How do you solve a problem like Wenger?
We fully expected West Brom to get something from the game against Arsenal but the manner of the victory highlighted the flaws present in this Arsenal side. The blame has to fall somewhere and Wenger is the easy target. He’s refused to adapt in his period as manager and the side hasn’t progressed since the Invincibles took the Championship in 2003/04.
Not only has the side failed to progress they’ve fallen from grace, especially so in recent years. The squad of today bears no resemblance to that squad, from the side that completely dominated the league for a season. They had a side that balance flair and resilience, a side that was built around winners.
Arsenal have lost that winning mentality, they’ve gone soft and the lack of results in the major competitions has seen them fall from genuine title contenders, to a side resting on it’s laurels, content with a Champions League place and a good run in the FA cup.
The winning mentality
This is something that cannot be taught on the training ground, it’s bred into the players by the managers and the performances they put in. Ferguson was a master at building a side with a winning mentality. Fergie time has become synonymous with late winning goals, his sides always played to the last minute, regardless of the odds of victory.
The victory over Man United in the Champions League final epitomised this mentality. Losing 1-0 against Bayern Munich with 90 minutes on the clock Sheringham equalised, they looked to have snatched extra time from the jaws of defeat. 2 minutes later, Solskjaer scored the winner. The side knew never to give in, and believed they could win it.
Arsenal don’t have this mentality, they can score late goals to win games, but they can’t do it on the big stage. The Giroud goal against Bournemouth was celebrated like a cup final win, but it was a draw at one of the sides fighting for relegation. It was a marvelous comeback, but you have to question why a side who is fighting for the title was 3-0.
Their record against the top 6 is poor, often freezing before the big games. Key players often disappear, Ozil becoming the invisible man. With just 1 win over the top 6 this season, they are bottom of the top 6 mini league, the victory over Chelsea transforming that side into the Champions elect.
The side is soft
The side is full of players with little bark and no bite. Walcott, Giroud, Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain all play the game like it’s a friendly. There is no ‘hard-man’ in the side. No-one to protect the creative players or impact on the opposition. Xhaka looks like he could fill the role, but he often get’s his challenges wrong, his disciplinary record already looks a concern early in his career.
When they face the more rugged sides such as Stoke, Burnley and West Brom they are unable to adapt their game. The opposition sit back and let Arsenal play in front of them. There is no play who is able to battle their way towards goal like YaYa has done in previous years for Man City.
Sanchez injuries back after carrying the side for another year
For all the praise Ozil gets it’s Sanchez who has carried the side so far this season. Ozil has registered just 4 Premier League assists, Sanchez has 8. He has 5 goals to Sanchez’s 18. The German playmaker has been outplayed by the Chilean Superstar so far this season and he looks a frustrated figure.
Looking around this side it’s clear to see that he is the most important player, and he’s out there on his own. The top sides in the division have great attacking partnerships, Costa and Hazard, Silva and Aguero, Sanchez and…. Giroud? Sanchez is leagues above the rest of the players in the side and it’s no surprise he’s looking to move on.
Lack of Quality
As mentioned in the previous section only Sanchez has world-class quality. There are players with talent, Bellerin for example, but the rest of the side is average. The money saved up by building the new stadium hasn’t helped the side, and they’ve been unable to buy the quality needed to compete at the top level.
The players have talent, but only Sanchez is likely to make the team of the season. They’ve failed to progress in the Champions League because of the difference in talent between this side and the top teams in Europe and with them slowly slipping down the league, they are running the risk of becoming a stepping stone for players as they look to play for Chelsea, Man City or possibly Spurs.
It’s all down to Wenger
Wenger has instilled an attitude of style over substance. He want’s his sides to play the beautiful game regardless of the outcome. The excuse that other sides have more resources won’t hold out for long and the side has become vastly under-invested.
He’s become so set in his ways that he’s unable to adapt. The mauling of Chelsea made Conte rethink his set up and he’s created the most formidable side in the division. Wenger continues to repeat his mistakes regardless of the mountain of evidence suggesting that it does not work.
For a manager who has given great service to a club, it’s hard to see him treated in such a manner, but the game has changed, and he’s unable to cope in this new, harsh environment. It’s a tough call but C’est la vie Arsene.