Discussion continues and appears to be divisive, regarding Arsene Wenger’s ability to lead the team to success when the chips are down. Players that don’t perform are one thing and injuries seem to plague us but you have to look at who is responsible for acquiring players in the first place and who is responsible for managing and motivating them: in effect is it not the Manager’s job to buy players that he thinks are going to strengthen the squad, within his available budget, and then get the best from them? With this in mind getting the best from the team should really manifest itself in the big occasions. Winners step up to the plate when they need to and when looking to write a page in history a cup final is as good a place as any to make that mark.
Wenger may not be the big game manager that we once thought he was. When looking at the big cup games we see some worrying statistics.
On a positive note his FA cup final stats are good: FA Cup Final record- P5 W4 L1.
However, when looking at the record in other Cup competitions,at the business end, it makes for rather sober reading.
League Cup Final Record-P2 W0 L2ECL Final Record-P1 W0 L1
EUFA Cup FinaL-P1 W0 L1
ECL Semi Final-P2 W1 L1
ECL Quarter Finals-P5 W1 L4
Of course the biggest game of all was the ECL Final of 2006. Not withstanding that we lost to a very good Barça team I think that Wenger made 4 critical errors in the 2006 Champions League Final.
1. Breaking up the best defensive unit in the history of the Champions League to accommodate a soon to depart Ashley Cole.
2. Withdrawing the experienced and predatory Robert Pires rather than Reyes when Lehman was dismissed.
3. At 2-1 not bringing on Bergkamp/Van Persie and going for broke.
4. The quality of Lehman's replacement: both Barça goals conceded by Almunia at the near post.
It seems that cometh the hour Wenger's choices were found wanting. Which brings me back to the here and now.
The FA Cup is a realistic aspiration this season and a home draw is all you can ask at this stage of the competition. The forthcoming game against Everton is, to an extent, our biggest game of the season. With the press eagerly awaiting our implosion: knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern, receiving fatal blows in the title race from Man City and Chelsea. The Arsenal need to deliver in the FA Cup to keep momentum going in what has by and large been a better than expected season given the squad we started it with. Arsene Wenger needs to produce a showpiece victory and wembley is a great place for that in a competition he has had success in as even if we qualify for the ECL(again) the media will be unflinching in their opprobrium towards our club and our manager.