The Key Reason why Arsenal failed in the last years of Wenger

One key reason why it went wrong for Wenger.

As all Arsenal fans are aware, Wenger’s time at the club can be split almost perfectly in half. A decade of success, progression, and evolution, followed by 12 years of mostly failure, regression, and de-evolution.

There is no one defining reason as to why it all went wrong for Wenger, with there being many internal and external factors responsible for our decline, and some point out Wenger’s control. However, there is another, barely mentioned factor that played a major role in Arsenal’s regression. It almost never gets discussed amongst pundits, and journalists, and it even goes under the radar for many Arsenal fans as well. I am of course talking about Wenger’s tactical changes.

Wenger’s philosophy remained the same throughout his tenure, but he changed the formation, and tactics because of the emergence of Fabregas. Citing that Cesc would be best suited in a midfield three. In regard to Cesc, Wenger was right, as he put in consistently world class performances in poor Arsenal teams. The team however, suffered overall, because Wenger had now moved away from a system that brought him so much success.

We had gone from a counter-attacking, aggressive, physically imposing team, to a possession based, timid, ultra-attacking side. Wenger traded big, powerful players, for weak, smaller, technical players, and we abandoned any semblance of defensive responsibility, something that was so strong before. As we all now know, Wenger’s changes were absolutely disastrous, and the team became a shadow of its former glorious self, and quite quickly. One thing that still baffles me to this day, is why didn’t Wenger go back to what brought him all that success early on? Especially once Cesc had left. It should also be noted that manager’s very rarely make long-term wholesale tactical changes, especially when their previous approach was working. Many have said Wenger was too stubborn and stuck in past (maybe so with the coaching side of things), but it was actually the opposite. He tried to evolve the way his team played, and that was his downfall.

Despite what some may think, this is not a thinly veiled dig at Wenger. I just wanted to open this topic up for discussion because it’s hardly ever talked about. These tactical changes played a pivotal role in our regression, and it needs to be acknowledged, and analysed a lot more than it is. Every excuse under the sun is used to try and exonerate Wenger, especially the financial excuses, but this is a prime example (one of many), that has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with Wenger.

He was 100% responsible!



  1. Mogunna says:

    You were one of the lunatics with signs Wenger out!

    Now still blaming him when gone. It is a debacle a total mess and indeed he was fighting Kroenke for this club & fans no one anymore.

    You are an ingrate as these so called fans with no respect for Arsenal because Wenger made this history and club a top one in football.

    It is indeed lack of ressources that forced him to rely on a bunch of kids to remain in top 4 and respected club in the world.

    He managed to do so, stadium paid for in 2013, promised money; Suarez on his way was destroyed by Kroenke. Same with Kante a year later!

    Building up from these 2 additions would had us winning titles til this very day! That was the turning point, other team taking advantage of our dumb move!

    This club is a mess because no one can say shit to Kroenke anymore!

    Wenger is like Sir Alex, Man U own by a man who loves club and football; that’s why he is still at MU, when Wenger is not at Emirates.

    After 29 years of such coaches, you need to make transition, to have him around to do so is best possible way.

    Man U is on its way back and we on way down because we have different owners! I can’t imagine banners of Sir Alex out tho.

    Arsenal fans git spoiled by Wenger, keeping us in top4 was a miracle, not a due it became by habbit.

    Look where we fell in 18month time.

    A midtable club, internal mess as team management, no spirit, no sense, lost as players on the pitch!

    1. Admin Pat says:

      Mogunna, you really need to stop insulting other readers because they don’t have the same opinion as you.
      You can disagree with people, but calling them “ingrates” in future will get your comments deleted.

      Got it?

    2. Jo says:

      Please stop with the respect nonsense.You make that word lose meaning.Your actually falling into the trap of the trolls who attack Arsenal fans for wanting Wenger out.Wengers last 10 years were a DISASTER.

  2. Mogunna says:

    No ambition! All gone with Wenger!

    1. Phil says:

      @Mogunna- so you quite obviously disagree with the Headline Article. So let me ask you a few questions

      Wenger demanded total control of the Club, especially when David Dein was forced out. Therefore, please tell me who else could be held responsible? The programme sellers? The tea lady?

      Wenger consistently stated that a Top 4 finish was a trophy in its own right. Why was he suddenly so unambitious? Why were we all expected to be also rans?

      What TMJW has clearly pointed out is that Wenger changed direction in terms of playing styles and it clearly was the polar opposite of what brought so much success. Who else if not Wenger is responsible for this?

      Like so many AKB’s ( WOW- it’s a while since we had that in a post) you will never admit to the simple fact that Wenger proved himself to be out-dated and completely lost in the way Football was progressing. It ultimately cost him his job, albeit at least 6-8 years after it should have happened.

      He personally took the club to a level all us fans could never have dreamed of. But do not lose sight of the very clear facts that it was Wenger who took us back to a level below where he picked us up from.

      TMJW- a very clear, precise and detailed account of the facts: I look forward to the Wengerites coming back at you. It’s about time we all had a good tear up on JA, especially as it’s not Mesut Ozil we are aiming at-YET!!!!!

      1. Grandad says:

        Well said Reggie.

  3. Loose Cannon says:

    TMJW, agree, this is the correct reason why we failed and more so because we did not have any proper defenders.Some may argue that we had Vermallen and Kos, and Kos and Per, yes these are above average defenders, definitely not EPL winning defenders of the past and today. In defense we had the worst misfits in EPL history – Andre Santos, Sylvestre, Schillachi, Djourou, Pascal Cygan and the like.Then we had a ball playing midfield, hence we survived. We lost it once Chelsea and City came knocking, as Wenger thought he knew it best and failed to evolve or evolved with a wrong mindset that defense was not important. And if Wenger was bad in defense selection, the new regime is more worse, Lichsteiner, Socrates, Luiz (24M cost?)hiring an injured Tierney, Cedric Soares, Mavo?

  4. S.J says:

    Kroenke is first of all the major problem of our downfall, he does not care about the club, he is only after profit.

    Then secondly is the scouts at the club they haven’t done a great job for about 10 years now with the minimal funds available to them.

    I see a great talented future generation in the young players we have, they just need good coaching and they will be superstars.

    Martinelli, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Saliba, Guendouzi, Tierney etc..
    These are all great players that will blossom very well in 1 to 3 years time.

    1. Admin Pat says:

      SJ, that is a very interesting comment I must say.

      First you say “the scouts at the club they haven’t done a great job for about 10 years”

      Then you name these 7 players, FOUR of which were found by our scouts! (Martinelli, Saka, Smith-Rowe, Nketiah, Saliba, Guendouzi, Tierney)

      Which is to be? Are they rubbish or not?

      1. S.J says:

        Admin Pat, you should know fully well that the number of wrong signings they have made is greater than the good ones so the greater percentage says they have been poor.
        I need not remind you of the many unproven players

  5. Reggie says:

    Tactics, a change in his philosophy, poor buys and the fact he had more than one real rival ro deal with in the last 12 years. He didn’t do change very well, big changes or small ones like substitutes, he struggled. He came in with a philosophy and he couldn’t change or adapt that philosophy when it was needed. His first 12 a triumph, his last a failure really, especially his last two years.

  6. ozziegunner says:

    Agree totally with the assessments of TMJW and Phil; however Arsene Wenger’s situation was exacerbated by the absence of the moderating influence of David Dein. The adverse impact of Dein’s departure on Arsenal’s lack of success from that time on cannot be overstated.

    1. Phil says:

      OG- most likely the costliest event in the history of Arsenal Football Club. Oh how he has been missed

      1. jon fox says:

        PHIL, NO MOST LIKELY AT ALL. A STONE COLD CERTAINTY! The single most catastrophic mistake in my time watching since 1958.

  7. Dan kit says:

    Good read TMJW
    Maybe you could do one about your personal feelings about Emery and why you thought he was such a great coach .

  8. GunneRay says:

    Arsenal changed when we left Highbury. Arsene had to sell our best players to fund the repayments over a shorter period. But, what I struggle to comprehend is why did the club sacrificed “good” football players to pay a loan off early when we were obviously not making the revenue we should be making by packing out The Emirates and playing in the Champions League?

    So, we paid off the debt sooner and the quality of football suffered as the silverware diminished and some of the greatest players in Arsenal history went to our rivals? CRIMINAL!!!!

    We should have just re-payed the debt over a longer period and took a financial hit without compromising our league position and PL Leader status!!

    1. Tas says:

      GunneRay exactly

    2. jon fox says:

      GunneRay, THE REASON IS THAT KROENKE WAS IN CHARGE FROM 2007 ONWARDS. Everything that went wrong stems from 2007 when Dein was forced out and Kroenke bought in. The steady and increasing regression began that day and us all the evidence stares us ALL in the face each passing year. If we are serious about seeing us ever win the title agin we HAVE to get Kroenke out. It will never happen while he stays.

      Wenger also did a complete about turn in his methods ,abandoning power players for scrawny tricky dwarfs just won’t work in the physically demanding Prem. You need heightm power strength and of course ability. Plus character and we have had and still have too many half hearted coasters, one in particular, as most well know.

      1. Alanball08 says:


        Firstly this subject is so boring now.
        What has happened has happened
        We should remember the great things AW Done for us. The trophies he won. The sexy football we played the excitement and glory he gave us

        The problem started was when the former boardroom who got greedy and took the money on offer and ran off. The same people who now have the front to criticise how silent stan is running the club -a cash cow for him and his family.
        I was a AW out person in the end as change was needed but that doesnt diminish how proud he made me feel to be a gooner at times

        Keep well and safe everyone

        1. Dan kit says:

          Top comment 👍
          I could have wrote that myself .

          1. Dan kit says:

            That was for alanball08

      2. Phil says:

        Jon, if that “coaster” you are referring to is Mesut Ozil, why is Arteta still in a job? I mean, let’s forget the fact that Arteta has started Ozil in every EPL game since he became manager, and we have yet to lose,but why are we employing a manager who persists in playing “coasters”?
        Arteta has, to date, dropped from the side Luiz, Sokritis, Guendouzi, Ceballos, Torriera, Pepe, Lacazette, all for one reason or another. This to me proves the Manager is not prepared to pick players who simply are not performing. Yet he continues to pick Ozil. Funny that.
        So, you yourself obviously believe you know more that Arteta does about football so please explain why he is in the job.
        Oh, and just to clarify a point for you. Arteta has yet to lose a EPL game to date, and Ozil has played in every one of those games.

        1. Sue says:

          The chavs at home, Phil?? If I remw rightly, Ozil had gone off when we conceded both quick fire goals…..??

          1. Sue says:


          2. Phil says:

            Yes Sue your right- and if I’m not mistaken we lost our shape and control the moment he went off. I wonder why Arteta took him off. It’s not as though he uses up any of his energy in games is it? I mean, being the shirker that’s Ozil is, and the manner in which he coasts through games, he certainly wouldn’t have been tired at all would he?

          3. Sue says:

            🤣🤣 brilliant, Phil…. yes, you’re right about it all going pear-shaped once that lazy slacker left the pitch 😜🤣🤣😉

  9. jjgsol says:

    That there was a change of style is irrefutable.

    To point a finger at AW and say that it is all his fault simply falls into the trap set by the Wenger out brigade.

    He clearly tried different things to compensate for the fact that he did not have the funds available to buy in the better players that he may have needed.

    The emphasis on youth did not work, so he tried something else.

    Having supported Arsenal for nearly 60 years, I think the younger supporters have been rather spoiled and are too ready to criticise.

    In the meantime, the Chelsea and Man$ity situation developed, which teams, together with Manure, who always had and spent loads of money, swept up all available talent, whether they needed them or did not, and that left AW with having to cope with what he could get at the prices he could afford.

    Paying off the debt was a masterstroke because, even if it was paid off slower, we could still have not completed with those 3 teams and the fees and wages that they could pay.

    The playing field was so altered and distorted that we, like everyone else, except for Livarpool, who, by then had enormous amounts to spend after selling their crown jewels for ridiculous sums, and spent it.

    They bought lots of players and were able to sift out the dross which left them with the excellent team that they have now.

    To say it was AW’s fault, is wrong and a gross simplification.

  10. Ottawa gunner says:

    You people are missing one big factor in Arsenal’s decline, and is still happening to this day. There is no other top team, in the EPL that has had to deal with, the atrocious reffing decisions like the Gunners. We don’t even get the benefits, of home ground calls. Broken legs and, bullshit yellow cards, they are aplenty. How can a team, with a so called soft under belly, get so many yellow cards?

  11. Jacko says:

    Agree with article. The possession based football we played in Wenger’s later years made us predictable and prone to the counter attack. The small technical players we had were outbattled to the point where certain teams used to relish playing us. Wenger put too much emphasis on coaching the team when we had the ball but we always looked lost when we didn’t have the ball! How you win the ball back in the modern game seems far more important than in Wenger’s early years at Arsenal. Wenger seemed too stubborn/ arrogant to change

  12. abb says:

    that’s not the reason why he failed at all…he failed because he wasn’t getting the proper support from the board to get the quality players needed to compete and hence his settling on top 4 alone was a sign of that. When you have a manger telling you that 4th place is good enough then you know there is problems.
    If you believe that a change of formation and tactics is what made him fall then that is laughable. You even asked it yourself why didn’t he stick to what he knew or go back to it. How could he have when the type of players he needed to get were not affordable on what he would have been allowed to spend. he got money for Aubameyang and Lacazette, but those were once in a blue moon signings. Also, his inability to realize when it was time to release inept players instead of trying to get the best from them.

    1. Reggie says:

      So, he didn’t get the money for Ozil 42 mil, Sanchez 43mil, mustaffi 35mil, xhaka 35mil and Welbeck 18 mil all within 3 years then. Oh plus a few other duds on top of Lacca and auba.

  13. Phil says:

    @abb- I think you are forgetting the £45n spent on Sanchez and £42m on Ozil. Both of who were solid signings at the time.
    However let’s not forget the £30m on Mustafi and £35 on Xhaka, both overpriced and not good enough. So do not pretend Wenger never spent money because he did. The fact is he wasted most of it as time has proved

    1. SueP says:


    2. ozziegunner says:

      By the way Phil, it is reported that Arsenal’s major sponsor Adidas (supposedly £22 million) as well as Mercedes have dropped their financial support of Mezut Ozil.

  14. Quantic Dream says:

    Refusal to sign proper defenders, defensive mids and goalkeepers were the main problems at this club. Then big money signings like Mustafi, Xhaka and Ozil too let him down.

    1. Mathew says:

      This is an amazing topic, I agree with u but I also disagree with some of your point :
      1. Financial constraints play a vital role in our regression, if man city, cfc are buying a player at $35k to $50k & we are paying $7 to $10k for a player.

      2. Forcing David Denn out of AFC is strategy

      3. Wenger put so much trust on player which they all betrayed him when they matter most. E.g VP, Cesc, Nasir, Clichy etc.

      4. Mr Kronk. is the major problem we have here, he is selfish and has no love of the team at heart.

      Finally, even if you brought in Pep because (Mouriho has noting to offer) they can not give you the trophy with this fact i have stated.
      One thing I regret is for Wenger not living at the right time, when bigger team are looking for him and he decided to stay with us because of his love for the team.

      1. Phil says:

        And of course his £9m per year salary. That might just have had something to do with it

  15. Jo says:

    Best article in a looooong time.Lets see what the Wenger fan boys, Becareful what you wish for blah blah nonsense defend his tactics after 2006

    1. SueP says:

      I was a be careful what you wish for person, and I did, however, realise that we were going nowhere rather later than I should.

      Perhaps I bought into a top 4 finish being a trophy because Arsenal didn’t have a sugar daddy like Abramovich or Mansour and he guaranteed CL qualification and with that came the hope of a successful campaign.

      Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I gave up on wanting AW to continue about 3/4 years before he went. I still respect his enormous contribution to the club and have amazing memories of his earlier years

  16. Jim wall says:

    First 10 years of wenger was a joy to watch,
    He mixed power and steel
    (Adams, keown, viera, bould parlour, petit etc
    With the flair and brilliance of Bergkamp, Henry, Wright, anelka, overmars, pieres,
    But after 2006 things changed he bought bad goalkeepers, defenders, small midfielders, and bad strikers,

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