This is no time for knee jerk reaction, but like the good Cpt Kirk I have reflected on last night and the past months with a view to having some clarity about the immediate future of Arsenal. The FA Cup and Premier league are reasonable targets between now and the end of May; the same can be said for a number of clubs.
Why have Arsenal failed to reach the apex of European football time and again? Why have Arsenal not won the League or FA Cup or Carling Cup in half a decade?
No one knows the answers to that
All my following opinions are based on the current squad as five years is long enough to make references to the Invincibles futile.
In terms of European football, money talks and the only way to combat money rich squads is tactical strength. This is all important. To suggest that Barcelona are all conquering is to over look Mourinho’s tactical defeat of them last year. The richest clubs do not always win the Champions League that is a fact. Wenger is not tactically astute enough to defeat European teams that have better players. Given the squad he has assembled he cannot by definition rely on individual ability.
To not have won a domestic cup is more a matter of psychology than ability. Given the nature of teams that compete in both cups you would be looking at the so called elite teams to do well, which they have done. Except Arsenal. As much as I feel the squad is not as good as it needs to be I believe there is enough on the playing side to achieve cup success. That we haven’t, I would suggest, is about mentality. The manager selects players based not only on ability but, as he says “mental strength” this squad appear to be deficient in this area; as knock out football relies heavily upon the mental element of sport. In this Wenger has over estimated the mental strength of his squad come the crunch.
The Title is the one competition where consistency is all important, a fit squad and decisive additions to it at the right time are also factors. The quality of all the squad needs to allow for the ups and downs of a long season. Like for like where possible is ideal. The other factors are the financial clout of other competing clubs and the ability to derive inspiration from the manager. My belief is that the Arsenal squad is frankly, not good enough to be consistent, not fit enough to be consistent and not refreshed by quality additions to be consistent.
Much is said about not singling out players but I am going to offer an opinion on a number of our squad.
Diaby, Denilsen are both players who have gone past the promising youth stage and neither bring anything to the party, in fact there are young players on loan that I would prefer being given a chance. When Wenger said “buying Xavi Alonso is killing Diaby and Denilsen” it felt ridiculous at the time and more so now.
Rosicky is clearly a busted flush post injury and brings little; his contribution of late has been to leave Sagna exposed.
Bendtner. I like the Dane and as he has few injuries could be classed as our regular striker but in all honesty he is not a world class striker; which you need in this league.
Eboue. Again I quite like him and he adds urgency but he is a bit part player and makes little addition to a mediocre squad. To offset the negativity, I would say he does his best when selected.
Fabianski, Almunia are simply not on the level of Cech, Reinna, Van De Saar and a number of other goalkeepers in the league.
Squillacci is not a top level defender; simple as
Clichy is becoming less and less effective and more and more error prone.
The players that I feel have a future at a club wanting to move forward and regain status as Arsenal surely must, are Nasri, Wilshire, Ramsay, Gibbs,Vermaelen and Sczesny. Song has also done enough to win over most.
I’m less sure about Walcott, Arshavin, and Van Persie as a mixture of injuries and mental health make them unreliable for a full season of competition.
Koscielny and Chamakh have done okay and it is fair to see how season two goes for them, Djourou has also done well but I sense that he has no long term future under Wenger.
The rest of our current squad I don’t know enough about to give a fair view. I have heard there is great faith in Miquel, Cruise, Frimpong and Henderson, but as I say I don’t have any insight on them
That leaves our skipper Fabregas; I would suggest that on his day he is phenomenal, but he is having more underwhelming performances as he has to struggle amidst a sea of mediocrity but Barcelona beckons and a £50m price tag cannot be ignored. I for one would not blame him if he is sold.
Two trophies remain in our sights and I really absolutely want us to win both. As much as I feel Wenger’s time may be up I am totally for the Arsenal. I have major doubts about Arsenal’s long term future with the squad Wenger has selected. I also worry about if any quality will be added in summer. I think that ultimately the past five years have been a plan that Wenger put together to defy the odds of commerce play a certain type of football and invest faith in youth with a predicted outcome of sustained success and he got it wrong. As simple as that ‘he got it wrong’.
2011/2012 is time to move on; whether that’s under Wenger remains to be seen.