Monday will mark the 17th year of Arsene Wenger’s reign at the helm of Arsenal and today it seems more likely than ever that Wenger will sign a new contract.
His position at the club has raised much debate in recent years, as the team have fallen from their once ‘invincible’ reputation and challenging for titles, to celebrating securing Champions League football.
From this, some schools of thought will say that Arsenal need a new direction, someone new to inject new life into the club and revitalise their ability to challenge at a higher level.
Several of the policies that have operated under Wenger have seen Arsenal’s reputation alter, none more so than the tag of ‘feeder club’ as they have facilitated players to top clubs across Europe over the past few years.
Names like Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and, going back further, the likes of Theirry Henry and Patrick Vieira leftthe club prematurely, making it somewhat impossible for Arsenal to compete for major honours.
Furthermore, despite his reputation as a developer of players, in recent times, many of Wenger’s acquisitions have been Premier League flops like Sebastien Squallaci, Andrey Arshavin and Andre Santos.
Whilst these were influenced heavily by panic at Arsenal’s lack of cohesion and points before different transfer windows, it is the re-occurrence of the theme throughout several years that has worried fans.
But, hasn’t this summer seen a change in the seemingly concrete operating style of the great Frenchman?
For the first time in seasons Arsenal have brought in a player with real quality, as Mesut Ozil’s acquisition on the final day brings real excitement to a team which has perhaps recruited below its standards in recent years.
It is certainly not a secret that Arsenal fans have desired a big name for years and perhaps it was the chants of “spend, spend, spend” after the shock defeat to Aston Villa that brought Wenger around to seeing this.
The difference it has made is evident from Arsenal’s position at the top of the Premier League, a place that they haven’t visited much throughout the last few seasons, certainly not for a continuous period.
Their form in both the Premier League and Champions League have been encouraging, with players like Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud showing their vast potential that hasn’t always been clear.
The teams play has also developed and the system seems far less erratic, Per Mertesaker leading a confident looking back line, with Jack Wilshere and Ramsey powering a midfield that is playing with more purpose, creating chances and not trying to 'walk the ball in', a huge criticism of recent Arsenal teams.
Therefore, you’d look at the current team and think that despite their lack of success in previous years, there is a team there.
It is perhaps lacking the marque signings of the City’s and Chelsea’s but has players who are gelling together better than in previous seasons. The only issue that could hamper Arsenal, is their lack of a squad, as when you lose quality players like Wilshere or Giroud, young players with little Premier League experience are thrown in at the deep end.
But, this shouldn’t hamper Wenger and despite hostility at the beginning of the season, his U-turn on spending has pleased Arsenal fans and illustrated his versatility, adjusting his team to compete in 21st century football.
It appears that the promise of young talents is finally coming to fruition and if Wenger can deliver a trophy into the somewhat redundant trophy cabinet this year, there will be a new dawn of success at Arsenal, which lit up Highbury for so many years.
It is the right decision then, for Stan Kroenke to offer Wenger a new contract and allow him to guide his latest Arsenal team to the success they have promised but not yet delivered.
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