There’s an argument that Alex Ferguson decided last year, for whatever reason, he wasn’t able or willing to build another great team.
It was probably more a case of the sheer amount of work that was needed, but there’s a slight chance that he realised that the game played by Pep Guardiola was leaving him behind. He has even improved on last year’s Bayern side. After his 1,000th game at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger might have to consider the same.
Either he decides that the doesn’t have it in him anymore to build a great team, or he does. But the biggest factor in this would be that Wenger needs to decide if not just Bayern Munich, but Chelsea and Manchester City are leaving him behind too.
It wasn’t Arsenal’s first heavy defeat to rivals in the Premier League, but the fundamental problem is that it wasn’t even their first heavy defeat to a rival this season. Then you have to remember that it wasn’t even their first heavy defeat to a rival in the past three-and-a-half months. Arsenal lost 6-3 to Manchester City in December, then 5-1 to Liverpool in February, and now 6-0 to Chelsea. Not only is it a trend, but it’s one that is getting worse.
The defeats all came in the same manner is troublesome, too. These were not one-offs, they were teams sticking to the same plan and getting the same result. It’s not even especially difficult to do - hassle Arsenal in midfield and watch them crumble in a panic.
In the first half for Chelsea all four goals came from loose passes, and Arsenal just watched in a daze as Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle sprinted past them again, and again, and again, and again. And again. Wenger just will not learn.
The time has come for David Moyes to leave Manchester United, despite his victory in Europe last week. Having made so many mistakes, it doesn’t make sense to give him more than £100,000,000 to put United back on track - he can’t be trusted with such a mammoth task after showing so few signs of aptitude and improvement. The same consideration should now be made regarding Wenger.
Last summer, the Frenchman was praised for buying Mesut Ozil - for finally spending big after all the years of working on an apparently self-imposed budget.
Despite the drop-off in form from Ozil, it is still an excellent signing. There’s no reason to think that next season, when accustomed to the Premier League, he won’t be able to perform more consistently as he did at the start of the season or as he did against Everton in the FA Cup.
When players of that quality become available, they should be purchased, just as Juan Mata was for Manchester United. From the transfer speculation, it doesn’t appear that they missed out on anyone who played in a different position as a result.
Which is the root of the problem. Arsenal did not need to buy Ozil, they needed to strengthen in other areas and failed to do so. Wenger, with his control at the club, is the man to blame for this.
He pursued Luis Suarez - an objectionable man but an excellent player - and when he failed to force a move, also missed out on Gonzalo Higuain. To leave Olivier Giroud as the sole striker in the first team was incompetence. Now he is out of form it’s costing them points. And it’s not just up front where Wenger has failed to take care of his squad.
In midfield, Mathieu Flamini was only signed through an accident of fate, happening to impress Wenger with his performances in training as he was with Arsenal in the summer as a free agent. With Abou Diaby never available, Wenger should have known that he needed more than one destructive midfielder, and yet chose to leave his side imbalanced, with a surfeit of technically impressive yet callow aesthetes.
In defence, Kieran Gibbs simply isn’t good enough, nor are the central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
The problem is, everyone knew this. It was obvious. Arsenal needed to buy genuine talent with experience, and again Wenger decided not to. This is not a new argument, but neither is the theory of gravity, and it’s still correct.
Arsenal needed to reinforce and improve their central midfield, defence and attack, and they signed Ozil, which was down to Wenger.
After a decade of specialising in failure, maybe it’s time he let someone else have a go.
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