Yet again Arsenal’s season has begun to crumble around them. Following the devastating defeat at Chelsea and dropped points against Swansea on Tuesday night Arsene Wenger’s team now sit six points behind the league leaders. Arsenal fans are all too familiar with this scenario, however this season seemed different and the sustained title challenge from the Gunners came as a surprise to both pundits and fans.
Arsenal’s inability to perform in the big games this season has been their downfall. The humiliating defeats they’ve received at Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool have shown the flaws in the team and ultimately set them aside as title pretenders. Whereas Arsenal’s title rivals have strolled over the struggling Manchester United this season Arsene Wenger’s men have struggled against the Red Devils and only picked up one point from the six available. Arsenal have lacked the mentality to go out and hurt the big teams this season and it has proved to be costly.
This moves us onto the current speculation around Arsene Wenger’s future at the club. Is his departure really what Arsenal need? The success he has had and the philosophy he’s built can not go undermined or unacknowledged by any Arsenal or non-Arsenal fan. However the continuing disappointment every season needs to come to an end and Arsenal fans have been patient for far too long.
The real fault I believe lies with the squad Arsene Wenger has chose to build. His midfield simply doesn’t have the height and strength it once had. Arsenal need a Vieira sitting in their midfield, someone who can take the team by the scruff of their neck and push them on in times of need. Their reliance on Mikel Arteta as a holding midfielder is something which needs to be addressed. A player who was primarily deployed as an attacking midfielder under David Moyes at Everton, Arteta is not an out and out defensive midfielder. In this he is similar to Frank Lampard who has adopted a more defensive role with age, however Lampard is accompanied with a Mikel or Ramires beside him, this of course when he does start. Mourinho has further bolstered his midfield with the signing of the impressive defensive minded Matic. If Chelsea do go on to win the title I can assure you that the correlation between their success and the addition of Matic is no coincidence. The talent of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere can’t be questioned, they’re both fantastic young players. But without a strong, defensive player next to them Arsenal will continue to see their midfield overrun as it has been by the likes of Chelsea this season. Flamini has been a great player for Arsenal this season, his attitude is always top class and he always gives 100% to the team, but the reality is he is not the world class defensive midfielder Arsenal need.
The second position which Arsenal need to strengthen is the lone striker role. Wenger showed his intentions in the summer, pursuing the signatures of Suarez and Higuain. However after these unsuccessful attempts Arsenal were left with Giroud up front. Giroud has scored 19 goals this season for the Gunners, improving significantly from last season. However Arsenal have only scored 55 goals to Liverpool’s 82 in the league this season. Liverpool currently sit only one position above the Gunners. Arsenal need more goals and a world class striker who is willing to make runs in behind the defence combining with Özil could propel Arsenal further on next season.
The debate over whether Wenger should continue as manager could go on for days. But for me Arsenal need the right players first, a club of their stature will attract a top manager once Wenger leaves.