Three games in and the ‘ticking time bomb’ is already starting to tick faster. Three games, one win and two defeats and the joys of Wembley have long been forgotten. This was meant to be the season where Arsenal kicked on, Ivan Gazidis declared last season would be the catalyst for change. However, up until this point, those words are just words without any substance.
The summer started off well with the signing on Sead Kolasinac for free followed by the record acquisition of Alexandre Lacazette, but this summer has ended up like so many of the previous, struggling for form and more players needed. However somehow this feels very different, players want out, key players contracts are expiring and bizarre decisions which are not rationale from the manager. For example, take the game at Stoke, both Holding and Mertesacker were fit yet Wenger decided to play two lefts backs in a three or take the defeat against Liverpool, you might only have one chance to score yet elect to drop your prolific striker, these decisions are not rationale and not logical. These decisions have all been questioned by many fans and as a consequence, invited extra pressure at Arsene Wenger’s door step.
Arsenal are currently playing a 3-4-3 formation which proved successful in the cup final, and the back end of last season but has far from convinced the fans. Although, the early signs were promising, there are holes which stem from the lack of defensive work in training as this system always needs work coupled with the lack of work in preseason due to the experiment of Elneny and Maitland-Niles. However, in the defence of Wenger, switching back to 4-2-3-1 would cause critics to berate him and say he hasn’t changed but, this aside the Arsenal team look more comfortable with a back 4.
One criticism that can be levelled at Wenger, and that is who he is deploying in the wing back positions. Bellerin has been shifted to left wing back, in which he is clearly uncomfortable whilst Oxlade – Chamberlain has been switched to right wing back as a way of accommodating him and keeping him happy with the hope he signs a new deal. A situation which can be likened to Walcott and the centre forward position.
The Wenger Debate
I for one will not get into the Wenger in, Wenger out debate as it is pointless. Arsene Wenger has agreed to stay on for two years which means he will stay for two years. Should he have ridden off into the sunset with the FA Cup? Maybe, but that argument no longer applies. Stan Kroenke gave him a new contract and that’s his prerogative as the owner. Let’s be honest all was not well with members of the board not backing the decision, even Josh Kroenke the son of Stan was hesitant and I am sure that unrest is still there. However, I believed like many, that two bad performances would cause an explosion of anger and hatred towards Wenger, the board and the owner. Personally, I have always defended Wenger and wanted him to lead us to the title but, fairy tales are rare in the real world and although, a few will believe still, it has become clear that many are now changing their thoughts on the situation. Wenger has been in charge all my life, so I know nothing else and I will always be thankful to him but it seems as if the gap above is widening above.
Take the situation of Brian Clough and Nottingham Forest. Clough took Nottingham Forest from “no hopers to European Champions” (Murphy, The Guardian, 1993). It is well known that Clough knew his time was up but he insisted on staying and on the 1st May 1993, Nottingham Forest were relegated. 24 years later and Forest are still recovering and have been nowhere near returning. Does the situation sound familiar? I am not saying we will be relegated but Clough had the belief, Forest were too good to go down. If Wenger continues to carry on down this path who knows where we will end up. The board must take control and do what is right.
Everyone knows the situation which surrounds Kroenke. Arsenal are purely his insurance and collateral on his investment decisions. Arsenal are an investment and are mediocre like the rest of his portfolio. However, Kroenke must be careful as if Arsenal continue the decline then Arsenal will no longer be an attractive proposition.
Although points have been dropped there is still time to react in the transfer market. Wenger must address key weaknesses which have been evident. A centre back is needed especially since the sale of Gabriel and the impending departure of Mustafi. A solid defensive midfielder is needed to free up Xhaka two possible targets are available, William Carvalho or Stephen Nzonzi. Alternatively, he may want to pursue Seri from Nice who would increase the mobility in the centre of midfield.
Nevertheless, this will not solve all the problems. Arsenal need to have a better formation which is comfortable with the personnel and allow Bould to sort out the defence. Organisation and shape needed to be worked on which will then allow the attackers to do their job. Discipline is needed in the midfield especially, in those big away games.
Overall, the season may have just begun but the start has been Deja vu but this time let’s hope for a different outcome. There is unrest in the fan base but the owner is content. Many fans are blaming each other but in the end, all fans are hurt as it is there Arsenal which is in crisis. Let’s get together and support those who wear the Arsenal crest. Victory Through Harmony or else, the ‘time bomb’ of Arsenal will just start ticking quicker until it explodes.