Sunday, March 29, 2020
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It should come as no surprise to hear grumblings of discontent coming from an Arsenal press conference. The Gunners sit six points off the top of the Premier League, having not yet frolicked with any of the other big threesome. They have not won in three and are up against Manchester United on Saturday.

Today Wenger’s bone of contention centres on the ‘unfair’ treatment his players are receiving. ‘Look at the fair play table. Who is top?’ Opined Wenger. Directing our attention to the one league Arsenal are topping. 

 

Earlier this week his comments regarding the Stoke game really rankled their manager Tony Pulis - and it’s little wonder. Any loss is hard to take, it’s difficult to be magnanimous in defeat, but by begrudging Stoke their moment of glory - a victory that lifted them out of the bottom three and could serve as a catalyst in their fight to avoid relegation – Wenger’s words are more bitter than sour grapes.

With the French legion at Arsenal, Wenger seems to have forgotten where he is. Scratch beneath the veneer of the moneyed masses in the Premier League and you’ll see that English football is a highly physical game, with an attacking threat built around a boisterous number nine getting on the end of balls into the box. This is how Stoke played Arsenal, and how 90% of teams outside of the top-flight play. Like it or not, this is English football.

Perhaps Wenger would prefer it if Stoke tried to play Arsenal at their own game. I’m sure he would. If Seyi Olafinjani and Salif Diao went tet-a-tet with Cesc Fabrgas and Denilson in duel based upon subtle machinations of skill, guile, movement and intricate passing, it would be a massacre.

Ultimately the blame for Arsenal’s problems so far this year lays at Wenger’s doorstep. His consistent inability to induct the ready made article into his team has left him over reliant on a succession of exceptionally talented players coming though the youth system. This time round the right players in the right positions have not yet come to fruition.

With Abou Diaby injured so far this season, Denilson has failed to successfully step up to the plate; whilst Amaury Bischoff and Aaron Ramsey are in the usual League Cup/occasional cameo induction process. Coupled with their patent frailties in central defense, it has become clear why Alex Fergusson allowed Mikel Silvstre to join for GBP750,000.

Wenger is an intelligent man and his outbursts are designed to take the pressure off a young team whose lack of physical and mental strength has been problematic. But unless he can find a way to induct two or three quality, experienced professionals into his precociously talented young squad they will continue to be unable to compete with the juggernauts that are Chelsea and Manchester United.

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