Sunday, 20 March 2011

Arsenal must address things quickly

In the space of two weeks Arsenal have found themselves on the verge of a sixth successive season without a trophy. They are still in with a chance of the Premier League title but after dropping points against relegation threatened West Brom yesterday it now appears unlikely.

It has become a common part of English football in recent years; superlatives are offered left, right and centre about Arsenal until February/March time when everything slips through their grasp. Their performance against Barcelona in the first leg at the Emirates was outstanding, a bench mark if you will that needs to be aspired to every time they set foot on the pitch. However, since then they have lost to Birmingham in the Carling Cup final, limped out against Barcelona in the Camp Nou and have drawn with Sunderland and West Brom in the league. It is not good enough!

Every season we are offered the same excuses and problems by their manager Arsene Wenger and their fans; injuries, bad refereeing and individual errors. There is certainly an argument occasionally for any of these excuses but to hear it continually for 6 years is poor. As an Arsenal fan said to me after defeat at Barcelona ‘We cannot be this unlucky every year, there has to be more to it.’

There is no doubt that the squad is good enough in areas but there is simply a lack of depth in key areas. The injury sustained by Vermaelen was immensely unfortunate but I believe that’s where the sympathy should stop. His deputy this year has been Koscielny who at times has been impressive but makes big mistakes in every game; his record of 10 yellows and 2 reds in 36 games this season is appalling. There is then the issue of their 2 best players – Fabregas and Van Persie.

For me the want away Arsenal captain has not been fully fit all season; every time he is injured Wenger re-introduces him immediately and he struggles. Although he is a young man he has played 3 years of consistent football and looks like a man desperately in need of a break. The Dutch striker boasts a fantastic record in 2011 but has still on played 24 games this season.

If Arsenal are to win things they must purchase players who are more resilient and mentally tougher. There is an inevitability about Manchester United when they play that you feel Arsenal just do not have. They did very well to fight back from two goals down yesterday but still dropped two points in a game they should be winning. The goalkeeping and defensive positions remain in doubt but these issues have been around for years and have not been remedied.

With other Premier League sides likely to spend big this summer the time has come for Wenger to give up on his ideology. The performance against Barcelona indicates that Arsenal can compete with the best but not a consistent basis.

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