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Where Did It All Go Wrong – Arsenal in Decline

Angry, frustrated, disappointed.  Once again Arsenal fans are left let-down, once again we are promised things will change and once again it is groundhog season for Arsenal, and we haven’t even entered the annual departures of the close season.

Where do we start?  It is obvious that things went wrong in the summer with Wenger anticipating that both Nasri and Fabregas will not leave these were the hopes of a man living in a dream land.  The summer also saw not focus on any transfers other than Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain, despite the fact we needed at least one central defender and another striker.

We have seen in recent weeks the paucity of our squad.  We have played Song, Arteta and Ramsey in nearly every game.  Wenger has alternatives, Frimpong, Coquelin, Rosicky and Benayoun, but he does not trust the first two and neither Benayoun nor Rosicky are up to the task.  Creativity is lacking in central midfield and Ramsey appears completely lost playing the attacking midfield role.  We have Wilshere and Diaby coming back from injury, but will that solve the problem?  Wilshere will have an impact, but isn’t it too much to have to rely on this young man, when all around him lack that certain edge required of Arsenal midfielders?

On the wings, Wenger has had three options, Walcott, Gervinho and Arshavin.  Walcott does not realise he needs to play to his strength, and he only has one – speed.  Theo is a speed merchant but is reluctant to run at defenders, to play the ball past the full-back and challenge him for pace.  Walcott’s finishing has been woeful, for someone who wishes to play as a central striker his shooting is pathetic.  What has the coaching staff been working on with Theo in the last 5 years?  Has he really improved since joining Arsenal, and if the answer is no, then why not, has anybody spoken to him about wing play?

Arshavin gave up playing for Arsenal some time ago, the only surprise is that Wenger hasn’t sold him.  What has happened to Arshavin, why does not take players on anymore, where are the little tricks gone or the on-target shots?  The answer lies partly in our formation.  Arshavin plays off the striker, he likes to attack the goal directly not via the wings.  Look at his first half-season, he played behind van Persie or Adebayor and he ran at players go left or right, now he does not have that variation.

Our forwards consist of one person, van Persie, end of story.  Chamakh started of really last season, then stopped, he does not even look like a player who score an open goal, why is a mystery.  One suggestion is that he does not get enough playing time, but when we only play one striker, he never will, so unless we change to 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1, Chamakh will go the same way as Bendtner. Our third striker is a mystery to everyone, Park.  Why did Wenger buy Park so late in the window?  He knew Bendtner was leaving so another striker was always required, why not show an intent and go for Remy, Hunterlaar or Benzema, instead we opt for a Ligue 2 striker Park.  But then Wenger proceeds not to play him and asks the fans to give him a chance, but Wenger does not trust him! Is Park one of these mystery Wenger purchases like Kaba Diawarra or Tomas Danilevicius?  Whatever the reason, I doubt Park will be with next season.

Arsenal have struggled this season, narrow home victories over Stoke, Sunderland, Everton, QPR, draws with Fulham, Wolves and away defeats at Blackburn, Fulham and Swansea just emphasise in which direction we are heading this season.  This Arsenal squad must be the worse squad of players assembled by Wenger in his time at the club.  Wenger has stated that finishing in the top four is more important than winning a trophy, well I doubt we will finish in the top four or win a trophy this season.  The squad needed a major overhaul in the summer, quality players were required and that has not changed.  It is going to be a long and painful second half of the season for Arsenal fans, let’s hope that there is radical change in the summer, but I doubt it.

 

 

Transfer Deadline Day – Bendtner Out – Which Midfielders Will We Buy

Transfer deadline day looms and Arsenal are still in the market for midfielders, this is not idle blog gossip but Arsene Wenger stated we are short of players in this area.  This became self-evident in recent games were the creativity has been left to Rosicky and his best days are behind him.

Today is a day we will all go mad in following rumours and tweets.

MVila was the player we were linked with and apparently made a £22M bid for the France international, but Rennes want £30M. I doubt Wenger will stretch to £30M, but Wenger could try and push this one through, though M’Vila is more of a defensive player.

Until the window is closed the Eden Hazard to Arsenal bandwagon keeps rolling on, though Lille are reluctant to sell to Arsenal following the Park transfer, the possible arrival or Joe Cole on loan and also Arsenal could offer Chamakh as part of the deal.  Though it is being reported in La Voix du Nord that Liverpool have first refusal on Hazard for 2012 due to the possible Cole deal.

Further afield, Italy in particular, Arsenal have been linked with Montolivio and Vargas from Fiorentina.  Could Wenger go for a double Italian scoop?

Closer to home Wenger has made inquiries about Everton duo Arteta and Felaini and also Chelsea duo Benayoun and Malouda.

My preference will be for the Everton duo, but in dealing with English clubs the transfer fees will be inflated, but the positive is that we know what they can do in England with no bedding process required.

Do not discount a last minute move for either Gary Cahill or Chris Samba.

On exit front Bendtner, the self-confessed best striker in the world, is in talks with Stoke City.  Manual Almunia has disappeared off the radar; this is daunting as he could appear in an Arsenal shirt in the forthcoming months. Two other Arsenal players that could have gone in this window, but arte likely to stay as we are short of players are Arshavin and Rosicky.

Most worrying is Henri Lansbury.  Wenger went on record to say he will give him a chance, but Lansbury’s appearances this season were against Liverpool when we were down to 10 men and a cameo appearance at the Old Trafford Massacre.  Not really the chance the Lansbury deserves.  If Wenger cashes in on Lansbury, Arsenal FC should close down its Academy.  This is one of the best players to come out of the Academy and he has been given zero opportunity by Arsene, whilst the likes of Rosicky and Arshavin stroll around the pitch with minimal effort.

What amazes me is  that deals can be concluded in hours at this time of the season, players jet in from everywhere to undertake medicals in a matter of hours, whilst during the rest of the window it could, if you are an Arsenal fan, take weeks for transfers to be concluded.

 

Arsenal In Dire Straits

It’s now or never for Wenger.  The squad is the weakest since Arsene’s reign started that there is no doubt.  Suspensions and injuries are mounting and we have only played three games.  Our squad for today included two players who are outward bound and contained 8 youngsters.

Whilst we could see the potential in both Frimpong and Miguel today, trophies are not won with potential, but as Wenger told us in May with experience.

Our attack was blunt today with the only Nasri showing any inventiveness.  The defence was on the whole solid but Jenkinson looked exposed on several occasions.

Arsene has insisted that the players he has brought in Gervinho, Jenkinson, Ryo and Oxlade-Chamberlain are good quality players and by implication adequate replacements for Febregas, Nasri, Denilson, Vela, Eboue and Clichy.  I think Wenger is either deluded or lying to the fans. Defence is the main area to strengthen, yet Arsene has refused to move for any of our “targets”, why?  Is it that he thinks they are not good enough for Arsenal or does he think they are too expensive?  We have had bids turned down for both Samba and Jagielka within the last 12 months, so they must be good enough, but Wenger appears to refuse to spend.  Arsene needs to spend money and strengthen our defence there is no other option.

Midfield is devoid of players with invention.  We were missing Gervinho and Wilshere, but that is no excuse.  Wenger is culpable allowing this situation to develop.  Everyone know that Cesc was leaving, Denilson wanted out and Nasri was not prepared to sign a new contract, so why were so indecisive in the transfer market?  If we go back to Ricardo Alvarez, how did we let this one slip away over a reported £1.5M difference in valuation?  At the end of July we were about to sign Mata for £13M, but failed to lodge the bid before his buyout clause expired and now Chelsea are favourites to sign him for £28M.

In attack we have let Carlos Vela go out on loan and Niklas Bendtner is due to leave, this leaves us with van Persie who only plays 50% of our games and Marouane Chamakh who looks like he’ll never score again.

Frankly our squad is too weak to compete this season, not to challenge for the title but too weak to even try and make a fourth place finish.

Why has this happened?  The board needs to accept some of the responsibility.  They have, since David Dein’s departure allowed Wenger to dictate and conduct transfer negotiations.  This adds pressure on Wenger in terms of spending, he is fearful of spending say £17M on Cahill and then the player not producing the goods.  The situation at Arsenal is calling for a Director of Football who is responsible for transfer and contract negotiations. Wenger hands this person a list of players in priority order and he then goes out and buys the player within the transfer budget.

Arsenal now have two vital games, away to Udinese and Manchester United.  Defeat in these games will be disaster; we will have Europa League football at Arsenal and potentially out of the title race by the end of August.

Unless Arsene brings in a minimum of three players this week, Arsenal fans are going to have a very long and frustrating season.

Today saw swarms of fans leave the ground once Liverpool took the lead, there was dissent from fans calling for Arsene to spend the money and for the second game in a row there were hundreds of empty seats.  The latter has prompted the club to stop announcing the attendance during the games.

Wenger’s Week With Destiny

When the season came to a close, Arsene stated that we needed a bit more strength and experience in the squad, in particular in defence.  The old sage has since enlightened us with the fact that he will be busy this summer, this was then refined that most business will be done at the end of July .  Le Professer told us that we will bring in one more defender (f we can) and that he wishes to keep Cesc and Nasri.

These were the titbits that gave us all hope that changes were afoot, players will come in and deadwood would leave.

Three weeks before the start of the season and we need to take stock of where we are.

Clichy has left to Manchester City, Eboue is about to leave for Galatasaray and could be joined there by ArshavinCesc is so desperate to leave that it is affecting his fitness as he is suffering with a hamstring that has not cleared up after 3 months treatment. Nasri has made it clear via his representatives that he will not sign a new contract and will leave next summer on a Bosman.  How can Arsenal allow this to happen, this is a disgrace and we should sell Nasri. Denilson has not been able to find any clubs willing to pay for him, so it is a season long loan to Sao Paulo for him, whilst Bendtner is also struggling to find anyone prepared to pay a fee. Also due to leave is our mercurial goalkeeper Almunia.

That is eight first team squad players that will be absent at the start of the season.  Added to this list are the possible departures of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and more worrying is the possible transfer of Henri Lansbury.

The departure of these two youngsters is something that all Arsenal fans need to be worried about, they follow the long list of youngsters sold without being given the opportunity to prove themselves.  What is it with Arsene and our home-grown players, why are bothering with a youth academy if just sells them once thy turn 19 or 20? The coaches at Hale End must be pulling their hair out. Lansbury was a pivotal member of the under-21 team for England this summer and now he is being shown the door, this is a DISGRACE.

So how busy has Arsene been in the transfer market?  We have managed after a very long time to sing Gervinho a transfer that took so long so of us doubted it would ever happen. Also added to the squad is Carl Jenkinsson, and that is it.

We have been linked with Chris Samba, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Ricardo Alvarez, Juan Mata, Santi Carzola, Matthieu Valbuena, Jose Enrique and Joel Campbell.  Many sources have stated that we have been in discussions with these players, their clubs or their representatives.  What has been the outcome? Alvarez went to Inter Milan because we were not prepared to pay the extra £1.5M wanted by his club.  Samba, Cahill and Jagielka we have been making silly offers for these players, not really re-assuring if you are one of these players to know that Arsenal are not really prepared to push the boat out for you. Mata has a release clause of £23M, so we are prepared to offer £15M.

It is the same old story, someone at the club is not prepared to pay the extra money to secure the players we need.  Who is this someone, Wenger or Gazidis or both?  Whoever it is it is a disgrace.  This club has lost major players every season and has not replaced them, there is only so long a club can paper over the cracks, if we do not bring in players of quality this summer then Wenger will have to answer to the fans not the board for his failure to buy this summer.

This is the week that Arsene said he will do business, Monday has gone and still no players, time is running out and the fans patience is wearing thin.