The fundamental reasons why Arsenal are not performing on the pitch

We are under performing because of four fundamental issues in our club by Ollie Adler

Watching Arsenal has become increasingly more frustrating. This decline hasn’t been one of just this season but of the last five or six. It isn’t just the results that anger me but the nature of the results; the poor performances, the lack of desire and as Troy Deeney said, the lack of ‘cojones.’ However, one thing Wenger seems to always praise is our ‘mental spirit,’ something I believe is non-existent. The old Cliché goes: it is easy to play well when you are losing and this is a position we have been in too many times over the last few seasons and over the short course of this one too. This piece of writing is going to be a stream of consciousness, a continuous rant. The irregularity in structure and points made in this article is a microcosm of the lack of structure and care about the club in this moment in time, from the top to the bottom.

My number one problem at the moment is our poor results. This season we have been humiliated at Anfield against Liverpool, suffered a demoralising loss against Stoke, got overrun in the midfield whilst losing to Watford, played poorly against Red Star Belgrade and got schooled in what is supposedly our own game against Man City. The poor results have sprouted from three main issues.

The first issue is the fact that our players don’t care. They are simply playing without passion. I want to see tackles flying in, quick passing and rapid buildup play, intricate and delicate runs and class in tight spaces and at least a bit of defensive ability. This season I have seen none of that. The performances have been diabolical. The defending has been woeful and the buildup play is simply a string of backwards, backwards, sideways, backwards, sideways, forwards and towards the corner flag, backwards and then back again before getting caught in possession and conceding as a result of a counter attack. These events have happened far too much recently, as was seen with Jesus’s goal on the weekend, albeit offside and the Swansea goal the previous weekend against us. The players are lazy, lethargic and lackadaisical but ultimately they aren’t good enough.

This leads me on to the second issue which is causing our poor form and poor performances and this is the fact that the players simply aren’t good enough. In the transfer windows, we don’t spend enough money and don’t show a will to compete. The lack of ambition from Gazidis and the owners demonstrates the lack of respect and the disregard the board have for the fans.

The third issue which is causing these poor displays and therefore poor results is the fact that the 3-4-3 formation is useless. This is because we are playing with seven defensive outfield players on the pitch. The three at the back are defenders, the two center midfielders are put in there to sit deep and the wingbacks are Bellerin and Kolasinac who are defenders. When the 3 men up top are Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette, there isn’t enough support for the front men and therefore they are ineffective as teams playing against us with ten men behind the ball will easily close them down.

However, what is even more of a problem with this formation is the fact that Ozil is not a winger. This formation is forcing him out wide and therefore we cannot see the best of him. His position is a number 10, playing behind forward runners. A 4-2-3-1 formation would allow us to get the best out of Ozil. More often than not this season, the three men up top has been dysfunctional to say the least. The players in those positions haven’t been consistent and as we saw on the weekend, Wenger was delusional enough to leave our star purchase in Lacazette on the bench. Too often it has been Iwobi in one of those positions. What on earth does that add to the attack?

The fact is that we aren’t going to be able to demonstrate any attacking prowess, which Arsenal are renowned for basing their game upon when there are such few attacking options on the pitch. There is no drive, no forward runners and quite frankly this is what is causing this boring and slow build up involving backwards and sideways passing. However, there is a more fundamental issue with this formation and this is the fact that there is a lack of options. With three at the back, there is a link missing in the chain between the defence and the midfield and with no number 10 role allocated in the team, there is a link missing between the midfield and the attack. There is no balance to the team. There are just three mini dysfunctional layers to the team who are failing to collaborate. It is a shambolic mess, not a team! Therefore, either the defence get caught in possession, or the ball gets given to Xhaka who gets unfairly criticized for being caught in possession because he has nobody to pass it to. Under pressure, it is difficult to spread it out wide and with a team playing ten men behind the ball, it is nearly impossible to role it into the forward players. One option is open and that is Ramsey who is either sideways or backwards. If the ball doesn’t go to Ramsey, the ball is lost and the opposition are away.

This links onto the final reason why we are under-performing and that is the manager. He is a clueless dinosaur who started brilliantly in his first few years here but is now past his time. As Claude from Arsenal Fan TV continuously says, ‘The milk has gone stale’. Wenger is past it. He is lost for ideas. He claims he changes because he changed to the 3-4-3 formation but he can no longer change back. His selection is all over the place, leaving out players like Lacazette on Sunday and not playing the three main players together until Everton a couple of weeks ago. He can’t see the formation isn’t working. When I checked the line up before the game on Sunday I was convinced Wenger turned over a new leaf when I saw Xhaka, Ramsey and Coquelin starting. I thought they were all going to start in midfield and he was reverting back to four in the defence with five in midfield and ozil at the tip of that with Alexis up front. However, I was wrong. Wenger slotted Coquelin into that defence and played with a back 3. As soon as I realised we were playing a 3-4-3 formation, I believed the game was over. It was lost before it had started. What frustrated me more is the manager’s rhetoric. In his pre match press conference he said ‘sometimes the best form of defence is attack.’ Believe me, we didn’t play to attack and had such a negative attitude up until we went 2-0 down. Why didn’t we start the game as we played after City went 2-0 up? Why didn’t we start to increase the pressure on City at 1-0 to them? Even when we pulled one back and the score was 2-1, it never seemed as though we could get an equaliser. We went and sat deep again. It seemed as though we scored, and showed we could compete with City so that we would be able to praise ‘mental spirit’ again after the game even though we never really had the desire or the ambition to really push for an equaliser. At the end of the day, it finished 3-1 as a result of an offside goal. However, we weren’t good enough and were never really in that game. Wenger is so lost for ideas, he ranted about the officials and complained that City didn’t deserve a penalty. Before, he hasn’t attacked them as much. He is now a fish out of water and if he had any dignity, he wouldn’t have signed a new contract and he should leave before the end of the season. We all know that won’t happen though.

There are some serious fundamental issues within our club that need addressing such as the manager and this poor formation. This formation won’t change though. In the second half against City, the formation actually changed and we began to have an improved performance. Wenger won’t stick to this second half switch. It is almost guaranteed that we will revert to the 3-4-3 against Spurs on November 18th and it must be said, I am not optimistic. As a club, we are going through crisis, not just because of the results but because of the manner of the results whereby we show a lack of commitment, intensity and dedication. The performances are next to useless and our football is boring to watch. To get out of crisis, the manager will need to go, the formation will need to change, the players will have to improve and there will have to be a new attitude installed in the club. In all honesty, if we miss out on Ancelloti and keep Wenger for the next two years or more, I will be livid!



  1. Tony says:

    after 11 match we r 12 point behind leader.
    wenger needs to go along with most of his players.

    1. Jeremy says:

      Kroenke and his gang should go.

      He had left Arsenal FC in a terrible state just like the rest of his Sports clubs.

      The road to repair will be long and hard. But for a start, he should just get out.

  2. Juhi McLovin says:

    Fudge off Wenger, just fudge off…

  3. Ken Robertson says:

    Wenger and Kroenke are running a business which, with Gazidis at the AGM, they think is overperforming.

    While they remain, Arsenal will be competent in the top half of the table. The business requires it. The business does not require over-exertion and supremacy.

    On top of that, Wenger is an obsessive autocrat lost in footballing time. He loves our pitiful reserve Walcott on £140,000 a week. Nothing more to say. But the majority of supporters are just the same. They love Wenger on £8 million/year.

    The club is stuck in a new area of profitable ordinariness where ambition is too dangerous to the board and owners and too hard for a mentally blind manager to alter.

    We have little more than hope and our own passions about the club to live with until change is forced. It won’t come voluntarily. I hope I’m wrong

  4. chris says:

    This article is full of holes.
    > Wenger’s intellectual brand of football is based on possession – not passion. We normally start off at half pace like a training schedule – which is said to be monotonous, boring and never changing.
    > Gazidis in particular tried and tried to urge Wenger to spend more on players. A company that fails to invest cash flow will stagnate and decline … as has Arsenal. In – house Wenger is known to agonise, unable to make a decision, until it is too late. NOT the fault of Gazidis.
    > Many many other teams make a big success of 3 at the back plus 2 wing backs. This formation is not to blame for Arsenal’s disappointing key results.
    > Wenger is tactically hopeless but Coq played in the back 3 because there were no other central defenders fit and available.

  5. Sue says:

    If he ‘loves’ the club as much as he says he does then why can’t he see all this? Why is it the same year in year our? Nothing changes! It is so bloody frustrating! I just want the old days back, when everyone tried & we got results & it was a joy to watch

  6. ramterta says:

    Players are and will always be average.
    When elneny holding iwobi ozil Sanchez xhaxa chambrrs mustafi began their arsenal careers they were considered class acts.
    Why is it that only Sanchez has maintained the status?
    coquelin was considered good but he is now mediocre.
    the manager is just brainless.
    Any person who witnessed what Wenger did on Thursday and Sunday would realise that he is way past his expiry date.
    He got every single thing wrong

  7. Lupe says:

    Wenger is the fundamental problem on the pitch together with some of his underperforming players. He is also killing the once good players like bellerin, coquelin and even now he has started with lacazette, slowly he will zap every confidence he has. Has lacazette even completed full 90mins? When last did wenger play coquelin has a pure defensive midfielder? Why are our players regressing? Why does he make stupid decisions on match days? Why does he play our players including youngstars out of position? Why does ozil play 90 mins all the time even when he is rubbish? Why is our away record so poor? Why does he always leave the team short of competing for the title? If he truly loves the club, why does he support the owner and board so much? So many questions need to asked. Change is inevitable so he is only delaying his departure and tarnishing his legacy in the process.

  8. Kenya 001 Ars fan says:

    Fundamental reasons ooh man only 2 WENGER/BOARD

  9. barryglik says:

    To be fair the Arsenal goal
    since 2009 has been top 4.
    Right now Arsenal is 3 points off top 4
    having played Liv (A) City (A) Chelsea (A)
    Liv and Chelsea at home in the reverse ties is a huge advantage
    when we consider these two teams are our comp for 4th.
    Liverpool is a dodgy team and Chelsea sack their manager every 18 months.
    The 5 teams above Arsenal must play their top players twice a week in the ECL+PL.
    Arsenal is already through to the next round of the
    Europa league so can totally rest the squad.
    Utd City and Chelsea are also still in the EFL with
    potentially energy draining semis in January which
    won’t worry Arsenal as we have two teams.
    Arsenal has only two big teams left this round Spurs and Man U, both at home.
    Both games are winnable and could then see Arsenal reach the top 3 by Xmas.

    1. Juhi McLovin says:

      Well you are right regarding that IF we win against Spurs on 18th, we will be 1 point behind them, closely in the top 4 race.

      This already would be regarded as a trophy by Wenger.

      But I don’t think there is any chance for us to win Spurs.

      1. barryglik says:

        But few expected a contest at City away.
        This game is at home v Spurs who
        are 8 points behind City.
        One loss and every one goes
        into melt down like post Watford.
        Beat Spurs next week and Arsenal are Champions elect.
        Well 4th place champions elect any way 🙂
        All will be forgiven.
        Wenger will be a genius the players superstars.
        Just wait and see.

  10. gooner4life says:

    People used to call us boring Arsenal when George Graham was manager we used to win 1 0, I wish we were winning 1 0 and be boring than watch some of the garbage football we are serving up Wenger will never be sacked or resign while money keeps rolling in.Why do we still pay the highest price to go and watch these overpaid pre-modanas . We should stop going to matches and buying items from the Armoury and stop the money going into the bank accounts of those at the top only then we might see the changes we have been crying out for.

  11. Chairman Gallant says:

    This article is a food for thought, but having said that, I dont’t agree that the 343 formation is a problem. That is the pattern Tottenham uses up till now and is giving them massive results.That was the same formation Chelsea used to win the league last season. So methink the major problem with us is our player’s attitude and Arsene Wenger. Things needs to change, but how is what I don’t know. When you look at city’s players one by one, they are not too better than ours, but the difference is their dedication, and the zeal to play and win for their manager, which unfortunately our players don’t have. But if they can’t play for Wenger, then maybe they should play for the fans. Because we all know that Arsene Wenger will not be sacked anytime soon. The sooner our players realized that fact, the better it would be for all of us at Arsenal.

  12. Imran says:

    Guys, I know its really hurts seeing how top teams are performing. But have patience, we waited for 12 years and still we are waiting and we have to wait until all three useless fellows wenger, gazidis and kroenke goes. All three doesn’t care about our emotions and how deeply its hurting us. It’s a shame /pity this old man unable to fix issues which is repetitive for last 10 seasons. He says he can fix every season but he repeats the same mistakes in November, December and February. Finally he plays for 4th position after losing all the other competitions except FA cup.
    How can on this earth any manager who saw the team demolish everton 5-2 will not start the same team? He use to say fatigue when we were used to play in champions league. But , see City, liverpool and chelsea winning their competitive champions league matches after playing in midweek. This old man can’t realize his mistakes. I believe now we have become 6th team of EPL. We cant go beyond that.

    I would sell Sanchez, Ozil, Cech, walcott, Giroud and Debuchy. Bring in fresh talent and superstars. If Wenger stays we can’t bring in top players as he has lost his image now.

  13. Ivan says:

    As everyone has said problems are obvious:
    1) Wenger
    2) Kroenke
    3) Gadzidis

  14. Samuel Ogungbayi says:

    I have written two seasons ago that Wenger is now clueless and that no progress can be made by Arsenal under Wenger. That is what we are seeing . There is nothing wrong in playing three at the back.We used it to beat Mancity and Chelsea last season in the FA Cup which we won. People should be reminded that we changed from ” back four” to “back three” after 3 defeats in a row to Mancity,Everton and Crystal Palace . The players are not to blame too, the players are good ,I repeat , they are good as I have been saying and Conte of Chelsea said the same thing after our clash at Stamford Bridge and wondered why Arsenal has not been winning the Premier League .
    The problem Arsenal has is managerial .People blame players that they are not good enough which was the same complaints 5,6 7 years ago! Those players are gone and we have new players ,internationals and ex – internationals but things are getting worse and many are still blaming the players ! Which other manager in the whole wide world benches his strikers when his team wants to go and play main rivals away from home? Against Liverpool Wenger benched Lacazert and Giroud. In our match in Mancity he did the same thing ! Wenger is the only Manager I know that benches players that can score goals after buying them ‘ to improve the team’
    If players are playing with languor, whose fault is that? Mancity that played midweek were faster with or without the ball while Arsenal players that were rested in midweek could not match their opponents’ speed, that is the manager’ s fault too. Which type of training does Wenger give his players? Thiery Henry,Gallas and Patrick Vierra at different fora had thumbed down the training given by Wenger compared to that of Pep and Mourinho.
    Any manager that cannot train and motivate his players to get results consistently is not worthy of his position . Watford beat Arsenal last season at the Emirates 2:1 .In 2015 /16 season, they beat Arsenal 2:1 at the Emirates to knock us out of FACup. Watford has beaten us 2:1 again this season . On paper ,man to man , are Watford players superior to Arsenal’s? No, it’s managerial incompetence that is exposed just to give one example.
    Arsenal supporters are complaining about the performance of the club just as they did for the past 8 years ! . New players had come in , most of them internationals ,World Cup winners ,continental cup winners,Champions League winners and more, but Arsenal is unable to COMPETE ,yes unable to compete in the Premier League and Champions League .
    Players’ attitude ,tactical formation ( passing backwards and sideways ) and other complaints about the team over the years are still there because the manager is still there. You cannot give what you don’ t have Wenger does not have any clue to make Arsenal title contenders no matter the quality of players bought by Arsenal .

    1. Lunga says:

      This is so true our players where flat footed against City, actually we can’t play with any team that puts pressure on us when we have the ball that’s how teams beat us. Our fitness level are very low compared to most team.

  15. reddb10 says:

    Great post which outlines the problems but they are not new as they go back over a decade. The sad truth is that unfortunately nothing will change because us gooners are too soft.
    Even when a few fans were fighting each other inside the stadium last season the manager and board literally didn’t give a $Hit. To top it all off we still have morons that support the current regime which is downright treason against the founders and history of this club.
    We might see some empty seats but they have already been bought so the money is still filling the pockets of the greedy blood sucking yank. We need to start giving these vultures some grief and that will only happen when we have more than 200 true supporters willing to shout out to the trinity of evil to leave AFC.

  16. mark says:

    I say it every year, and I was willing to give AW a chance when he implied he has changed, but he really really hasn’t.

    Our manager cannot motivate a stale squad with stale ideas and his approach of keeping the same squad in some kind of blind deluded belief that they will perform better because they know each other. Well the flip side to that is they become complacent and lazy in their approach and too comfortable with no whip being cracked by the coach.

    He HAS to go, but there is no hunger within the club to make him retire. We are slipping down the table in our mediocrity. Of course we are still a good team, but compared to other teams around us, we are going backwards….FAST.

    Please just leave AW and let someone else bring a new impetus and let the club rebuild into a new philosophy. Yes it will take the right manager (another argument), but we need change, now.

  17. The problem is a new manager
    Keep the same playesr and put a guy like mourhino..they will run like horses including ozil loll
    By the way I hate Mourino..i would not like a giy like him in arsenal

  18. jon fox says:

    All the posts on this thread rightly identify the three villains as Wenger, Gazidis,Kroenke. No argument from me. One exception however, is barryglik, whose optimism is touching though misguided and harmful to getting these villains out of our club. He thinks we have no real problems at all, predicting that shortly , “Wenger will be a genius, the players superstars”. Really, that is what he wrote! I am trying , but failing , to imagine he is writing tongue in cheek. If he were , I would accept these comments. Please read his post and make up your mind as to what he means. I believe he is serious and must therefore question his sanity.Or maybe he is just a Spud causing trouble.

    1. Ivan says:

      Probably a Spud laughing at our expense. I think we have a few on this site.

  19. Grandad says:

    The failures of Arsenal during the past 5/6 years can be attributed to incompetent management and a distinct lack of quality players particularly in the defensive area. I cannot agree with suggestions that the players are passionless. There was a lot of effort on Sunday but sadly we simply do not have sufficient quality players to threaten the top sides AW was a very fine manager. Sadly he no longer is. In terms of tactics, team balance and recruitment he is now inadequate and until he leaves our great club will continue to be the butt of jibes from the media and from former Arsenal greats. The fans are hurting but the executive and management of the Club care not.

  20. Lunga says:

    We don’t have bad players on paper our players are just as good compared to other teams but the difference is the coaching style,to me it seems like other teams
    know what’s expected of them and what the manager wants from individuals.

  21. the barrel says:

    Kronke, Gazidis, and Wenger dont play. Check the body language of players and how they lose possession. These guys they dont care because Wenger will always protect them, and the next game they will be in the starting line up again. Ozil, Ramsey, Giroud, Xhaka, Debuchy, and Coquelin dont deserve to wear Arsenal shirts.
    Wenger plays those who dont care and bench those who want to make an impact

  22. Ken says:

    I don’t think players out of position we resolve any fans concerns. I do believe it will give is a little sanity but as the author has mention before; there is a lack of passion and motivation and the moment Wenger holds them accountable for this then there will be know change in the players questionable attitude.i think you leaving out ozil and Sanchez will provide more fuel for the fire and it will need to address differently, the three at the back that put Chelsea to the sword a few seasons ago was new but worked but now we are faced with a conundrum. On top of that we have a striker that seems to come on like he needs to earn his place in the team after we decided to pay 50 million for him. I suppose Wenger doesn’t need to explain his methods but at the same time I don’t think he could.well another season of the same old arsenal, with the board in mental melt-down because they need a manager who will fit there ideology foot print

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