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Wenger facing greatest challenge

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Phil McNulty | 12:33 UK time, Monday, 4 July 2011

Arsene Wenger has never lacked faith in Arsenal's team or his methods - even when painful evidence to the contrary has piled up around him.

Wenger once responded to losing a Champions League semi-final first leg at Manchester United by publicly inviting a non-believing reporter to what he was convinced would be his victorious press conference after the return at The Emirates.

He even promised "a magnificent performance". He got one all right, only it came from Manchester United and two goals inside the first 11 minutes meant the invite to a triumph was torn up.

Still, Wenger's optimism has rarely wavered but he will need every ounce of the old conviction when he takes the roll-call for Arsenal's flight out for their Far East tour next weekend as he ponders the most turbulent phase of his tenure at the club.

It seems Cesc Fabregas is heading, finally, to Barcelona, while Gael Clichy is off to Manchester City and Samir Nasri may well also be Manchester-bound - although his final destination could be Old Trafford.

Andrey Arshavin is also said to be unhappy but the growing mood of disaffection with his efforts among the Emirates gallery last season suggests he would not be missed.

Losing Nasri and Fabregas would be a major blow to Arsenal's prospects - photo: Getty

Arsenal's collapse at the conclusion of last season when a pursuit of four trophies was quickly transformed a sixth campaign without success led to renewed calls for a rebuilding programme, something the stubborn Wenger finally seemed to embrace.

The problem confronting Wenger is that he is not controlling the process, it is being taken out of his hands by disaffected players.

His great skill in the past, when success came regularly, was that he was - in football terms - the consummate economist and alchemist. He was masterful at selling players at the best time and for the best price, while renewing his squad with younger replacements. For years you could barely see the join.

He now faces the most crucial weeks of his Arsenal career. Wenger must recapture that skill quickly but if he gets it wrong then he knows he risks further demonstrations of the unrest that started to surface at The Emirates towards the end of last season.

But is the situation really as chaotic as it seems? Wenger will tell you it is not.

He may even turn what looks like an exodus into an opportunity. Fabregas looked more and more like a player with his mind on Catalonia as last season progressed while the loss of Clichy, who has been in decline for two seasons, hardly represents a devastating blow.

Nasri's apparent dissatisfaction potentially represents the most damaging blow and not just because he could end up at one of Arsenal's Premier League rivals. It was a setback no-one at Arsenal appears to have seen coming until it was too late, although Wenger has not given up hope of persuading him to stay.

If Fabregas and Nasri go - Clichy is neither here nor there in my opinion despite being a fine player earlier in his Arsenal career - and Wenger's replacements are not successful right away, how long before Robin van Persie casts his eyes elsewhere or Jack Wilshere attracts serious interest for other clubs?

And how can Arsenal hope to attract the sort of players to challenge for titles at home and in Europe if their best players are effectively seen to be forming an orderly queue at the exit?

Wenger will playing for high stakes in the weeks before the season starts. If he does not bring in the right players, Arsenal will fall even further off the pace with Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City in various stages of rejuvenation.

However, it is not a situation without hope. If Wenger can get more than £60m for these three players - and it surely unthinkable that the club's board will not hand him the funds he has brought in - then he has the opportunity to shape a new Arsenal built around Wilshere, Van Persie and Aaron Ramsey alongside the young talent he cherishes such as goalkeeper Wojchiech Szczesny.

After all, this is not the dismantling of a successful side, it is the changing face of a team that has won nothing for six years and has proved alarmingly inadequate when presented with the greatest challenges.

Wenger's self-belief has never been shaken but now he has been presented with his greatest test. If he fails then Arsenal will fail. It is as stark as that in Arsenal's current condition.

Wenger is under the severest pressure of his Arsenal reign - photo: Getty

Despite what many Arsenal supporters believe, many of us would love to see this wonderful manager regain the sure touch of his early years and end his barren sequence.

To do so, he will also need to unearth players of steel to go alongside the silk provided by Wilshere and Ramsey. Gary Cahill of Bolton and Chris Samba of Blackburn may not appear to be identikit Wenger players but if last season finally got one message across, it was that Arsenal needed substance to go with style.

Former defender Nigel Winterburn said: "It has got to the stage where you look at the amount of money Man City have got, United have already gone out and bought players and Chelsea will spend.

"I don't think Arsenal can compete with those teams financially, but people will want to see that the squad is being strengthened because they have come up really short in terms of spending over the last two years.

"They need to get that winning mentality and that could mean signing two or three English players to get that English spirit alongside the style of football they play.

"If Arsenal don't do that, they are not going to win the league because all the other top teams will get stronger and we are not powerful enough over 38 games to compete - although they are not far away."

Everton's Phil Jagielka would be perfect for Arsenal, a defender who operates within a no-frills framework and is a voice and leader on the pitch - but this is not a deal that will find any willing takers at Goodison Park after Wenger was turned away last summer.

Lille's Gervinho is more in the Wenger mould while the Argentine Ricardo Alvarez is an exciting talent - but Wenger will need more bite in midfield to help Wilshere.

Perhaps England coach Fabio Capello has dropped him a hint by placing West Ham United's Scott Parker alongside Wilshere in the England side with some success. Age makes him a departure from Wenger's usual template and it would be a short-term fix, but long-term planning has brought nothing in the way of trophies since the FA Cup win against Manchester United in 2005 so it is surely worth consideration.

These are defining days for Wenger. How he responds to events that have appeared beyond his control will shape Arsenal's future - and his own.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    It's a mission surely. The fans, the players, everyone, is looking for assurances that good quality replacements are being looked for.

    I'd like Parker, to play box-to-box and rotate with Wilshere. The others, I'll leave up to Wenger. He has an eye for a bargain, and there has been a distinct shift in his focus from "one for the future" such as Ramsey, Nasri etc. to "one for now" such as Squillaci, Koscielny, Arshavin etc.

    His faces his biggest test yet, and it will come at a high price. I don't believe the budget is very big, I think he's waiting to sell Fabregas & Clichy before bringing in replacements. At least...that's what I'm hoping happens.

    The big concern is that Denilson etc. - those that the fans want rid of - are on wages so high that no other club will have them!!

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh come on! - There's not going to be a mass exodus, managers don't just stand by and watch their teams be ripped to shreads. I doubt Nasri will leave, his twitter account is saying nothing but positive things. Fabregas will only leave if Barcelona quit being so rude an bit something proper.

    I feel he has to add, Hazard, G. Cahill, L. Baines - Though I would like to see Kolorov coming the other way from City. But who knows, Wenger's cards are often too close to his chest.

    I'm reading a more accurate transfer blog at the moment, it's on part III of 4, but it's interesting: http://wp.me/p1z74j-1j

    Decent though, Phil. Keep posting them on twitter!

  • Comment number 3.

    I was expecting more pessimism here, but he's right. Arsene isn't dismantling a successful side. Arsenal need to rebuild around Jack and Aaron. I saw somewhere that it will be late in preseason before he moves? I hope not! That will be bad news for AFC fans!

  • Comment number 4.

    No real insights here. I would challenge the assertion that Clichy has been in decline for two seasons – if anything he's been solid and let down by weaknesses in central of defence. I agree that Gibbs will step up as Clichy did on Cole's exit.

    Nasri has really only had one good season, just gone, and is in a very strong position to cash in. He's probably worth more to either Manchester club than to Arsenal.

    I think most commentators have got it wrong about the need for midfield steel. Arsenal's game is built on retaining possession. Their problem hasn't been regaining the ball - they are good at that - but finding their midfield runners as they move beyond their strikers. Ljungberg made great runs along the back line and hasn't adequately been replaced.

    Arsenal have suffered from depending too much on one player, Fabregas, in the way Liverpool have with Gerrard.

  • Comment number 5.

    Wenger can't do anything until the big clubs have finished their trading. We then get the chance to compete with other mid-sized clubs for the scraps that are left.

  • Comment number 6.

    The papers currently give a good impression of meltdown at Arsenal.

    From another blog....

    I'm sure other fans won't care but what is happening at Arsenal I don't think is good for the league.

    There is growing recognition that there is a super elite at the top of the leagues especially in England and Spain and getting into those monopoly clubs is a guarantee of success.

    Wenger's dream was to grow his way into that super elite...the problem he faces now is that even with money in his pocket he does not have the wage structure or the winning attraction to attract world class replacements.

    Sure he can get some up and coming stars of tomorrow but they are a gamble and will take time to bed in. Sure he can get some battle hardened warriors but they will not be world class. Maybe he can make the whole better than the sum of the parts but it will have to be some alchemy to beat a team that is chock full of better parts.

    As an Arsenal supporter I am very close to this and maybe too close but right now I cannot see any other model to compete with a monopoly club like Man United than the Chelsea and Man City Moneybags model. The Arsenal model was one hope for lesser clubs...if it fails then competition at the top dies and with it eventually surely someday the penny will drop for fans that they are wasting their money watching a league that essentially is less than a two horse race.

    Most fans on these boards (Many from other teams) are more optimistic...stating that Arsenal are only one or two players away...I don't share that belief.
    I believe that if the current team was allowed to stay together and with some prudent additions they would be world beaters....but they would need a few more years as they are too young....average age 23 (or thereabouts). Impatience and the mountain peak of competition at the top has killed Wenger's dream.

    To match Man United overnight would take £150M+ I believe with the current team....and even more without Nasri and Fabregas....because you need two Quality experienced Premier League teams of the right age (Man United have 2 one aged 30 and one aged 25)....that has been the secret of Man (Monopoly) United's success over the few years. And from their winning position they can easily retain and attract star players and cause instability in teams like Arsenal - its the nature of the beast.

    I do not blame Wenger...maybe he has made mistakes...what manager has not. But he has dealt the cards he has been given with immense courage, honour and steadfastness. He has reached probably the lowest point of his career....but right now we do not know if it will go lower or whether this may be a turning point...only hindsight will tell this. You only know you have reached the bottom when you are going up the other side. Falling out of the top 4 is a real possibility next year.

    I do not blame the strategy as at its heart it was a good one...but I believe that he underestimated the competition and the fact that although the team was good enough to win the league...it was not cohesive enough and was not old enough.

    He has to put it right. He has to create a team with the right balance (graft, flair, experience , age)....but with the competition at the top I suspect it may be a few more years before we win anything major.

    The bar has been set by Chelsea...to win the league now you need to outspend Man United by at least £100M per year...is this what we wanted...well its what we got.
    The bookies are seldom wrong and they predict a Man United victory at 7/4...essentially less than a 2 horse race.

  • Comment number 7.

    Have you seen much of Ricardo Alvarez, Phil?

    Personally I think Arsenal are fine in central midfield and in central strikers. They've got decent cover at full back too.

    It's not a style issue, what Arsenal need are certain top quality personnel in the form of a top class goalkeeper, top draw quality n the two centre half positions and they probably need an orthodox winger too (not a midfielder/forward who always cuts inside, and Walcott's future position is as a striker)

    The gk/centre half situation has constantly let them down over the last 3 years. A lot of Arsenal fans might think the Polish guy Wojciech Szcesny could eventually become a good keeper, and I know many of my Gooner friends rate Djourou and it mauy also be a case of keeping Vermaelen fit- but that is where they need extra quality and it has been obvious for a long time. It may be that they lack leadership in that area of the field too.

    This Arsenal team was good enough to beat Barcelona at home and snatch a 2-2 with them the season before- in some areas they are more than good enough and on their day they can keep possession better than any other english club side. But that soft centre at the back is letting them down, and it will continue to let them down until Wenger does something about it.

  • Comment number 8.

    These players leaving is a big oppertunity for Aaron Ramsay to prove himself. If he stays healthy, he'll become the new Fabregas

  • Comment number 9.

    Rebuild around Jack and Aaron....


    Lets accept then that Arsenal will not win the league for another 3 years.

    Anything else is upside.

    That staying in the top 4 is the height of our ambition...

  • Comment number 10.

    Wenger's winning teams were built on solid defence and that defence was create by George Graham.

  • Comment number 11.

    The international transfer window has only just opened a few days ago. I'm fed up hearing the the hacks reporting on the likes of Man Utd or Liverpool being active in the transfer window. They have not really bought any world class players.

    Yes it's true we haven't won anything for 6 years but why do you always continue with these headlines for us. Why not mention Liverpool not winning anything for 5 years!!

    I agree with you that Wenger needs to sort out of his central defence and now the central midfield as well. But may I point out to you that last year whilst Nasri had an outstanding first half of the season he went missing in the second half.

    I also hear the Real Madrid might pipe up with an offer for Fabregas and I'd be more inclined to sell him there to annoy Barcelona and all their tapping up.

    I'm not sure I agree with you about Arshavin though as when I saw matches I was one player that seemed to be fighting for the team and a lot of fans warmed to that. Wenger should just make Walcott an impact sub as he, especially that last game of the season didn't turn up and play and had no commitment.

    I do think we have heard enough from the board about being finacially responsible every year though. The mention staying in the real world etc. But they have to look at other businesses and realise that most developing companies sometimes make a loss or two for a few years so they can rebuild and develope. They don't seem to want to do this. I am surprised by this as we need to win things son especially with commercial rights being up for grabs in the next few years!!

  • Comment number 12.

    are you Phil McNulty of the most amazing fotballing side ever or are you that bloke who thinks he knows it all!

  • Comment number 13.

    If Arsenal are serious about challenging for league titles and trophies then their first move should be to replace Wenger. He has promised so much but has again delivered little. Sure the football on display is usually very impressive however I dont think fans would want pretty football to be more important than the end product.
    Wenger has lost sight of the goals he sets out to achieve and is blinded by the footballing philosophy that he has complete faith in, even when all the evidence points to it being deeply flawed.

  • Comment number 14.

    7.
    At 13:57 4th Jul 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    Have you seen much of Ricardo Alvarez, Phil?

    Personally I think Arsenal are fine in central midfield and in central strikers.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Arsenal are 'fine' in central strikers?!

    They're heavily reliant on a brilliant but injury-prone striker in that department. Bendtner is awful, Chamakh never kicked on, and... well that's about it.

    Compare that with, say, United, who have Rooney, Hernandez AND Berbatov, as well as backup in Owen and Welbeck, and it puts Arsenal's striker position in some relief.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hello everyone. Really love to hear from as many Arsenal fans as possible on this one. These are such serious issues for your club.

    Let's cover all shades. How big a blow would it be if Fabregas and Clichy went? On the other hand, could it actually be what Arsenal and Wenger need? Most of us accept he needs to rebuild and now he must, with around £60m from sales alone to do it.

    It may seem bleak now, but could Wenger not make this the starting point for his next Arsenal team? Let me know - and fans of other clubs are free to join the debate.

  • Comment number 16.

    "The bar has been set by Chelsea...to win the league now you need to outspend Man United by at least £100M per year"

    Spot on! But with Uefa's new protective bubble for the top 12 European Sides known universally as "The Financial Fair Play" rules. You can't outspend Man Utd unless you earn more in revenue than they do. Which untill you've won the league a couple of times and built an 80,000 seater stadium, you won't be doing.

    Arsenals model of building a team from young players who can then go on and win things together was admirable, and I was hoping that it would eventually bear fruit because when the FFP rules come in this is going to be the only way that teams like Everton, Bolton, Fulham, Villa etc.... can push on (if indeed any time one of these cubs produces a real star they don't end up loosing them to one of the big teams as happens now)

    dissapointed to see that even Asene can't make this strategy work.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Wenger's winning teams were built on solid defence and that defence was create by George Graham."
    but didn't Graham almost get us sent down for being a naughty boy-at least Wenger retains some credibility-he also took that back 4 and turned them from one hit wonders to constantly playing excellent football

  • Comment number 18.

    Not a bad Blog Phil even though it still focus's on speculation. In fairness you do highlight this speculation ina reasonable fashion.

    --------------------------

    6.At 13:55 4th Jul 2011, JohnnyRotten wrote:

    agree much with what you say.

    ----------------------------------------------

  • Comment number 19.

    Arsenal are basically a side that plays entertaining football - with no end product. If someone told me after they won the league in 2003/04 that they wouldn't win anything else for the rest of the decade I would have thought they are mad.

    Wenger made mistakes by letting players like Vieria, Henry & Campbell leave. They were the heart of the team and were never replaced properly.

    Wenger should sell Nasri & Fabregas, especially as the first only cares about money (his) & Cesa obvoiusly wanted to return to Barca (although he will be lucky to get on their bench - Xavi, Iniesta & Thiago Alcántara.

    With Clichy gone too that will be about £60m to spend on 3-4 top new players.

    G -Given
    CD - Subotic
    CM - More steel required - M'Vila
    LW - move V.Persie there and buy Benzema

  • Comment number 20.

    "Wenger's winning teams were built on solid defence and that defence was create by George Graham."

    There was no or very little of George Graham defence in the invincables from what I can remember!!

    Phil you are right about Clichy as not too many Arsenal fans will be missing him if he goes. If Ramsey hadn't had his broken leg then I wouldn't mind Fabregas going this year but I think Ramsey needs another year to get back or to improve and show his potential.

    Maybe buying Shay Given as a number 2 or competing with Szczesny would be good to get.

  • Comment number 21.

    " Bendtner is awful "

    thats being very kind i would have stronger definition/s but i dont want to be the 1st one to have his comment pulled for violation of the new treaty i now have with the BBC.

    I am still very reluctant to stick my neck on the chopping block as all we are doing is adding to the speculation which has now turned into a " mass exodus " perhaps this is really what others wish to see and hope for i think i would rather wait till the transfers, in or out are completed and then offer an opinion.

  • Comment number 22.

    it's hard for a team like arsenal when all the murdoch owned media empire like sky and the tabloids always run them down. why don't sky just buy man u and have done with it.

    mourinho was right when he pointed out that there was a huge barcelona bias in spain. there's an even bigger one in britain with man u.

    is it any surprise when the referees always give them advantages and players in opposing teams often 'go missing' at key points in games. take the champions league for example. arsenal were so close to knocking barca out but the referee sent van persie off with the most dubious decision i've ever seen.

    it's not rocket science to figure that man u v arsenal is the biggest money spinner and that is the way the results are always going to go. as a key element of the sky branding man u are always going to be succesful.

  • Comment number 23.

    Also, on the issue of Arsenal still being kids - Barcelona's average aged is about 24-25, and they win everything !!!

  • Comment number 24.

    the policy of youth players is not good enough, i have said this so many times, arsenal are trying to win the league but their second striker is bendtner!!!! This just typifies arsenal, world class players mixed in with second rate players (at best)

    if arsenal want to win the league, they need a keeper, a centre back, replacements for fabregas + nasri, and a world class striker.

    foster, onouha ,cahill, diego, milner, gervinho and then take a risk on falcao for £26million. this would get arsenal back up closer to the top. im not an arsenal fan but i like them more than chelsea, man u, man city

  • Comment number 25.

    As a Manchester United fan, I'd love to see Wenger build a new team around his young players as their prolblem is the overall philosophy is flawed. His only success was achieved playing 442 / 424, since he switched to 433 they have won nothing.
    I think it's also fair to point out that,

    1) although RVP is a fine wide forward or 2nd striker, they are missing the out-and-out world class striker like all their rivals have. Wenger replaced Henry with Bendtner - nuff said.
    2) several "highly-rated" Arseanl players have won nothing for the club. This group includes Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri. So why be so sad about them leaving?

  • Comment number 26.

    Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri leaving is not necessarily a disaster

    Wenger likes 4-3-3

    Chesney in goal
    Need a new right back
    Koscielney and Vermaalen ok in central defence with Djourou as back up although he would do well to get Samba or Cahill in and use Koscielney as back-up
    Gibbs or that young lad from Charlton at left back.

    Midfield - need a defensive midfielder to allow Ramsey and Wilshere to push forward

    Attack - Arshavin on the left, Walcott on the right with van Persie the focus. Chamakh is back-up and need one more striker in case 4-4-2 needed at some point.

    Th side just needs a bit of a re-shape rather than an overhaul and if he brings in teh 3-4 players needed whilst clearing out Clichy, Fabregas, Nasri and Bendtner (only the middle 2 are actually any loss) then he may do well and at least win a cup

  • Comment number 27.

    Using £60m to rebuild the Arsenal squad. Question is what fans are willing to wait that long and hear the spurs lot chant 9, 10..11 years?

  • Comment number 28.

    What irks me is that throughout the past few years it is the players who have not won anything, and yet they are the ones now leaving because they are upset they have not won anything. Time and time again Arsene Wenger has defended them, and it appears they have forgotten this. Nasri was phenomenal for the first half of last season but I can't remember if he came back after February! Fabregas' head was rarely in the game. That can be said for the past two years - maybe he should just go. If he wants to find excuses for why Barca beat Arsenal, maybe he should remember that reckless backpass that to me looked like he was advertising himself to his former (and probably future) employers. Clichy has been poor - mistake after mistake. Unfortunately Gibbs is not quite there yet (positionally he makes errors once or twice a game and the likes of Drogba just lap it up) so I had hoped to hold on to Clichy for 1-2 more years.

    IN WENGER WE TRUST!! Sczcesny, Sagna, Gibbs, Djourou, Vermaelen, Song, Wilshere, Ramsey, Walcott, Van Persie, Chamakh....it'll be OK!

  • Comment number 29.

    Petshop boys_forever --- "need a defensive midfielder" ..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOng was 1st name on the team sheet for me last year. Incredible player!

  • Comment number 30.

    22. ???????????????????
    What a silly comment to put your name to.
    You dont think Fergies' ban for saying the referee wasnt strong enough and Rooney's ban for swearing were harsh enough??
    How about a referee allowing chelsea a shot at a title they dint ddeserve by allowing a goal he clearl could nto see crossing the line??????

    Think before you type.

  • Comment number 31.

    Comment number 22.At 14:26 4th Jul 2011, come_on_my_team wrote:
    it's hard for a team like arsenal when all the murdoch owned media empire like sky and the tabloids always run them down. why don't sky just buy man u and have done with it.

    --------------------------

    They tried and it got knocked back by shareholders

    #29 - They need someone stronger than Song at DM - he doesn't strike me as a strong leader. Not a bad player but they need another Vieira and he isn't it

  • Comment number 32.

    Nasri and Fabregas leaving will set the team back 2-3 years....

    1. Wenger does not have the wage structure or winning attraction to attract world class experienced replacements

    2. Non world class replacements would not be good enough

    3. He will therefore have to rely on up and coming stars that will be too young to compete at the highest level consistently and the team will go backwards until they mature

    And round and round we go.....

    Meanwhile Man United get stronger and more of a monopoly.

  • Comment number 33.

    Smoggy Bob Wrote
    "You can't outspend Man Utd unless you earn more in revenue than they do. Which untill you've won the league a couple of times and built an 80,000 seater stadium, you won't be doing".

    Agree with what you are saying,But it has taken United,more than a couple of league title wins to get where they are today. Ask any genuine United fan,and they
    will tell you,that the Blue print for their Success was drawn up in the 1940's by Sir Matt Busby. A lot of chairman in the game nowadays want success Yesterday,and i can not imagine,what would happen if a manager was to say, i have a plan,but it will take the best part of 70 years to pay dividends.

  • Comment number 34.

    @31 / 29

    Agree with 31 re Song. He's like Fletcher. A good, high energy player who adds some bite to the midfield, and is actually more skilful than they're given credit for.

    But not an out-and-out midfield general, like Vieira, Keane, or the Essien of a few years back.

  • Comment number 35.

    To Rustyfootyfan

    Did you forget the Invincibles? George Graham had hee-haw to do with that team.

    Wenger is a fantastic manager who is currently in a state of delusion. I believe he has tied too much of his own pride up into his 'experiment'. However noble an idea and vision, it has not worked. Time to realise that you can have the best of both - young hungry players supplemented by the correct experience! Look at Barca, experienced former youth players such as Puyol, Valdes and Xavi, with the younger generation coming through - Pique, Iniesta, Busquets, supplemented by top-class support cast in Dani Alves and David Villa. Then look to the future and the likes of Thiago, Bojan, Pedro, etc will grow older and fill the vacancies. A seemingly ever-lasting supply of talent. Notice I haven't even mentioned Messi! But it has to start somewhere.
    The expected sale of Fabregas could be fantastic. Lord knows we have a multitude of players who love playing in that position - Arshavin, Rosicky, Ramsey, Wilshere. I would sign a new striker, or put Walcott up top and play RVP in the CAM role, personally. Time to revert back to our former days of true attacking intent with penetration, as opposed to the sterile possession which has become a hallmark of our regular defeats to United, Chelsea and others.

  • Comment number 36.

    @ Ratlintoez

    My fear is that the top is now entrenched. I firmly believe that Man United are the nearest thing to a football monopoly as you can get as you can see from their league wins.

    Chelsea have had to spend a fortune to beat them and that is the benchmark

    Arsenal the only other consistent competitor is going backwards with huge instability caused by a wage structure and not winning because they have had to stand still fianancially over the last few years.

    Once fair play rules come in it may help re Chelsea but by then Man United will be too strong.

  • Comment number 37.

    Wenger - delusion


    His delusion is caused by a lack of funds. Yes....do the maths.

  • Comment number 38.

    @34 agreed
    @32 - United's "monopoly" has derived from relying on up and coming stars for the last 6-7 years, making an overall net profit from transfers. So i think it is unfair to suggest Arsenal's problems are financial. The manager just keep making poor decisions.

  • Comment number 39.

    14.
    At 14:06 4th Jul 2011, kanchelskis_legend wrote:


    7.
    At 13:57 4th Jul 2011, Vox Populi wrote:

    Have you seen much of Ricardo Alvarez, Phil?

    Personally I think Arsenal are fine in central midfield and in central strikers.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Arsenal are 'fine' in central strikers?!

    They're heavily reliant on a brilliant but injury-prone striker in that department. Bendtner is awful, Chamakh never kicked on, and... well that's about it.

    Compare that with, say, United, who have Rooney, Hernandez AND Berbatov, as well as backup in Owen and Welbeck, and it puts Arsenal's striker position in some relief
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Actually I was thinking about Van Persie, Arshavin, Walcott (who I am 100% sure should be a play through the middle forward), and the kid Vela rather than the likes of Bendtner. You chose some bad comparisons- Michael Owen is a crock (even far worse than Van Persie, he can barely finish a 90 minute game these days without doing a calf or a hamstring) and even Bendtner and Chamakh have done more for Arsenal in their time there than Welbeck has done so far for Man Utd. Also it's a bit harsh to write Chamakh off after one season- it took Pires and Henry a little while to settle as well.

    However rather than analysing individuals, my point was that I don't think Arsenal's strength in depth in the forward positions is a major issue compared to their central defence, no.

  • Comment number 40.

    Agree with CLINT about Ramsey, Blimey! I agree with almost everything that has been said here.
    What I'd like to say though is, we've been hearing/reading for weeks now, that we are getting shot of the 'dead wood' and buying this, that or the other players. C'mon! how long does it take to buy some players and show NASRI we are serious about building a stronger side. I must admit, the only thing that concerns me is Nasri going to any of the Manc clubs. He may have had his first good season (ROBWIZ), but didn't step up though?? I just hate the idea of Manchester (Either) reaping the rewards!
    I think AW has now had a serious wake up call, if he doesn't act now then, as much as I like him, he's gonna have to go.... also.

  • Comment number 41.

     
    Not a bad account on the current situation at Arsenal.
     
    I think we have to accept that Cesc is going to leave, either this summer or next. The Nasri situation leaves a sour taste in the mouth. Brilliant in the first half of the season but anonymous during the 2nd half. If reports are to be believed he wants to be top earner at the club. Half of a good season doesnt warrent that. Play like he did during the first half of the season over a couple of seasons and then he has the back up to claim a higher wage. I've also heard that he wants to win trophies and its not the money that motivates him. Nasri has to remember that he is part of a team that has failed over the past few seasons. He didnt turn up at the Carling Cup Final and had he put away the 2 simple chances (that i could have put away with my eyes closed) then things may have been different on the trophy front. As good as Nasri CAN be he wont be a major loss to Arsenal if his perfromaces over the 2nd part of the season are to be continued. Why do Arsenal attract players who think they are better than they really are, Bentdner, Adebayor, Nasri, Denilson etc... Part of that is probably Wenger who probably praises them more than they deserve.
     
    Wengers greatest concern, as you have pointed out, is that of replacing Cesc and Nasri (if they both leave) and we have to replace like for like.
     
    I won't get to worked up at the minute as no one knows for sure what is happening inside the club, despite what the press would like us to believe. Wenger may well have players lined up or indeed one or both of the aforementioned may well end up staying.
     
     
     

  • Comment number 42.

    Good balanced blog, I thought.

    Given seems a decent and obvious fit, but potentially someone so obvious that it'll never happen. I know Arsene wants to develop his young goalkeepers but I think realistically it is costing him too many points, and they need someone stronger (mentally) to learn from. Given's performances not so long ago got him a move to City and had people talking about how great he is again - I think I'm right in saying it was only his shoulder injury that got him benched, and Hart wasn't making any (or enough) mistakes for let him back in. I guess the trouble with that is getting City to let him go - but could be used as part of a deal with Clichy.

  • Comment number 43.

    Arsenal need a proper clear out.

    Sell nasri, clichy, arshavin, rosicky, diaby, denilson, squillaci, bendtner, almunia

    Bring in another striker, another DM to cover for Song, another reliable CB. and KEEP fabregas, and bring in a quality winger who can cross the ball and go past players and a replacement for clichy.

    all of the above would probably cost 40m NET.

    And we would have a team that challenges for the PL and CL.

    BUT if we sell fabregas, then we will have to start rebuilding again.

  • Comment number 44.

    To David Rolls:

    Barca current first XI has an average age of 27.36 years (Valdes, Alves, Pique, Puyol, Abidal, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Villa, Messi).

    Arsenal current first XI (Szczesny, Sagna, Djourou, Vermaelen, Clichy, Song, Wilshere, Cesc, Nasri, Walcott, RVP) average age: 23.8 years of age.

  • Comment number 45.

    It's like comparing Andy Murray with Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. Arsenal seem so close, but in the final analysis they may as well be a million miles away from MU, Chelsea and now Man City.
    Financial and Physical clout remain two apparent obstacles but perhaps Wenger's dogged leaning towards the beautiful game on a budget may be another.
    In their favour MU and Chelsea are re-building trying to find replacements for some seriously talented players and Man City are still a work in progress.
    Ultimately though when it comes to the very top table, the favourite four are 'Alsorans' to Barca and Real Madrid.

  • Comment number 46.

    The Arsenal first team compares favourably with every other team in the league. The problem is that the back up players haven't been in the same class.

    If you take Rooney out of the Man U side, they still have a top quality replacement in Berbatov. When Van Persie picks up his inevitable half - season injury, Arsenal have Bendnter. A similar case can be made for virtually every position.

    Losing Fabregas, Nasri and Clichy alongside the possible departures of a number of second string players MAY give Wenger the funds to strengthen the entire squad rather than simply concentrating on the starting 11, making the team as a whole stronger and better able to compete for trophies for the entire season rather than fading in February/March when injuries and over-use take their toll.

    My biggest concern is that Barcelona will be allowed to get Fabregas on the cheap. Anything less than E50m would be a disappointment and would starve Wenger of the funds he is likely to require to remodel the side.

  • Comment number 47.

    @Vox Populi

    Arshavin is not a central striker, and - under Wenger - as you mention, neither is Walcott. If Vela has the promise you suggest, why did Wenger farm him out on loan while keeping Bendtner? He's also not really a 'kid' any more - 22.

    Yes, Owen is injury-prone. But he's still decent, and he's our 4th, maybe 5th-choice striker. The point was about strength in depth.

    Anyway, I agree generally that the central striker position isn't AS desperate as central defence, and even that - I think - isn't as as bad as the lack of a midfield leader.

    Arsenal's style of play is such that top-quality strikers will never be a priority, as the goals should be more evenly distributed across the wide attackers and midfield players. But I still think Van Persie could do with some of the pressure for goals on him being relieved.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think us Arsenal fans are getting impatient more because of slowness of transfer activity than the supposed exodus and the names that keep coming up in Daily Mail and other transfer gossips!

  • Comment number 50.

    Wenger,if you want has to have to faith in you,you have to buy good players like Given,Cahill,Samba,Diego,Gervinho and Faicao.this players will bring 3 caps in one season and they will club 90m.
    Wenger you have to sell some of our playres like Diaby at 10m, Almunia 5m, Rosicky 7m,Denilson 7m,Arshavin 13m, Bendtner 13m and Eboue 5m you will get a round 60m,and our term will be for good.Please stop waiting time get this players.

  • Comment number 51.

    A team can't buy (win) the English Premier League title without spending a fortune so I don't expect Arsenal to hold that trophy aloft next season either as they simply cannot compete with the financial muscle of the top 3 - Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea.

  • Comment number 52.

    Didn't like Dein any more than the Whinger but the latter clearly misses the former still and the club looks a little rudderless, things would have been much more hands-on if the Russian had got control.

  • Comment number 53.

    Ochom MUSA

    Who is going to pay £13m for Bendtner?!

  • Comment number 54.

    11.At 14:04 4th Jul 2011, Nick_Hove_Actually wrote:
    Yes it's true we haven't won anything for 6 years but why do you always continue with these headlines for us. Why not mention Liverpool not winning anything for 5 years!!
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Becuase it's more surprising taht Arsenal haven't won anything. Liverpool haven't really been in with a chance of winning a huge amount in that period and people have become used to them not winning trophies. Arsenal on the other hand have been in the title race every season. This itself is an achievement but a hollow one because they have squandered every opportunity.

    Even as a Manchester United fan I would like to see Arsenal become a force again. Aside from us, Arsenal are the only team to have won the PL without the backing of a rich owner. They built their success the right way but due to the costs of building the new stadium and Wenger's insistence on being 'thrifty' in the transfer market they have been unable to capitalise on their early successes.

    Wenger's approach of buying young promising nobodies and turning them into world class stars is admirable but is starting to appear somewhat naive. Although this strategy has been successful in the past, as someone else has already pointed out, all of Arsene's successful teams have had a good mix of experience and youth. The experienced players that left (Bergkamp, Vieira, Campbell, Adams, Lehmann, Henry, Pires etc.) have not been replaced and you are left with a bunch of players with no role models and no idea how to win trophies. Out of Arsenal's experienced players (and, to be fair, there aren't that many), Fabregas, Arshavin and, at a stretch, RVP are the only ones who can be classed as being 'world class'. One of them has his heart set on a return to Barca, another is massively underused, and the the third one is stupidly injury-prone (and somewhat over-rated in my opinion).

    I don't think the loss of Cesc, Nasri and Clichy will be a massive loss to Arsenal. The loss of Cesc will be the biggest because he is the only real leader in the squad. However it will give Wenger the chance to build a team around Wilshire, Ramsey and a new CB (Jagielka / Cahill / both) and provide the funds to bring in new, experienced faces. Given and Parker would both be excellent additions, whilst Downing and Milner would add something different.

    Whatever happens, the only way Arsenal are going to remain competitive is by spending a lot of money. Unfortunately that is the current state of football.

  • Comment number 55.

    Nasri is getting greedy, that’s all I can say. In media he is saying he wants to win trophies and Ballon D’Or but when there was a chance for him to win PL for the team he choked. His performance dipped drastically from Jan onwards.

  • Comment number 56.

    Comment number 22.At 14:26 4th Jul 2011, come_on_my_team wrote:
    it's hard for a team like arsenal when all the murdoch owned media empire like sky and the tabloids always run them down. why don't sky just buy man u and have done with it.

    --------------------------

    They tried and it got knocked back by shareholders

    ------------------------------------

    Actually Murdoch had the deal sealed. The shareholders agreed to sell him the remaining 70% BSKYB didn't own at the time. It was the Office of Fair Trading who vetoed the deal. Because of the conflict of interest of BSKYB owning the PL TV rights and a club. Also at the time BSKYB owned 9.9% of Leeds United as well.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 48.At 14:59 4th Jul 2011, Shellrigger wrote:

    What is it you have with George Graham!! Yes he was a good mamanger but he also refused to buy good players. He was also not a saint either and please remember why he got sacked suspended from being a manager for 6 months.

    Also don't forget George Grahams teams had some players who were alcoholic, druggies and gamblers. Some also went to prison.

  • Comment number 58.

    The danger that Wenger faces here is something that any fan has nightmares about, and that is when you re-tool a successful squad, can you do it without pulling it apart completely and ruining its competitiveness. Sir Alex Ferguson has mastered this skill over the years, and noticeably, has never "culled" his team of it's best talent at the same time.

    In Nasri and Fabregas, Wenger has the heart and soul of his team in the middle of the park. If he replaces them with players with fundamentally stronger character who have a proven track record of performing on the main stage, he will take this team to the next level, but if he uses their money to pick more young talent, he will show Arsenal fans, who have grown tired of seeing the frustrated Frenchman pacing the sidelines, that he is not up to the task ahead.

    Maybe then, it will be time for a real change.....

    http://www.soccerlimeyinamerica.com/?p=2202

  • Comment number 59.

    As Nigel Winterburn said, Arsenal can't compete with the big money clubs financially. And that becomes part of Arsene's problem. He could spend £100m and still be out-spent by 3 other clubs, and still end up with nothing, so he becomes more desperate to show that it can be done another way, and in so doing avoid the risk that failure would appear even bigger after spending big money.

    Wenger recently said that it isn't easy trying to compete with clubs who have no financial constaints. That is very true. Equally, for a manager courted by some of Europe's biggest clubs it might not always have been easy sticking with Arsenal when you know you're comnpeting with clubs with unlimited resources. So if we think it's bad as fans, not winning a trophy for a few years, how bad must it be for Wenger? When veiwed from that perspective, I'd say it's time to cut him some slack. He's shown a loyalty to Arsenal that has undeniabvly been good for the club, so I'm prepared to show loyalty back to Wenger, even if it means one or two less trophy's.

  • Comment number 60.

    44.

    Thanks for the information - as a chelsea fan i couldn't be bothered to work it out.

    Either way, if Arsenal do not spend at least £40m more on players + re-invest all player back into the club there will be no where near 4th spot. Spurs, Liverpool & maybe even Everton will all be above them.

    4th spot - has everyone forgotten that if you finish 2nd which is better than 4th then you have still lost because winning is winning!!!

  • Comment number 61.

    If those 3 leave will it really be a killer blow to Arsenal? Clichy used to be very good, and at one point looked he might be challenging Evra and Cole as best left back in league, he has fallen quite badly and will not really be a loss, they have Gibbs as able replacement.
    Nasri had an excellent first half of season then fell away 2nd, I think there is too much hype about him, but if they lose him Arsenal will need to invest in wingers.
    Arshavin is just a baby, and sooner he's gone the better for the league, it the was same with Adebayor too. If these players would just shut up and concentrate on football then they may actually get the respect and plaudits they think they deserve by right.
    And Fabregas, it has been pretty clear for past season his mind is not fully at Arsenal. They should do what Man United did with Ronaldo and let him go for a big sum.

    Arsenal still have very good players in Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, Van Persie, Rosicky, Sagna, and Chamakh. Goalkeeper used to be a massive concern for Arsenal but I think they found a solid keeper in Szczęsny.
    For a while now Wenger has needed to bring in experienced established winners to get that discipline and winning mentality amoung the younger players going, now he needs to do that more than ever.

    Wenger needs to copy Ferguson squad building in mixing young exciting talent with experienced older players.

  • Comment number 62.

    Funnily enough I read all the fuss about Fabregas and Nasri and whether Arsenal can compete and think people have missed the point.

    I love Arsenal and Wenger. Wenger has real integrity and has made Arsenal stand for a football philosophy that is admirable, distinct and loved.

    Everyone knows why Arsenal have failed in the last 3 years and it is not about flair going forward. It is because they have a shortage of leaders on the pitch, mediocre goalkeepers and accident prone centre backs. This means they are losing and drawing matches they should have won, concede numerous 'silly' goals and are always 10-15 points short of where they should be. Why someone as bright as Wenger cannot see this and year after year does not resolve this is incredible. Why the board dont instruct Wenger to do this is also unbelievable. As an Arsenal fan you never know whether to laugh or cry!

    If Wenger had 3 years ago purchased a world class goalie, two genuine 'stopper' centre halves and an experienced holding midfield player like Scot Parker, no one would actually be talking about whether Arsenal have the financial muscle to compete as they would have already won something.

    It is a real puzzle to me how Wenger is so admired, so intelligent, but yet does not do what is obvious to any fan or football pundit!

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    I live in Caerphilly. There is a strong word out that Ramsey's father feels he made a mistake in being persuaded to recommend Arsenal to Aaron rather than Manure.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I just did a google search and astonishingly found out that the club Arsenal FC doesnt exist!

  • Comment number 67.

    @62 - you think 1 player with a big mouth and a lot of determination would give Arsenal an extra 20 points last season?
    Even if you put a 25 year old Viera into that team they would not win the PL......

  • Comment number 68.

    "It is a real puzzle to me how Wenger is so admired, so intelligent, but yet does not do what is obvious to any fan or football pundit!"

    Wenger must be climbing the walls with comments like this.

    And of course a formula like this:-

    "If Wenger had 3 years ago purchased a world class goalie, two genuine 'stopper' centre halves and an experienced holding midfield player like Scot Parker, no one would actually be talking about whether Arsenal have the financial muscle to compete as they would have already won something."

    If it is so bloody easy why has nobody competed consistently in the top 4 in the last 6 years outside of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    Wenger is not stupid, he is brighter than most, he is not a masochist..

    When he was competing and winning he had a wage bill at £85M the same as Man United

    Today he has a wage bill that is 5th in the league (£110M) behind Chelsea at £175M down to Liverpool at £120M....maybe that has an impact on what he does...just a thought.

  • Comment number 69.

    Either way, if Arsenal do not spend at least £40m more on players + re-invest all player back into the club there will be no where near 4th spot. Spurs, Liverpool & maybe even Everton will all be above them.
    -------------------
    I beg to disagree, what have Spurs, Everton and Pool done to make you think they'll suddenly be better than Arsenal?

    Last time I checked Spurs haven't improved at all, don't think that Pool spending big means they'll suddenly be amazing. Spending 75 odd million and only having Suarez, Carroll and Henderson to show wouldn't fill me with confidence...

    Arsenal will sign players. I would be worried if Cesc left but I honestly don't think Barca will fork up enough for him. Nasri is a good player yes, but was only very good for half a season and went missing when it really mattered. Clichy, as Phil McN rightly pointed out, hasn't been a top player for 2 or 3 seasons now.

    Based on what I've read, Gervinho is set to sign and any number of Samba, Cahill, O'Shea, Parker etc etc could arrive and I'd bet a lot that Wenger has already negotiated a couple of signings that'll come straight from left field.

    Wilshere, Ramsay, Varmaelen etc will be fit and raring to go and I really don't see us as having a huge problem, definitely not a crisis.

    HOWEVER, if Wenger does not splash some cash we can automatically forget about winning the league. I think people should realize that the three teams above Arsenal are the three teams with the highest spending power in the world now that Madrid and Barca are debt ridden. Arsenal simply cannot compete with that. It always amazes me that people come on here saying 'It is so simple X' or 'It's so obvious he just needs to sign Y for 40m' without considering the financial positions.

    Spurs are as big a club as us, why are people not criticizing them or Villa, or Everton for not winning?

    I will admit to being worried but I feel that criticism of Wenger is based on his past success, but since the arrival of Abramovich we have simply been blown away. When FFP comes in watch how Arsenal and Man U become comfortably the top two teams in the EPL.

  • Comment number 70.

    Firstly Nasri:
    If it is about money (could well be) then he is yet another example of the greed that is sinking football. Like the City bankers, footballers will take the whole edifice down with them. 70% of yr turnover on wages is unsustainable. He may however want success in which case leaving Arsenal is a good move.
    In my view wenger was visited by 3 ghosts after winning the FA Cup in 05. First was the ghost saying you shall play pretty but meaningless football. Next up was the ghost of thou shalt not shoot but pass and pass until you reach row Z in the stands. Lastly was the ghost of tiny footballers who said to Wenger you must buy physically UN-intimidating players. Out went Viera and Arsenal havent won a thing since.
    Arsenal need a Schmiechel in goal, a Mascherano in MF, a Tony Adams at the back and a Hernandez in the penalty box. if they got these type of players theyd succedd. Been saying this for past 2 seasons and Im not even an Arsenal fan.

  • Comment number 71.

    We all know Arsenal of next year will be no different from the Arsenal of the previous 5 years. They will create the most nervous fans of any team in history. Maybe next year they will improve and let a 5 goal lead slip away. They are the ultimate 'flatter to deceive' team. I am sure they will score some beautiful goals and entertain the fans in the same way a slapstick comedian does.

  • Comment number 72.

    > First off the problem facing Wenger is not his 'control of the progress' it is the fact that Arsenal will not pay the very high wages that superstars demand. We lost Cole and, crucially, Flamini, and now Clichy and possibly Nasri because they want a bigger paycheck.
    > Secondly, Wenger has not ever built a watertight defense, the invincibles were a left over back four ( plus Parlour) from George Graham's days. Wenger added the creativity up front.
    > Third, opposing teams have 'caught up' with the fluent football Arsenal played to win it all a while ago ( in that respect Wengers influence on the EPL is immense)

    > Yes, you judge a team on results, but as a club Arsenal have done quite nicely thank you the last 5 years, with frugal spending, investment in a new stadium without silly debt they are arguably the club in the best position to succeed in the near future. Only City and Chelsea and ManU are better, the first two because of billionaires throwing irresponsible money at their team and United can spend because they have brand, success and a huge income from gates and sponsors. Let's face it without Arab and Russian money City and Chelsea would be not challenging for the trophies that Arsenal missed out on. ManU have spent money and they are in a financially more precarious situation in that they need the success to balance the books.

    > So to say that Wenger is in a crisis period is a little overdramatic, it really is more of the same from the last 5 years. Third place in the league perhaps and a CL quarter final spot is success enough for a club that has gambled little. Like every football fan I want my team to succeed but with integrity.

    > IMHO the loss of Fabregas, Clichy and Nasri would be devastating and we would be back to 'rebuilding the team, again for a couple of seasons but I can still see a top four finish. Is that failure under the circumstances?

  • Comment number 73.

    On the question of finance Phil, you say that if Wenger erceives 60 million for the sale of Fab, nasri and Clichy surely the board would give hime more transfer funds. The problem with this is the likes of Barcelona only pay in instalments - Man C can stump up cash - I read somewhere that Barca's first bid for Fab was an instalment of only 9 million this year. The instalment ploy was doable pre credit Crunch but in today's financial climate it is a non starter.

    I also believe that the lack of cash in the football transfer system has prevented more transfer activity. Conversely this has fuelled speculation to fever pitch. The Mail are saying that Chelsea want walcott, I wish! Will we also start to see more empty seats as fans will be priced out of attending matches? This happening up north as the recession continues to bite.

  • Comment number 74.

    Im sure Wenger knows what he's doing. He has just chosen not to publically announce it. He wouldnt agree to sell players unless he has an idea of who to replace them with. Its still early days yet

    I think if the right offer comes in from Fabregas, he should go. And try to hold on to Nasri, he plays better without Fabregas anyway. Wilshere and Ramsay are the future.
    They shouldnt forget we beat both Champions league finalists last season and will always be up there challenging for honours. The squad does need a few additions. Centre Half being priority. Another striker, as we struggle without RVP. Arsenal are good with the ball its when they dont have it, there is a problem. A good terrier in Midfield is whats needed, someone to break up the play. Where that player is I dont know.

  • Comment number 75.


    "If Wenger had 3 years ago purchased a world class goalie, two genuine 'stopper' centre halves and an experienced holding midfield player like Scot Parker, no one would actually be talking about whether Arsenal have the financial muscle to compete as they would have already won something."

    If it is so bloody easy why has nobody competed consistently in the top 4 in the last 6 years outside of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    Wenger is not stupid, he is brighter than most, he is not a masochist..

    When he was competing and winning he had a wage bill at £85M the same as Man United

    Today he has a wage bill that is 5th in the league (£110M) behind Chelsea at £175M down to Liverpoool at £120M....maybe that has an impact on what he does...just a thought.
    ---------------------------

    I was gonna post exactly that. it is amazing that Arsenal pay Wenger millions a year when all they need to do is scroll through the blogs on BBC and find so many experts who could remedy this obvious situation for about 1% of the salary .....

  • Comment number 76.

    nice piece... excellent point about this not exactly being the break up of a winning team. definitely an opportunity so let's wait and see who we bring in.

  • Comment number 77.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 78.

    Losing Nasri would be a big blow for Arsenal as his form ,particulaly in the first of last season, was a player in the top 5 in the world.

    Clichy wouldn't be so bad. He's decent but arsenal already have a ready made replacement in gibbs.

    If fabregas goes, then yes it would be a blow but imo jack wilshire has the potential to be even better so its not the end of the world for arsenal. If wenger can bring in the likes of hazard and another world class striker then they will be there or thereabouts come may 2012.Vermaelens return will be like a new signing.

  • Comment number 79.

    come_on_my_team

    As someone else put it above - rein it in a bit.
    I'm all ears to an opinion (whether I agree or not) but I dont really see the point in taking you on about this.

    "play chess against a monkey and you both end up looking silly"

  • Comment number 80.

    After being a life long supporter of Nottingham Forest, I think we have seen some tremendous football throughout the european cup days and beyond, No one will touch Cloughie for his nanagerial skills and outlook on life and players, We had a good manager in Billy Davies but always being the bridesmaid doesn't go down very well.
    Lets hope that under the management regime we can finally be the bride and bring some entertaining football back to the city ground..... Good luck for the forthcoming season lads, we all know you can do it

  • Comment number 81.

    10.At 14:02 4th Jul 2011, Rustyfootyfan wrote:
    Wenger's winning teams were built on solid defence and that defence was create by George Graham.

    -----------------

    Lehmann, Lauren, Cole, Campbell and Toure disagree with you.

  • Comment number 82.

    Lehmann, Lauren, Cole, Campbell and Toure - all in their pomp were very very good defenders.

  • Comment number 83.

    So I have a go at a poster for throwing around baseless and potentially libellous assertions (without quoting the original post), and it gets removed by the moderators.

    Well done mods, you've surpassed yourselves.
    ----------------------------

    Yes, I reckon they have a random removal generator. I remember once there was a racist post which didn't get removed, so I complained about it and was removed by the moderators.

    Tax payers money being well spent.

  • Comment number 84.

    People are going seriously over the top with the players who could be leaving.

    Clichy has been a massive problem for Arsenal for the last 2 season IMO. He is a shocking defender & is poor going forward. If you take away his pace & stamina he is a terrible player. He has been at fault endless times this season & I will be over the moon when he is sold and a solid left back comes in.

    Nasri had a great first half of the season then was poor for the second half. I heard the money everyone is talking about for Nasri is 20million then I would sell him and bring in a top class winger. We already have 7 centre midfielders although Denilson & Diaby are average. We need to bring in wingers who will score and make a few goals. Its been our problem since we lost Ljungberg & Pires.

    Cesc will no doubt leave but I would try keep him for one more season, tell him to give it his all and he can leave at the end of the season.

    Arsene IMO should of signed Given before he signed for City. We have been let down in that department for the last like 5 season with rubbish Almunia leaking goals left, right and centre. We need to bring in another top centre back & a solid left back. I would go for Scott Parker just because he will give 100% every match and isnt afraid to put his body on the line. You would be lucky to see any of our players making last ditch blocks or tackles. We need 2 wingers who will take a few players on!

    Who I want out - Clichy, Nasri? (If he doesnt want to be here), Denilson, Bendtner, Diaby, Squillaci, Arshavin
    Ins - Given, Cahill, a solid left back, Parker, a top winger (2 if Nasri leaves) and a strong striker/cover (I would of seriously considered Ba)

    I think its time Walcott was let loose upfront. His pace through the middle would cause teams all sorts of problems. Cesc would have more options if he was able to put through someone with the pace of Theo and we would be able to stretch teams at will. Its at least a plan b unlike last season if plan a didnt work we didnt win.

  • Comment number 85.

    Quite simply, Arsenal are facing a season of mediocrity. It seems that not a day goes by when an Arsenal player apparently wants to leave. I expect Nasri and Fabregas will go, with Clichy already seemingly out the door to Man City. Leaving them, in all honesty, with a weak midfield. Wilshere is good, yes, but the rest don't really make me think that they have a title winning midfield, let alone top four material. But the thing is, it's probably best for them.

    Put it this way. Were Arsenal to sell Fabregas, they'd have around £40-50m to spend on players, filling in weak positions and making an all round stronger team. Selling Nasri will get you about £20m, which can again be spent on players to make a stronger and more balanced team. And with Clichy, well, Gibbs is probably a better player anyway. But there arises another problem.

    Can Arsenal attract the best players? Fine, they are still a top four club and 'world renowned', but can they attract the players that Chelsea can with their money, City with their money, or United? They all have automatic qualification into the group stages of the Champions League as well. You may say you have been linked with great players, but others, such as Kevin Doyle, don't exactly scream 'Champions League material'.

    In all honesty, if Arsenal sell Nasri and Fabregas, and don't replace them immediately, I can't see them in the top four next year. In fact, I can't even see them fifth...

  • Comment number 86.

    @chongmaster

    Maybe it's cos they don't like being made to look like they're not doing their job properly.

    So if you point something out, they'll remove it, but also remove yours, so that it looks like they spotted it themselves rather than someone else flagging it up first...

  • Comment number 87.

    You forgot Cerny and Koscielny not to mention djuru.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think its time Walcott was let loose upfront. His pace through the middle would cause teams all sorts of problems. Cesc would have more options if he was able to put through someone with the pace of Theo
    ------------------

    Good call there. Wenger has consistently said that is where he sees Walcott, so I don't get why he stays on the wing. mind you he did score 13 odd goals last year so maybe there is a possibility that Wenger DOES know what he is doing.

    I'd still like to see him tried through the middle tho ...

  • Comment number 89.

    Taliking of Barcelona Camp Nou in Catalan means New Stadium. But what strikes me is how unoriginal is that? And further as the stadium is over 50 years old it is hardly new is it?

  • Comment number 90.

    @72.
    At 15:34 4th Jul 2011, cliveeta wrote:

    > Secondly, Wenger has not ever built a watertight defense, the invincibles were a left over back four ( plus Parlour) from George Graham's days. Wenger added the creativity up front.
    -------------------------------------------
    Lehmann, Lauren, Campbell, Toure, Cole. Now can you tell me which of those players are from George Graham!!

  • Comment number 91.

    @chongmaster

    Maybe it's cos they don't like being made to look like they're not doing their job properly.

    So if you point something out, they'll remove it, but also remove yours, so that it looks like they spotted it themselves rather than someone else flagging it up first...
    ----------------------

    Yes, and isn't that just a little poor!! Then again tho, with these mods, nothing is surprising .....

  • Comment number 92.

    13. At 14:05 4th Jul 2011, AMcK wrote:
    If Arsenal are serious about challenging for league titles and trophies then their first move should be to replace Wenger. He has promised so much but has again delivered little. Sure the football on display is usually very impressive however I dont think fans would want pretty football to be more important than the end product.
    Wenger has lost sight of the goals he sets out to achieve and is blinded by the footballing philosophy that he has complete faith in, even when all the evidence points to it being deeply flawed.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wenger isn't the problem!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    He's already proven that his philosophy works by bringing in titles in the past!

    He did it in '98 and in '02 as well as guiding the team to an unbeaten season in the premier league in '04.

    He hasn't changed his philosophy throughout the good times and the bad so how can the problem be his approach?

    The only thing that has changed during the time we were winning doubles to the current 6-year trophy drought is the PLAYERS!

    With a few exceptions there are no matches in the current side for the likes of Henry, Vieira, Pires, Ljungberg, etc.

    With the right players and his constant philosophy Arsenal will win trophies. I know this because I've seen it in the past.

    And by the way, contrary to what everybody is saying about Nasri, he's had HALF a good season. And that doesn't warrant pay parity with the captain.

    I want players to want to play for Arsenal because it's Arsenal not because we paid them more than Chelsea, United or City. If he wants money then he can go play in Dubai.

  • Comment number 93.

    Im sure Wenger knows what he's doing. He has just chosen not to publically announce it. He wouldnt agree to sell players unless he has an idea of who to replace them with. Its still early days yet

    I think if the right offer comes in from Fabregas, he should go. And try to hold on to Nasri, he plays better without Fabregas anyway. Wilshere and Ramsay are the future.
    They shouldnt forget we beat both Champions league finalists last season and will always be up there challenging for honours. The squad does need a few additions. Centre Half being priority. Another striker, as we struggle without RVP. Although be good to see Theo up there.
    Arsenal are good with the ball its when they dont have it, there is a problem. A good terrier in Midfield is whats needed, someone to break up the play. Where that player is I dont know.

  • Comment number 94.

    Hi Phil, your blog was more optimistic than I expected it to be. But Arsenal’s problems are not fixable by player changes alone.

    We need to change the culture of the club, both in its determination/ will to win and in its defensive organization.

    We have come to expect the team to find a way to drop points and they do.

    We lost games that we should have won. Man U won games they should have lost. We need to acquire the swagger and self-belief that Man U have and that seems to carry them through. Instead we have this complacency – because, on paper we think we look man-for-man-better than say Stoke, we think we just need to show up.

    Sadly, the Keystone Kop defending at the end of the Carling Cup was not an isolated incident. The set piece problem that is apparently, "So easy to fix," remains unfixed and will continue to be a major part of every team's Plan A against us. We need the personnel AND defensive organization to resist set pieces and to remain calm and 'efficient' at the back.

    In addition to personnel on the pitch we need an organizer off it and a presence, a hair dryer, if you will, that let's the team know it is completely unacceptable to give up a four-goal lead (Newcastle), or even a two-goal lead (Sp*rs, twice).

  • Comment number 95.

    @Kanchelskis_legend

    Each persons account is given a level of moderation, long time accounts which don't have a history of breaking house rules don't get moderated, people who continuously break house rules get continually moderated. You're comment was probably removed because someone reported it.

  • Comment number 96.

    @Tee See
    memory is rusty, did some research
    "During his first season with the club, Arsenal came in third, missing out on qualifying for the Champion’s League. Wenger’s second season with Arsenal saw the club win a double – the FA Cup and the Premier League. A few key players responsible for this success were Dennis Bergkamp, Steve Bould, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Nigel Winterburn. Wenger’s club did not experience much success for a few seasons following these two."

    But yes you are right he did build the invincibles ( tho Cole was already at the club)

  • Comment number 97.


    In addition to personnel on the pitch we need an organizer off it and a presence, a hair dryer, if you will, that let's the team know it is completely unacceptable to give up a four-goal lead (Newcastle), or even a two-goal lead (Sp*rs, twice).
    ---------------------------------

    I know we blew leads a lot, but at least Spurs worked for their come backs. the Newcastle game represented the worst display of refereeing I have ever seen. I am not normally one to complain about referees, but he gave two penalties which were atrocious decisions, dismissed Diaby and then failed to send off a Newcastle player who got Schzcchzchchzchzchny in a head-lock and threw him to the ground, gave a free kick which never was for 1 goal and for good measure disallowed a perfectly onside goal for both teams.

    Arsenal blew chances when Sunderland equalized 4 mins into injury time, and Liverpool an astonishing 12 ... those are simply things ManU would never do and exposes our lack of maturity.

  • Comment number 98.

    @Global_Inc

    Interesting fact about different accounts having different levels of moderation. Do you know this for sure?

    I certainly wouldn't say I'm a repeat offender, ratio-wise! Though I've certainly been modded and deserved in the past, in the heat of the moment shall we say!

  • Comment number 99.

    First off, we need to accept that the media hate Arsenal. Nay, the football establishment hates Arsenal. Hence you get so much (sniggering) about Arsenals 'failure' in said media.

    That being the case, the last thing the club needs to do is play in to their hands and break up the current model, no matter how frustrating. Yes, I would like success, yes the same media trotting out the tired old cliche's 'six years without success' no doubt 'seven years without success' is wearing, but hey, at least, unlike some other big clubs we are moving towards solvency.

    The one thing that keeps me going at times is the amount of fans who are genuinely envious of Arsenals financial plans and Wenger's 'build not splash out', ideology. Has Wenger got it wrong at times? Yes he has, he has stubbornly stuck by 'want away' players, and by players who aren't up to the job, but if loyalty is a flaw, well, it's better than being a 'spendocrat' or a spin merchant who bullies officials into giving decisions his clubs way all the time (no names, no pack drill).

    The calls for Wenger to go are becoming more common now. But who will replace him? Who is there out there who could do a better job - and keep the club from joining the ranks of debt bloated monsters that are heading for a (big) fall? Mourinho could deliver the success, but how many Arsenal fans could survive the culture shock of going from Wengers stylish elegance to Mourinhos 'boring but effective'?

    As for the current 'rush to leave', Utd and Chelsea have survived 'big players' leaving, sometimes two at a time, but we didn't see the hysteria we see in blogs like this. Clichy is going? Big deal. That's three past their best players we will have sold to City. Do they want any more? Denilson perhaps? Fabregas, like Henry and Viera has played one season too many. Let him go and cash in. Besides, and I know this is heresy, but I have never rated him as highly as the media. He has never commanded the midfield the way either Viera or Parlour could, and that's the sort of player we need. As for Nasri, well, if he REALLY wants to join a Utd who rely more on erm', 'the luck of the draw' than ability, good luck to him.

    Sometimes you have to do what modern politicians never can, and that's look beyond the next five minutes. I'd rather have a solvent Arsenal for many years to come, than a debt saddled club in the sole hands of ruthless businessmen with an uncertain future, thanks.

    And that, at the moment, is the bottom line.

  • Comment number 100.

    I wonder if these players do leave and poor young guns arrive, will Wiltshere & Walcott want to stay? Come to Chelsea boys and win something :)

 

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