Arsené Wenger – Time to go? (Part 1)

by Cillian O'Neill

Not in the opinion of this Gooner anyway. I’ve been as vehement a defender of Le Prof as any over the past few years, defending him to the hilt. Although as more time passes and this squad is exposed as having the same glaring weaknesses as it did last year and the year before I’m starting to wonder if I even believe my own arguments anymore or am I just another Wenger apologist.

When I looked at the squad at the start of the 08/09 season I predicted that we would not win anything until this current season. We had a very young squad and I felt they needed time to grow together. Three years should be enough time to do it, and I could accept another trophyless two years of disappointment and embarrassment at the hand of better teams if it meant that this group of young players would peak together and start to push on and win silverware.

However this hasn’t happened; the same mistakes are being made and the same deadwood is still part of the squad having either not progressed, or in the case of a certain Brazilian, gone so far backwards that the overweight fans screaming at the television in the local pub and on the terraces that they could do a better job than him may actually have some merit to their arguments. Going out of three competitions in the last fortnight has been a major body blow to this side and one it looks like they can’t recover from.

I can’t think of an Arsenal fan that doesn’t appreciate what Arsené Wenger has done for this club, but he has to make some radical changes very soon before those baying for his head begin to outnumber those defending him.

March Signings

Yes, you heard me right, bring in some new players in March. After Wojciech Szczesny mangled Lukasz Fabianski’s shoulder during the warm up for the Manchester City game back in January the younger Pole then ended up dislocating his finger and straining the tendon in his hand against Barcelona leaving Arsenal with only one senior goalkeeper in the form of the error prone Manuel Almunia for the remainder of the season. If Almunia picks up an injury it will mean our first choice goalkeeper will be 19 year old James Shea who is yet to play a game higher than reserves level. An emergency loan signing is badly needed and Arsené seems to have someone in mind so hopefully that will be squared away shortly.

Kyle Bartley needs to be recalled form his loan spell at Rangers. There are currently three fit centre backs at the club. Koscielny, who has impressed in his first season at Arsenal but is still prone to error and has played a lot of games this season. Squillaci, a player so slow that when we play our usual high line with him in the team it’s akin to committing tactical suicide. Miquel, a reserve team player who has played two games for the senior side, both against lower league opposition.

If recalled, Bartley may not get too much game time, but having at least a modicum of top level experience under his belt with Rangers he will be much more capable of stepping into a starting spot than Miquel. Song can play in defence but doing that weakens our midfield far too much for it to be considered a viable mid/long-term option.

Aaron Ramsey made his return against United after a year out of the game so I guess we could refer to him as one of Wenger’s favourite kind of players ‘like a new signing’. Personally I can’t see him having too big of an impact in the remaining months of the season. Next year I hope to see him back to the form he was displaying before the injury that kept him out for so long.

Aside from that there’s not very much Wenger can do before the summer to try and change this squad aside from get them motivated and back on track. The performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup and the second leg of the Barcelona tie highlighted the problem in these games. In both cases the only players who seemed to care that we were losing and displayed a bit of fight were Jack Wilshere and Johan Djourou. With the latter out for the rest of the season with a dislocated collarbone and the former having played so many games at such a young age that he probably isn’t too far away from burnout or muscular injury it paints a grim image of this Arsenal side and their mentality.

Our talisman and captain was, frankly, an embarrassment at the Camp Nou. He looked like he couldn’t care less at the fact we were being dominated and his lazy backheel on the edge of our own penalty area that gifted Barcelona a goal just before half time summed up his attitude on the night for me; one of forlorn indifference. After the game he claimed he was injured from the 15th minute onwards. If that was the case he should have taken himself off like he did against Stoke instead of selfishly not wanting to remove himself from the spectacle of a game at his childhood club. He can do it at the Nou Camp, but not on a cold Wednesday night against Stoke.

Come the summer however there is one thing Wenger needs to do to get this club back on track on the pitch and that’s SPEND, SPEND, SPEND. A manager with as good a grasp of economics you will not find anywhere, but eventually the philosophy must change. This current group of players is not good enough to win trophies and investment is badly needed.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 which we will have on the site tomorrow.

12 Responses

  1. Brandy says:

    I think Arsenal’s main problem towards the end of this season has been Fabregas. I’m one of his biggest fans, but I think his performance at the Nou Camp summed up his season. He doesn’t want to be at Arsenal and seems to be suffering from the type of niggling injuries that you mentioned may affect Wilshere in the coming years.

    Accommodating Cesc has pushed Arsenal’s best player this season, Nasri, out on to the wing – despite him being brilliant in that playmaker role whilst Fabregas was out. With Nasri a more than adequate replacement, sending Cesc off to Barca in the Summer should bring in the funds to buy a quality holding midfield player.

  2. Ad says:

    It seems Arsenal have Jens Lehmann lined up as cover of Almunia, so at least Wenger will be injecting some experience with the 41 year old set to join for the remainder of the season.

    Not sure if letting Wenger go would be a great idea for Arsenal. Unfortunately Arsenal are in a predicament whereby they were once successful and since those times the likes of Chelsea, Man City and Spurs have emerged from mediocrity thanks to the backing of wealthy owners. Maybe less so in the case of Spurs, but Harry has spent shrewdly to bring in high calbire players.

    There has always been a suggestion that Arsenal will return the glory days, but they do suffer from the same frailties every season – or for the past two or three at least. I recall that when February or March arrive, Arsenal are normally in a commanding position, but then give it a couple of weeks and they find themselves out of contention, focusing on a single or no silverwear at all.

    Obviously this season they are still in with a chance to claim the Premier League title, but they will have to show a desire and ruthlessness that they have lacked in recent years.

    If Wenger is shown the door, will another manager really work better with this current crop of Arsenal players!?!? I don’t think any manager would.

    The answer for Arsenal has always been finding a good balance in defence and securing the services of a top quality keeper. One vital ingredient to a successful side is having a keeper who is going to save you when you need him most, not drop the ball at a players feet when the clock is ticking away in the latter stages of a match.

    Arsenal lack a world class keeper and a proven formula at the back. If they can address those areas then success will follow as their midfield has a blend of creativity, bite and compsure in Nasri, Wilshire, Fabregas and Song.

    With Van Persie, Chamakh, Arshavin, Bendtner and Vela, Arsenal should have a strong pool of attacking players that add something a little different.

    Wenger needs to open his eyes (in more ways than one) and realise what personnel he needs and get them in asap, otherwise his days could be numbered.

  3. Ix Techau says:

    The LAST thing Wenger needs to do is spend spend spend, especially since we’re at the final stage of our 10-year transition. You can read about it over at Arsenal Report:

    http://www.arsenalreport.com/2011/03/the-mighty-transition-why-arsenal-havent-won-anything-in-6-years/

  4. Ger McCarthy Ger McCarthy says:

    Nice work Cillian and a very interesting read. Unlike yourself – I’m no arsenal fan btw – I would be at the end of my tether with Wenger if another trophy less season goes by this year. Especially with United beginning to wobble and Chelsea completely off the pace during this campaign.

    I often wonder if Arsenal could do with a vocal coaching voice to oppose some of Wenger’s decisions and tactics. Exactly what is Pat Rice’s role? Also, the long the gunners go without blooding in a new understudy to the Frenchman the longer and potentially more painful the handover of power will be when Wenger eventually moves on.

  5. shehan says:

    koscielny has been the worst defender to wear an arsenal jersey in the past 50 years. it is shocking that wenger continues selecting him every week.

    this man has cost you points, trophies and dignity on his way to taking the largest dump ever on the arsenal insignia.

    wenger needs to send him back to the french B league, where players of his caliber are a dime a dozen.

    1. Ix Techau says:

      This is probably the most untrue thing I’ve read on the internet in a month.

      1. shehan says:

        so you are saying he hasn’t cost you points or trophies?

        off the top of my head i can count 3 penalties he has given up, 2 red cards and a bunch of stupid fouls in front of the penalty box that resulted in dangerous free kicks.

        you don’t win trophies with defenders like koscielny. the sooner wenger realizes this the sooner arsenal will win something.

        1. Robbie Deighan says:

          The likes of Patrice Evra and Vidic had a very rough first few months in the Premier League.
          Not easy to adapt to quickly for some foreign players.

        2. Ix Techau says:

          I also remembering him reducing attacking threats from Barcelona to mediocre levels in the first leg.

        3. shehan says:

          sure, i also remember him bundling pedro over in the box to give up the goal that handed barcelona the tie.

          i also remember him trying to check-swing a kick right in front of his goalkeeper costing arsenal the carling cup.

          these perpetual losses of concentration have cost arsenal too much this season.

          you can defend him all you want, but most people call it ‘wenger syndrome’. blinded by so much hope that you fail to judge a player by empirical methods. ultimately, you set yourself up for emotional failure.

      2. total rubbish, cygan,stepanovs and senderos were so poor, koscielny has been improving in recent weeks

    2. Cillian O'Neill Frisbee says:

      Not a hope, Koscielny has been one of our best performers this year!

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