2015/2016 – A Season that Ended so Familiarly Before it Began
In the end you do not buy to give one hope, you want to buy because the players who come in can help your squad to be stronger.
Buying and selling is one way to strengthen your team, but that is not the only way.
The moment you realised our season was going to be gamble, just like its predecessors.
It was so obvious from last season that Arsenal needed to significantly move our goal tally northwards if we were to seriously mount a title challenge, because let’s face it, recent Arsene teams are not the Primus Inter Pares of defence in the Premier League. (Unless we could clone Per and Gabriel).
Barcelona and Real Madrid are not the most assiduous defensive sides you can get, but they have won titles thanks to their attacking fire powers. You can add Bayern Munich to that list. Ferguson just recently proved you don’t need the world’s best defence in order to win the EPL with the 2012 triumph. I am not saying defences don’t win titles, but attacks or forwards also do and quite often.
Looking at our squad and the potentials and talents we got, it would have been less difficult to build a winning attacking side than a defensive one.
Outscoring the opponent mostly works for teams that do not master the Art of Defending. I believed Wenger himself knew we ought to increase our goals tally if we were to mount a serious title challenge. However, he believed we could achieve that more with the attacking trio of Sanchez, Walcott and Giroud, sharing that burden than getting one man to shoulder that burden. “We will have to spread the goals through the squad,” he said. “I think Giroud, Walcott and Alexis can get around 20 goals without any problem”. Seriously, can you remember the last Arsenal team that had more than one or two 20 or more goals a season forwards? Besides we always have a forward who score a chunk of our goals whenever we won the premiership. You can name Thierry and Wright or if you want Anelka. To just disregard or underrate the need and essence of a real goal-getter was pure “negligence” or gamble that didn’t obviously pay off.
Wenger gambled on a striker who is as inconsistent as the word goes (Giroud), a RW or striker who has recovered from a serious knee injury (Walcott) and a forward who had played over 55 competitive matches for club and country (Alexis). The risk was so huge that I thought Arsene is very clever to take it, but I was wrong. You just can’t help it but believed that Wenger is so obsessed with proving everybody but himself wrong, that he missed the most obvious of all decisions. Even the greatest has sometimes, listened to other’s opinions.
There were suggestions that, there weren’t enough quality players on the market to strengthen our squad, but I tell you what, Wenger never believed we needed to add to our forward line before we could win the league, despite our “glorious injury records”. “ I would rather have Ramsey 15, Özil 15, Cazorla 10″. Even with this analogy, you needed a forward who is technically sound and has ball playing abilities to make it happen. Giroud is a good target man, but not a striker that can drop deep to take the ball and play with or assist other players or even stretch defences to give others the chance to score.
From the onset, you could also see that our season hinged on Coquelin staying fit (which never happened), or with Arteta as backup (which backfired). Wilshere was never going to recover quickly and Welbeck was also injured. With all these, we had to plan to cater for the worst case scenario (Coquelin’s injury). But Arsene acted as though he was promised an injury-free season.
We can mourn as we like about a missed opportunity (because Leicester’s won it), but the way we approached the campaign didn’t look like we were ever serious. We simply just caved in before the season had ever started. The most frustrating part about this is that, you cannot rule out same thing happening next season, at least with Wenger still in charge.
Looking at the way our season capitulated, you can only attribute it to one of two things. We Failed to Plan or We Planned to Fail.