Arsene Wenger needs to go – but who should he take with him?

 

Hi folks. It’s been a while again since I posted. Having watched Arsenal’s recent spate of poor performances ruining yet another promising campaign (except the Bayern match – that one was always going to be a pummeling for Arsenal), here’s a few things I’d like to see changed next season.

The Manager

I know there are a lot of knives out for Wenger, and I have not been the most kind towards the manager, but it really is time for him to go. A consistent lack of realistic title challenge in the Premier League (Arsenal are always out of it by February or March) and abject lack of progress in the Champions League – we have been knocked out in the last 16 for 6 straight seasons now – any other Club, regardless of the manager’s previous exploits, would have sacked Wenger by now. I know, some of you will argue that there is still a 2nd leg to play in the Champions League – no team has ever turned over a 4 goal 1st Leg deficit in the Champions League and we are extremely unlikely to do so. The only one we have a real chance of winning is the F.A. Cup.

So, who to bring in? Massimiliano Allegri would be my first choice, as I feel his style of football would suit most of Arsenal’s current players, far more so than Diego Simeone’s, anyway. What would also be important is which coaches are appointed – a new goalkeeper coach is imperative, as I have been saying for a while now that Gerry Peyton is not of the quality required. Obviously, Allegri would have his own ideas about who to bring in, but Peyton has to go either way – Arsenal’s goalkeepers have been the butt of a lot of jibes and jokes over the last decade and Peyton has been the coach the whole time.

Allegri to replace Arsene?

However, as long as Arsenal qualify for the Champions League, nothing will change and Wenger will stay as manager for as long as he wants as Stan Kroenke indirectly makes money off of him.

The Defense

This definitely needs work if a new manager comes in. Top of the list here though would be a new left-back. Kieran Gibbs cannot be relied upon due to his poor injury record and Nacho Monreal is aging faster than expected and his performances have tailed off sharply this season in my opinion. Valencia’s Jose Luis Gaya, Aston Villa’s Jordan Amavi, Ricardo Rodriguez and West Ham’s Aaron Cresswell should be at the top of the list, while Cohen Bramall will hopefully be able to step up quickly as a reserve.

Mathieu Debuchy will be departing either way at the end of the season, with Carl Jenkinson likely to join him (more at the manager’s discretion than Debuchy though), so a right-back should also be near the top of the list but it might be tough to get a very good player here as we have Hector Bellerin as starter, who is one of the best young right-backs anywhere in Europe.

I think Djibril Sidibe from Monaco might be a great signing, as he can play as a right-back or left-back with near-equal ability – he’d certainly be able to get enough games on either side for us. As far as central defense goes, Gabriel has demonstrated that he is simply not good enough for Arsenal in my opinion, but a replacement may be hard to find. Obviously, there is Rob Holding and Calum Chambers in the mix for places, too. I hope Holding and Chambers get some match minutes though, as it is essential for their development.

Holding and Chambers should play more

The Midfield

This is another area where major surgery is required. Santi Cazorla is 32 now and we have no idea how well he will recover from his current injury or if this will be the first of many recurring injuries. Francis Coquelin has been poor recently, but I blame the manager more for this as he has obviously told Coquelin to push higher up the pitch, which is not his best trait. Coquelin is a decent defensive mid, but that is all that he can do well (i.e. breaking up play and being a spoiler to opponents), so he needs a more creative foil next to him.

Granit Xhaka is still adapting to English football, so I’m giving him more time to hopefully iron the bad tackles out of his game – his lack of pace doesn’t help with this, though. Aaron Ramsey simply has no place in the squad with the current crop of players available – Ramsey and Xhaka makes for one of the slowest midfield pairings in the Premier League and also one of the poorest defensively. Ramsey also cannot play well next to Coquelin and I’m not sure if he can play well next to Santi either – Santi may not be quick but, unlike Xhaka, he can change direction very quickly.

I could see Ramsey being sold to raise funds, as his contract is near expiry. Ramsey’s profligacy around the box, often losing the ball at inopportune moments, makes him unsuitable in the Number 10 role too, in my opinion. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, though, has shown some good potential in midfield, too – he has turned his form around this season and I hope he can continue to improve at a strong rate.

Ox needs to continue in central midfield

It may be time to give some of the youngsters like Gedion Zelalem and Jon Toral a chance to impress – Toral was excellent at Birmingham City last season and Zelalem had a good loan at Rangers, too. One of them may be able to strike up a partnership with Xhaka, Santi or Coquelin – it’s certainly something that has not been tried up to this point.

Further up the park, Alex Iwobi has been largely impressive in most matches that he has played – he’s willing to take on players and seems to move the ball around well, he only needs to really work on his defensive game. Mesut Ozil has been really poor since the match vs. Ludogorets in the Champions League – any other manager would have dropped him for a while to rest him and maybe re-ignite his mojo, but Wenger just keeps playing him. It’s really strange, as Iwobi or Jeff Reine-Adelaide could play in that position – Reine-Adelaide was very impressive vs. Southampton in the FA Cup in particular.

I think it may be time for Ozil to be moved on – his contract is expiring soon and, in my opinion, it is much more important to keep Alexis Sanchez than Ozil and Arsenal (as well as other Premier League clubs, with the exception of Man City) have some wage limits. Ozil can be brilliant on his day, but I think he is not someone you can start every week in every match and expect him to turn in brilliant performances consistently. Nabil Fekir may be a worthy replacement for Ozil, if Arsenal could put together the huge transfer fee required.

Just not worth all that money

The Forwards

Not a huge amount of tinkering required here. Lucas Perez needs more game time, though, as does Welbeck. It is essential that Alexis’ contract gets renewed at almost any cost, while Olivier Giroud can still be very good on his day. Theo Walcott has tailed off in the last 3 months, which is unfortunate, and it may be time to consider his future, in addition to that of the often-loaned Chuba Akpom, who has shown little signs of breaking into the first team and not being hugely impressive on loan at Hull or Brighton.

Obviously, my choice as a replacement would be Alexandre Lacazette, as he can play across the whole front line – signing his team-mate Nabil Fekir too would also help, as he can also play as a forward and would also bring a pace injection into attack after Walcott is traded.

Honestly though, if Arsene Wenger stays, this whole blog is moot, as he will not change anything because he is unable to see his own failings and thus is unable to adapt.

Come On You Gunners!

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3 Responses to Arsene Wenger needs to go – but who should he take with him?

  1. forverinourshadows February 18, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    Disagree Iwobi is really poor, doesn’t beat players, doesn’t defend, walks around tactically unaware, not an Arsenal player, Walcott should be sold, Bellerin still has a lot to learn, but as you stated still young, Coquelin isn’t good enough to be in the first eleven, a squad player yes, our tippy tappy style has to change as it is too easy to defend against, I will be glad to see Wenger go, and if he truly loves the club, then he should step down, if he stays then there will be anarchy at Arsenal next season. Wenger needs to state now when he is going, not keep this dragging on. The new manager needs a full season to determine who goes and who stays

  2. Victor Thompson February 19, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    Well written Tim and so true.

    I agree with the comment from foreverinourshadows as well. I cannot see any circumstances where Iwobi should be picked in front of Welbeck. He is much more of a physical threat on the field and I have no doubt Hummels would have had a hard time against him. He also runs back to defend which Iwobi doesn`t do.

    We need a new manager and if we have to take a step backwards to move forward so be it. This year it looks as if we will finish 5th or 6th and a new manager will have to rebuild a new squad, probably without Ozil and Sanchez so we would be best to sell them at the end of the season or lose them next year for nothing.

    Arsene needs to inform the club now if he intends to leave. He has said in the past that if he thought he could not keep the fans happy, he would go. Well, he would have to be blind not to see that they are far from happy now.

  3. Timothy Hargreaves February 19, 2017 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you foreverinourshadows and Victor for your comments.

    forever – Iwobi does beat players and he at least tries to run at defenders – something Oxlade-Chamberlain also does from midfield. Welbeck and Alexis are the only two strikers who try it – possibly Lucas too but I haven’t seen enough of him yet. Iwobi loves a step-over and he is capable of rapidly changing direction and wrong-footing players – only Santi, Ox, Perez and Welbeck have that attacking dynamic really. I reckon he will improve with match time, possibly also with new coaches if AW leaves.

    Victor – I see Iwobi more as a future No.10 than wide, so he wouldn’t be competing with Welbeck for a place, as DW would either be wide or in the striker role. Iwobi would more be competing with Reine-Adelaide. Welbeck is better defensively, but he should be as he is much further into his career than Iwobi is.

    I hope that Alexis will stay, but I think Ozil’s number is up – he’ll end up moving to City (for money), United (Mourinho loves him) or Bayern (least likely due to their already strong midfield, but they’re the only team in Germany who could afford him).

    The bigger problem is that there is the supposed “silent majority” of fans that want AW to stay – he will invoke them as his reason for staying. Too many people are happy with just making up the numbers in the Champions League and looking to be “best of the rest” in the Premier League but not actually ever coming close to winning it. They aren’t Arsenal fans but more Arsene fans, and I will be pleased when they move on from the Club when he finally goes.

    I concur with both of you saying that AW should announce now that he is leaving, but, sadly, his recent comments about him thinking he has “about 4 more years” is very troubling stuff – SK won’t fire him and AW won’t quit as he still stubbornly believes he is better than all other managers (he really isn’t). The fans have to get more pro-active to push him out – I’m not advocating abusing him, obviously, but put across strong messages inside and outside the ground on matchdays about how they want him to leave.

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