There are a number of issues that have left Arsenal fans bemused over recent weeks and it seems there won’t be any reprieve anytime soon.
Wenger, armed with a new two-year contract extension appeared to be energetic in the transfer market and added Lacazette and Kolasinac to the squad very early but the rest of the window was a series of false dawns and damp squibs.
We’ve subsequently heard that the Lemar transfer was dependent on gathering funds from the sale of Sanchez to Manchester City but we know how that ended. City Blame Arsenal, Arsenal cite too little time and Lemar and Sanchez eventually went nowhere.
There was a talk of a swap deal, Sanchez for Sterling and Pep Guardiola has officially stated that it was a legitimate proposal. Really? Why would Arsenal look to Sterling to replace the Chilean? That’s a bit like asking the restaurant to swap a 18oz steak for a blue brand burger. Sterling is in the ‘potential’ part of his career, whereas Sanchez is the finished article.
That aside, we get to the subject of Oxlade-Chamberlain who moved to Merseyside to become invigorated and motivated by Klopp. Couldn’t he do this under Wenger for £180,000-a-week? Fans will recall that the Ox had a series of injuries and watery performances over a number of seasons during which Arsenal remained supportive and loyal.
So is it just an attack on Wenger and his style of management or does he believe that he is better than he was being allowed to be?
My own point of view is that Ox is a decent player but as a midfielder or winger he lacked impact and was inconsistent too often. This was one of the reasons that he started from the bench or found himself in various positions.
I also agree with Wenger who went on record recently to say that the Englishman had been tapped up. He may well have been sounded out about the possibility of a move whilst on England duty, which is the ideal opportunity for players to plant seeds for their employers.
The bigger question, however, remains unanswered in typical Arsenal fashion. Why were Arsenal caught napping in the transfer market again? Why was their main target (Lemar) not secured earlier? Why were groups of players allowed to run their contracts down? Why was there so much dithering so close to the end of the transfer window?
Dick Law, Arsenal legal whiz and chief transfer negotiator we are told, is on his way as a result of this fiasco, exactly what part he played will forever remain a mystery. Laws departure allows Gazidis to move closer to the role of Director of Football once Wenger’s reign ends and he has already taken up residence in the offices at Arsenal’s training complex.
The official line of course, is that the club “had a successful transfer window" which was then echoed to supporters by Gazidis. Yet it will be viewed by those same supporters as another botched period where the Emirates club failed to add to areas of concern and become genuine contenders for the Premier league title.
Fans have concluded that after the initial splash out on Lacazette, two monkeys in Sombrero’s would have done a better job at getting signatures on paper than Law or Gazidis and at least we’d be able to forgive the apes for their ineptitude.
On matters of the first team, the questions continue unabated as Wenger scrambles to play catch up. His decision to exclude Lacazette and Kolasinac from the Liverpool thrashing was bewildering. Why did he prefer Danny Welbeck to Arsenal’s record purchase?
I like Welbeck, his energy and commitment but he lacks a crucial final touch on occasion and is more of a strike support player, one that can grab the odd goal and assist in the build up.
He is not a 20 + goals a season player, whereas Lacazette has the credentials on the CV and should have been played regardless.
This leads me on to Giroud’s position as a chief bench warmer which does the player a disservice. He was apparently given the opportunity to move on but decided to fight for his spot at Arsenal, something he may yet regret.
In truth, Giroud can not secure a regular position in the team because Wenger doesn’t have any idea what his best 11 is at present. He seems confused how to get the best out of the Frenchman and is seemingly trapped by trying to accommodate players and keep everyone happy.
Yet there is a more urgent matter which remains unresolved in the middle. Santi Cazorla has been a long term injury since October when he suffered an Achilles tendonitis. He has since been plagued with complications such as bone infections which have extended the length of his absence and at one stage threatened his career.
Thankfully he is recovering well, posting regular updates on social media but it remains to be seen if the Spanish Playmaker returns to full fitness and can achieve the creative level of a few years ago.
If not, then Arsenal will be left with a massive hole that has no ideal replacement. Given his age (32) you would have taken some comfort from the Manager looking at the long-term solution but for Wenger, long-term is only two years.
Wenger has too many midfield personnel, an embarrassment of ill fitting riches that would walk into any other first team, yet can’t gel into a single competitive unit for the gunners.
Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere, Cazorla, Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin represent the middle order but selecting three that are consistent performers and that are adapt to the rigors of the top flight is a major conundrum.
Xhaka, Coquelin and Elneny are virtually fighting for the same position with the same skill set. Neither of them are complete and each one is off the level required to shut the door on any of the quality teams in the league or Europe.
Cazorla and Wilshere are the only creative options available and both have their issues, Wilshere appears to be on low self-esteem and physical defects.
If only Wenger could show the boy a bit of love and trust, we may well see what he has to offer but the Manager prefers to extend the comforting arm at press conferences only, claiming to love the player but failing to embrace his talent.
If all else fails, Wenger may have to roll the dice and take a gamble by including Wilshere with Ozil and Ramsey and even add rising star Reiss Nelson into the mix.
Elsewhere, one has to question the clubs handling of Mathieu Debuchy, a solid defender who it appears couldn’t get a start even if the entire team dropped dead.
When we were having a defensive crisis, (don’t we always) Debuchy wasn’t even given a run as a make shift center back. Wenger plumped for anyone that wasn’t Mathieu Debuchy, even the bum footed Brazilian Gabriel Paulista, who was eventually flogged off to Valencia for a staggering £10 Million.
How they must have laughed all day and smoked cigars when that deal was done.
Wenger has never truly been able to find a decent back four over the years and has brought in a number of wastrels in the process including Pascal Cygan.
Yes, the truly awful purchase that had the Arsenal faithful chanting:
He gets a game when no-one’s fit,
Pascal Cygan! Pascal Cygan!
If we need a rethink, let a former defender buy the defenders and leave the boss to concern himself with the attacking options. At this moment in time, there are so many inconsistencies and so many things amiss that it’s hard to keep track. It seems we are in the ‘middle of a muddle’ week after week.
Something is not right, from top to bottom and whatever that something is, structure, direction or management, it needs to be addressed urgently.
If this continues Wenger may start feeling the heat from the terraces and boardroom and even lose the dressing room just as George Graham did before his departure in 1996 if Arsenal endure another drab and uneventful campaign.