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Wenger Must Get Over Himself To Turn Arsenal Around

Daniel hopes “Wenger knows…” that he’s his own worst enemy.

Arsenal have been heavily criticised in recent weeks, and shockingly not all of it has come from William Gallas. Their season has collapsed and questions are being asked about the players’ attitude and the manager’s decision-making.

But are things really that bad?

Well, taking a longer term perspective you could argue that they are not. Last season Arsenal finished trophy-less and only sneaked into fourth spot on the last day of the Premiership season thanks to some Highbury magic and a dodgy lasagna. Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Denis Bergkamp, and Robert Pires – four crucial players in Arsenal’s success in recent years – all then left the club in the summer and little money was spent replacing them in relation to the transfer spending of the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea. Yet this season Arsenal have only just been edged out of the top three in the Premiership and have games in hand to climb back up the table. In addition, Fabregas has established himself as a world class player, Van Persie has developed into a quality goal scorer and a yet another batch of talented youngsters have emerged and matured, most notably Diaby and Denilson.

So, again, is all the concern merited?

Put simply, yes. The “Invincibles” have become a soft touch. They looked vulnerable at times last year and this season they have been mugged and bullied by lower quality teams too frequently. Last Saturday, Liverpool coasted to a 4-1 victory against them and it was obvious early on that Arsenal were resigned to defeat and didn’t seem to care. Far from unleashing ‘The Beast’ as he so often promises, Baptista rolled over and asked Carragher to tickle his belly – such was his acquiescence in Liverpool’s win. Would Arsenal under Adams or Vieira have whimpered their way to defeat like ‘The Labrador’ did? Of course not. Unfortunately for Arsenal fans ‘The Labrador’ isn’t the only ineffective and innocuous player regularly getting games for Arsenal. Rosicky and Hleb can be added to that list, and although he puts in more effort, Adebayor is not going to win Arsenal titles as their primary striker.

It is hard to see the current Arsenal squad challenging for the league next season, let alone winning it, so clearly new players need to be bought. And with so much extra revenue coming in from the new stadium, Wenger needs to rely less on his fabled eye for a young lad with potential; simply buy mentally tough, experienced players.

And why doesn’t he develop a Plan B for Arsenal? Arsenal play the most attractive football in the Premiership, but teams can set themselves up to defend against it, knowing exactly what’s coming at them. The Chuckle Brothers ‘to me, to you’ style of passing all the way to the goal-line is easy on the eye, but would it hurt to occasionally throw in a more direct ball or play with a natural winger who can put in a cross or two? Wenger has been a terrific manager for Arsenal, but his contrariness in refusing to buy the players he needs for his team or change its style of play, seems to be damaging the club’s chance of success.

Is Wenger still a genius or is he losing the plot? Evolution or revolution in the squad? Attractive football or winning ugly? Alex Ferguson’s lasting achievement is building his third great Manchester United squad if they pick up the title this season, Wenger needs to show that kind of staying-power to truly be considered his rival.