About this time I usually write a prediction for the football season ahead. I always say that Arsenal are going to win, because that’s what fans do, but other than that I get it pretty much right. For the last two seasons a lot of people who get paid a lot of money for their football opinions have said that Liverpool could challenge for the title, I constantly said not and the same goes for Spurs being able to improve into a top four side. I also said at the start of last season that City would get it together. I think City will win the league this year. Quite easily.
But onto Arsenal. It’s easy to say that Wenger has run out of luck. In yesterday’s game we were unlucky. If we were lucky Van Persie would have scored, we would not have scored an own goal and Frimpong would not have been sent off. There is definitely something in that. I don’t think Arsene is lucky any more but as Winston Chruchill said, “when you go through hell, you keep going”.
I said after the home 0-0 draw to Blackburn last season, when we were still very much in the hunt for trophies, that Arsene’s experiment had failed and it was time for a change. The real reason I think we need a change is that Arsene is no longer good at what he was best at. He can no longer turn good players into world class players. He has an eye for talent. I would argue no one has a better eye but he used to take someone like Henry, Vieira, Lungberg, Pires, Petit, Cole, Anelka and significantly improve their game. I think you could argue he did the same for Bergkamp although I think he merely let Dennis play, the genius was already there. You could also argue that he got the best from lesser talents like Ray Parlour.
That was what made those Arsenal teams great. The successes outweighed the failures, of which there were definitely a few. Cesc, says he stagnated at Arsenal. Obviously he is referring to the last two seasons because before that Arsene worked his magic with Cesc too. He turned a 16 year old into the premiership’s best midfielder. But over the last two seasons the magic has gone.
You van argue about whether he should spend some money but I’m not sure that’s the answer. Look at Liverpool yesterday they spent 55m on Carroll and Henderson. They were both useless. Of course they were able to bring on Suarez and Meirles which changed the game but it’s hard to argue with Wenger when he says there is not much value out there. I would say Bendtner and Ramsey are better players than Carroll and Henderson.
The problem is that too many players have not improved under the last two years. Walcott is not progressing. He will never be a winger. But Wenger is too stubborn to play him as a striker. I think him and RVP could be deadly down the middle. Arshavin started his career as a genius. I honestly thought he was going to be player of the season. He has gone downhill, rapidly. Chamak is the same. Denilson started well, Bendtner has bags of talent. Rosicky I think is just some medical freak, he could have been a contender but no longer. Clichy and Toure stagnated too.
Diaby is the poster child for this problem. When he played in the final of the carling cup against chelsea all those years ago he was immense. We were 1-0 up thanks to a lovely Theo goal (playing down the middle) but then Diaby got injured and we lost all momentum. There have been other flashes of Diaby magic, when we lost away to United a few seasons ago due to his own goal you could see that he wanted to make amends. He played very well, was almost, dare I say Vieria esq. We know Diaby has the talent. So there’s the rub. Six years ago Wenger would have turned Diaby into Vieira but now he’s just a footnote where fans are incredulous that Wenger turned down a 10m offer for him.
This is why we need a change. It’s not that we have too many young players it’s that the potential game winning players we have are not developing. This may be down to injury or tactics or man management but either way that is Arsene’s responsibility.
I would love to see Wenger go upstairs. I think he is an amazing person and a true believer in the real game I just think someone else needs to manage the squad and make some pretty drastic decisions. I’m all for a season of transition if that’s what it really is, I can handle not winning anything this year and not making the Champions League if we have a whole new group of players, philosophy and manager.