By Varun Agarwal
Almost all talk about Arsenal FC in the last two to three years has been about the fact that they haven’t won a Premier League trophy over the past decade.
These voices have been growing louder with each passing season and following Arsenal’s dismal form over the past few months, they have reached an almost deafening pitch.
As any regular visitor to Arsenal fan sites and blogs would know, Arsenal fans have one scapegoat for all of Arsenal’s problems: Arsene Wenger. Yes, a new manager seems to be the solution to all problems at the moment, but lets just pause and take a look at some numbers:
Arsene Wenger’s year by year record for Arsenal from 1996-2011:
|Year||Played||Won||Draw||Loss||Goals For||Goals Against||Win ratio|
Surprised? Yes, despite failing to win a trophy over the past years, the actual playing records have remained fairly similar over Arsene’s 15 years at Arsenal.
This fact is highlighted when comparing his records at Highbury and Ashburton Grove. Though Arsenal have not won silverware since moving into their new stadium at the beginning of the 2006/07 season, they have a near identical record here (win ratio: 70.3%) compared to Arsene’s time at Highbury (win ratio: 70.6%).
This suggests that the the lack of titles is not due to Arsene losing the plot somewhere along the way, but more to do with the fact that financial restrictions on the club due to the stadium move as well as the departure of David Dein, Wenger’s right hand man in the transfer market, came around the same time rivals like Chelsea and Manchester City acquired huge financial resources due to a change in ownership.
Thus, even though performances were as consistent as before, on average, Arsenal could not win a title because of failing to win crucial games against these rivals, against whom their record in the past few years has become worse. This in my opinion, does not reflect Arsene’s failure but on the contrary highlights his commitment: that he stayed despite Dein’s departure and offers from the likes of Real Madrid.
Not to mention that these numbers are by far the best Arsenal have had under any manager in their history, qualification for the Champions League 14 years in a row and the fact that this has all been achieved having the least average transfer and wage budget among today’s big five of the Premier League (Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City) such that the club is completely self sufficient financially, putting it in a very strong position when UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rule comes into effect in two years time.
Oh and it goes without saying that under Wenger Arsenal have played some of the most attractive football in the history of the Premier League and continue to produce some of the best young players in the Premier League (Has anyone seen Coquelin play this season?). I understand the fans’ frustration but I think we, including the most vocal of the “Wenger out!