Should Arsene Wenger Go?
For those following The Barclays Premier League you’ll no doubt be aware of Arsenal’s crumbled title challenge. For those that don’t, in recent years the team has made a habit of spending an entire season hot on the heels of whoever is leading the race, only to completely bottle it with four or fives games to go – and this season has been no exception.
Since losing the Carling Cup final to Birmingham City back in February Arsenal seem to have hit the self destruct button, only beating Leyton Orient and Blackpool since – losing another three and drawing the remaining five. The most recent defeat at home to Bolton Wanders all but conformed the end of their title challenge, they’re currently nine points behind leaders Manchester United with four games to go. Not only that, they’ve also relinquished second place to Chelsea, meaning they’re most likely going to finish third.
As a result of that disastrous run of form some people have been calling for manager Arsene Wenger to be sacked, which comes as quite a surprise to me. One the one hand Arsenal have won absolutely nothing for six seasons now, but I think it’s the frequent slip-ups towards the end of most seasons that have their fans frustrated. Since winning their last trophy (the FA Cup in 2005) they’ve largely not challenged for anything since, with the notable exception of a Champions League final appearance in 2006 where they were soundly beaten by Barcelona and this seasons surprise defeat to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final.
In a way I can see why people think he should be sacked, but it would be a bad move to do so. Arsene Wenger has at least made what was a mid-table club into regular Champions League competitors, and from the boardroom’s point of view that’s about all they need. Arsenal Football Club is a business first and foremost, and due to the club making a lot of money in the European competition and his policy to spend very little on new players the club is one of the few in world football to make a regular profit. The fans might not like it but the chairman certainly does, and that’s the reason why I think he has a job for life regardless of what the fans think of him.
With that said it would be nice to see Arsenal make a real title challenge again and derail the Chelsea/Manchester United dominance of the league in recent yeard, but again Wenger has apparently said he won’t spend large sums of money for next season like his closest rivals inevitably will. This is a shame for the supporters as the team badly needs strengthening.
To start with they need an excellent goalkeeper, Manuel Almunia simply isn’t even close to that description and while Wojciech Szczęsny looks likely to be a top ‘keeper in the future he has only just turned 21 and needs a lot more experience. They need someone like Gianluigi Buffon or Pepe Reina, a proven world class goalkeeper who can always be relied upon.
Arsenal’s defence is in my opinion the weakest part of the team, with new boys Laurent Koscielny and Sébastien Squillaci never too far away from a series of blunders in the centre of the back four. They both need replacing quite frankly, another rock solid defender to match the quality of Thomas Vermaelen is exactly what they need.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Arsenal need a world class striker capable of consistently scoring 20 goals a season and staying injury-free for the duration of a campaign. As good as Robin van Persie is he’s never played more than 28 league games for Arsenal (out of a possible 38) due to being extremely injury prone, and only scores an average of 10 goals a season mainly as a result of that. They badly need another player like Thierry Henry, but as mentioned Arsene Wenger has stated he’s unwilling to spend big money once again, instead preferring to rely on the relative youth of his squad. It’s a real shame as for the most part they’ve got the players to win the league, but Wenger’s reluctance to spend might well be his downfall. Not necessarily with regards to his job, but his status with the fans. It’s up to him to decide who should be happy, the chairman or the fans, and as sad as it is to say it seems like he’s already made up his mind.