Saturday, 30 January 2010

What has Arsene Wenger achieved so far this season?

So called Arsenal fans complaining about Arsene Wenger really get my goat.

The picture above is of Arsenal's treatment room at The Emirates. You may not recognise it because it is empty. have an English Premier League injury table which is constantly updated with official information from all the Premier League teams. Arsenal have been top or thereabouts for the whole season with around ten players injured most of the time. Only Everton and West Ham have come close to having as many injuries as Arsenal over the season so far.

There are a number of reasons why this has happened. One that Arsene Wenger has identified is the vicious circle of injuries. Because we have a lot of players injured, that leaves us short of players on match day and we rush players back before they are ready causing them to get injured again, which leaves us short of players, and so on...

Another reason, that I don't think has been mentioned (and certainly not by Arsene Wenger), is that Arsenal are the most fouled team in the league, and this is bound to take its toll eventually. There is still a perception held by many (including, it seems, most Premier League managers) and perpetuated by the media, that you can beat Arsenal by kicking them off the pitch. I think this season we have proved that this is no longer the case but, as I said, there is still this perception and as a result managers base there tactics on this. They even state this openly before the matches.

Anyway, to my main point. At the start of this season, most people had written Arsenal off as potential championship material. We had a small, inexperienced squad and after selling Adebayor and Toure and not replacing them (with other overpriced signings) we would probably struggle to qualify for the Champions League. I heard many times (and still do occasionally) that with Robin van Persie as our only recognised goalscorer we would struggle to find goals. We were dodgy at the back and susceptible to set-pieces and high balls pumped into the box. If we were to get a few injuries, we could end up mid table. And when Nasri was ruled out for three months with a broken leg, plus we only made one real signing in Vermaelen, it was all doom and gloom. All the negativity in the press about Arsenal's chances is also bound to have had an effect on the players so the fact that they have remained confident and continued to perform way beyond expectations dispite this is very much to Arsene's credit.

Thus far, I think we have proved everyone wrong. Arsene Wenger quietly got on with his job of turning Arsenal into a potential championship winning team. The inexperienced squad has blossomed. Young players like Song (and to a lesser extent Diaby and Denilson) have been a revelation while Thomas Vermaelen has been an absolute revelation and made us more solid at the back, while other players like Gallas, Clichy and van Persie (before he got injured) have really stepped up to the plate.

It is hard to single out one player because almost everyone (yes, even Eboue) has made a contribution and in the cases of those who haven't (I'm thinking in particular of Gibbs, Djourou, Nasri, Eduardo, Bendtner and Walcott), it has mainly been because they have been injured. Hopefully, we will see more of these players as the season goes on. And hopefully, we will also see more from people like Arshavin (who himself has been playing with an injury) and Sol Campbell our recent re-signing. One player who must be singled out of course is Fabregas. I said three years ago that in three years time he would be world class. Well, how he has certainly delivered. It is incredible to think that he is still only 22 years old. In reserve, we have yet younger players such as Wilshere, Merida, Eastmond, Emmanual-Thomas, Merida and Bartley.With so many good players now coming through thanks to Arsene Wenger, we may never need to buy another player ever again (perish the thought).

And so we stand on the brink of one of the most important matches of the season against ManUre, still in contention to win the league. Given all the aforementioned problems, if we win the league this year, I believe it will be one of the greatest managerial achievements ever seen in football. We've had setbacks, sure, and we will undoubtedly have more. We may not beat Manure tomorrow and we may not be top of the league at the end of the season - who knows?! But, against the odds, we will have achieved significantly above what was expected of us and we will have given it a very good shot. And maybe at the end of the season we may just be sitting on top with over a hundred league goals.

Who knows? Arsene Wenger, of course!

Share via Social Network


No comments:

Post a Comment