This time last year, many of us remained hopeful that we’d start the new season with a different manager at the helm despite Arsene Wenger having one more year left on his contract. It wasn’t to be but there was a light at the end of the tunnel regardless as surely at his age, the last season really was going to be his last season. With that in mind, I personally expected very little activity in the summer transfer window as his final year approached yet the Frenchman had other ideas as splashed the cash.
Granit Xhaka arrived quite early on and he was followed by Rob Holding, Takuma Asano, Skokran Mustafi and finally, Lucas Perez.
Asano went straight out on loan, Mustafi was soon into the first team, Xhaka followed but young Rob Holding had to wait for a long while before he got a good run in the side. In fact other than the League Cup, I don’t think he started a game until the final dice was thrown by Wenger late in the season. Perez, well I think he was dumped on the empty naughty step which Lukas Podolski had vacated just a couple of years ago. Such a waste of a player who when he did finally get a game or two, looked quite exciting…..
The season started dreadfully. A mixture of injuries and Euro hangovers saw a depleted side fielded for the opening two fixtures and to little surprise, we’d dropped five points at the end of them. We were in for a long season ahead…
But then Chelsea rocked up at The Emirates and we sent them packing with their tail between their legs. 3-0 and a superb home performance. A little bit of hope was restored, but not for long. The following weeks and months played out as so many before them had, but this time, there was to be no big recovery after Christmas and the New Year. Barring two FA Cup victories over a couple of lower league clubs in the FA Cup, we were awful. Wenger looked out of ideas, the fans had turned on him and even the players looked lost, fed up and clueless. Top four was pretty much gone, Champions League survival certainly had as Bayern embarrassed us over two legs and Arsene Wenger was struggling. Not only on the pitch either. As each press conference came and went, nothing that was said was new. Watching him squirm was awful to say the least.
A last throw of the dice came as Arsene Wenger switched to three at the back. Some might say it was a master stroke as things improved, certainly the results but imo, it was good fortune, perhaps luck. Please don’t anyone try and convince me that the changes were planned, or part of some kind of stroke of genius because it wasn’t. There was no other option left. Do something, anything and three at the back was his way forward. Yes, I did just type forward!
Conte needed just one hefty to defeat to change his side. Arsene Wenger has taken…. how many years? Conte has played that system before I hear you say so it was nothing new, but then so has Wenger, about twenty years ago. Oh those days eh when he breezed in and signed some very special players…
That renewed hope of light at the end of the Arsene Wenger tunnel this summer turned out to be just some b*****d with a torch, a torch with batteries in desperate need of changing. Two more years secured.
And with the transfer window already up and running, you can bet we’ll be linked to all and sundry before September 3rd arrives and already the bookies are offering a huge range of betting offers on who’ll we sign.
But it’s not just about signing players is it as to be victorious in life, one has to have a plan, to be prepared for each and every eventuality which could head your way. In football or any other sport it’s about knowing your opposition, their strengths, weaknesses and how to nullify or exploit both. It’s about having the best tools to hand and knowing how to handle to them in order to achieve maximum results. After all, you wouldn’t equip yourself with a large fork in order to whip up 100 meringues for a dinner party would you? And you certainly wouldn’t try and make them without a recipe either. What if the first batch didn’t turn out right, carry on regardless or try something different?
But that’s exactly what Arsene Wenger has been doing for years imo. Trying to play the same way regardless of who we face or what players he has. Some he doesn’t even bother playing, others he just plays because he wants to and because he can. He’s not ruthless either when it comes to benching players because of poor form and he certainly allows too many a big contract when they barely deserve a small one. Oh, and how many of us have written the line ‘we don’t play to his strengths’ when Ollie has be ineffective during a game because we can’t cross a ball?
We as a club have drifted along for far too long now and as much as I hope that the penny has dropped, not only for the way we play football this coming season and the ambition we show in this current transfer window, I truly expect to see very little different to what we’ve seen before.
Yes, Arsene may have switched his tactics which improved us but I suspect many other, if not most will follow suit as and when required over the season ahead but as the likes of Conte, Guardiola, Mourinho, Poch and even Klopp and Koeman chop, change and refresh their squads and tactics over the next few weeks and months, dear old Arsene will be sat thinking he’s cracked it!
Him with his extra two or three new signings…….
If he really wants to crack the league next year and to be lifting that big trophy one more time then he seriously needs to get rid of a few passengers and add some top top quality to what’s left of the squad. Only by doing that will he have a chance as his tactics won’t bear fruit in the league or Europe otherwise they would have by now.
What he needs in this squad is leaders, big players and passionate players who want to win. That together with some top quality is his and our only hope and Manu Petit reckons that might just happen:
I’m sure Wenger and Arsenal are willing to change things by putting money on the table to bring in players with a winning mentality. Petit told Sky Sports News HQ.
I’m sure some players will come in soon and next season will be totally different for Wenger and Arsenal.
Wake up Manu, wake up……