Saturday 13 August 2011

Predictable, Predictable, Arsenal

Arsenal have long since lost their “boring, boring” tag, but the result today against Newcastle was as predictable as it was frustrating for Arsenal supporters. Last season Arsenal threw away a four goal lead to Newcastle, having a player sent off in the process. Today, new boy Gervinho was dismissed for stupidly retaliating to provocation from Saint Joey of Barton.

Arsène Wenger was forced into playing the second string midfield with Jack Wilshere absent through injury and Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri left out pending their big money transfers to Barcelona and Manchester City respectively. This was a completely avoidable situation.

All 6.9 billion people on the planet, except Wenger it seems, knew that Fabregas was going to leave. It was obvious for all of last season that he wanted to return to Spain. Nasri’s refusal to sign a new contract should have set the alarm bells ringing. Instead of deluding himself that he could keep these players, Wenger should have sold them both at the end of last season and bought in replacements straight away.

Sir Alex Ferguson did most of his transfer business at the start of the summer, giving his new players time to settle in. He knew who was leaving and who was joining. Arsenal, by comparison, have left everything so late, that even if they do now buy the defenders they desperately need, the team will be unsettled for at least the first month of the season, if not longer.

Last season’s capitulation to Newcastle marked the beginning of the end of Arsenal’s Premiership aspirations. The season rapidly went downhill after that match and they never recovered their early season form. The consolation this year is that the only way now is up. But even allowing for new season rustiness, it is quite clear that Wenger has failed to address the ongoing problem of indiscipline amongst the team - Alex Song was lucky to avoid a red card for stamping.

Through pig-headed obstinacy, the Manager has allowed Arsenal to start the season from a position of weakness compared to Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. Football has changed rapidly over the last few seasons, and Wenger has failed to adapt to the times. The so called Professor has lost his magic touch. It may only be the first week of the season, but it’s time for Wenger to go.

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