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Being Great ‘Next Year’ Might Be Too Late

For a long time, the mantra “Wenger knows…” has been rolled out by Arsenal faithful to express their trust in their manager’s judgment. We haven’t heard that phrase quite as often these days as team selection, tactics and transfer policy have all come under heavy scrutiny as the Gunners were eliminated early from the Premiership, FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League and generally struggled to put together any sort of decent form – culminating in the 4-1 collapse against Liverpool that showed a lack of fighting spirit, and 1-0 loss to West Ham that demonstrated a distinct lack of decisive players as chance after chance went wasted.

The solution for the fans generally seems to be investment in world class players, or at least those in their prime, rather than an over-reliance on inexperienced youth or players with the first touch of a rapist.

But Wenger knows…

“I’d be happy to go into next season with the same squad because we are in a growing process,” said Wenger in The Mirror.

“The temptation is always there to spend but I’m more concerned with developing the young players.

“I don’t think we need a big investment.”

Now, we feel like we’ve heard these quotes before earlier in the season so it could just be rehashing by a tabloid for the sake of drumming up a bit of drama. But even so, there have been other noises from Le Professor that makes a massive summer spree seem less than likely.

Still, Wenger is right that this is an Arsenal side that will continue to improve as its youngsters mature. But there tactical gaps in the squad that the current lot won’t address and only a dip into the transfer market will solve in the short or long term. The club is losing ground on Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool and hearing footsteps from the clubs behind them as Tottenham, Bolton and Everton continue to improve – so maybe planning on a great squad in 2010 needs a little rethinking.