It’s been a tumultuous week or so for Arsenal, as they’ve seen their Premier League title hopes shattered and the same old questions arise over Arsene Wenger.
Defeats to Watford and Chelsea in the space of five days have seen them fall to fourth place in the table, 12 points adrift of the league leaders and just a point above Liverpool who sit in fifth.
While Hull City visit the Emirates this weekend, a trip to Munich awaits on Wednesday night as they take on Bayern in the Champions League. With a trip to Sutton United the following weekend, the next fortnight will determine whether or not they are ready to dig in and fight or risk a complete capitulation and their season going up in smoke.
In order to ensure it’s the former, several things need to happen at the club. With the fanbase becoming increasingly hostile yet again, they need answers to at least soften the blow of seeing their side fall short of silverware.
Stop showing blind faith in players
Wenger has come under fire for his selections at times and tactical stubbornness, but he must start making changes to his squad and picking players on merit.
What has Ozil done to stay in the team in recent weeks? It’s difficult to remember his name being mentioned more than two or three times in the Chelsea defeat, and it didn’t just start at Stamford Bridge. Why is he still in the team? The same could be said of Francis Coquelin, Petr Cech, Nacho Monreal and others.
While you have to appreciate Wenger’s loyalty towards his senior players, unless he shuffles his pack, these players will just be comfortable continuing to do what they do.
Wenger must declare decision on contract
The French tactician revealed at the weekend that a two-year contract has been offered to him. Either reveal your intention to stay and the plan moving forward, or announce you are leaving.
This state of flux where no-one really knows what is going to happen is helping none of the parties concerned. Supporters are merely becoming more frustrated.
If he stays and there’s a promise to change direction, surely it will appease them. If he announces that he’s leaving and a succession plan is being drawn up, surely it will silence the boo boys? Admittedly, it’s tough to publicly make such a decision at this stage of the season, but something needs to be said on the future.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil contracts
Sign them up. Sanchez in my opinion has to stay. He is Arsenal’s only world-class player who is capable of dragging them to a title in future years.
However, both now need to pen new terms as if Ozil doesn’t, he will have to leave in a cut-price deal with his contract expiring next summer.
Arsenal must strengthen their own position either way as new contracts will mean bigger price-tags so and stop this on-going saga from being a distraction or a problem.
Finish in the top four and win the FA Cup
This might be seen as a running joke, but it’s not. Many clubs will envy Wenger’s record of always finishing in the top four since his arrival in 1996, and his consistent qualification for the Champions League is crucial to the club. He can’t tarnish that record this year and so results have to pick up quickly.
Personally, I can’t see the Gunners getting past Bayern in the form and shape they’re in at the moment. They could prove me and a lot of other people wrong, but the FA Cup is their best shot at silverware again.
Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United are still involved so it will be difficult, but such is their history and tradition in the competition, they will go for it and fancy their chances.