Testing times for the Gunners

by Nikica Kolundzic

Where is it all going wrong for Arsenal?

At a time where Arsenal should have felt inspired and motivated following the crucial return of midfielder Jack Wilshere, they were left feeling dejected and deflated at the hands of a 2-1 loss to Manchester United last Saturday instead. Wilshere, who was out for 20 months with a recurring ankle injury, saw his second start for Arsenal marked with a sending off after a rash tackle on Patrice Evra which prompted a second yellow card.

However, many would argue despite the unquestionable talent of Wilshere-his performance against United was another reflection of Arsenal’s disappointing start to the season. Wenger’s side have only taken 15 points out of a possible 30 in the Premier League this season-the worse start in Wenger’s 16 years at Arsenal. This clearly shows the Arsenal side are struggling to click this season, and here are 3 reasons why.

3. Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger has won the Premier League three times and the FA Cup 4 times during his 16 year tenure at the London club, whilst also managing to win the Premier League without a single defeat during the 2003-2004 season. However, fans are starting to become restless at the fact Arsenal haven’t won a trophy in the past three years.

Wenger, a manager who has provoked some debate in his secure transfer policy for the past few years now, has also claimed qualifying for the Champions League is the same as winning either the FA Cup or Capital One Cup. Many fans were shocked and outraged at the negative and unambitious approach Wenger has seemingly adopted, as many maintain a club of Arsenal’s status and history should be vying for the top achievements in the sport.

Moreover, had a manager come out with a controversial statement much like this one or had a 7 year trophy drought at a different club, he would almost certainly be given his marching orders. Whatever Wenger believes in though, it is safe to assume his mindset isn’t a healthy one for a club that has already been suffering at the hands of the top teams in Europe for quite some time now.

2. New signings haven’t lived up to the hype

Although it is very easy to criticize the manager and his nature on and off the pitch, the players Wenger has brought in this past Summer have failed to make a lasting impact. Despite Santi Cazorla taking English Football by storm in the Premier League this season, French hitman Oliver Giroud and former Cologne striker Lukas Podolski have both struggled to make their mark. Giroud, who signed for £12million from Montpellier in the summer transfer window, has netted just three times in 14 appearances for the club so far this season. Podolski, who has been played as a left winger as opposed to a striker so far this term, has scored a feeble four times in 12 appearances.

When these statistics are evaluated it is quite obvious Arsenal have been unable to replace the quality they have lost in the past few seasons-as the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri departed the club to go on to achieve bigger and better things. Giroud has been favored to Arsenal’s current top-goalscorer Theo Walcott (who has underlined his form by scoring 7 goals in 11 appearances) but has been unable to show the Gunners’ fans what he is capable of. Podolski, who helped Germany to the semi-finals of the Euros this year, has been unable to continue that sparkling form on the pitch for Arsenal. However, it is important for these signings to hit the standard Cazorla has set this year soon-otherwise Wenger’s optimistic gamble may not pay off in the way he thought it would.

1. Wrong decisions

Arsene Wenger’s decisions this year have been not only been somewhat audacious, but also surprising; choosing to start Oliver Giroud instead of top goalscorer Theo Walcott against one of your biggest rivals was a big risk-which clearly didn’t pay off. Many fans were left wondering why Oliver Giroud was deemed a better option upfront against Manchester United when he had only scored 4 goals in 12 appearances, whereas in form winger Theo Walcott has scored seven goals in 11 appearances for the North London club. The decision just didn’t make any sense.

In addition, fans were left puzzled as to why Wenger chose to play Aaron Ramsey on the right wing instead of Walcott-who would have flourished in his natural position. Aaron Ramsey hasn’t looked himself since his return from an unfortunate leg-break, and whilst he has produced flashes of brilliance his inconsistency has always been a bigger liability. Furthermore, Ferguson and his team must have been laughing at the tactics Wenger was using against them-Arsenal missed pace and flair in their attack throughout the painful 90 minutes. It could be argued that had Walcott started, the game may have been different from the beginning.

However, if Wenger is choosing to punish Walcott for his rejection of signing a new contract without having his demands of being played as a striker met-Arsenal will lose another quality player unnecessarily once again. Although Wenger’s undying faith and loyalty in his new signings warrants respect from players and pundits alike-its the Gunners fans that are left questioning why Wenger is heaping praise onto the wrong individuals.

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