Wenger’s tactically too far behind to help Arsenal forward! by Gooneristic Truth
I don’t have the statistics at hand to give you the exact numbers, but I’ve watched enough games to know that Arsenal don’t seem to be making any progress against top teams. In the post-Henry era, Arsenal just can’t seem to find their feet in big matches. In all seriousness, if we are to create a mini-league table of close games we’ve been involved in the past few years against big clubs both in Europe and domestically, we easily look like relegation material among the top clubs. We just don’t seem like we’ll ever hit the high notes anytime soon at the rate we are going.
We’ve heard of stadium debts & financial restrictions, etc before. However, even in those financially troubled times, Wenger still had more resources at his disposal than many of the poorer teams that did better than us across Europe. Less financially fortunate teams like Mourinho’s own Porto, for example, have looked more competitive than we’ve ever been, and even won the Champions’ League during Wenger’s reign. One can argue that, even if finances have been an issue, a team that regularly qualifies for Champions’ League qualification has perhaps only needed minor tweaks to get to be at par or do better than such teams. Yet Wenger seems stuck! With only one participation in the final of the CL in 18 years, I don’t know why we should hope to win the Champions’ League anytime soon under Arsene Wenger when we continue to look this poor.
While I cannot claim to know the inner workings of the transfer market, it is apparent that, over the years, Wenger has missed out quite a bit on some once-affordable bargains on the transfer market. He instead opted for teenage promises that never materialized. Years later, we’ve all seen headlines that reveal how “…Arsenal came close to signing Big Player X”! In addition to Wenger’s post-Dein less-than-aggressive approach on the transfer market, we’ve had persistent under-addressed fitness issues and an annoyingly inexplicable lack of tactical flexibility that appear to hold Arsenal back from reaching the very top. In the end, we’ve looked like a team stuck in first gear, only exhibiting good form in patches. (The FA Cup was okay to sellotape the trophy-less run, but not exactly something deeply satisfying). At the end of each recent season, we seem to always live up to pundits’ predictions of failure while continuing to live with ridicule from other teams’ fans.
One might further argue that, during our trophy-less run, Wenger’s squad has almost entirely changed but yet continue to exhibit similar “lack of spine” against big teams. If anything, we seem to be getting even worse. How does a manager explain the failure of over £100 million worth of Arsenal talent to register one decent attempt on goal in 90 minutes against a Chelsea side that conceded 3 against Everton? Surely, not finances! Confidence? Referee bias? Certainly, not in all 12 defeats against one manager! Certainly, not in all 17 goals conceded in 3 big matches last season! Perhaps, this might just be a sign of our manager’s inability to cope with changing tactical face of the game. A persistent hope that, with time, the same unsuccessful tactics will yield the required potent chemistry that will see us to the Promised Land.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, the likes of Diego Simeone, Jürgen Klopp, and Roberto Martinez have emerged as very capable, charismatic top-flight managers who can tactically organize a squad capable of competing against the best without reeking a strong scent of crisp-from-the-mint cash in their club’s coffers. These managers’ tactics and approach to the game appear decently superior to that of our experienced Wenger’s. Has Wenger’s philosophy of the game valued attacking at the expense of the defensive side of the game? Has age made him too tactically rigid to help us progress? Should we look to one of these young cats to deliver us from our misery? Yes, yes, yes, aaand yes! I think so! I frankly don’t see us closing down the gap at the top anytime soon. Wenger is approaching the end of his era as it is, and might as well move on at the end of the season. End of story!