Will Wenger shoot for the stars, or trust in growth?

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I had a pretty bad feeling before the Swansea game. We’d won a lot of games this year. United vs Arsenal wasn’t quite tantalising enough for Sky Sports, there wasn’t enough drama there. Monday night games are always the pits.

… and Swansea under Monk are very pragmatic and I guess he’s trying to prove a point, because his record is more impressive than he is ‘trendy’… and being trendy seems to be quite important on the UK management scene. Look at Allardyce being binned off after doing a very good job. West Ham really are jokers.

Anyway, my gut feel was right. We huffed and puffed but couldn’t blow their fortified house down.

How much can you draw from that game? Well, not much in my opinion. You’re either of the opinion we’ve progressed, or you’re stuck in the mindset that nothing has changed because we lost a game in pretty unfortunate circumstances.

Amazing how much grace a lot of the ‘we’ve not moved on’ crowd give to United despite them losing a few this year (and having mega expenditure).

Key things I’d take aim at from the week night, because clearly all is not perfect.

Subs:

We’ve got to see when things aren’t working earlier in the game. We’ve progressed well with tactics, but we haven’t done particularly well in game. Wenger waits until 70mins to make changes. He also has quite a static approach to in-game management (when you watch continental managers make changes 20mins in, you’ll see what I mean). Jack should have come on earlier when it was apparent Coquelin was superfluous and really, we needed a striker fit for purpose earlier. 67 minutes isn’t the perfect time to have a go at a game you need to win against a team who are sitting back as a plan. Theo caused some trouble, but his lack of height really did tell and made you wonder why Wenger is dirty talking him with sexy central striker promises.

Jack should have come on earlier when it was apparent Coquelin was superfluous and really, we needed a striker fit for purpose earlier. 67 minutes isn’t the perfect time to have a go at a game you need to win against a team who are sitting back as a plan. Theo caused some trouble when he came on, but his lack of height (encapsulated perfectly by a long ball he wasn’t Giroud tall enough to bring down) really did tell and made you wonder why Wenger is dirty talking him with sexy central striker promises.

Quality:

In the tightest games, we’re always going to get found out because we lack world class potency. Theo missed a pretty standard world class striker chance when it was handed to him on a plate. You could say I’m being tough, and maybe I am, but this is elite level football. You need to be taking those opportunities. Giroud had another anonymous game. Is he playing badly because he’s played all the games again? Probably… the same happened last year.

Point is, when you’re watching the Champions League semi final and the goals scored in both games, you wonder how many of those we’d have taken? Take Messi out of the equation, look at Neymar at the back post yesterday, he controls an awkward back post pass from Suarez, composes himself and buries inside Neuers near post. How many players have we in our squad who could do that in a game like that?

Now, I’m not saying we don’t have plenty of good players. What I’m saying is we need to be relentless this summer. Is Theo good enough to win us a semi in the Champions League? Probably not. Who is? Dybala? Reus? Sterling? Ok, if they could, then we need to upgrade.

Goalkeeper:

Stats tell a beautiful story about Ospina. He’s come in, he’s nailed his chance, he’s keeping that ball out and he’s been a much more calming influence on the defence. BUT, it was quite clear Chesser wasn’t good enough last season. You only had to look at his playing cross field rabona’s at half time to see how unprofessional he is. I digress, an upgrade on Chezzer was always going to be easy. Now you have to ask yourself this… could we do better than Ospina this summer?

Yes. Petr Cech is better. He’s a decisive signing. He’s a game changer. Huge, calming, experienced, and an out and out winner. He’d be an amazing signing.

… he’d not have dived into the goal either and he’d have had the length to keep that header out.

Will Wenger show loyalty to a keeper who has bailed him out for 5 months, or will he go hard to make the right signing?

Growth:

The biggest challenge the manager has this summer is weighing up potential growth against current needs. Jack Wilshere might grow into a monster player next season, there’s a good chance. Ramsey might pick his game up to what he was doing last season. WELBZ might start finding the net like a hero. These are all mights. Wenger needs to identify where he can take a risk on a might and he needs to purchase where he can’t.

There’s a good chance Santi will leave (at his behest), Rosicky is off, Arteta should be off and I don’t see much purpose with Flamini. There are some replacements that need to be made. Or there are some promotions to be made.

Striking that balance is going to be important.

Conclusion:

The loss was a good thing.

Yeah, I bloody well said it.

If we’d gone into the close season unbeaten in 2015 (bar a Monaco horror show) the manager would have been sitting in his smug palace crowing about only wanting to sign top, top quality.

That was a sharp reminder that we’re not there yet. That was a sharp spike in the side of the manager. The Champions League semi-finals will be as well, there’s a sharp spike in the side of the league. We need to be better. We need to be smarter and we need to close the gap.

This is a major summer for everyone, because everyone will be splashing the cash to catch the rest. We need to be ruthless.

Right, that’s your lot.

P.S. Someone pulled me up on the short posts of late. I can only apologise for some of the lack-lustre posting. It’s 70% that I’ve started a new job and writing a blog mid-morning isn’t good etiquette. It’s part there’s not been a lot to talk about. When things are going well, there’s little to dissect.

Anyway, I’ll make a conscious effort to lift my game. I’ve gone a bit Andrey Arshavin on you.

HAVE A GREAT DAY X

478 Responses to “Will Wenger shoot for the stars, or trust in growth?”

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  1. Thank you and goodnight

    @Bamford

    Suarez,Neymar, pedro, busquets, Alves etc are amongst the biggest cheating bastards in Europe. No ones debating how good they are as players……but let’s not pretend they don’t cheat either.
    And I know all teams cheat to an extent, but those boys are pros at it.

  2. Bamford10

    Gregg

    Barca are alone in this? Every team on the planet has players who simulate. It’s a part of football. Not a part that anyone loves, but Barca are not alone in this, nor are they especially egregious I M O.

    Didn’t Cazorla win us an important PK last season by simulating? I think he did.

  3. Blsany

    Bam ford
    Yeah i was somewhat mate.I do rate him but he made a wrong choce going to Rm.Cheers for clearing up why he is not playing to the best of his abilities.Rm just ruins players.Bale should really learn some Spanish though cant be harder than Welsh!During the half time break Real hung around for quite a while before they came out on the pitch, as you would expect the players were in groups chatting, but Bale was completely on his own, no one said a word to him, so either he doesn’t fit in, or is not wanted, or maybe both!! either way he can’t be happy there and surely he won’t stick it out much longer!!

  4. TheBayingMob

    they’re Italian, it will happen. So Bamford10 I’ll make a bet with you, no money or stupidness, just a bit of bantz and kudos; if Juve go all out attack and make a spectacle of the final I will humbly come on Le Grove and give you a bit of online fellatio for being right, but I expect the same in return! What do you reckon? I think regardless, Juve will try and shut the game down … ??

  5. Emiratesstroller

    Two interesting articles have appeared in today’s Daily Telegraph.

    1. The first discusses the significant reduction of injuries at Arsenal in the second half of season. It would seem that a major factor is a material change in training methods. This is now acknowledged by Wenger. The club now tailor
    training to “individual load” on players and less dependence on short but intense training sessions when some players would have benefited from rest. The science has also been upgraded at club with arrival of Shad Forsythe.

    2. Significant also is the publication of stats showing how money is spent on agents by clubs in EPL. Arsenal who are the lowest spending club with 0.45%
    of annual revenue compares with Spurs 6.08%, Liverpool 5.59%, Chelsea 5.24%,Man City 3.70%,Man Utd 1.84% of revenues in 2013-4. This suggests to me that Arsenal are almost certainly the most ‘agent adverse’ club in league
    when it comes to negotiations. I think that Arsenal tend to shy away from agents or clubs who open their mouthes in public during negotiations and where the agents are too greedy. This may help to explain why Arsenal are losing out with some of the deals.

  6. Blsany

    Baying Mob
    Iam with Bamford on this one., Juve will bring the game to Barca because Allegri is a smart enough tactician to identify the only real weaknesses Barca have are at the back. Even when Juve press, the defence stays tight and won’t allow the space Boateng and Benatia afforded the Barca forwards in their semis.
    Plus, Juve play better against teams who play open attacking football rather than conservative, deep building possession football. I think the domestic run-ins will be important. Barca looking to wrap up La Liga will keep them on their toes. Allegri has breathing room to use his first choice players wisely but won’t allow them a vacation of sorts until June 6.Gigi will get his CL crown.Forza Juve

  7. WengerEagle

    Someone on here doesn’t rate Kroos???

    In the UCL Last 16 at the Emirates last season he was on another planet, think he had something like 95+ pass accuracy and made the most passes in UCL knockout history, set up the penalty with a great through ball and scored an absolute belter.

    In the World Cup too he was one of Germany’s best players.

    He’s had an excellent first season at Real even if he wasn’t great last night (no-one in the Real team bar Marcelo were IMO).

  8. london gunner

    baying mob

    Your anti Italian tirade is embarrassing.

    Juventus play better attacking football than the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.

    But no lets stick to the out dated italians park the bus stereotype of the 90’s

    Football has moved on, but evidently you haven’t.

  9. Bamford10

    Blsny

    Was just thinking the same thing. Madrid try to squeeze so many fantastic players into the XI, but they don’t always bring out the best in these players. Some players end up shining there, but many are less there than they can be and should be.

    Frank

    I’m not claiming that Barca players don’t simulate, but they’re far from alone in this, nor is this the reason for Barca’s success. They’re the best passing team in the world — at times the best pressing team in the world as well — and have many of the world’s best players. This is why they’re successful.

    Baying

    Juventus may play defensively, but that doesn’t make them the foul bunch you described earlier. Sitting and countering is a thousand miles from dirty tackles and breaking legs. Not to mention Juve are loaded with gifted, technical players.

  10. Wallace

    i think the CL final will be fascinating, but agree with Baying if Barca come out flying Juve will hit the Italian default setting and play a cagey, dirty, Mourinho-like game.

  11. Gregg

    Bamford

    Agree mate and yes Cazorla did do that, however he doesn’t do it in every game he plays. Busquets and Alves do it all too frequently. They stand out

    Agree with you re; Kroos. The guy is an awesome player when played in his best position.

  12. Blsany

    Lads
    This could have been US – if Arsenal had beaten Monaco! And they had anything that resembled a credible defense,some imposing midfielders, a more clinical striker, a manager with some tactical savvy, etc

  13. london gunner

    Bamford

    Actually Juventus aren’t soley a defensive side not even close.

    They won their league playing a possession based attacking game.

    “Juventus have shown an uncanny ability to change their approach according to the circumstances and coach Massimiliano Allegri now has to decide which version of his side he wants to face Barcelona in the Champions League final next month.

    Juventus, the first Italian side to reach the final since 2010, have won Serie A by playing a possession-based, attacking game, with a diamond in midfield and pressing deep in the opponents’ half.”

    They’re pragmatic not negative.

  14. Blsany

    Eagle
    I do rate him i just think he looks average in that RM setup.Negative sideways passing.Don’t like what i see when i watch him at Rm.Also he likes raping us 😀

  15. Bamford10

    WengerEagle

    Nice video, except it reminds me of just how superior Bayern were to us. Embarrassing, really.

    And Sanogo starting. For fuck’s sake. One of the most glaring examples of Wenger’s limitations.

    That save Shez made on Kroos’s first shot was pretty sick, by the way. Maybe the best I know of his. A shame he doesn’t show that form more often and instead does the kind of silly things that got him tossed from this game.

  16. WengerEagle

    Blsany

    I think that the lack of defensive cover inhibits Kroos going forward hence why he plays it safe a lot of the time.

    He’s a different animal when Modric is fit and in the side. They dominated the Barca midfield in both Clasico’s IMO.

  17. Bamford10

    London

    Yeah, I hear you on Juve not being primarily defensive. I was trying to say that even if they adopt a defensive approach against Barca, that doesn’t make them what Baying is making them out to be.

  18. WengerEagle

    Bamford

    Yeah I remember we played really well for the first 10 minutes giving Alaba and Dante problems but after Ozil missed the penalty it was embarrassingly one-sided.

    Chezzer getting sent off didn’t help.

    Sanogo decision was baffling. I think to even label him a Championship player would be kind tbh, rate Afobe ahead of him.

  19. Bamford10

    WE

    Blsany was actually being ironic. See his remark that we might have reached this stage — IF we had four or five essential things we don’t have.