I have decided to write this article to examine where Arsenal have fallen away this season. Let me start by saying one thing. Arsene Wenger is a superb coach and there are very few who are his equal in the world. The purpose of this debate is to prompt discussion, to interest people in why things have slipped from a quadruple to a very unlikely solitary trophy of the league title. I have no interest in contributing to any agenda some may have of building an insurmountable level of pressure onto his shoulders to the extent he is unable to do his job, which is already very hard.
The fact is that I am just like the majority of people reading this page. I am a devoted Arsenal fan who wants to his club to be the best. Not one of the best – I want us to be right at the top of the tree. And so I say this to the loyalists to Wenger who are determined to prevent these examinations of errors by the boss: Wenger is fallible. He is human. He has made mistakes and Arsenal are not winning trophies. Trust me, if we do not discuss these matters and face facts Arsenal are never going to really be winners. Blocking debate blocks progress. It blocks ambition, it sanitizes your hopes and creates an environment where poor cheap signings are the norm.
People booed the team off the pitch against Blackburn. We drew 4-4 with Newcastle having been 4-0 up at half time. 4-0 up! 10 men or no 10 men. The players, surely all well aware of the importance to fans how much Arsenal fans would want to win against Tottenham lost 3-2 at HOME having been 2-0 up. Can we honestly say Arsenal are going out fighting and giving everything? No I do not think you can. Have Arsenal lost their way due to; injuries, factors out of their hands, the fantastic form of their rivals? In certain area’s of the season – maybe. Regardless of the promise of the players on the cusp of the first team, I cannot see how the club hierarchy can sell this as being worthy of the increased ticket prices. For the price of a season ticket I want to see players setting the stadium on fire! With the profits the club makes I want decent signings. I would never suggest Arsenal could or should buy the likes of Torres. I aam talking about the kind of buy that invigorates a squad, as Arshavin was 2 years ago. That sort of signing has been all too rare.
The ‘make do’ arrangement of not being completely ruthless with players who are not good enough is just not what you need when you want to be the best. Squillaci could be a superb defender in a slower league. He should play in Italy. In the Premier league, Arsenal needed to get Gary Cahill. Yes, he would have been more expensive and probably commanded higher wages but those are the things big clubs with ambition do to win trophies. They do not settle for an available player.
How long have Arsenal needed a new goalkeeper? I know Wenger tried for Reina but I cannot believe for a second he genuinely foresaw a) Liverpool selling. Szczesny is going to be a superb goalkeeper. He at the moment is a very good goalkeeper, not yet superb. He needs to be brought into the team carefully and managed well. Needless to say at the start of the season he was not the answer he now seems to be. Therefore at the start of the season, having failed with Schwarzer and Reina transfers we once again made do.
I can handle losing to a better team, but I cannot stand seeing heads go down and the culture of feeling sorry for yourself. I was gutted when Wenger said after the Carling Cup Final all the players sat in silence. I could have handled the unfortunate defeat had I heard a player come out and say that the leaders of the squad had spoken, shouted, had stepped up. In that changing room our modern Tony Adams should have said ‘Taste that pain lads. I hope it hurts. I hope we never forget it and agree never to allow to let anyone do that again.’
The chance to win the title can hardly have been better for us this year than ever before, and yet the manner of the choke has been hard to stomach. Manchester United dealt with injuries (I am not saying we have not), a transfer request from Rooney, and disputes with the FA. Chelsea had a terrible start and Torres has still not scored. Manchester City is in a transitional season after revitalizing their squad over the last year or so. These teams will not stand still in the summer. They will target established world class internationals. Only this week United have been linked with the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Ashley Young. Project Liverpool and Tottenham are both gathering apace and these two as well will go after big players.
Have the current squad lost the crowd? All I know is this: I don’t want to change the manager. ; I want the manager to change I know he can change because he made the concession of playing stronger Carling Cup teams in the earlier rounds, a good example he can adapt. It really is time for a significant investment in a quality centre-back, a hard man in midfield and goalscorer. Cahill, Daniele De Rossi and Alvaro Negredo would suit me fine. I do not know better than Wenger obviously but an idiot with any level of football brains can understand you need a balance and leaders to drag teams over the line.
The squad needs improving because you have to accept Van Persie, Walcott and Fabregas (if he stays) are all to a large degree injury prone. It is not complicated but it may be expensive. Stadium to pay for an obvious get out for the naysayers but you won’t fill the stadium with increasing prices without the investment.
By the way for all Arsenal chat, transfer news and the odd bit about my career as a Police Officer follow me on Twitter @Detective82. All tweets, feedback, views welcome.
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