Is The Changing of the Guards Upon Us?
OK it may be a little early, Arsenal are not dead yet and 2012 is not quite over, but the fat lady must have been warming up at Bradford the other night.
Arsenal were knocked out of the League Cup by a side from the fourth division. They may try and kid us and call it League Two, but we all know it is the fourth division of English football and that can not be acceptable, in anyone’s book.
Arsene Wenger has gone to the press and said that he is not embarrassed by the defeat, well he certainly should be and the players even more so. The average Arsenal player is paid more than the entire Bradford team and if they can not manage to put a couple of goals past them, then they really need to take a long hard look at them selves.
Number one culprit has got to be Gervinho, who managed to miss an open goal from inside the 6 yard box with the goalkeeper already beaten. That, together with his other misses in recent weeks, means to me he no longer qualifies as a Premier League striker, let alone an Arsenal striker.
I have long defended Wenger because of all the good things he has done for Arsenal and the number of times he has turned things around. That, together with the financial restraints that have been imposed on the club in recent years, has convinced me that he is still the right man for the job. But he continues to make these weak excuses for the side and the directors whenever the team puts in a bad performance, or the club loses a quality player.
It’s been said many times elsewhere that you can not win trophies if you keep losing your best players and that trend does not seem to be ending anytime soon. Losing two of our best players at the end of the season has now become an Arsenal tradition with Fabregas and Nasri going in 2011 Van Persie and Song in 2012 and we now look almost certain to lose Walcott and Sagna at the end of the current season.
It really is time for a clear out of the dead wood and to bring in some real quality, to give Arsenal any chance of re-establishing itself as the club it once was. There is no one of the quality of Henry, Viera and Bergkamp at the club now. The sort of players who can lead by example and inspire other players to their best.
As far as the dead wood is concerned, well we should start with Gervinho and Chamkh. Both of them started well at the club, but have not been able to establish them selves as quality Premier League players. Andrei Arshavin, who I have also defended for a long time, should also go for the same reason, although he was a quality player and did some good stuff for Arsenal for quite a while. I always hoped that his form would return, but I can not see that happening at this club.
At the back Squillaci should go, he has pretty much been a failure from day one and just takes up space on the player’s roster and valuable funds in the wage bill.
If those four were to go, Arsenal should then spend the money on a couple of real quality players, like the Arsenal old guard. It would be a great help if they were Premier League experienced, so that we do not have to waste time waiting for them to become acclimatised.
There is plenty of skill in the squad at the moment, but those that are there are not going to turn this situation around on their own. This season’s signings Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla all have the potential to be quality Premier League players, but I only see Cazorla as having that potential of the old guard that I spoke of. Unfortunately, like many of Arsenal’s overseas signings, his form has dropped off after good start at the club.
On the positive front Rosicky is fit again and should be starting more games and he can certainly fill Cazorla’s role, so that he can be rested when required, or dragged if not performing. Arsenal look more like Arsenal to me when Rosicky is on the field. Without him Arsenal’s passing game is too slow and you are not going to beat anyone passing the ball around the field in slow motion.
The English contingent at Arsenal all have great potential. Walcott is having a good season, when he is not injured. Gibbs has improved out of sight, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s match winning starts seem to have curtailed. Maybe he needs someone to give him that inspiration to get back to his best. But that is the problem with young players, consistency comes with experience.
Many people see Jack Wilshire as the great white hope and he is very talented. Hopefully when he is fully fit he will be the type of world beater that Arsenal require, but he really needs to control that petulant streak, otherwise he is going to be unavailable for far too many games due to suspension. He could become an English Balotelli or Joey Barton, who must be counted as French now that he has developed that accent.
My hope for the New Year is that Wenger and the board at Arsenal see some sense and put some, if not all, of these ideas into action. But like many Arsenal fans I despair when I hear the manager say he is not embarrassed by the performance against Bradford and that he may not spend in January if all the squad are fit.
By Max Power