There is much talk about whether Wenger’s philosophy is the reason behind their six season barren run and there are certainly some compelling arguments to say that it is. His desire to develop young players rather than spend the money he apparently has available on established stars definitely hasn’t helped. His stubborness in relation to the weaknesses of his side in the centre of defence and in goal, are also difficult to fathom.
Having said that, I don’t think anyone can argue with his philosophy on how the game should be played. His quick pass and move style is a joy to watch and the way he gets his team to play epitomises everything that is good about the game.
The Premier League has been wide open this season and Arsenal will never have had a better chance of winning it. United haven’t been at their best, Chelsea had a dreadful run and Manchester City and Tottenham aren’t ready yet. This should have been Arsenal’s year.
Whilst some of the reasons for their failure to pick up a trophy again are down to the manager, I have no doubt that he doesn’t tell his players to pass when they should shoot or to not bother marking people at set-pieces. The players must take their share of the responsibility. Wenger himself says that if anyone is to blame, it is him.
“The players have been outstanding all season. If there is somebody to blame, it is me. We have to give as much as we can until the last game but of course the chances are minimal now. It’s very unsatisfactory because it’s one of the easiest run-ins we’ve had for a long time and we didn’t take our chances many times. It is difficult to swallow the way we lost the game. We gave everything we had left today and the way we lost is difficult to accept. We had the chances to win it. We didn’t take them and we were very frail on corners. The players have given a lot. The week we just had sums up our season: a lot of quality in our game but not enough reward for the effort we produced.”
The week referred to by Wenger has included a draw at home to Liverpool after they went ahead in injury-time, a draw at Tottenham after being 3-1 up and Saturday’s defeat at Bolton despite dominating much of the game and creating many more chances than the opposition. If they had collected nine points rather than two, thney would have been just two points behind United with a home game against them to come.
Wenger believes that a big turning point in their season came when they lost the Carling Cup final to Birmingham. A calamitous last minute error between goalkeeper and centre-back saw them lose 2-1 and miss the easiest chance of picking up a trophy.
“The League Cup final had a big impact on the players’ minds, the last-minute mistake, but it has happened to us many times this season. We still lack maturity, experience and calm in important situations.”
Maybe Wenger is to blame for that but although his side is young, they can hardly be called inexperienced. The likes of Sagna, Clichy, Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie and Arshavin, have great experience at club level and internationally. I can’t help but feel that it is the players who have failed rather than Wenger.
I really hope Wenger gets at least one more season to win a trophy that he absolutely deserves. If he is going to, however, he needs to listen to what everyone is telling him about wehere his side is not strong enough. I’m just not sure he will be prepared to do so.
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