#WENGERIN! Why Arsenal’s FA Cup final win changed my mind

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I was convinced I wanted Arsene Wenger out, but yesterday changed my mind.

In the face of hate and abuse (which of course has been disgraceful), Wenger defied the odds and defeated the ‘master tactician’ Antonio Conte.

What a performance it was, all of the players were outstanding. It was undoubtedly the best Arsenal performance I have ever seen.

The make-shift back five were immense and so were the rest in front of them. Beating Chelsea and denying them the double and a dream finish for John Terry made it even sweeter too.

Called me deluded (and yes, I probably am), but I believe Arsene Wenger can take us forward next season.

Yes, it has been much of the same for the past few years, but a massive difference in not achieving a top four finish will hopefully make Wenger realise that he must change.

Quite frankly, this season has been a shambles and I would put a large proportion of the blame on Wenger. It hasn’t been good enough and I’ve been of the opinion that he shouldn’t be offered a new deal.

The problem is… I fell back in ‘love’ with Wenger yesterday. The way we played and the way he celebrated made me believe in him again.

I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would one game change your opinion on this?

Well firstly, the change to three at the back has been proven to be a masterstroke. It’s worked with overwhelming success, only tasting defeat once (but let’s ignore that). After a pre-season working on the new system and adding new players to the side, I think we can compete.

I also genuinely believe Wenger will change his transfer policy. He will buy big this summer. He has to, especially with our rivals likely to splash the cash.

I think a two year contract would be wise. It gives him a chance to have another couple of runs at the Premier League title and I see no reason why we can’t win it (if we can convince Alexis and Ozil to stay).

We have to believe in the new formation – and whoever is in charge when August comes around. The fans have to get behind the team.

Whether Wenger stays or goes, this will be a massive summer for Arsenal. There will be change, but will it be under Wenger’s reign? We will know soon.

Many say there’s no room for sentiment in football, but in my mind, yesterday shows that Arsene Wenger deserves a final chance to prove the doubters wrong.

Time for change, time for Arsene Wenger to leave Arsenal – but Walcott, Ramsey and Giroud need to go too

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I don’t know an Arsenal without Arsene Wenger, but I would like to meet it.

The reality is that if Arsene Wenger was the manager of any other team in the Premier League, he would have been sacked years ago, never mind after this car crash of a Premier League season.

After the 0-0 draw with Sunderland, it became mathematically impossible for Arsenal to win the league, ending their season. So much for judge me in May, eh Arsene? We didn’t even get that far.

Two FA Cup wins on the bounce looked like they could springboard the club from fourth place mediocrity to mount a REAL title challenge, where we didn’t crumble after Christmas. That went well.

Failure in the Champions League AGAIN in the Round of 16 and cheap knockouts in both cups left the league the only option. SURELY with ALL the big clubs crashing dramatically around us, now was the time. But no. Leicester City or God forbid Tottenham are going to win their first Premier League.

In my book, this was Wenger’s last chance.

“But, but, but, the player’s have let him down…”

Their performances have been shambolic, but when you think about it that makes no sense. Arsene Wenger’s reign of success ended in 2004, followed by the following 12 years (so far) of no league titles and consistently average seasons.

Have the players been letting him down for 12 years? We’ve seen countless changes in the squad throughout those years, so to me that just doesn’t add up.

The axe falls on the managers head. He has become un-defendable. Throughout my teenage years I have said to give him time, with excuses such as the stadium being built and having to sell our top players.

Then it hit me.

I’m now almost 20 and those excuses are complete nonsense now. The stadium was paid off years ago and Wenger’s continual failure in every single transfer window falls on him and him alone.

His team selections become more and more questionable every week and he seems too stubborn to make a sub before the 70th minute. It’s as if he’s sat there repeating “it will work soon” in his head. It won’t, Arsene. Starting Olivier Giroud was never going to work against Sunderland. He hasn’t scored in 19 of his last 20 games.

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How he can claim there are no better options out there than everyone’s favourite French striker Giroud, is quite frankly beyond me. The human lamp post. I’ve seen milk turn quicker.

Aaron Ramsey is getting progressively worse as his career goes on. He’s like a reverse Pirlo. He’s gone from our Lampard to our very own Welsh Xavi (Joe Allen). Except of course that Joe Allen can make a simple pass.

Theo Walcott. I mean, I don’t even know what to say. He gets paid over ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND POUNDS A WEEK and he’s somehow worse than he was when he joined over ten years ago. His attempt at taking the ball past Kaboul earlier with the goal at his mercy was a disgrace.

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I wouldn’t even start him in his own testimonial.

All three need to be shipped out in the summer, or perhaps given a new lease of life under a new manager.

“A new manager Luke? But there is no one else available to take over from Wenger?!”

Oh yeah because it’s going so well now, would be a massive gamble to risk our prestigious spot at fourth place every year… (sarcasm).

I challenge a manager to do any worse with this crop of actually talented players (when they want to be) to do worse than the top four. We are UNDER performing with Wenger. Inject £200 million pounds into this squad and we could be looking at a team who can actually challenge the biggest teams in Europe.

Of course, it is not that simple, but you know what I mean.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Pellegrini or Simeone at Arsenal, at least they would be a change and would breath some fresh air on the rotting squad.

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The performances of late point to a poor mentality and that comes from the manager. He is where the buck stops, and I’m ready to get off.

There is some talent at the football club (Ozil and Alexis in particular) but they are being undernourished and wasted by a manager who refuses to build a team around them that can be successful domestically and in Europe. It CAN be done!

Mesut Ozil just broke a Premier League record for most chances created in a single season. He also has 18 assists. We have had Ozil in the peak of his career, one of the best footballers on the planet and what do we do? Stick a walking selfie stick in front of him. Frustration doesn’t even cover it.

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What a waste.

We all know what is needed, everyone except for Arsene Wenger of course. A new core. CB, CDM and ST. It is quite literally not rocket science. This is not a secret, I wonder if anyone at Arsenal has actually mentioned to Wenger that we have £200 million in the bank and he should actually spend it.

The answer is, probably not. He’s untouchable at Arsenal and that needs to change.

It is not a risk to change the manager, if we don’t then the club will continue to drift into the abyss of mediocrity.

All of this is nothing new, we have know it for a long time, but the reality is it probably won’t change.

Arsene Wenger will continue to sit on his throne at the club and if he does then the abuse towards him from fans will soon make his position untenable.

Especially if we drop out of the top four this season.

I’ve had enough with the mediocrity. It’s the same story every year and it’s finally time to get a new book.

I have immense respect for Arsene Wenger for what he has done for the club over the years, but he’s now damaging his legacy.

As the saying goes, you either leave a hero or stay long enough to see yourself become the villain.

 

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.

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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.

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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)