It seems Arsenal fans are forever hearing the same tune, that same hit playing out every summer: their star players are heading through the exit door of the Emirates. Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and now the latest, Samir Nasri, are either testament to the managerial successes of Arsene Wenger or an indicator that he has no power holding onto his killer elite.
Wenger made it clear that if Nasri, along with Clichy, had not signed contract extensions by 30 June then the club would move them on, avoiding a disastrous repeat of the Mathieu Flamini incident from 2008. But it seems the Arsenal manager has chosen to take a gamble on Nasri, insisting that the player would remain at the club for the final 12 months of his contract. The impact of a player of Nasri’s calibre leaving the club on a bosman at the end of next season would be a much lesser blow to morale had Wenger maybe learnt to adapt his principles.
…we’ve seen Arsenal collapse in recent seasons…
It’s obviously based on the way we’ve seen Arsenal collapse in recent seasons that Wenger likes to use his trusted “square pegs in round holes” method. That being, sticking very rigidly to a formation that has been adopted to suit one man – Cesc Fabregas. The increasing absence of Fabregas from the starting line up in recent seasons due to injury has not been enough it seems to warrant Wenger changing formations and using what he has available to him.
It’s ironic that Wenger spoke at length at the end of the season about making the best of the resources you have available to you. It seems though that he is exempt from his own advice. We’ve seen Arsenal’s most creative players shunned out wide to the flanks, strikers who do have a decent goal scoring record played out of position and ineffective players used as creative outlets for the rest of the team.
With Arsenal unfortunately it’s all very predictable.
Wenger needs to look no further than to his counterpart at Old Trafford who uses a number of formations to gain the upper hand in matches. Mixing a traditional 4-4-2 with a continental 4-3-3 has seen Alex Ferguson’s team reap the benefits of teams not knowing quite what to expect. With Arsenal unfortunately it’s all very predictable.
The Nasri and Fabregas rumours will not die down and with the former they will persist right the way through the season. After all, Nasri is holding the club to ransom for half a seasons work. His outstanding performances in the first half of the season did not carry over into the latter half, and if the risk of going two steps backwards due to his loss had not been so heavy then he may not have been in such a dominant position.
They do not possess a player who will give them 25 or 30 goals a season…
Arsenal are a team in a very precarious position when it comes to creative and scoring outlets. They do not possess a player who will give them 25 or 30 goals a season; Wenger rather stubbornly insists that the injury prone Van Persie can handle the burden of primary striker.
If the team are going to push on from a seemingly endless position of “almost there” then he needs to learn to get the best out of the resources he has available to him at any one time. Adapting formations and using the threat of two strikers would be a step in the right direction for a team who rely far too heavily on the talents of one or two.
Images courtesy of Arsenal Football Club and Arsene Wenger