Wenger’s attack heavy summer means another season of failure

 

Last summer Arsenal had one of their most turbulent off seasons since Wenger has been at the club. The handling of transfers last summer was both chaotic and mismanaged and was a reason for Arsenal's poor start of another unsuccessful season.

This summer Wenger is being more proactive is his attempt to bring a trophy to Arsenal for the first time since 2005. As Santi Cazorla signs for the club, Arsenal appear to be showing signs of ambition and intention and there are even some talking of a title challenge. 

Learnt lessons?

This summer Arsene Wenger has clearly tried to get his transfers in early, attempting to rebuild a squad which has needed improving for several seasons. Losing quality such as Fabregas, Nasri, Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Clicy has reduced the quality of Arsenal. And with Robin Van Persie seeming ready to depart, the team is appearing much changed in a matter of seasons.

The old effective strategy failing in the present 

Between 1997-2004 Wenger was very effective at bringing in cheaper players from around the world, particuarly the French league. However the newer additions have not been good enough, have not adapted well to the league and have thus resulted in the teams failure. 

Many will argue that Wenger’s transfer dealings are impressive yet I would argue that this is not true.  Below is a list of players that Arsenal have brought in since 2005. There 24 players in the list of which totals £207m. 

Arsenal transfers since 2005

Rosicky 6.8m 

Walcott £9m 

Adebayor £7m

Hleb £12m

Eduardo £7m

Denilson £3.5m

Alex Song £1m

Nasri £15m

Ramsay £5m

Lass Diarra £4m

Sagna £6m

Arshavin £15m

Vermaelan £10m

Squillachi £4m

Koscielny £10m

Mertesacker £10m

Arteta £10m

Andre Santos £6.2m

Park Chu-Young £3m

Oxlade-Chamberlain £12m

Gervinho £11m

Podolski £11m

Giroud £13m

Cazorla £16m

TOTAL

207m

Now call me a pessimist or anti-Wenger, but of this £200m spent, how many of these players have actually improved the squad. Some have made the club profit (mainly to Man City) yet their influence at Arsenal has been minimal, or at the least has not brought success. I believe that Wenger's flawed transfer policy has led to a policy of quantity over quality and as you can see above, not all the transfers are "cheap". 

Arsenal therefore have made grave mistakes in the transfer market which has affected the success of the side. Do not be fooled that Arsenal do not spend money, what they do is spend is at the wrong players.

Defending wins titles

Already I hope spoken of the success which Wenger enjoyed due to the strong defence he firstly inherited from George Graham and then the one he assembled of Lehmann, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole and Lauren. In both cases his attacking football was supported by an immense, powerful and reliable defensive structure. The success of his fast paced, attacking football came from the solidity of the defence. 

Since 2005, the last time Arsenal won a trophy, the defence has not as such being neglected, it has just been poorly managed.

Wenger has made the mistake of bringing in players who possess the attributes which suit his philosophy, instead of bringing in players who are effective in their position. The signings of Johan Djourou and Phillipe Senderos are good examples of players with potential who Wenger believed he could mould in the type of player he sought to have. On top of these two, Armand Traore, Williams Gallas, Alex Song, Bakari Sagna,  Mikel Sylvestre, Thomas Vermaelan, Sebastain Squillachi, Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertersacker, Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are all players who have been signed or brought through the academy since 2005. It is a vast and ultimately flawed list which does not take a genius to calculate that these signings have resulted in Arsenal's drop from the top.

Added to this is Wenger's acquisition of goalkeepers since Lehmann. Almunia, Fabianski, Mannone and now Szcecny all point to Arsenal's flaws.

It shows Arsenal’s and Wenger’s clear failings when he has brought back Lehmann and Campbell to help the side. The fact that bringing back players who are retired and clearly past their best just shows the failings and deficiencies of Wenger’s defensive recruitment. It all means that Arsenal’s barren run coincides with the shambolic transfer policy which the club have ran.

Close not but no defence
In the past several seasons Arsenal have been linked with defenders such as Chris Samba, Gary Cahill and Vincent Kompany. Why have Arsenal not secured these players of who they were linked to for a long period. It seemed Arsenal could have secured them at any time, and although they apparently bid for Cahill, their disrespectful under valuing of the players they often seek to attain, meant their offer was rebuked. 

Look at Cahill now, after moving to a top side he was part of the FA Cup and Champions League side. Or what about Kompany, who arrived at Man City for £6m, only £6m! He is now one of the world’s best defenders. Wenger, who was linked to him for a long period decided not to get him. How Arsenal would love a player like him in defence.


And although Chris Samba is probably the less technically efficient of these targets, he was perhaps the best suited for what Arsenal needed. For years they were not able to replace Campbell and yet Samba would have been ideal. Key aspects such as strength, power and the ability to deal with crosses, were all lost after 2005. Samba would have given the side what was needed. And yet who was bought, two players with no experience of the English league, one in Metersacker lacking speed and agility and the other Andre Santos who was more of left winger than full back. Desperate last minute signings. Is this good economics, vision, planning?

Wenger also went for Phil Jones last summer, yet Jones chose United. Jones should feel relieved, because the success of young defenders arriving at Arsenal is very poor. This comes down to the philosophy of Arsenal to reduce the contract duration of players over 30-32. 

Experience is a key attribute for a side, especially one seeking to be successful. Ferguson has kept players like Van Der Saar, Gary Neville, Scholes and Giggs to nurture and guide the young players coming through at United. Arsenal have decided that older players have no value, another flawed idea which has prevented success. 

Losing Keown, Vieria and Gilberto after 2005 meant that the side lacked leadership, resolve and importantly the comforting arm of experience to help the younger players. Putting pressure on young shoulders like Fabregas increased the pressure and forced injury onto his young body.

Neglecting experience for so long has resulted in players with “potential” stagnating and plateauing their development. It is a sad case of misguided vision, with the blame pointed at Wenger.

The game is won and lost in midfield

At Arsenal’s greatness under Wenger, and there is no doubt they were great, Wenger possessed a midfield which rivalled that of any club in Europe. Vieria, Gilberto, Pires and Llungberg were simply excellent players who controlled games with skill, class and strength. Wenger appeared to know what was required for the English game, requiring a team to have bite and strength. It is a physical league with many sides possessing intimidating players and Arsenal’s strength when they were winning the title was that they had players who could out play and importantly out muscle any side the faced. 

Since they have lost Vieria and a key but undervalued player in Gilberto, Arsenal’s midfield has become smaller, weaker and less intimidating. And surprise, surprise, less successful. Players like Flamini, Denilson, Diaby and now Alex Song have sought to replace the world class midfield of a decade ago. It is ludicrous and flawed of Wenger to believe that he could implement this kind of philosophy and be successful. 

Quite simply he has abandoned all what had made his side successful and produced mediocrity. And Arsenal fans still profess to believe in him? 

The current midfield possessing players like Song, Frimpong and Coquelin have shown that although young, they do not possess the skills, discipline or quality to be effective in this position. Arteta is a good player yet not title winning quality.

Arsenal have not replaced Vieria, simple as that. You can argue this is not an easy task and I would agree. Yet they did have a player in his mould when they purchased Lass Diarra. However he was not played enough and got tired of being on the bench. What a crazy decision to neglect a player who could have offered Arsenal so much, in a position which was so important. It is a real indictment of Wenger’s understanding to neglect this player, seemingly putting the same type of player in each position and expecting success.

The purchases last summer of attackers like Chamberlain, Chu-Young, Gervinho and now Giroud, Podolski and Cazorla are misguided. Wenger is neglecting the areas of the pitch which matter the most while spending over £60m on attackers. 

Fabregas and Nasri left because the club was not bringing in the talent they required to make Arsenal genuine challengers. They were right. 

Title challengers?

When looking at this squad some will say it has the ability to be title winning, I would say that is lunacy. The signings this summer are risks, spending £35 million on three players in attack, when the squad already has Gervinho, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Miyachi, Chamakh and Arshavin indicates that Wenger believes those already there are not good enough.

Much money has been wasted on too many players which has meant an over sized squad, forcing many players to be sent out on loan or many young players to be wasted in the reserves. The truth is the squad appears to be in an ever changing state of flux, meaning it cannot become settled.

Imagine if Arsenal could have added one piece of quality each year, instead of spending a lot on many average players. It has led to a congested the squad and reduced quality.

Surely Arsenal would have been better to spend more on less players, bringing in the quality needed to improve the side and importantly keep the present players happy? When Barcelona purchased Ronaldinho they showed both an intent and desire to challenge for the top prizes again. It took a player of immense quality and importantly much money to take Barcelona to the top of Europe.

How the fans can be happy with this is pure madness, the deceit that Wenger has fooled the fans with talk of “no money” is a lie. The truth is that Wenger has purchased poorly and developed them even worse when at the club.

The men in suits to blame

This failure lies with the board of Peter Hill-Wood, Ivan Gazidis and Arsene Wenger. If Arsenal wish to progress and win titles and trophies again then they need to move on from Wenger and bring in a manager who understands the modern game, who is capable of producing a successful and tactically efficient side. Ivan Gazidis is not as good or as efficient as his predecessor David Dein and the deals and players which have come through since Dein’s depature, added to this the contract issues, all point to a failure and ineptitude of the current chief executive. 

The wage structure at the club needs addressing too. Arsenal appear to be attempting some sort of socialist economy, a completely flawed ideal which means a player like Diaby is on the same wages as players like Walcott and Van Persie. It just shows the lunacy and poor economics of the club, its manager and its board. Lack of finances is not the problem; it is the decision what to do with the finances which are holding the club back.

Wenger’s transfers so far point not to title challengers but to another season of emptiness. If Wenger believes that this side is good enough to challenge then he is deluded. Until serious changes happen at Arsenal, do not expect another trophy in that cabinet.