Arsenal - Thoughts on the season so far

Maybe it would have been better to have waited until after Sunday’s game with Man United before writing this. Still, let’s break it down into a couple of parts…

The Manager

A marmite topic amongst Arsenal fans now, and I can understand why. On the one hand, you don’t want to dismiss his lengthy list of achievements in the English game, but on the other there’s clearly a sense of foreboding about where he’s now taking the club.

It’s difficult to shake the impression that he spent a lot of money in August for the sake of it, and that the players he did bring in weren’t necessarily the right ones. Mikel Arteta maybe, but Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos seemed to represent ill-though out purchases. The German’s a case in point, because staggeringly, it doesn’t look as if anybody really researched his strengths and weaknesses before bringing him to the club. I know that there are similarities between the Bundesliga and the Premier League, but there are also key differences. Mertesacker is a good player, but he’s weak when exposed to pace and movement - so why would you bring a defender with the turning circle of a Lancaster Bomber to the quickest league in Europe?

The Squad

There’s a bit of overlap here with the previous section, but I don’t think Arsene Wenger has been decisive enough with certain members of his squad. Andrei Arshavin has contributed nothing this year, and has lived off the back of his first six months in this country for a long time now. With every passing window, the Russian depreciates in value, yet he remains at the club - he needs to go. Theo Walcott underwhelms constantly - an athlete pretending to be a footballer. That situation is especially frustrating when the potential and dynamism of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is sitting on the bench.

Without over-playing the obvious, this side will look a whole lot better when Jack Wilshere returns from injury. Yes, Wilshere brings a creativity to the side, but he also brings a calming presence in possession - which is clearly helpful given Arsenal’s current issues with ball-retention.

Transfer targets

Is it really worth speculating on something that won’t happen? Wenger doesn’t believe in doing business in January, and no amount of late-season tail-offs will seemingly dissuade him from that mindset. Still, cover at full-back wouldn’t hurt, would it?

Overview

I suspect what’s needed at Arsenal is actually an objective pair of eyes, because Wenger doesn’t really seem to see what everybody else does - this is a club slipping back towards the Hinterland of mediocrity. Too many average components, not enough match-winners. Football is unfortunately a short-term industry, and you really can’t eat out on past achievement forever. Squad re-modeling, re-shaping, streamlining; whatever you want to call it - being ten points behind Tottenham in January and heading for the Europa League is not really acceptable.

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Posted on January 17, 2012, in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Some perspective is needed. I don’t want to blame luck, but the injury crisis at the back is somewhat unprecedented. We’re not talking about last season when TV was missing or the season before that when it was RVP’s absence.

    Playing 5th and 4th choice full backs is pretty difficult for any top club travelling to Swansea or Fulham.

    However, Arsenal should have been good enough to dig out at least 2 points from both games.

    Chelsea, as everyone feared will probably buy 3 or 4 players this window and storm on, while Spurs, with their 10 point buffer won’t be reckless enough to allow this opportunity to slip.

    Even if Spurs have injuries and suffer a blip in form and scramble home in 4th, I can see Harry gloating about what an unbelieveable season they’ve had finishing above Arsenal for the first time in 15yrs, bla, bla , bla

  2. I agree with Ogban, regards the bizarre decision not to replace Clichy sooner and as such, Santos looked like a desperation buy. If he didn’t fancy Enrique, 24, proven prem quality and the same price as Santos who is 28 why didn’t he buy Santos earlier.

    Sadly, like Jenkinson, Santos was looking better when he got the Arsenal injury bug.

    Wenger, said heads would role in the summer and he would be ‘very active’ in the transfer summer. This along with Gazidis’ statement about keeping some of their ‘powder dry’ for Jan has proved equally false.

    Harry, must be laughing at how we’ve laid down and conceded 4th spot. With players to come back, ideally defensively, in Sagna and Gibbs I expect a much better end of the season, although if RVP gets a knock the results might be equally frustrating.

  3. being down on fullbacks has put team back to buy one now wont help no time to fit in ash should go the ox is bril but pushing young players to hard has not helped them future inj probs.ars will have bril team of mostly 20-23 age next or next season with 6-8 yrs ahead to win everything my feelling is fans will bring manager and team down before this time

  4. I am one of Wenger’s most ardent supporter/admirer. But even I can’t help a feeling of frustration at some of his decisions. There is too much of an element of gambling in his decision-making. For instance, it took the humiliation at OT for him to realise that Traore was not up to standard. As a result, he passed up the chance of signing Enrique. How he thought Arsenal would survive a season with Gibbs and Traore beats me.

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