad situation because Diaby is a wonderful player and could have solved so many issues in our team but one has to eventually accept it’s not going to work out.
I don’t think the lad has successfully played three games in a row for God knows how long therefore basing plans around him is quite pointless.
A similar type of player who we CAN TRUST to stay fit and available should be brought in and this fantasy that he’ll answer our physical problems and be an ever-present member of our midfield has to be let go!
Sorry a very long read but these are some of the most concerning errors Wenger has made this season and I believe explains our dramatic slump of late.
As Claude from Arsenal TV would say it’s simply ‘not good enough’ and Wenger’s place at Arsenal should certainly be considered because believe it or not eventually we’ll lose ambitious superstars like Sanchez and Ozil when they realise Arsene doesn’t have what it takes just like Cesc, Samir Nasri and Van Persie did.
And what are we left with? Dross and a finished manager? (at the most elite level at least).
I’d rather have these world class players remain at Arsenal, maybe a world class manager too which Wenger no longer is.
Arsene was a gift to this club and has been wonderful no doubt but just like players managers also decline we have to accept that this is happening to Wenger, hell it might sound crazy considering Fergie finished with a title but even he was in decline and left at the right time.
Ask most United fans and they’ll admit the regression of their football since about 2009/2010. RVP’s goals papered over a lot of cracks in his final season not to mention the poor rivalry for the title that season.
Wenger’s standards are much lower than that and it truly is time to move on, unfortunately this remains a pipe dream whilst he delivers the mighty fourth place trophy!