Why Arsenal are so inconsistent by Big Gun
I read an interesting comment this morning about Arsenal’s poor injury record. The comment was extremely long and touched not only on that, but as to why in general we seem to be so inconsistent and struggle against tougher teams. Yes, every season we go through this and its crippling effects (pun intended!). Many have their own opinion, pointing fingers at the medical team, the manager, evil spirits, I think I read it all.
The reason I think is quite simple. The majority of our current players, physically, just are not cut out for long term exposure to the BPL and I’ll explain why. We play possession based football, great to watch at times but extremely annoying and frustrating for the opposition. This entices them to get aggressive and exert pressure to repossess the ball and in doing so, our players get mauled. If you have a long look at our squad, they are predominantly comprised of short or physically inept players. Arteta, Cazorla, Ramsey, Ozil, Sanchez, Walcott, Rosicky, Welbeck to name a few are players that I have watched closely that when put under pressure either lose the ball or fall over. Wilshere has improved this aspect of his game and Chamberlain too is not easily knocked off the ball.
Back in the days of The Invincibles, we had some strong players, players with height and steel, still capable of some incredible skill. Viera, Silva, Petit, Ljunberg, Henry, Pires, not to mention Adams, Keown, Bould, Winterburn….players not easily knocked of the ball. When teams faced us, they feared us – and I have heard those words come out of the mouths of players like Gary Neville and to an extent, Roy Keane. On top of that, Arsenal were more direct and had a very fluent style, meaning the opposition had less time to adjust themselves to defend and formulate a quick strategy. Today though, I think when teams are in the tunnel with us, there is no sense of fear, only the thoughts of how much they are going to crunch. It is a trend that has been happening for some time now and most teams have caught onto it. Apply pressure, hit them hard and cause as much disruption as possible which I must say has worked against us (Chelsea game), because the more the opposition break up our play and upset us, the more difficult it is for us to find a tempo.
On top of all this, the constant exposure to rough play takes its toll in the form of injuries. I cannot stress it enough that Wenger needs to bring in some bigger and tougher players into the squad. If you look at other title contenders, they have this box checked and I’m talking primarily about the midfield now. Players like Toure, Matic, Ramires, Schneiderlin make a huge difference, and even a lot of attacking midfielders like Mikel, Essien etc are tough. Our players might be skillful, but what good is that if they are constantly fouled and knocked over every minute?
Another thing is that Arsenal’s quality in squad depth is poor. Being physically inept is one thing, but overplaying these players is just asking for trouble. Sooner or later they are going to get injured and this is why we have this recurring nightmare every season. Ultimately Wenger is the only one who can address these issues. He needs to bring in at least two solid defensive players. Both Bender and Schneiderlin will do just fine as both Arteta and Flamini are at an end and these two players can rotate when necessary. DM issue solved. Diaby is one player who I would love to actually see heal up as he would fit the bill perfectly as an attacking player. He is tall, strong and has good skill going forward, but realistically I do not see this happening unless by some miracle he stops getting injured, ironically what we are trying to avoid. Rosicky is on his way out, what a player, but he needs to be replaced with someone tougher and taller if possible. Up front, Welbeck is looking promising and in good time he might become that all-rounder we have been waiting for, but if he also gets injured, then what? I still think we need another world class striker in the mould of Cavani.
We need teams to start fearing us again, because in sports, half the battle is won in the mind. I’m not bashing our current players, I think each of them are playing to the best of their abilities, but we need to toughen up our squad, not only to bite back at teams, but also to start avoiding this horrible cycle of vicious injuries that keeps hampering us season after season. I’m not saying we will be injury free, but it will help a lot.