Monday, 11 July 2011

Troubled Times

Journalists are hardly the apple of the nation’s eye at the minute so writing a blog is possibly not the best thing to be doing. However I’ll persevere and stay clear of the voicemails, at least until I run out of things to say.
Thought I would have a look at the current situation which is escalating within the walls of the Emirates as Arsene Wenger’s vision seems to be crumbling beneath him.
Arsenal are the Premierships perpetual nearly men and possibly one the most frustrating sides ever. The footballing displays on show at times are mesmerising, with some of the top teams in the world chasing shadows as the ball sticks like a magnet to the feet of these technically brilliant players. However their continual failure to covert ability into silverware has left the red and white faithful beginning to lose faith in the man at the helm.
Arsene Wenger has developed the style of play football purists dream of. In a perfect world, every team would play in similar fashion. However we don’t live in said world and, unfortunately, sometimes strength beats ability leaving Arsenal vulnerable to the battlers they come up against in the Premier League, the likes of Stoke being a continual obstacle. Wenger’s refusal to invest in experience has meant they are the perennial underachievers, and it’s time now to lose that ‘In Arsene We Trust’ mindset and face up to the fact this team should be winning trophies and the manager has to be held accountable.
It’s a complex issue as he does have the track record to suggest that he can mould this team into winners but the question remains of how long he can go on telling the fans his young team will come good. The days of ‘The Invincible’s’ are a mere memory now but it is interesting to note that that squad had an average age of 27.6 whereas last season this was down at 23.6. Now I’m not going into Hanson mode but it does give a reflection on the lack of understanding of the game at the top level from the Arsenal squad. Putting a couple of experienced campaigners in that side would have done wonders for their title hopes this year. Investing in for example Shay Given and Richard Dunne, both out of favour at their clubs last year, would have in my eyes won the title for Arsenal, or at least run United a great deal closer. However the flat out refusal to change his philosophy of young is best has left the club’s supporters once again empty handed.

Confused Captain

It seems that the players are beginning to lose their never wavering faith in their manager as they’re queuing up to leave. The long running saga over the captain Cesc Fabregas is becoming tiresome and not beneficial to either party. It has to be set out in stone this summer that he will either be staying and seeing out his contract, or joining a side which is quite frankly being greedy taking on yet another quality player, in Barcelona. Although with Xavi reaching 31, it is not surprising they are seeking out his replacement. For the captain of your club to continually have his head turned is not helping anyone so it has to put to bed once and for all, if that means he leaves then so be it.

In demand

Another player seemingly on the move is Samir Nasri. A player in exactly the mould Wenger delights in creating and it is understandable he wants to bury his head in the sand and feel there is no reason for him to leave. But in reality there is. Arsenal are simply not able to match the ambition of their top players at the moment which is winning the Premier League and Champions League. They are not able to sustain their challenge throughout the course of a competition and it must be addressed immediately before they are left with a young team full of potential but with no stars who are keeping their heads above water, that is the top 4.
A host of players are scampering for the exits this summer. The aforementioned duo alongside Bendtner, Almunia, Denilson and Arshavin are all looking to join Gail Clichy in seeking pastures new. The talent that is possessed in the Emirates dressing room is formidable, I mean they beat Barcelona at home this year and were unfortunate to go out after the second leg but the sheer number of players looking to leave shows all is not rosy in Mr Wenger’s garden. Even today’s signing of Gervinho will not reassure the top stars and the paying punters everything will be alright. It is not the striking areas that need addressed first. With Van Persie, Chamakh, Walcott, Arshavin, as well as Nasri and Fabregas still being there, the firepower is not exactly below par. The almost stubbornness to bow to media pressure and sign a top quality centre half and goalkeeper could prove costly and mean his dream of a second wave of Invincible’s could clattering down in front of eyes. If he sees it that is.

Distant Memory

Don’t get me wrong, the loss of a few of these players aren’t going to mean Arsenal plummet down the league. But they do need to invest. The takeover by Stan Kroenke means Wenger wouldn’t be short of money should he want it and that has all ready been confirmed by the chairman Peter Hill-Wood. If he can swallow his principles and add to the fantastic squad he has at his disposal then the trophy cabinet might have to be prised open and the cobwebs cleared to allow the Premier League trophy to be placed inside. With talents such as Wilshire and Ramsey coming through the ranks they certainly have the basis of a team that will prove a tough test for those at the top of the game. So if Wenger can swallow his pride then Arsenal will be a major force next year. But going on recent evidence it may be that the burden will be thrown onto the shoulders of their young players once again, an attitude which is yet to bear fruit in the last 6 years.

All in all Mr Wenger isn't going to conform to his nation stereotype and fly the white flag over the North London club’s base just yet. He still believes in his philosophy and if it all comes together this season then we are looking at footballing perfection, much like the Catalan giants over in Spain have provided for us. However with mass uncertainty over who’s staying and going, and the continuing lack of proven winners at the club, the Frenchman has a tough job to keep the Gunner’s fans mantra of ‘In Arsene We Trust’.