Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arsenal Dissection

There's no doubt Arsene Wenger is an outstanding manager, but like many outstanding people he's vain; and for me, Arsenal's Achilles heel is Wenger's vanity.

There's a degree of logic in his not wanting to solve their lack of depth by spending big money: our policy is based on attracting the best young players, they won't come if they don't see youth getting a chance, and by buying a top player I'd be denying that chance. This holds true, but surely only up to a point. We're talking about buying a couple of top players not 10, and couldn't a top star also attract younger players as much as put them off [as Bergkamp did]? I said at the beginning of the season I couldn't believe Arsenal didn't buy Ribery. Wenger obviously liked him, but just couldn't spend the cash. At times you feel Wenger isn't satisfied with simply winning things, he has to win things with a team that cost next to nothing, a team he discovered, a team he moulded in ever aspect.

Arsenal are so entertaining it seems churlish to criticise Wenger. The positives far outweigh the negatives, especially compared to other teams; Chelsea spend millions only to bore the tits off everyone, something 10 times worse than all of Arsenal's faults. It's just that Arsenal and Wenger can be so bloody infuriating. Take Philippe Senderos. Senderos is shite. He's a good payer for Switzerland or in Europe, where the pace is slower, but against English teams he's consistently crap. Everyone knows this, so Wenger must too. So why doesn't he replace him? There are plenty of examples of this, not just in terms of players, but tactical decisions, player tiredness, giving older players longer contracts, dangerous tackles, etc. Things the whole world sees one way, but Wenger sees another. Most people would applaud Wenger selling Senderos for a profit and paying top dollar for a top defender, but you get the feeling Wenger would see it as admitting he'd made a mistake. Perhaps he needs to swallow a bit of pride to move the Gunners forward.

As you'd expect there are a fair few assessments of Arsenal/Wenger in today's papers. I know a majority of SSN readers are Arsenal fans, so I've posted most of them. Take yer pick...

A season that promised rich returns has lost interest as Arsenal have run out of reserves. Sam Wallace examines the harsh truths that have devalued their manager's admirable economic policies
Wenger's men sunk by failure to splash out

The morning after the nightmare before found Arsenal contemplating a brutal reality yesterday. They do not need a change of manager but they do need a change of managerial philosophy. Arsene Wenger must learn to buy big and win ugly.
Arsenal must change their philosophy

Arsenal's manager may have to change tack and buy in proven, and costly, talent.
House that Wenger built faces summer rebuilding

The Arsenal manager will leave no stone unturned as he examines where it all went wrong for a team who promised so much
Wenger begins post mortem with plenty to ponder

Who should Arsene Wenger have bought?


The Editor said...

I hope the majority of SSN readers are not Arsenal fans, although I know a fair amount are. Cheers for this, Alec.

Bartholomew said...

1. It is hard to say if Arsene really does have a war chest. Everyone says he does, but the club does have that huge amount of debt from the Emirates. Moving was obviously a must in order to compete with United and Chelski in the long term, but short term it has cost us. To me it's definately been a consideration in not buying players like Ribery, etc. At best we just don't know why he didn't buy, stubborness or financial reality.

2. The season isn't over. Our form is awful and I can't see us getting 10 of 15 even. There is some chance though, if we can right the ship and win 5 in a row. Those c*nts play each other and have semifinals to deal with around the league games. We should be considering taking 15 of 15 and seeing what happens.

3. Who though Arsenal were going to make a title run this season? Raise your hands. It was all about 2008-09 for me in August. We needed to find out about some players and we have. Ade-good enough, Cesc-world class, Flamster-resign already!, Rosicknote-can't be counted on, RVP-can't be counted on, Eboue-utter douch bag, Sagna-ace. I think Arsene wanted to see what this young team had once Thierry moved on and completed the transition. Mission accomplished.

4. How unlucky have we been? That game with the Brummies changed everything. It led to Ade having to play every game and us having to rely on Bendtner and Walcott in huge games. They even took two points at the end with a dive. Offsides goals have gone against us all year, recently at the Bridge, and obiously the tale of two penalites with the scousers was absurd. We were going to need luck and have had little.

IF we go trophy-less, as seems likely, then I'll be the first to criticize if Arsene does not buy this summer. It is clear we need a winger because Rosicky is a cripple and Eboue is an ass hat. While Senderos is not the only problem, we need an experienced CB. Kolo and Gallas have let us down plenty too, and maybe they just can't play together. We'll also cover for Gael so Traore never sees the pitch in a big game again and a back up striker for when RVP goes down with a hang nail. IF we have money, I expect us to buy big on the wing and at CB and find some young players to add depth at LB and striker.

Have I mentiond that I don't like Eboue?

Bobbie BS said...

My brief thoughts:
1. Cesc looks gassed right now. He's had little to say on the pitch over the last couple of weeks and it's killed the Gunners. If they had better replacements on the wings they could have rested him and played Hleb though the middle in front of a pair of holding players.
2. Eboue is not a winger. Still a fine fullback, but Wenger obviously feels that he doesn't have a suitable RM and thus plays him out of position. Without Sagna he then plays Toure at RB where he's exposed defensively. He's still a world class CB but he should be allowed to play there.
3. Gilberto has nothing to offer as a box-to-box holding player any more, if he ever truly did. He'd still thrive as a pure destroyer, but that's it. It's a shame that Denilson has been hurt, he's a much more natural replacement for Flamini.
4. Senderos. Why? Johan Djourou is a much quicker player and just as strong in the tackle. Wenger needs to stop sending him out on loan and drop Senderos to fourth choice in the back.
5. We need another striker. Let's buy Luis Fabiano from Sevilla please, he'll do everything Wenger loves.

Alec said...

I think your points are spot on - Ars over-achieved early season, the season certainly isn't over, and they have indeed been unlucky. And you're right about Eboué.

Yeah, there's still debt from the Emirates, but they also now have a hugely increased revenue stream. Surely Wenger's got money to spend.

- Cesc looks knackered; he's only 19 so I hope he doesn't pay for it later down the line.
- Defensively Eboué was a bit dodgy, but as an attacking RB he was a good option. As a winger there's just no end product.
- Gilberto probably still has something to offer when playing week in week out, but not for Arsenal. Denilson seems a touch lightweight for an EPL midfielder. That said, he's young.
- Fabiano would be a nice addition, but seems Real bound. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar maybe?