What is really wrong at Arsenal

Sunday February 24 2013


It is official, when you see Arsene Wenger snapping at reporters and flat out rejecting the idea that he had been offered a contract extension. It’s bad, hell, it’s rock-bottom. If Arsenal had beaten Blackburn on Saturday, the idea of a two-year contract extension for Wenger would not have been such a big deal; but after that loss, it was an abomination to even talk about Wenger staying.

So what exactly is wrong at Arsenal?

The first answer is obvious, Wenger himself. The professor’s course is no longer relevant yet he is still teaching it. It’s like GHC in 2013, or Microsoft DOS, you cannot do much with it. Wenger’s much hyped youth project has not borne fruit in eight years.

Fabregas, who was 16 when it started, got tired of waiting and is set to win a La Liga winner’s medal this season.

Samir Nasri left and won the Premier League in his first season away while Robin Van Persie has the potential of winning a treble with Manchester United – his head must be spinning like crazy.

Wenger has for eight years been unable to engineer a trophy; really, even the Carling Cup, and just to underline the extent of the problem, he went ahead to invent his own trophy-the fourth place cup. I don’t know whether to file that under lack of ambition or inability to compete.

Wenger has had the money and the scouting network to bring world class players to Arsenal. He landed Vermaelen, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carzola, Song and Sagna all brilliant players who can form the spine of a championship team, but then he turns and acquires players like Squillaci, Kolscieny, Andre Santos, Chamakh and Gervinho.

Wenger’s problem is not that he sells stars alone, it’s that the times when Arsenal need world class players the most, Arsene Wenger goes off and brings a Squillaci.

The second problem at Arsenal is of course the accountants. These are the guys who have shielded Arsene Wenger for eight years, they applaud during every transfer window when he walks into their offices and instead of asking for tens of millions asks for five or three, they love him to bits and would not trade him for Pep Guardiola.

So long as Arsenal Football Club confuse the accounts department for the heart and soul of the club, they will continue to live in a time warp of disappointment and under achievement. It’s good to make money, but the business of a football club is winning, period.

The third problem is the number of journeyman-kind-of-players at Arsenal. Manchester United have three world class strikers Van Persie, Rooney and Chicharito. No striker at Arsenal instantly commands the label world class, Giroud is okay but he is not world class and neither is Podolski if you want to call him a striker and let’s not even talk about Walcott or Gervinho.

The Theo Walcott experiment is not working; I know he scored one goal in December that reminded people of Thierry Henry but does that makes him a striker?

In midfield, when they have world class players like Arteta, Cazorla and Wilshire until they bring in Diaby like they did against Blackburn and mess everything up.

The other problem with Arsenal is they have never had a really good goalkeeper since David Seaman left. Szczesny is not bad but he is also not the most reliable fella in the world and his subs, well let’s just end there.

Watching Arsenal against Bayern Munich on Tuesday was interesting for one reason, Bayern did not give a damn that they were away, they were not scared one bit of Arsenal and they were right.

Three away goals is just too much and the thought that Arsenal can waltz into Germany in a few days and score three unanswered goals, well that’s just ludicrous. It’s not impossible but it’s highly improbable.