Arsenal’s season so far, Alexis Sanchez and #WengerOut?

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Arsene Wenger

Wenger in? Wenger out? Let’s shake it all about and have a look at Arsenal’s season so far, our Chilean star Alexis Sanchez, and some strong opinions on the boss himself. Enjoy.

No doubt about it, Arsenal have been absolutely dire so far this season, and were once again last week at Swansea. Performances that have bordered on embarrassing have stifled any talk of the title, with most fans very angry and once again settling for a scrappy fight for 4th.

Due to the performances and results, some fans have launched a quite vicious assault towards Arsene Wenger on social media, with a quite frankly embarrassing and pathetic protest being organised against our greatest ever manager.

Arsene Wenger

Whether you want Arsene Wenger out or not, have some respect. If anyone who is planning to support this protest thinks it’s genuinely going to make any shred of difference, you are sorely mistaken. Arsene Wenger will leave the club when he sees fit, not when a bunch of fans make a few posters to tell him to do so.

Whether you think that’s right or not, I’m sorry, but it’s the reality. Yes, I know how much some fans love to remind us all that “it is not Arsene FC blah blah”… But quite frankly, he will not be sacked.

The fickleness of our fans is sometimes bordering on insanity, with opinions changing on the future of our club every weekend. Arsene Wenger stayed at Arsenal through the very tough times during the stadium build even though he had several opportunities to leave, some perspective which fans seem to forget.

We owe Arsene Wenger a lot for the stadium and the consistency to stay in the top 4 throughout that transitional era. Yes, I’m aware he didn’t win any trophies in that time, but would you when you are selling all your best players, and having the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh as your striking options? The answer is a resounding no.

arsene wenger 4

However, the notion that we ‘owe’ Arsene Wenger anything is NOT a reason to keep him on as manager. The FA Cup win signified the end of the transitional era, whilst the departure of Bacary Sagna to Man City signalled the end of the mass player exodus to rival clubs. Therefore, this season so far, which promised so much, is not good enough.

The summer transfer window was an overall success, but the much talked about defensive-midfielder position was not filled, whilst the squad was left without defensive cover. Both these neglected areas are to put it bluntly, destroying our season. An unreliable Nacho Monreal has been forced to cover at centre-back and a completely useless Mathieu Flamini is playing in midfield. Honestly, Flamini should be playing for a relegation threatened side, not Arsenal.

monreal and flamini

The failure in this area of the transfer market is down to one man, Arsene Wenger. There were options quite literally everywhere for players to sign, and we have the money too.

However, it would be ridiculous to suggest that our only problems lie in these neglected areas of the squad. Arsene Wenger is week in, week out proving himself to be tactically naive, especially in the big games. The use of the 4-1-4-1 formation in the early season with Mesut Ozil out wide was actually baffling. Some would say idiotic. Our use of the zonal marking system is costing us again and again from defensive set-pieces, I don’t even know why we bother with attacking corners we are so bad at them, whilst our propensity to be counter attacked every time we go forward is appalling.

In Wenger’s defence, his tactical switch of Alexis Sanchez to the no.10 role has been a revelation in the past few games, with Sanchez being the best player on the park every single week. Sanchez is a magical player, and in my opinion is the best forward player we have had at the club since Thierry Henry left all those years ago. He has the ability to beat 4 or 5 players and bury it, with Alexis providing the flair and clinical finishing we have been missing for so many years.

sanchez

Our reliance on Sanchez is bordering on the point that if he were to get injured, our season would be in tatters. This is why we can’t just look at Arsene Wenger as the sole reason for our poor form this season. Yes, he does pick the players, but they MUST take more responsibility than they have been.

Alexis Sanchez has left the pitch the last few games shaking his head, and rightly so. He’s a winner, and must be wondering what he has signed up to. When he looks around he must wonder how some of these players are starting for Arsenal. For example, Aaron Ramsey appears to think he’s now ‘big time’ after last season, with no care in the world about defending. Over the past few weeks all he’s been doing is looking to score (might I say, unsuccessfully), leaving the team with no balance. Per Mertesacker looks lost at the back without his partner Laurent Koscielny, alongside an abysmal Nacho Monreal, whilst Santi Cazorla can’t hit a barn door with a shovel, spooning every chance he gets into row Z of the Emirates, making it no surprise he hasn’t scored a league goal since January.

The fact is, I could pick out every player in the starting 11 (bar Sanchez) and criticise their performances, which is ultimately the issue. The players look lost, and you could put that just down to poor management, but I think a lot comes from the players themselves.

The worrying lack of rotation so far this season will (and already has) cost us injury wise, but the fact is that if Wenger rotates, the squad players just aren’t good enough.Joel Campbell appears to have disappeared off the face of the Earth, despite Wenger claiming earlier in the season that his time would come. When would that be Arsene? 2016? Replacing him on the bench with Yaya Sanogo last weekend was shocking. To clarify, this is the man who couldn’t score if Alexis left 11 players on the deck and squared it to him. Thomas Rosicky and Lukas Podolski have piped up publicly about their lack of game time, but when they come off the bench they show nothing to suggest they should be starting. It’s just a poor state of affairs, and a lose-lose situation for Wenger.

podolski and rosicky

I personally believe that the players have just as much responsibility as Arsene Wenger in this dismal situation, and until they pull together, we will get nowhere. The ultimate question is though, are you Wenger in or Wenger out? I think sacking him mid-season would be ridiculous, and quite frankly it won’t happen. I also can’t see a suitable candidate to replace him either. However, if the season continues on this path and we end up with just the “4th place trophy”, then this debate will be red hot, with even more fans calling for Wenger’s head than they are now.

What do YOU think on Wenger, the players, and the team as a whole? Let me know on Twitter: @LukeHastings1, or in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

(Images sourced from gettyimages.co.uk)

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Christmas comes early for the press as Arsenal slip up

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, Arsenal have taken a damaging defeat. Is this the beginning of the end in regards to their season? Well, if you read the papers you would think so, with broken cannons everywhere. “Turmoil” they say, still top of the league, they don’t say.

The red-top papers are loving it. It’s as if they have been waiting for this one damaging defeat, so they can squash any thought of an Arsenal title challenge. Arsenal’s failure always makes a good news story, and the media has latched on to this, exaggerating Mertesacker and Ozil’s ‘bust up’. The Daily Mail ludicrously called it “fighting in the camp”, when in fact the two players are best friends off the pitch and were clearly just frustrated by the loss, but this reaction from the media is not at all surprising.

The fact is Arsenal are two points clear at the top of the table and in a good position heading into the Christmas period. Far from “Turmoil” as the media would suggest. Ludicrously, Match of the Day’s official twitter page (@BBCMOTD) tweeted yesterday, asking “Are Arsenal still in the title race?” They have now deleted this tweet, and rightly so, as I think it is a fair point to say that Arsenal have been the most consistent side in the Premier League this season are currently leading the title race.

Yesterday, after Liverpool’s convincing 5-0 win over Spurs (which was great viewing as an Arsenal fan), a very Liverpool biased Sky Studio (that included the current Liverpool Captain) concluded that Liverpool were title contenders. Bear in mind that this is same team that Arsenal brushed aside 2-0, just a matter of weeks ago. It’s ridiculous how Liverpool are now considered title contenders, but Arsenal are in “turmoil”, especially considering Liverpool were torn apart by Hull a fortnight ago!

Away from the doom and gloom, there were positives from the game against Manchester City at the weekend. City have conceded only 2 goals at home in the league all season, and we managed to net 3 in one game. Another positive is Theo Walcott’s return to the starting XI, adding a new dynamic to the side whilst bagging a brace too. Going forward we were strong, but there is no shying away from the obvious negatives. Missed chances ultimately cost us, as well as the multiple defensive errors leading to the bulk of Man City’s goals. The linesman didn’t help either, but ultimately Man City were worthy winners.

Arguably the biggest worry from the game itself was not the result, but the injury to Laurent Koscielny. The gash on his knee looks like something from a horror film, and could see him out for a little while. The central defensive partnership between Koscielny and Mertasacker has been a pivotal part of the season thus far, and although Thomas Vermaelen’s a very capable replacement, Mertesacker and Koscielny complement each other so well that he will be sorely missed, although it is hoped he will be fit for next week’s game.

Arsenal’s recent form has not been ideal with a draw against a very good Everton side, and of course defeats to Napoli and Manchester City, making next Mondays game against Chelsea a must win to stay top of the league and to keep the title push alive. I feel as if the game against Chelsea could be seasoning defining, which makes it the ideal time for Arsene Wenger to get his first win over a Jose Mourinho managed side.

Another defeat next week and the broken cannons will be out in force once again, so I’m desperately hoping for a positive result to avoid the media’s brutal backlash.

Arsenal CAN win the Premier League, and why Theo Walcott is the key

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The Premier League is wide open this season, with Pundits and Managers claiming that any of the ‘top 6’ could go on to win it. This begs the question, can Arsenal actually win the title?

If you ask the two Alan’s over at Match Of The Day, they will tell you (as they reiterate every week) that Arsenal can’t possibly win it. However, I’m going to tell you why I believe that Arsenal CAN win the Premier League title.

The cracks being shown by Arsenal’s title rivals could be an important part of Arsenals title challenge. The team with the best squad in the league, Man City, are displaying worryingly bad away form while at Chelsea, Mourinho doesn’t seem to know his best team (and lacks a striker), whilst also not starting last years Player of the Season, Juan Mata (for reasons I do not understand). Man United are also understandably showing vulnerability after Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, as David Moyes struggles to come to terms with his big new job.

But here lies, in my opinion, the key to Arsenals title challenge, the return of Theo Walcott. What Walcott brings to the Arsenal side is huge, with his pace and ability to get in behind defences being vital to push back the opposition, stretching their defence and midfield enabling Arsenal’s midfield maestros such as Ozil, Wilshere, Ramsey and Cazorla to work their magic, creating countless chances and opportunities to score from. The combination of Ozil-Walcott is something that particularly excites many Arsenal fans including myself, and how powerful this combination could be was shown earlier in the season against Sunderland before Walcott’s injury, where Ozil played some memorising through balls to Walcott, who on another day could, and probably should of bagged a brace.

Of course, I do understand why football fans are so sceptical of Arsenal’s chances, the squad is relatively small compared to the other top teams, and in recent seasons Arsenals inconsistency has been their most annoying trait. However, this year feels different, especially with this great start, the like of which Arsenal fans haven’t seen in many years, whilst the signing of Mesut Ozil has given the whole club a boost, buying a world class player instead of selling one, as has been the case in recent years!

No-one can tell who will come out on top, which is why I think Arsenal CAN, but not necessarily WILL win the title. What is for sure is that this competition bodes well for a more open and exciting title race that the Premier League has sometimes lacked in previous years.