Arsenal Football Club - A mess on and off the pitch
- Have Arsenal lost their identity in recent seasons?
Where do we even start? No home win in 10 weeks, 10th in the table, 1 win from 5 games and an interim manager who is begging the hierarchy to make a permanent appointment as soon as possible. The 3-0 loss to Manchester City at home on Sunday was the least surprising result of the Premier League weekend, as Arsenal's misery was compounded in their home turf by the reigning Champions. Such is the state of Arsenal Football Club at the moment, and it does not look like it is going to change anytime in the near future.
The summer transfer window provided us with a small glimpse of what was to come. Unai Emery had initially been handed a quite paltry budget of £40 million in order to steer the Gunners to a place in the Premier League top four, and maybe even challenge for the title, but 4 months on, the Spaniard has been sacked and Arsenal are languishing in 10th place after making their worst start to a top-flight season in 37 years.
What is the root cause for their ongoing struggles? How can a club with the likes of Pierre Emerick-Aubemeyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil be stranded 7 points behind the Champions League places, with the likes of Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of them?
Analyzing the club's summer signings
Nicolas Pepe, Kieran Tierney, Gabriel Martinelli, David Luiz joined the club in the summer as Arsenal spent in the excess of £100 million to compete on all front this season. Aside from the quartet, highly-rated French defender William Saliba also agreed a deal to sign for the club but the youngster was immediately loaned back to Saint-Etienne, to further his development and get regular game time under his belt.
Apart from glimpses of potential from the likes of Tierney and Martinelli, the performances of Pepe and Luiz have embodied the results of the club. While it may seem harsh to judge a player like Pepe so early on in his Arsenal career, given that he is 24 and still adjusting to a new league, one does not part with £70 million for a player who has scored only 1 goal from open play so far in the Premier League. Luiz, on the other hand, was bought for what was thought to be an absolute bargain price of £8 million, but his performances have only brought happiness to his former club Chelsea, who apparently could not wait to get rid of him.
Alongside Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Luiz was expected to provide some much-need stability and defensive solidity, albeit for a short while before Saliba's arrival next summer, but the Brazilian has been underwhelming, to say the least.
Lack of personnel, or deep-rooted issues?
Unfortunately, this is not the most damning of problems faced by Arsenal Football Club. The North London outfit have lacked characters and proven winners for many years but in Lacazette and Aubameyang, Arsenal are blessed with two lethal goalscorers who they are not getting the best out of. The pair are fantastic players in their own right, more specifically the latter, who has been one of the most potent attackers in the country this calendar year, but the Gunners have been guilty of being too reliant on their talisman.
The fact that the team can't realise their full potential despite boasting a fearsome attack underlines the fact that Arsenal are either short-staffed or lack quality in other areas of the pitch. Every club that wants to be successful in the toughest league in the world requires a core group of players, who could be trusted week in and week out regardless of the situation.
Aside from Aubameyang, who has delivered the goods consistently since his move from Germany, Bernd Leno is the only one who can afford to hold his head held high this season. Mesut Ozil has been having problems with the club for more than a year now and cannot seem to convince the manager that he deserves a starting birth, despite being widely regarded as one of the best playmakers of his generation.
The midfield lacks depth and is being held together by a 20-year-old Matteo Guendouzi, accompanied by the likes of Lucas Torreira and former skipper Granit Xhaka, who was stripped off captaincy recently after his angry altercation with the Emirates faithful in the club's 2-2 home draw against Crystal Palace. Much like Tierney, whose first season at the club has been marred by injuries, Hector Bellerin has struggled to shake off his long-standing injury issues, compounding their woes in the full-back position.
Arsenal currently lack structure, characters, leaders, and most importantly a permanent manager at the helm who can guide the club forward. The likes of Marcelino, Carlo Ancelotti, Mikel Arteta and Nuno Espirito Santo have been linked with the job in recent weeks and although Arteta has emerged as a frontrunner, it remains to be seen if the former club captain returns to the Emirates to take over the reins from Freddie Ljungberg, who has failed to impress the Arsenal hierarchy in his short stint at the club.
It is important to understand that Arsenal's issues are deep-rooted and a change in the managerial hot-seat might not necessarily result in an upturn of fortunes for the club. Restoring a sleeping giant is no walk in the park and the Gunners have their work cut out for them in order to return to the glory days of yesteryear.
Published 18 Dec 2019, 02:37 IST