Can we hold on to Ozil and Alexis this summer?
The chronic underachievement of this team is now hard to ignore. I doubt very much that players of Mesut Ozil’s ability want to stick around for the sake of a few domestic cup titles.
The FA Cup is a trophy, and trophies in general are hard to come by. But it is also the third best thing you can win every year. Domestic and European competitions are way more prestigious, and this is the success that the best players in the world crave.
Ozil and Sanchez are both 27-years-old, and are in the middle of their best footballing years right now. They have probably another 3-4 years left at the very top level. Can Arsenal realistically match their ambition of winning a domestic and European trophy in this timeframe?
Looking beyond simply replacing players who are likely to retire/leave, we need to make marquee signings to signal to our team – and our competitors – that we mean business.
Without significant investment in the squad, which our ageing team requires, we will likely lose one or both of them in the near future.
Top Four is the only trophy left
Finishing in the top four is the only target left to aim for. Only the most deluded optimist believes that we can overcome both Spurs and Leicester to win the Premier League. It would be just as surprising to see us secure multiple wins in a row, as it would be to see the two teams ahead of us drop points.
Once again, we find ourselves looking back over our shoulders, rather than towards trophies and deep cup runs. It is a frustrating, yet very familiar cycle.
There is a part of me that feels that dropping out of the Champions League would be the shock to the system this club needs to finally reconsider if Wenger is the right man for the job. Or perhaps it would make Wenger consider if he still wants to continue at the club.
It is a sad state of affairs when you find yourself wishing your team would lose, on the off chance that this proves to be a catalyst for change. I fear though, that even if this does happen, nothing will change and instead we will just find ourselves struggling to hold on to our star players, while failing to attract world class talent – with Arsene Wenger still in charge.
There are no guarantees that things would necessarily get better with someone else in charge. Fans are ready for change though, which makes this risk worth taking.
Regaining momentum is hard
It is no secret that Arsenal is a club in a slump, which can be traced back to either the 0-4 loss to Southampton or the 3-3 draw against Liverpool. The last 14 games have yielded just 4 wins, and these have come against less than stellar opponents.
No matter what Wenger says in his press conferences, he is not stupid enough to not acknowledge privately that we are spiraling out of control. Players are shorn of confidence, lacking imagination and creativity and unable to raise their performances to the levels required to be competitive.
However, as evidenced by struggles from other teams in the league, it is hard to turn things around when you hit a bad patch. Chelsea is the perfect example of this. Regardless of what Jose is like as a person, his track record of winning speaks for itself. When he runs out of ideas, it shows just how tricky turning things around can be.
Looking beyond Leicester and Spurs, City are unravelling, United can’t quite find their rhythm and Liverpool are still as bipolar as they had been under Rodgers. There are very few teams that did not experience a lengthy bad patch this season.
Ultimately though, this is what Arsene gets paid a lot of money to do. It is his job to arrest the slide and get the team firing again. With an almost guaranteed loss at Camp Nou on the horizon, it’s tough to see when this turnaround would happen.
Arsenal clichés are getting old
You can practically play cliché bingo when describing Arsenal’s performances this season. Almost every game has the same failings.
“We created enough chances to win.” “We played with the hand break on.” “If only we played the full game as we had for the last 10-15 minutes.” “We have the mental strength to come back from this disappointing result.” “We needed to be more clinical with our finishing.”
Any of the above can be applied to all of our disappointing results this season. It is probably the familiarity of our failings that fans find frustrating. You can see this coming from a mile away, and it is infuriating that nothing is being done to address this.
Yet again, our season unraveled spectacularly in a space of a few weeks, and some fans’ thoughts are already turning to next season. Unfortunately it is very likely will be talking about the same old Arsenal this time next year.
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