Time To Start Asking Questions

I think its very important before you read this article to understand my feelings about Arsene Wenger. I’m 26 years old, was lucky enough to be brought up a Gooner from the day I was born, on just my 14th day I was held aloft like superman being ran around by my dad as Micky Thomas made the impossible happen at Anfield. My first ever Arsenal match I attended was in the League Cup at Highbury on the 29th November 1995, obviously being just 6 years old at the time I only have one residing memory, my old man holding me aloft in the north bank as Ian Wright stepped up to convert a penalty, I covered my eyes as I was too scared to watch so I guess the John Hartson winner was the first goal I ever saw live. Arsene took over just 11 months later, I’d class myself as one of the Arsenal fans who have only known Arsene, I have only ever seen and been able to understand an Arsenal team managed by the great Arsene Wenger. I love the man, I love everything he has achieved, not just the doubles,the Invincibles, all the trophies and all the successes, I love the way he took the bullets for years whilst overseeing his greatest achievement the transition to the Emirates Stadium whilst still maintaining Arsenal’s status as a champions league & top 4 club. I would build a statue outside the stadium, I’d have a statue of him in my bedroom, he’s a genius, a professor & in my opinion the greatest manager ever to manage our great club. BUT, this doesn’t mean I have to blindly agree with everything he does, this is where this article begins.

A great run of form? Or perhaps a little misleading?
As we are nearing the end of the calendar year its nice to look back on the results from 2015, time and time again I see people refer to the amount of premier league points we have accumulated; 69 in 32 matches which is a very impressive return but lets take a closer look. The reality is that from turn of the year in the second half of last season just 7 of our 18 premier league games were against opponents who were in the top half of the table at the time, from those 7 matches we managed to record victories in just 2. We lost away at Southampton (4th), lost away at Spurs (6th), Drew at home with Chelsea (1st), Lost at home Vs Swansea (8th) & drew away with United (4th). A lot is made of the result at the City of Manchester but it’s also worth noting we failed to beat both Spurs, United & Chelsea home or away. This isn’t discounting those results against the smaller sides but a club like Arsenal should be winning those matches. If we take a look at points accumulated from the beginning of April to now it provides interesting reading. Arsenal (42), Leicester City (51), Manchester City (47), Chelsea (35), Manchester United (39), Tottenham (36). This says a lot about our current form, we are by no means flying like some people insist and talk about. These results from the calendar year are in my opinion slightly misleading. In the 2015/16 season Arsene has lost more games (7) before December than in any other season since he took charge 19 years ago. Defeats at home to West Ham & Olympiakos, coupled with dropping points in big games against Liverpool & Spurs have been extremely frustrating. Away from home we’ve lost 2 absolute shockers in the last 2 weeks against Norwich & West Brom, defeat in Zagreb & in Sheffield both pathetic, losing at Stamford Bridge and finally in the Allianz. The harsh reality is that we have left ourselves needing to win by 2 clear goals in Greece to stay in the champions league, and we’ve been unable to capitalise on other sides around us dropping points. In the second half of the season we will have to travel to White Hart Lane, Anfield, The City Of Manchester & Old Trafford, its only going to get tougher. So, where in my opinion is it all going wrong?
Bad Luck or plain negligence? 
Now I’m no medical expert, I’m also no footballing expert, but one thing for sure is that Arsenal shouldn’t be suffering the amount of injuries we are this season, and we continue to suffer season after season. Is it training methods? Is it overworking key players? I have no idea but the answers to these questions need to be found if Arsene will ever lead Arsenal to another premier league title. The Alexis Sanchez injury in particular infuriated me, when you have a world class footballer who has played an astonishing amount of football you do all you can to protect him, whether he wants to be subbed or not you need to be able to manage your players. There have been many matches where we are in control, the game is won & Alexis is still kept on, away against 10 men at St James Park we go 1-0 up after 52 minutes Alexis plays 90. 3-1 up at Leicester on the 59th minute mark, Alexis played 90. 3-0 Up against United after 19 minutes, Alexis played 81. 2-0 Up away at Watford after 59 minutes, Alexis plays 80. 2-0 Up away at Swansea after 68 minutes Alexis plays 90. 4-0 down in Munich after 59 minutes Alexis played 90. Worst one of all a home against Zagreb Alexis clearly shattered STILL PLAYED 90. I don’t care who you are and how fit you think you are it’s just physically impossible to do what Alexis Sanchez is maybe attempting to do. We saw a farce of a situation with Theo Walcott in Sheffield, no warm up, not ready and bang, out injured. Arsene needs to manage his squad better, not every injury can be blamed on him but we have to question what is going on at our football club at the moment.
Continuing to accommodate = Stalemate
For me at the moment, the most important part of the pitch is where Arsene has it all wrong. Santi Cazorla is an absolutely fantastic footballer, brilliant with both feet,very tidy on the ball a creator, BUT he’s not and never will be a central midfielder, unfortunately Mesut Ozil is better & Wenger needs to accept this and stop accommodating Santi. In Aaron Ramsey we have one of the best box to box midfielders out there, he is sensational. Has an engine that cant be matched, is 6ft tall, brilliant in possession both long and short passing, scores goals makes assists but more importantly controls the pitch from box to box. Being a tidy footballer like Santi just isnt enough to win the premier league in that position. Santi Cazorla has scored just 1 goal from open play in his last 92 appearances for Arsenal, thats absolutely shocking for a player of his calibre. If we compare him too Aaron Ramsey, since the beginning of the 13/14 season Aaron Ramsey has 13 assists whilst playing at CM, Santi has just 9. Goals wise whilst at CM Aaron Ramsey has scored 24 goals from open play, Santi has just 1. A huge difference in productivity from the 2 players, you can tell me all you like about Cazorla’s pass completion and the amount of passes he makes but you never said the same about Arteta when he bossed that stat for a few seasons. Cazorla is too lightweight, cant carry the ball, isnt agile or mobile enough, doesn’t make runs from deep into the box anywhere near enough, never ever links with Olivier Giroud, its time to stop accommodating Santi and do whats best for the team. I like it when people throw the idea out there that Aaron Ramsey can only play alongside Arteta in central midfield, you’ll be interested to know that in the whole 13/14 campaign them 2 only started just 8 matches together. People who tell me Aaron “does a job” in a wide area, its infuriating, Ramsey has made 33 appearances RW for Arsenal scoring just 3 goals and creating 5 assists, in his last 33 matches at CM he’s scored 13 goals and has 8 assists. Get the man back where he is best, driving the team from box to box, he is captain material.
Arsene’s obsession with Santi and narrow midfielders is killing us, making things all too predictable, any team that presses fast and high up the pitch will nullify Santi within 5 minutes, Arsenal are the ones who need to be getting back on the front foot. What ever happened to the old exciting Arsene? The man who loved using wingers who can run from outside to in, believe you me Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott are as effective numbers wise as Robert Pires and Freddie Ljungberg, they are both intelligent enough and good enough to happily do that job causing havoc making runs for Ozil to pick out and Giroud to link up with. Poor Giroud is so starved of any real delivery its frightening, with his back to goal he is the best striker in the premier league, if you look at Ramsey in 13/14 and Giroud’s ability to bring him into play it works beautifully. Theo Walcott is another myth for me, the man is a wide forward, he can do everything he does up top from that right side. At the moment we are asking Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal to provide the service for Giroud, the odd time it works but we need to provide some real width. Get Alexis to pin his full back, isolate him, much like he did to Darmian and we won that game in the first 20 minutes because of it. It’s so simple yet Arsene is making things so difficult, its stubbornness, its him wanting to prove we didn’t need to sign an outfield player, its him trying to justify the decision to stick with Mikel Arteta, a 33-year-old who is returning from an 8 month lay off.  Mr Flamini, a walking liability. Its his insistence on putting Aaron Ramsey out on that right wing.

Quite frankly the whole situation is a joke, we need to start playing players in their positions. The West Ham result could have been a freak, Sheffield Wednesday, West Brom, Olympiakos & Zagreb were a shambles. We need to go out in January and sign those 2 players we needed in the summer, an additional CF and a proper defensive midfielder to provide Coquelin that competition. The saving grace at the moment is that we are only 2 points off the top of the premier league thanks to other teams failures and our champions league future is in our own hands. Walcott  Is the title a possibility this season? Of course it is, if Wenger reverts back to style and we start to see the exciting aggressive Arsenal of years past, not the dull repetitive predictive Arsenal of the present.

Do bits in January Arsene, I cant wait to see that smile when you lift that title one more time.



Follow @wozthegooner

“26 year old Passionate Gooner. Follow The Arsenal home and away. Love the beautiful game.”

Warren Ratcliffe

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