Diagnosing Arsenal’s Malaise: Arsene Wenger Has Too Much Faith In Mediocre Players

Chris Wright

20th, February 2013


By Chris Wright

Let’s be right: With things ‘as is’, if Bayern Munich played Arsenal 100 times the German behemoths would win 100 times – such are the relative fortunes of each side (to be fair though, being soundly whipped by Bayern could’ve happened to anybody last night given their current form).

Last night’s result came as a surprise to quite literally nobody. Along with their rollicking momentum, one quick cursary glance at the line-ups showed that Bayern had stronger, more adept players in every single position, man-for-man and including the bench.

Bayern are pissing the Bundesliga this season and Arsenal are out of their depth and treading water in the race to finish fourth in the Premier League. Ally that with the fact that Bayern have a talented squad with a cohesive nucleus and Arsenal only seem to employ players who successfully fail to tear their way out of a wet paper bags during their medicals and you could see the result coming a mile away.

They’re just a bit namby pamby is all, though Arsene Wenger’s failure – or at least his apparent failure – to recognise this has been the club’s most pressing concern for a good while now.

You’ve heard him say it many times of the last few years but Wenger once again trotted out the old “this squad is better than people think, they’ve just got to prove it” line before the Bayern game. He’s been saying the same thing for four or five years now, each season his assembled squad getting gradually weaker and weaker.

There’s just too much faith in the self-sufficient vision, while reality continues to ravage all around.

This is what £11 million’s worth of “nowhere near good enough” looks like

Take away Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere (who isn’t exactly peerless.. yet, at least) and just who in the current Arsenal side is capable of standing up to the rigors, both mental and technical, of elite club football? None. No-one. Nada. Europe’s biggest sides wouldn’t touch the likes of Gervinho, Giroud, even Lukas “Crown Prince of the Flatter-to-Deceive Brigade” Podolski with a ten-foot bargepole.

Mikel Arteta’s a decent player no doubt, but he should’ve been at Arsenal about three years before they actually signed him – another symptom of the club’s thrifty decline.

Too much filler and only trace amounts of killer.

Personally, it seems like Wenger has had far too much faith in his players since his Invincibles moseyed out of town. For years now he’s implicitly trusted players that simply weren’t or aren’t good enough to play regularly for a club with aspirations of silverware. He needs to be far more ruthless with his bairns, expressly to toughen the soft little sods up a bit.

Would Sir Alex Ferguson still be starting Aaron Ramsey this far into a largely wretched season? Would he heck as like, yet still the Welshman is picked as one of a woefully reedy front three to face a rampant Bayern in the Champions League round of 16.

Too long have Arsenal’s tyros been mothered. Now they’re in need some fathering too.

Anyway, here’s one parting thought for all the thoroughly depressed Gooners out there this morning. Let this be a crumb of comfort: While it may smart to see your club deflating like a farting bouncy castle before your very eyes, football is nothing more than a cyclical soap opera at it’s core.

Relatively speaking, Arsenal are still a very good football team when it suits with a very good manager at the helm. Things will be better again, in time. “Bluebirds after the rain” and all that…

Three seasons in League One leads a man to that kind of blind apathetic optimism.

Any thoughts?

Posted in Arsenal, Featured, Newsnow, Opinion

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  1. Lukass says:

    Completely agree with the article. The only thing I would add is that Arsene Wenger has definitely lost it. He needs to go along with a raft of average players eating up our wage bill. Some reports claim that Bayern’s wage bill is lower than ours! So much about Wenger’s prudency. A young,hungry manager like Moyes or Martinez in the summer, and a major squad facelift is all that is needed, the club has money, infrastructure and fans to go back on top, someone just needs to get a hold of that rudder, since the man charged with it is driving us ashore…

  2. goldoakleaves says:

    This is by far the most accurate analysis of arsenal, so far from last nights abortion of a game, that i have read today.

    The management of the team are more focused on maintaining a sustainable economic model rather than a winning formula on the field.
    I dont expect us to buy the best players in the world… we are simply priced out of the market. I do expect us to sell the dross. It beggars belief that Arshavin, Gervinho, Ramsay, Santos and others are still here.

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  4. Spectrum says:

    Absolutely agree that Wenger should not only leave, but have gone about four years ago. But it’s not just about players and his obsessive, misplaced faith in them.It’s his manifest inabilty to adapt to circumstances and changing times, his refusal to delegate tasks and take advice.His tactical ineptitude, his lies to the fans, and a host of other flaws.He’s doing harm to the image of the club by his intransigence and refusal to accept that his grand vision for us has failed. He just can’t accept that his “best” is simply not good enough.

    The crazy thing is the board want him to stay, even though the ( now ) majority of the fans want him out. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the rumour of a two year extension isn’t accurate! It’s the sort of insane thinking that we expect from this administration nowdays.If they do the unthinkable, it will not only prove that we’re a laughing stock, but confirm to us the real priorities of the board.

    ” In Arsene we rust.”

  5. John says:

    You don’t diagnose anything you just spout a series of one liners and opinionated cr@p. Why not try to write an intelligent article, do some research. Wenger has given you plenty to go on, his “this squad is better than people think, they’ve just got to prove it” is pretty damning for him (and Bould). To me, this is Wenger saying he can’t motivate the team. Can’t he? Why? Are we really a 21 points lesser team than Manu? Contrary to you I don’t think this is such a bad squad at all, maybe 10 points less than Manu at this stage. Something is missing but I don’t know enough about football to say what. If Wenger can’t solve it, he should go this summer.

  6. C says:

    Im jut happy that Liverpool isn’t the only club deflating like a farting bouncy castle!

    The PL table might not agree, but Im really glad I don’t support Arsenal.

  7. Mike NYC says:

    John: ManU – 65 pts. Arsenal – 44 pts. You are 21 points less than ManU. Not 10. That’s the reality, not some hypothesis about what things might look like through Gooner-colored glasses.

  8. Wenger's PR consultant says:

    Arsenal’s squad is miles off the pace at the moment. They have very little by way of “world class” players, which includes Wilshere at the moment by virtue of the fact that he appears to be made out of glass and has been outclassed this season (to date) by a resurgent Frank Lampard a decade his senior, for instance.

    However, I suspect that this is more down to the fact that the purse strings are not within Wenger’s control than anything else. Arsenal have the right ethos – picking up cheap foreign talent and trying to develop local youngsters – but it is a model that is being ignored in the Premiership in favour of huge investment for short term gains.

    Wenger cannot win. Even if Arsenal qualify for the CL next season, the fans will still winge at him that the club has not won anything.

    It would be a poor move to sack him, as – ignoring the “buy the league” culture of Premiership at the moment – the problem seems to be at board level (i.e. they control which players come in) than anything else.

    If he were to go, Arsenal will struggle to attract another world class manager unless Jose wanted another shot at managing an underdog with next to no cash to spend.

  9. objective thinker says:

    i find it quite hilarious that the regular fan, such as the deluded posters above me think they know better than arsene wenger, undoubtedly one of the world’s leading football managers.

    I literally cannot comprehend what people are thinking when they question the decisions and integrity of top managers (who have got to their position in the game through continued hard work).

    yes, arsenal may not have won a trophy for a while, but a combination of bad luck and the growth of other clubs, both domestic and european, means that success isn’t guarenteed for anyone. in fact, i think im right in saying only about 8 english teams have won any of the elite trophies since arsenal last won. it’s tricky, and the manager cannot be held solely to blame.

    lest we not forget wenger’s genius. i remember when players like flamini, song, even walcott were heckled as players not good enough for arsenal. turns out wenger was right and the regular fickle fan calling for his head was wrong. who would have thought?

    then again, im a forest fan too so maybe i just like the idea of a stable manager and some exciting cup runs. arsenal fans should count themselves lucky. easily the most fickle set of fans in this country. give it a rest and have a bit of belief in your (for the most part excellent) football club.

  10. Si says:

    @Objective Thinker – Arsenal’s production line is hardly 100% efficient though.

    In fact, in many cases, it is significantly less, probably because Wenger does not have sufficient time to nurture talent. And herein lies the problem – fans nowadays demand instant success as opposed to the slow burn development favoured by the Ajaxs and Barcelonas of this world (who admittedly, have been able to prosper simultaneously).

    Wenger no doubt has a great footballing mind but has not been a successful trophy-winning manager for a good while now. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

    If Arsenal fans want a trophy now – it is the board they should be slating, as it is in control of the cash. Wenger can only do the best with what he can afford and does not have the luxery of allowing players five years to prove themselves (Walcott being a good example of this – he is not far off this figure, is he?).

  11. objective thinker says:


    Whose production line is 100%? Every club produces players who don’t cut the mustard. Liverpool spent last season playing with Jay Spearing in centre mid, Man Utd continually play youngsters for a couple of seasons and then inevitably ship them off to Sunderland or Newcastle. of course arsenal have their poor players, djourou, santos etc. however the others, arshavin, ramsey, gervinho, have all showed they have supreme talent. perhaps wenger is giving them a chance to rediscover their talent rather than spending tens of millions on new players.

    the fact is, despite not winning a trophy for a while, what is wenger to do? in my opinion, in his mind he has been playing by the financial fair play rules for many years, which will serve him well when they actually come into practice this season, while other clubs will suffer.

    as well as this, consider that arsenal do part with wenger now, who do they replace him with? prospective managers will not appreciate what i would perceive as impatience to win trophies from arsenal fans.

    in my opinion, arsenal fans need to get a grip, ignore the biased, slanted media agenda perpetrated by the actual press and articles such as this one (which is actually fairly objective, but a misleading title which only serves to add fuel to the fire) and have some belief in their frankly excellent manager.

    arsenal is a club with dignity and pride (except for their ticket prices) and despite a few tough seasons, mainly as a result of the spending and improvement of the teams slightly below them, their time with wenger will come again. the short-term, fickle nature of fans is a disease which is catching quick in this country

  12. Zam says:

    “Would Sir Alex Ferguson still be starting Aaron Ramsey this far into a largely wretched season? Would he heck as like”


  13. peter kay says:

    whose got a barge pole?!?!?

  14. Si says:

    @Objective Thinker – agreed. I am not saying that Wenger is ready for the glue factory, rather the fans need to have realistic expectations.

    The comment regarding the production line is aimed at the fact that Arsenal generally have an entire squad of “works in progress,” with the odd few well-established players and save for the infamous Man Utd squad of the 90s (“You’ll never win anything with kids…”), it is a risky strategy. Which, again, is dictated by the board being stingy.

    As a Newcastle fan, I’d be grateful to simply have a guaranteed place in the Premiership year-on-year!

  15. jules says:

    Honestly who ever wrote this article is an absolute cunt! Would Alex Ferguson be starting Aaron Ramsey? wtf Fergie bought our best player for 23m when he had one year left on his contract ! WE CANT DO THAT !!!!!!!!! DUH!!!!!!!! We are trying to pay off our stadium debt while maintiaing our position as a top four club sure gervinho may have cost 11m but what about the selling of fabregas song rvp nasri clichy ?? Its called balancing the books dosnt help we have this Kronke weirdo not spending a penny.

    As well we could play them 100 times and not win?? what a cuntish statement honestly is this a job application for talk sport??

    I think the creator of this shitty site should stop nicking and reposting everything decent from 101 great goals and adding his own bullshite analysis to make a web site and go and work for talkshite radio.

  16. yolo says:

    Arsenal fans are so damn fickle! And the ones who are not fickle are as deluded as fans can get!
    Arsenal’s recent miseries are not to be blamed on Wenger but on their board and retarded business model and wage structure.
    I’d love to see somebody as useless as Mancini managing Arsenal. They would be relegated before you could say what the fuck.
    Wenger is one of the best managers the world has ever seen and definitely deserves more respect for his contribution to the sport.
    Gervinho is a massive flop but everyone makes mistakes in the transfer market.
    Giroud and Podolski are decent but definitely not world class, nowhere near the quality required to compete with the biggest clubs in the CL.
    This article provides some decent insight but is way too opinionated

  17. I agree with this article. I also think that if Wenger wants to win trophies he’ll need to get rid of the “good” players he has on the team, and bring in “great” players instead. We all know Wenger doesn’t like spending too much money on players, but if the Club want to win trophies this philosophy will have to change!