By Tarik Demoura, @Tarik_demoura
As April comes to a close and once again the familiar fight for fourth place intensifies. Not to mention the fact that a place at Wembley is missing as well, due to a home defeat to Watford a result typical of the season as a whole. So with no cup final to look forward to, the failure in the Champions League and post-Christmas Collapse in the league. Not to mention that the other side of north London made a better, but not enough attempt of challenging surprise leaders and now champions Leicester city. So now what?
With both Chelsea and the Manchester clubs having a season to forget. The fact that Arsenal are still unable to make a sustained challenge for the league, blows Mr. Wenger’s claim that the rise of these clubs has made it more difficult to challenge, due to their vast wealth and power to attract the players we desire. Well this season has proved that you need a team spirit, togetherness, physical and mental strength more than the best players in Europe. The team ethic we have failed to build season in season out for the past ten years.
Arsenal fans were told that selling our best players to pay for the stadium would benefit us in the long run, and we would soon be able to challenge the elite teams in Europe. Well almost $158 million in cash reserve and no major outfield signings in the last summer transfer market. Now here we are, struggling to finish in the top four with Leicester and spurs leading the way.
So not only can’t we compete with the other big clubs in our league, there are two more “lesser” teams ahead of us. We have the most experienced Premier League manager, money to spend and still we cannot improve. So in just two years at Spurs, Pochettino has managed what Wenger has failed to do in ten years…How you may ask?
Well the fact that the Gunners employ zonal marking at set pieces even though we have a terrible record with that system. No real plan b when we are stopped from playing the way we are used to. No width, no real out and out striker and no real specialist defensive midfielder since Patrick Vieira. The insistence to sign small technical players who struggle with the physical side of the English game, and then wonder why so many players spend long periods being injured.
All of Arsenal’s early success was built on a solid back five and strength in the midfield. The aforementioned Vieira, Petit, Gilberto, Parlour add to that Adams, Bould, Keown, Campbell, Toure. These players are not just physical players, they were mentally strong and gave us the foundation to compete first and play second. Now add Henry and Bergkamp in the attacking areas, the sight of these players intimidated the opposition in the tunnel before games. The fact that we have not one player of this type is no secret as to why Arsenal are accused of having a soft underbelly and lack of leaders.
The signings of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez were giant steps forward and Petr Cech was a master stroke. But the opportunity to really add to the squad with the missing pieces was ignored with the statement “there are no players in Europe better than what we have already”, well players such as Marez, Payet, Alli, Kante prove there is quality out with a far lesser price tag. Arsenal had the opportunity to sign Benzema, Higuin, or even Cavani, just these three players makes it very hard to accept that there was no better players than what we have already.
It’s more apparent that, although we an abundance of cash which clearly we are not prepared to spend where it’s needed. So would it be better for Arsenal to finish outside the top four? Would it force change? In my opinion, no I don’t see Wenger walking away. However the fans are starting to turn, games such as likes of the West Brom match, could be a sign of things to come. Also mentioning the protests against Norwich which, in my opinion fell on deaf ears.
After twenty years and lots of good times and success being soured by a decade of failure, if Mr. Wenger wants the best for the club well he should step aside. Simple as that there is, in my opinion no other way. The question is do the people that matter feel the same?
Written by Tarik Demoura. Follow him at @Tarik_demoura