The Late Late Arsenal Show Once More

Nacho Monreal tackles some bloke

And so Arsène’s Magic Hat found room for Nacho Monreal, crisply moving for the Malaga left back to solve a problem following Kieran Gibbs injury. It was a swift resolution to the problem although Monreal’s signing betrays the manager’s ruthless streak with Andre Santos falling from grace. Monreal was reportedly a target for the coming Summer window but much like Per Mertesacker, circumstances dictated that the move be completed ahead of that. Good luck to the lad, a real welcome to England might come at the weekend but the reality is that the visit of Stoke City is surely one step beyond at this moment in time.

This has been a key transfer window for the club, one where Arsène has set out his stall. The swiftness with which he has acted in order to secure the services of Monreal undermined the rumours which surfaced this past month, that the club cannot move swiftly when it wants to. It is hard to work out who created the monster; the media or the social media? Whatever the case, they fed off each other with a feverish abandon with reality perceived as collateral damage. Tales of Dicky Law’s derring do or derring didn’t filled column inches but the upshot is that no matter how many air miles were claimed, there was but one arrival. The tales of Cavani, Zaha and most recently, David Villa might become stories told when putting the grandchildren to bed. Levels of interest never manifested as new signings. Parsimony is an often quoted as the reason but just taking those three examples, we have to be honest and look at fantasy, Theo Walcott and a baby as the culprits.

Whatever the case, the squad is what it is until the end of the season. We can pontificate as to whether the right course has been followed but until the end of this campaign is reached, judgement cannot be fully formed. In my opinion, we are light in the centre of defence, midfield and attack. The latter is a matter of numbers although we can make do provided there are no injuries or at least those which cause any absences on a significant timescale.

Having let Johan Djourou leave on loan, it is surprising that Arsène did not replace him directly. There is a bitter humour in twisting the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon into the Three Injuries of Sebastian Squillaci but the truth often hurts. Is this the manager’s gallow humour showing through? You have squirmed as that thought nestles uncomfortably with your breakfast cereal of choice. I mean, you are sure that’s bacon, aren’t you? When a supermarket believes that cheap publicity can be garnered through poking fun at a club’s transfer policy, times are hard. Of course, if you like eating horsemeat that’s your choice…

Arsenal’s squad is diminished in number although there are substantial differings of opinion as to whether or not it is actually any weaker. In Djourou’s case, I would say that it is. Unlike many, I think the Swiss international a decent player. Looking at the situation dispassionately, the assessment has to be that progression will be away from Arsenal. Equally, it is a simple case of what Arsenal need now taking precedence. In the manager’s view, Djourou is not that answer.

There was a fervour with which a striker was sought immediately spawned spurious claims that many believe Olivier Giroud was not up to the task. It was lazy commentary; very few Arsenal supporters are unimpressed by how the striker is growing into the role. However, like midfield and defence, the feeling is that the club are one serious injury from a problem. That risk has been assessed by Arsène and the squad deemed capable of handling it.

It is a brave strategy from the manager. Those who might already categorise it as foolhardy are taking as much of a risk as Wenger in deciding the out-turn of this season. This course puts pressure on the players. Arsène has put a tremendous show of faith in them and their abilities. They have to repay him, surely, as a matter of personal pride? If they don’t, what is already viewed by some as a poisonous atmosphere might (will?) turn worse. The second half of last season saw a substantial run put together from a similar point. Others fell away; twelve months on and Arsenal rely on the same failings in others. The same circumstance exists with a smaller gap to close to fourth but eight points to third. It is not insurmountable with fourteen games to go but in no way can the lofty heights of last season be taken for granted.

A lot of the problems are philosophical. The defensive tightness of the opening month or so of the season gave way to a laxness that is not being shaken. Little wonder that the players are nervous going onto the pitch, knowing that they need to score plentifully to ensure victory adds unnecessary pressure. Having some recourse to defence is necessary for any tangible growth as a club and squad. It was this which most wanted, the balance of previous Wenger squads to return. It hasn’t and the question is whether the manager wants it to, whether he is prepared to sacrifice some of his attacking beliefs in pursuit of trophies? I am unconvinced that this compromise is one he wants to make, preferring to pursue his dreams nobly.

’til Tomorrow.

218 thoughts on “The Late Late Arsenal Show Once More

  1. Haha! Never mind the heelmarks on the dash yogi I remember once driving my dad to work in my sierra sapphire after an (cough) eventful night with a local girl and when I looked in the rear view mirror there was a set of false eyelashes stuck to the back window. No, they weren’t mine.

  2. ayyo MA, where you live at down there? I just spent Christmas with the in-laws in Little Havana, it was pretty nice.

  3. Merlot:

    “Bill @ 2:18pm

    “TBH the difficulty is and always has been with our clubs level of motivation.”

    The word tendentious ring any bells?”

    Interesting word. Never used that one. If you know there is no decent counterarguments then the best plan is to divert attention. 🙂

  4. my memory of third year latin ends at “unde venisti cyclopam?”, which boiled down to “how far away is Mr Plumpton?” an evil two eyed monster

  5. Harry @ 3:11

    “Bill is trying to provoke me here YW. I seem to be in the dwindling minority round this neck of the woods these days. Me and Mel anyway. I know how the doomers felt in days of yore now. Persecuted.”

    Actually the persecution from the days of yore had its good points. I learned some really creative curse words.

  6. Some posts make you laugh. Some make you think. Some cheer you up. Some get under your defences by depressing you before you’ve realised they’re not worth reading.

    And some take your breath away with their clarity and their cogency – whether you agree with them or not. So thank you, Josef, for your 7:23pm.

  7. Merlot:

    I also found josef’s 7:23 post interesting and well written. The difference between those other coaches that he mentioned is that it is not unusual for an American football or basketball franchise to have trophy free runs since there is only 1 trophy awarded every year and there are more teams competing for that single trophy. Additionally none of them, had the type of control of the their club then Arsene. In English football there are 4 trophies per year and much less competition both in the number of teams and the realistic chance of the other teams to actually compete for those trophies. A 7 year trophy drought for a club with the size and resources of ours is distinctly unusual and certainly should be a matter of significant concern. Given the fact that Arsene has more control of every aspect of their club both on the field and off then almost any manager I have ever seen, I wonder who should we hold responsible?

  8. Is it me, or does every laughing Diaby’s photograph have a potential to drive the viewer to insanity?

    Come on, Abu. Give us 5 good games. Just 5. I’m not asking too much, am I? I know you can do it. Easy.

  9. Comparisons with US sport has the added difficulty that, both the NBA and NFL have the equalization policies of salary caps and a draft. Designed specifically for all clubs to ultimately share success.
    Since Wenger joined Arsenal, there have only been 4 different EPL winners. That doesn’t look like changing.
    in the same period of time, 11 different clubs have won the Superbowl. Could be 12 if 49ers win
    7 clubs have won the NBA crown, and there does appear to be of a changing of the guard to some extent.

  10. Phil.

    There are 4 trophies a year in the EPL/CL and no more then 5-6 teams with any realistic chance to win. 7 years without a trophy for arsenal is a long time

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