It was not too long ago that the club were promoting the word ‘forward’ as part of an attempted reintroduction of one of the clubs first recorded mottos. Now that Arsene has gone and Unai Emery has been installed as his successor, it is finally starting to feel like that is the direction that we are heading in.
One of the more frequent criticisms aimed in the direction of Arsene, was that he was far too loyal towards his underachieving players and perhaps made decisions based on sentiment alone at times. With the announcement that Jack Wilshere is soon to depart, Emery has shown that this is unlikely to be the case under his management and personally, I am all for it.
Understandably, the majority of Arsenal supporters have a lot of affection towards Jack. However, if you remove the anti-Spurs songs he sang at FA Cup victory parades from your analysis and form your judgement of his contribution over the last four seasons or so, solely on what he has done on the pitch, the reality is that he has offered us very little.
Some supporters will point out that he featured in thirty-eight of our games last season. In those appearances, my opinion is that he only impressed in five or six of them. Jack of course was not the only player who under performed but in the second half of the season, he looked off the pace to me and appeared to have lost his trademark ability to drive himself and the team forward.
I have no animosity towards Jack and wish him well in the future but given the choice of retaining him or Aaron Ramsey, without any hesitation whatsoever, my choice would be the latter. Despite Aaron’s critics, there is no competition whatsoever when it comes to a comparison of the two players contributions to the club on the pitch.
Since the news of his imminent departure emerged, several Arsenal supporters have angrily argued that Jack was not given a fair chance, in terms of game time, last season. Total nonsense, he started twenty seven times in all competitions. Wilshere may well deliver elsewhere but who in their right mind would guarantee him a place in the Arsenal starting eleven based on his recent form?
In all honesty, although they are different types of players, I was more impressed by Ainsley Maitland-Niles than Wilshere, the longer the season progressed. He certainly looked the stronger and more mobile of the two in the latter stages of the campaign. It appears to those of us outside the club, that Jack did not get the playing time assurances he was seeking and decided against staying to fight for his place. Although there could be more to it.
Perhaps this tells its own story about where he is at as a player, especially considering his supposed character traits. Some supporters may see him as ‘Mr Arsenal’ but being ‘one of us’ is not a valid reason for anyone to be given regular game time. If it were, then Carl Jenkinson would play every week, whilst captaining the side. After all, there is no bigger Arsenal fan in our current playing squad, than Carl. I quite fancy a run out too.
For years, we have been crying out for Wenger to be replaced by a manager who is not afraid to make big decisions that could potentially upset the apple cart. I hope that we now have one in Emery. I have liked what I have seen so far in the new era and I am looking forward to the new season more than I have done in years. I wanted to see changes and I am seeing them.
The signings of the experienced Stephan Lichtsteiner and goalkeeper Bernd Leno have been confirmed. They are reportedly soon to be joined by centre back Sokratis Papastathopoulos and defensive midfielder Lucas Torreira. If this is true, then the team’s deficiencies appear to have been quickly identified by those in the new set up.
Well, I say quickly but in truth, they have been obvious to most of us for quite some time. Only time will tell if these players are capable of addressing those deficiencies.
My views on David Ospina have been well documented. Fingers crossed that Leno’s arrival will be the end of his Arsenal career.
Despite the protestations of some fans to the contrary, he has been an accident waiting to happen since his arrival and he will be one until his departure.
Although none of the signings, or potential new signing, are likely to make many sit up and take the notice, Emery’s first task is to make more organised defensively and therefore harder to beat. I am optimistic he will do that. Those who know me will be aware, I was not sentimental when Arsene left and will not be when Wilshere leaves either. Provided Leno is not the German equivalent, I’ll be throwing a party when Ospina does. That’s a joke of course but you get the picture……