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Why Arsene Wenger needs to bite the bullet with Arsenal

So Arsenal have gone six years without a trophy…

The Gunners had only won six in the previous 17 seasons before the leather-faced Frenchman’s arrival, why then are the Emirates faithful getting their knickers in such a twist that they are not able to be untangled?

Wenger is the same man who brought Arsenal unrivalled success in the mid-noughties; masterminding the team of ‘Invincibles’, wrestling the Premiership stranglehold from Manchester United and was within a whisker of delivering European Club football’s biggest prize to North London.

Surely it’s only a matter of time before it all comes good again for the Frenchman and his team, right?

Wrong. Such is Wenger’s ignorance he will not succumb to the reality that this Arsenal team are not good enough to win a second rate domestic trophy, never mind compete in the latter stages of the Champions League.

I originally began this article after Arsenal threw away the Carling Cup final to now Championship side Birmingham, but in all honesty I was too infuriated with Arsene Wenger to finish it off, just like his Arsenal team had failed to do against Birmingham.

Having had time to review the situation however my opinion remains the same – even if my feelings of anger towards Wenger aren’t as vivid.

One thing I want to make clear here is that I do admire Wenger’s vision; unearthing the most talented youngsters from across the globe through an extensive scouting network and moulding them, the Arsenal way, into a team capable of producing attractive and entertaining football, delivering domestic and European trophies into the next decade. Sound’s great doesn’t it?

So does winning the Euromillions this week, but I need to pick the right mix of numbers in order to do that, just like Wenger needs to pick the right mix of players to win a trophy, and guess what? Neither me nor Wenger have managed this in the last six years.

I am resisting the temptation to profile and analyse the whole Arsenal team but I think the weakness is clear for everyone to see and that the issues lie in defence. This area of the field is instrumental in Arsenal’s lack of success in the last six years.

It will be no surprise to you that the first area to highlight is that of the goalkeeping position at the Emirates. I have no doubt that Wojciech Szczesny has all the attributes to one day develop into a top goalkeeper, but one day is not today and for that reason he should not be number one in a team chasing four trophies this season. This should’ve become clear to Wenger long before the farcical goal Obafemi Martins scored at Wembley in February.

Martins celebrates his winner

It still beggars belief that Wenger’s stubborn approach to his transfer policy was upheld when the Arsenal board made funds available for the purchase of experienced keeper, Mark Schwarzer last summer. Schwarzer himself paved the way for the move by handing in a transfer request but Arsene Wenger refused to fork out more than £2m for the veteran Aussie stopper. An action so stubborn that even Colonel Gaddafi raised an eyebrow at.

I genuinely believe that Wenger was hopeful of obtaining Schwarzer on a free this summer and was confident that Szczesny would suffice until then, saving a mere £2m.

The decision then to bring Jens Lehmann back to the Emirates on a free transfer and out of retirement epitomises Wenger’s lack of desire to part with any cash that will make an immediate impact into the first team.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that Arsenal fans would be happier £2m in the red, with a Carling Cup trophy this season. A hypothetical argument, for which I make no excuses.

The situation gets no better when evaluating the Arsenal backline. Laurent Koscienly was plucked from French Ligue 2 and slotted straight in an centre-half by Wenger, who seemed not to bother at the hugely inflated fee of £8.45m, because Koscienly is two of Arsene Wenger’s favourite three things in life; young and French. (The other of course, being his beloved ‘bomber’ jacket), which is not only hideous but also not the most appropriate item of clothing to be found wearing in London these days.

Wenger also chose to draft in Sebastien Squillaci to partner Koscienly, a bomb scare in his own right:

“Sebastien is quick and hugely experienced with an aggressive edge to his game,

His signing will give us some variation at the back as we look to fight for silverware this year.” Wenger stated, back in August of last year. Neither Frenchman however has covered themselves in glory over this transfer.

Koscienly (or ‘Obscenely’ as my spell-check aptly wants to replace him with) may benefit from the return from injury of Thomas Vermaelen, the Belgian, who has impressed in his intermittent career for Arsenal so far.

It has been said so many times before however that it’s almost become a cliché, but Arsenal need to invest in; a top class, reliable goalkeeper and a tough tackling, influential midfielder that can be the difference between a 4-0 win and a 4-4 draw! Only then will they effectively challenge for the trophies they so desperately crave.

It is not my job to say who these players may be, but shelling out £2m for Mark Schwarzer would’ve been a good start in my eyes.

I read yesterday that the Gunners are taking a close look at Joey Barton to bolster their midfield with a bit of much needed drive and fight. He may not be the perfect gentleman but he could be just the man to gently swing the Premier League pendulum back into Arsene and Arsenal’s favour.

Whatever happens this summer, I firmly believe that until either Wenger bites the bullet on his own transfer policy or the Arsenal board give him the bullet as manager of the club, the Gunners will not end that six year trophy drought anytime soon.

Arsene Wenger

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Sid

    20 June, 2011 at 23:38

    Ha, this blog clearly has no quality control. Looks like any imbecile with a laptop can post an article on this sad little blog.

    Thank you newsnow for that ‘hide’ button.

  2. Gerry Harrison

    20 June, 2011 at 23:57

    I fully agree with you and if he dosent realise that he is making a big mistake in not getting a GOOD GOALKEEPER a GOOD CENTRAL DEFENDER and a STRONG MIDFIELDER maybe its time for him to go.

  3. JoeB

    21 June, 2011 at 01:32

    Interesting article, it avoids all those journalistic cliches like well formed arguments and structure. A refreshing read!

  4. William Bush

    21 June, 2011 at 01:44

    Fully agree that either Wenger bites the bullet and changes his transfer policy or the board gives hime the bullet.I believe he will probably be fired at any major club three seasons without a trophy. At Arsenal,he is leading a charmed life but I firmly believe he will be axed if the 2012 season ends in a fiasco.As the sayin goes all good things must ineveitably come to an end.
    The problem with Wenger is he doesn’t want to face reality.His one dimensional style is easy to counter.His emphasis on pretty socceris another. Fans come to see a winning team not sexy football with no returns.
    Hopefully he will come round and tweak his tactics other wise it will be another frustrating season.

  5. Joe Ketch

    21 June, 2011 at 05:52

    Fully agree. Arsenal need the following.

    Players: two strong centre backs(Samba, Cahill), left back, two good tackling English midfielders (Adam, Parker), two experienced strikers (Etoo, Benzema). These are needed to sustain a challenge on 4 cups an cover injuries.

    Players for sale:(Bendtner, Denilson, Diaby, Rosisky)

    New Manager: Pep Guardiola or any manager with tactical nous and winning mentality.

  6. Bob

    21 June, 2011 at 07:41

    “The Gunners had only won two in the previous 17 seasons before the leather-faced Frenchman’s arrival?”

    league cup (87), champions twice, cup double (93) and cup winners cup – I make that 6 in 10 years…..

  7. Arselicked

    21 June, 2011 at 07:49

    If you believe that Swarzer could have made the difference, then you haven’t been watching his howlers this past season.

    Our problems are not in defence, our problems are in midfield and in attack. We lack a cutting edge, players who can make penetrating runs and keep the opposition midfield in defensive mode like what Man U do. And give our defenders time to regroup and organise.

    We don’t hit teams on the break anymore, and teams are aware of this. They know that our break will petta (sorry, spelling) out in midfield and we will wait for them to regroup and organise their defence while we pass the ball sideways. Thats why i love Theo and Chamack, they are willing to run, unlike Bendtner and RVP. RVP is top class but he plays for 15 games and gives you 20 goals so that’s not enough to win us the league.

    Anyway, i believe AW will fix it.

  8. Beeni

    21 June, 2011 at 08:26

    “Arselicked” How can you possibly say that Arsenal’s problems are not in defence but in attack? Arsenal scored 72 goals last season, only Manchester Untied scored more 78! Good blog tho, Wenger will NOT win the premier league or champions league in his remaining time at Arsenal. Fact.

  9. bg

    21 June, 2011 at 10:21

    Arsenal have gone six years without a trophy… The Gunners had only won two in the previous 17 seasons before the leather-faced Frenchman’s arrival

    what???????

    League won in 1971-1989-1991 FA Cup 1971 1979 1993 League Cup 1993 ECWC 1994

    that is 8 trophies……..

    Under Wenger league 1998 2002 2004 FA Cup 1998 2002 2003 2005

    that is 7 trophies

    If yuo look at the trophies lost under Wenger then we have lost more under him than in the previous 17 years before he came…. 1 fa cup 2 league cup one UEFA Cup final and one Champions league final

    The goalposts have been shifted as during his first 6 years only 2 clubs fought for the title now there are 3 (I cannot include us in that category anymore)

  10. Arselicked

    21 June, 2011 at 10:53

    The defence is in constant attack because tghe midfield and the frontline is failing, thats why our goal against is so much. If our attack and our midfield do their job, our defence will have time to organise and deal with any threat.

    If you deal with a poor attack in training you will always fail against better attackers. In 2003/2004, Toure, Campbell, Cole and Lauren trained with Henry, Lunjberg, Bergkamp and Pires and went the entire season unbeaten, prior to that Tony Adams and co. trained with Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Lunjberg, Anelka, Wright and we were doing well.

    Man U defenders train against Rooney, Hernadez, Berbatov, Park Ji Sung, Nani, etc and they are doing well. Chelski has Drogba, Lumphard and co. whereas we have Bendtner (disappears), Arshavin (Lazy), RVP (plays too deep), Chamack (good header but poor feet), etc. You can see that our attack is poor. We can keep changing defenders but this will not solve the problem. They will keep failing because they are in constant attack.

    Take a leaf from Barcelona, they can play with Pique and Mascherano at the back and still not concede, because the midfield and the attack keeps the opposition under constant attack and gives them the opportunity to organise.

    If we get a lively and dangerous striker and a Flamini in midfield, everything will fall into place.

  11. Beeni

    21 June, 2011 at 13:42

    Or its maybe just as the author has said they need new defenders? Barca keep the ball for fun and thats why i could play at the back for them. Vidic and Rio are quality defenders, you put samlling or evens in there and man u struggle a bit because they are not as good. Same when chelsea dont have Terry, so it doesnt matter who you play against in training each day, its about your ability when you cross that white line. Arsenal dont have players with that ability.

  12. Steve Lomas

    21 June, 2011 at 14:21

    A good article, maybe a couple of incorrect stats but an interesting read from someone clearly writing as a non Arsenal fan.

    The facts are there that Arsenal have simply not been good enough in recent seasons. Far too many points get dropped against the likes of Bolton and Stoke who bully Wenger’s over hyped stars.

    Two centre backs are a must for Arsenal. I’m not convinced Samba is the answer, champions league experience is a must for me and as far as I know he does not have this. A possible cheap option could be Wes Brown of Man Utd. A tad injury prone but a composed defender who has played in a number of huge game and rarely makes mistakes. A steal at around £2million.

    The cash is there for Arsenal, time to decide whether they are happy to continue with nice football that gains no trophies or less easy on the eye football but play that gets silverware to the emirates

  13. Arselicked

    21 June, 2011 at 15:36

    @Beeni.

    Thats exactly my point. If our midfield can win and keep the ball and our attack can attack such that the opposition defence will need help from midfield, then our defence will have time to re-group and perform better. I’m talking organisation and time to organise here.

    Chelski did not struggle because they lost defenders in my opinion, they struggled because Malouda lost form, Zhirkov got injured, Frank Lumphard got injured, Mikel is poor and Essien did not play as well as he played the previous seasons.

    Man U didn’t play well last season because their midfield was so poor and they lost Valencia to an injury. Rio Ferdinand was injured for a long time but they still did well with Vidic and the young ones. Even Brown was playing there and they were still winning matches.

    Fix the attack and the midfield and you have solved our problems. Clichy,Gibbs, Koscielney, Djourhou, Vermeulen,Sagna, Eboue, with either Fabianski and Chezza at the goal are able to win us the league. Just give them a fighter in the midfield and a stealth up front and the cups are coming home.

    That’s what AW did in ’96, he didn’t change the defence, he changed the attack and we won things. We nearly did it in 2008, with Eduardo, Flamini and Adebayor but the boys got traumatised.

  14. Beeni

    21 June, 2011 at 16:37

    Every manager, every fan would love the barca solution. If you are realistic tho you cant buy that. Barca have been molding thier team together for years something Wenger constantly claims. ” we’re building for the future, we will be stronger next year” Its rubbish mate, youre obviously an Arsenal fan and a Wenger fan. From afar i see things differently, if i were the Arsenal manager i would start from the back and work my way forward. Most top 6 premier teams would take RVP, Nasri, arshavin, Walcott, Wilshere. They wouldnt take the back 4 and goalkeeper.

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