Chelsea’s 2-0 defeat of Arsenal was a perfect display in efficient, composed football by the hosts. This was a seemingly deja vu contest of watching the Arsenal Reds held at bay by the Chelsea Blues. The fact that many Arsenal supporters seem to lack too much surprise at the result is a testament to what we’ve been conditioned to accept by Arsene Wenger and the Club as a whole.
This opinion piece will no doubt be seen as a knee-jerk reaction to another Chelsea loss, but the facts are clear for all to see, and they are that this Arsenal team perennially fail to beat the so-called big boys. When was the last top four team in the Premier League to have been convincingly taken to the sword, and beaten, by the Arsenal in the past 5 years? Our expectations have seemingly gone from an outrage at a loss, to simple acceptance of a hard-fought game. Is this the ambition of a team that used to dominate England with pace, power, and confidence. Gone are the days where a rearguard action saved the day, when truly world-class players at the top of their respective games terrorised defenses. Instead, we’ve been left to witness up-and-coming ‘starlets’ stumble season upon season without a trophy yield. This game was a masterclass of experience over a blind passing game with no end-product. Of course, Arsenal were not without their chances, but that is a recurring theme. Chelsea never looked bothered or uncertain, the goals were a matter of time in the minds of both the home and away support. Is this what we’ve come to be happy with?
There most definitely is more than one problem with this Arsenal team, but lack of a true winning mentality is perhaps the most glaring. Pundits proclaim that this Arsenal team can no longer be accused to lacking experience, but what have they experienced? Van Persie and Cesc aside, no one in this team has ever won a trophy with Arsenal. Every player is well-versed in the art of underachieving and leaving supporters feeling short-changed. But where is the blame to lie?
It is easiest and perhaps most convenient to primarily blame Arsene Wenger, but this approach has its merit. The systematic clearing out conducted post-Invicibles has left the Club as a whole without players from whom to pass a winning tradition. One only has to look at how a weakened Manchester United team can nevertheless compete due to the absolute demand put upon winning by veteran players such as Giggs, Scholes, Ferdinand, et cetera. Where are those players for the Arsenal? Cesc had his Vieira, but only for awhile. Now, at 23, he’s expected to be some sort of all-knowing on-and-off-the-field messiah, but where else in the upper echelon of world football is this kind of expectation found? A player of similar age and talent, Lionel Messi, has no such responsibility and can thus focus more on playing. Yet when Cesc was making noises about leaving this summer, some supporters were labeling him a traitor and questioning his loyalty, but he’s seen first-hand the effects caused by the departure of so many experienced players. When he leaves, who will be Ramsey’s and Wilshere’s Vieira? Who is there to keep Bendtner in line and tell him how much work it takes to achieve his lofty ambitions? We, as a Club, have a 20 year-old keeper demanding he march straight into the first-team. Can the same thing be seen at clubs like Milan, Real Madrid, or Bayern Munich? Surely, Wenger has done well to raise the profile of the Club, yet he has made many mistakes he simply will not atone for. One needs only to look at the failure to re-sign Sol Campbell this summer as testament to the fact that Wenger has a perverted totalist approach to his youth policy, and simply will not budge from it. Is this what we are happy with as supporters? Does anyone have a true expectation that the current set-up of players will ever make it?
This is not a “Wenger Out Now” type of article, merely a retort for Arsenal fans to ask themselves: exactly when will we, as a whole, agree that a major change in club strategy be the only way out of this cycle of failure?
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