Déjà vu! Most Arsenal fans would think this was a replay of the 5-1 capitulation of their team at the Allianz Arena on November 4, 2015. But this was February 15, 2017, and the story was the same – well almost.
In that November 2015 humiliation, Arsenal went into the interval 3-0 down; but on Wednesday, they went into the break 1-1 looking buoyant. But in a space of just 10 minutes, 53rd – 63rd minutes, Arsenal were in disarray with a deep scowl etched on Wenger’s brow.
The professor has again failed a refresher course and there would definitely be more strident noises made in the direction of the Arsenal board of directors for a change of strategy and manager. But what has really gone wrong at Arsenal and with Wenger?
There is only one Wenger way
When players speak of Arsene Wenger – there is always that assertion of him being patient, kind and long-suffering but today’s football, especially at elite teams demands a ruthlessness that leads to titles. No matter what Arsenal decide, Wenger cannot change his spots and neither will the club as long as they revere him so much – they would not be able to demand success from him.
Some players just have to go
Players like Mesut Ozil have had it so good – you begin to think he was maybe Wenger’s bastard son. The reason Jose Mourinho sold him when he was at Real Madrid was because he was lightweight and inconsistent. But in Arsenal’s tales of woe, Ozil has been allowed to finish matches in which he should have been yanked at half time. The other players see this molly cuddling and believe they can also get away with not giving 100 per cent. If Arsenal will win titles in future, then these kind of players must be shown the exit.
Buy players to fulfill the potential
We are all still wondering at the Barcelona massacre by PSG on Tuesday but that victory cost over $700 million. One of the standout players in that 4-0 victory was Julien Draxler, whom Arsenal also wanted to buy, but he chose PSG. Wenger has often stated some stellar names that could have become Gunners but whom he believed were over-priced. But there is only one football market and if Wenger wants to continue to compete, then he must shop in that market. Pay the big bucks for the big players, so you can win the big titles.
Goals have to change
The era of celebrating a finish in the top four must be over. The Gunners cannot just be satisfied with been a part of the Champions League, season in, season out, without making any impact. Since the last time Wenger won a title, Chelsea with new money have won four EPL titles and one Champions League – even though they have also had 10 different managers. A second placing got Carlo Ancelotti sacked at Chelsea because Roman Abramovich always wants to win titles.
They must become ruthless
Reading through the transcript of the press conference by Manuel Neuer on Monday showed a thorough understanding of what Arsenal, as a team is. The words were not derogatory but showed the way Arsenal is perceived in the highest football echelons – Mr. Nice Guys. You could not say that of Patrick Viera and company; but the Arsenal of today appear to be just a collection of blue-eyed fine boys.
I know Arsenal fans are aching at the moment, but that is part of the CV of being a fan even though hope emboldens you to go again. What if the team could change something tomorrow – what would the fans want changed immediately – Wenger or the players?