Friday, 7 November 2014

Arsenal and Arsene Wenger - Stick Or Twist

With an hour of Tuesday night's game against Anderlecht gone there was a very positive feeling about how Arsenal's season was progressing. Sure the team still weren't at their best but the attacking flair was returning and they looked destined for their fourth win in a row as they led 3-0. What happened next shows exactly why it is so frustrating to support the current Arsenal team, but I do support them and always will no matter what - they are and always have been my team.

It doesn't mean they're immune to criticism though and for that matter neither is the manager. Arsene Wenger criticised his defence afterwards, but he's the one who had the task of strengthening said defence last summer and failed to do so properly. Mathieu Debuchey and Calum Chambers were brought in while both Bacary Sagna and Tomas Vermaelen left which meant there was stalemate at best.

The thing is everybody knew the Arsenal squad was short of a central defender last season and we were told Vermaelen would be replaced when he was allowed to leave but he wasn't. Chambers was brought in to vie with Debuchey for the right back slot and also with an eye to playing as a central defender or a defensive midfielder in the future and he barely had more than a handful of first team games to his name when Arsenal signed him. If he was bought to play as a central defender then Carl Jenkinson would not have been loaned to West Ham, but he was. 

The way I see it Arsenal almost lost two central defenders because Sagna was so good at filling in there when needed. At the moment Nacho Monreal is being asked to fill in as a central defender and it's not something he's comfortable with or particularly good at for that matter. Arsenal only have two defensive injuries but that has reduced them to playing a left back in the centre and it just isn't good enough.

There are those who defend the manager no matter what and heap praise upon him when Arsenal do well, but then decide it's most certainly not his fault when the players "let him down". I certainly don't fit into that category and neither do I fit into the category of those who blame him for all of the clubs ills and will hear no good about him. I suppose that means I occupy the middle ground and right now that seems to be becoming more and more lonely by the day. 

The same mistakes seem to crop up time and again and the lessons we are told are bring learned just don't seem to be retained. With a defence which has been left short of proper cover and the players in front of them seemingly not capable of shielding them enough to help them with their defending it's very worrying. Arsenal possess some very good players in midfield but so many of them are far too similar and want to play in the same position. 

When it comes to putting in a real shift and sacrifing your own desire to go forward for the good of the team then Arsenal players have been found wanting too often. The tactical awareness of the team and the manager seems to be non existent at the moment and other teams are taking advantage of it. If managers of so called lesser teams can figure out how to make life so difficult for Arsenal then how come Arsenal struggle so often to do the reverse. 

When the team are obviously going wrong the manager doesn't seem to be capable of changing it and I think that's his biggest flaw at the moment. I don't know if it's an absolute faith in his team and/or his tactics or just tactical failings on his part, but it's hurting the team. The manager has to be able to identify where the team are going wrong and change it or it becomes too easy to play against Arsenal. 

If he can't get a hold of where the team are going wrong and get them to start playing in the way they are capable of playing then the tide of opinion is going to turn against him even more. I want Arsene Wenger to lead Arsenal to more glory and make them a force to be reckoned with, but I'm no longer sure he can do it. If he's not the man to do it then the club have to seriously consider their options.

I know the team is missing some of it's best players, but even with every single player available we all know Arsenal are capable of imploding at any time without any notice. There has to be something inherently wrong in the mentality of the team if we all fear the worst almost every time the opposition cross the half way line. Until the players can find the mental strength and togetherness to overcome adversity there will be questions asked of them and the man who sends them out to play with his instructions. 

Arsenal won the FA Cup last season to end their trophy drought but it could have been so much better had they not imploded in the league. When their mental strength was put to the test they failed miserably but at least they managed to finish strongly and claim fourth place as well as the cup. We all hoped that victory was going to be built on but it hasn't been and now it seems the height of our ambitions can only be to match last season.

If I was offered fourth place and the FA Cuo again for this season I would take it right now. That's a damning indictment on the club's ambition last summer and it's yet another season to be written off almost before it began. How long can the club continue to under invest when they have the money available to take the final step to make the team truly competitive again. 

Every summer we think we'll do what needs to be done and then find ourselves scrambling on deadline day to shore the gaps which should have been filled a lot earlier. In the last two summers Arsenal have signed two magnificent players in Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, but they have failed to invest in the rest of the squad properly. If it happens again next summer I think the tide will turn irreversibly against the manager and his days could be numbered.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. The defenders coach Steve Bould ought to take the blames as well. Don't know what Wenger saw in him that is good. The defense is getting worst by the days since he took charge. 2 coaches who continue to sit and not move their butts during games even when thing don't go well in the games, when mistakes upon mistakes were being committed by the players..shows us they are clueless to know how to turn the tide and correct the team playing forward. Really, time to go. We keep saying about the players but the main culprit is the manager and coaches.

    1. It's hard to understand why they didn't try to change things when they were so obviously going wrong. I think the team needs to learn how to defend as a team and possibly needs someone out there to make the calls on the pitch which don't seem like are being made.

  2. I agree with your sentiments in the blog,and I also agree with the above comments about Steve Bould.I don't think I ever saw him get off his seat on the touchline,regardless of how bad the defence are doing.