I write this with a heavy heart this morning. Having been at the 3-0 defeat away to Everton, on the back of a draw against Swansea, and a thrashing by Chelsea, it is time, time for Arsene Wenger to go.
A little over a year ago, Andre Villas Boas famously said: “they are in a negative spiral in terms of results, to [get] out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”. How we all mocked him as Arsenal shot down the ten Tottenham points in the gap.
This year, however, we are in a negative spiral. In our last 11 games, we have won 3, drawn 4 and lost 4. DWLDWLWLDDL. The Premier League form guide for the last 6 games does not make pretty reading:The team is falling apart. And the buck has to stop with Wenger. When I look at the team that started yesterday, it contained 9 players who are regularly picked in the squad of their international side, and a total of 510 caps. It was not like we had a bunch of untried kids out there.
If the players are as good as they are, and we are unable to compete against Everton, let alone get a point, the buck must stop with the manager. Our capitulation against Everton, against Chelsea, against Manchester City, against Liverpool, is simply not acceptable. I often back Wenger by saying ‘name someone who can do a better job’. But surely there is someone out there who can do a better job then 0 points away against the top 5, conceding 20 goals.
Our results against the top 7 this year have been shambolic:
Liverpool: 2-1 / 1-5
Chelsea: 0-0 / 0-6
Manchester City: 1-1 / 3-6
Everton: 1-1 / 0-3
Tottenham: 1-0 / 1-0
Manchester United: 0-0 / 0-1
Played 12, Won 3, Drawn 4, Lost 5, F 10 A 24, Points 13.
13 points out of 36. Those games make up nearly a third of our season. How we can expect to compete for the league, let alone win the league, with that return. And it is a double edged sword. Not only did we only take 5 points from our title rivals, they took 11 from us. It is not good enough. Wenger is not good enough.
The side is lacking confidence, it is lacking quality. Yes, after 22 games, we were top. In a 3 horse race for the title. Now we risk coming 5th. That has to come down to the manager. OK, you could point to injuries, but how many years have we done that?
All the injuries expose is a) our medical process and b) our lack of squad depth. Whilst Manchester City have had a choice of Dzeko, Negrado & Jovetic. If Giroud get’s an injury or loses form, we have the choice of Bendtner or Sanogo.
As for our captain, Thomas Vermaelen, a lot of the talk has been ‘if he leaves we need to replace him’. After another inept display, it should not be down to him, he should be sold and replaced. He looks disinterested and is not the committed player he was during his first season for us. He should be shipped out. And the vice-captain is no better.
I am not being reactionary. Did I expect us to go and spank Everton? No I did not, they are a very good side, the 5th best in the Premier League. But it was our lack of fight. Our lack of chances. The way we played. When we went 1-0 down, I turn to my mate and said “that’s that then”. We just do not look like scoring.
The fact is, we are not good enough. We have £100m sitting in the bank. I know this has not been there a long time, but it is negligible that more was not spent in the summer, or in January.
Do I still think Wenger is the best man for the job? Perhaps. Yes. But that is based on the fact that he must spend. He must give his 10 transfer targets to the board, and let them sign the players he wants. He must not be let to dither over an extra couple of million. Hand the targets over, let the board, Dick Law, Ivan Gazidas, whoever, sign the players. Likewise, if we need a bit of extra cash to complete a spending spree, the board should release it. The money is in the club.
If he tells the board he is happy with the squad, that he only wants 1 or 2 new players, then that is it, ship him out. Get the new man in. A man willing to spend big. A man who will motivate the players. Yes, he might not win away to Chelsea, Manchester City or Liverpool next year, but a new man would certainly get the team putting up a better performance. Not accept capitulation. Not accept mediocrity.
Is it time for Wenger to go? My heart says no, my head says yes.
Final Note: Let today be a day of negativity. Get it out of your system. Then tomorrow wake up. Be positive. We have an FA Cup semi final to win on Saturday.