Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Arsenal's Demise This Season And Some Of The Causes

What can you say about Arsenal ? It's been a hugely frustrating season for Arsenal fans with good performance from the team the exception rather than the rule. They have had their chances to close the gap at the top of the table and time after time they have bottled it when the pressure was on them.

Since the turn of the year they have dropped 11 points from winning positions and ruled themselves out of the title race as a result. Four of those points were dropped in their last two games when they surrendered leads away to West Ham and at home to Crystal Palace. They would still have an outside chance of winning the title if they had won those games, but those two games summed up their whole season and an awful lot of the last10 years.

A brief look at Arsenal's results this season shows us where the problems have occurred. 11 points from five games against the three teams above them is a great return and it shows the teams ahead of them are no better than them. It's when you look at how Arsenal did against the rest of the top half of the table that you see where the real problems lie.

They have played all of those teams twice and from those 12 games they have only managed as many points as they did from the five games against the teams above them. Their problems last season were against the teams directly below them too and unsurprisingly those problems are being repeated. It all shows that lessons are not being learned from the players through to the management and wholesale change has to be the solution.

Of course it doesn't help when you have an owner who lacks ambition and is perfectly content as long as the team challenges and finishes in the top four. Some might say other so called "top clubs" have struggled this season and it's true, but managers have paid the ultimate price for their under performance. It seems there is no desire for improvement or change at Arsenal and that has worked it's way through the club from top to bottom.

Despite that shocking record against the teams below them in the top half of the table Arsenal were still challenging thanks to their record against the teams in the bottom half of the table. In recent weeks they have struggled against some of those teams too and the results at home to Swansea and Palace demonstrate that perfectly. They led both of those games and took only one point from them when two wins would have them three points behind Spurs with a game in hand and still in with as much a chance of winning the league as them.

The thing is Spurs are a team who play to a system that works and know what they're doing when they take the field. It looks like Arsenal are making it up as they go along and are a collection of individuals rather than a team. Spurs missed out on the top four last season, but they strengthened their team with the additions of Toby Alderwield and Dele Alli and those two players have made a huge difference.

I bought into the whole new stadium project and how we might struggle to compete while we were paying for it and finishing in the top four each and every season during that time was an achievement in itself. Arsenal teams which lacked the class of players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez always managed to qualify for the Champions League even when the odds were stacked against them. This season was meant to be different though after winning the FA Cup for the last two seasons and building a team which finally looked capable of challenging for the title.

We took more points in the calendar year 2015 than any other team and hopes were high last summer. Petr Cech came in to add the much needed world class goalkeeper we lacked, but he wasn't followed by any outfield signings despite the money being available to spend. Arsenal went into the season without a top quality striker and it was a big risk for Arsene Wenger to take.

That risk backfired quickly when Danny Welbeck didn't recover from his injury and Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott were left as the striking options. They both offer different attributes to the team, but neither of them are in the class of the strikers the other title challengers have. We don't have a Seegio Aguero, but we also don't even have a Harry Kane or Jamie Vardy and it hurts to admit that. A team with the most creative player in the top five leagues in Europe needs to have the players who can convert the chances Ozil makes. 

In any other season Arsenal probably wouldn't have had a chance of winning the league, but the demise of Chelsea, City, United and Liverpool left the way open for them. They led the way at the turn of the year and it looked like the league was there for the taking. The signs had been there earlier in the season though as they scraped victories without convincing performances. 

Since early January those performances have got progressively worse and the narrow victories dried up. At a time when the team needed the manager to guide them through a rough patch he seemed incapable of changing anything. The system they play just wasn't working at home in particular where they just couldn't break down the so called lesser sides, but the manager seemed incapable of adapting the team. It's too easy for teams to shut up shop against Arsenal and hope to hit them from a set piece or a quick break and that tactic seems to work far too often for it be a coincidence.

If the manager can't change things on the training ground or on the pitch them surely the alternative has to be to change the manager. They're his players out there who are failing to perform on an all too regular basis and he's got to be the one who is failing to inspire them. I know it's not always easy to sign the players needed to improve a team, but others did it last summer when Arsenal dallied.

The draw with West Ham should have brought about changes to the team, but he picked the exact same team to play Palace with the exception of Cech coming in for David Ospina. It was almost inevitable that Cech would make the slip to allow Palace back into the game. It says an awful lot about the squad when all of the players who failed so badly against West Ham managed to keep their place against Palace. 

Surely the manager had to react to that result by making changes, but who had he got on the bench who might have done better. I don't expect too many changes against West Brom either despite the apathetic display against Palace and why would the players have to give their all when they know their place is not at stake. There's five games left to go this season and I don't know about you, but I just can't wait for it to be over to great a break from the constant pain of supporting Arsenal. 

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.


  1. In any company the ceo is responsible for the performace.Failure will result in
    dismissal or pay cut.Wenger ,imho,is leading a charmed life.In the last 6 to 8 years,Arsenal could have won at least one if not 2 epl titles.
    However Arsenal have choked at crucial periods and near end season.Not once but at least 5 to 8 times.
    This is simply criminal.Arsenal are afraid the club will go further down if they sack him. But to let him continue in the face of overwhelming evidence he has reached the end of his tether
    is unacceptable . If he continues he could drag Arsenal down to midtable.
    His arrogance he wont change his philosophy flies in the face of results.

  2. Even before the first whistle, the look on Arsene Wenger's face is one of a defeated man, so how can he even inspire his charges, when he himself seem to lack belief. his philosophy just isn't working, and he's either to proud, or to stubborn to acknowledge that.

  3. The only option is for Wenger to leave or be sacked.
    How on earth can a club of Arsenal's brand name tolerate failure after failure .
    AC Milan have just sacked their boss.Wenger is a football dinosaur.
    The game has moved on while he remains stagnant with his ideas and philosophy.