The 2014/15 Premier League season was certainly a campaign that promised to hold a lot of promise for the Arsenal faithful. Following the FA Cup victory in May and the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck most notably over the summer break, it certainly looked as if a prosperous season was on the horizon.
However we now find ourselves at the end of October with little to no improvement from last season, if anything it would seem as if the Gunners have taken a step backwards in their title challenge.
Of course it’s very easy to go back to summer and say Gunners boss Arsene Wenger should have signed more players, as this always seems to be the impetus with Arsenal fans, although I’m starting to think at this point in the season that it wasn’t just the lack of signings in key areas that have been our only problem.
It’s unquestionable that Arsenal have failed to purchase adequate cover in the most vital areas of the pitch and this is why we’re now seeing Nacho Monreal as a centre half, not something I think you’d find Manchester City or Chelsea ever contemplating.
Selling Thomas Vermaelen and allowing Carl Jenkinson to leave on loan now seems ludicrous as Arsenal have failed to bring in replacements for these players and are paying the price with one of the worst defences I’ve seen from Arsenal in years.
It may also be worth noting that Johan Djourou was allowed to leave the club, a player that certainly didn’t flatter any fans but it’s another body that we’ve shifted and not upgraded on.
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Lack of world-class holding midfielder is glaring
The cracks in midfield are becoming more and more evident with each game this Arsenal team play, Mathieu Flamini on his day is a real workhorse, as he showed in the Chelsea game, however his recent displays have been nothing short of abysmal.
We’re yet to see much of Mikel Arteta this season due to his injury problems; however it has to be said he’s not much of a solution. The concept of also playing Diaby as that midfield general has gone out the window as his injuries are catching up with him again and it’s hard to see him playing little over 45 minutes in a competitive game.
The fact of the matter is Arsenal won’t push on until the correct players are bought, as every season the squad finds itself at least 2 or 3 players short in each position. Last year it was strikers, this year it’s defenders, what joys await us next year? Undoubtedly Alexis Sanchez has been Arsenal’s biggest player this season, however it’s near pointless investing in these players when the same investment won’t be made in the areas where it’s needed most, and it’s even more frustrating knowing that the funds are there to do it.
Sanchez signing papering over the cracks
Injuries continue to hamper the Arsenal setup as usual with a staggering 8 first team players out through injury at this moment in time, with a majority of them suffering long term absences. There’s almost no point expecting a healthy competition from Arsenal because this is a reoccurring problem and even bringing in new medical staff is yet to make an impact. When you have Mathieu Debuchy, Laurent Koscielny, Mesut Ozil, Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud all astray from the starting eleven it’s hard to see us building momentum.
It has to be taken into account that these are all players that would start the games for Arsenal. Also, how on earth will this team bond when everyone’s constantly injured? Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott have the potential to be a ruthless combination, yet in the time these two have been together, they’ve played roughly five games. Hardly something to build upon.
Ozil injury sums up horrible luck
I think the injury that’s hardest to take however is the one to Ozil. Seeing him come under so much criticism over the start of the season only to come into splendid form recently, and then get injured is incredibly frustrating. It’s more infuriating knowing the players he’d have ahead of him in Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck, Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Serge Gnabry.
These are arguably some of the best runners in the game and would have brought Ozil out of his shell somewhat. By the time these players get a game with each other will be in the New Year, where you can only hope another huge injury blow hasn’t happened to one of them. I fear at that point though it will be too little too late for them to bond, but the positive is that it should help them combine for the following campaign. But I really am clutching at straws with that last comment.
Wenger's tactics under huge scrutiny
Regarding the 4-1-4-1 formation as well, it eludes me why this is persisted with game after game. It clearly slows down our play and doesn’t allow some of our best players to flourish. So far this season we’ve played our best performances in a 4-2-3-1, these being against Villa and Galatasaray in the Champions League. I just don’t understand the logic behind the change. It wasn’t needed, we were playing very attractive football last season, whereas now it’s gone stale to some extent and is only continuing to slacken.
It seems too early for there to be calls of Wenger to resign, but something has to change. And fast. These lacklustre displays cannot be allowed to continue and with the potential of a highly competitive season upon us the Arsenal team need to get their act together quickly if they’re to be taken seriously.