Arsenal Mid-term Review: Where is our Herbert Chapman?
New season, new signings; same old Arsenal.
Every Arsenal fan is now accustomed to being given false hope by glimpses of brilliance by their team. An Arsenal team is expected to play attractive football, but sadly for the manager and chairman, the fans nowadays do expect somewhat more.
From the past 7 years, Wenger has been credited to have built 2-3 solid and completely different teams which could have won the League on their day, and then the Frenchman has also been unceremoniously credited with the departure of key players of that team.
Arsene Wenger, in the good old days, was renowned as one shrewd tactician; but it does not seem to be the case now. Most of his moves – from mere substitutions to reversal of roles for certain players and also his buys in the market, to some extent – seem to defy logic. Certain points in this season and some going back a bit further can be termed as turning points.
The day Yao Gervinho was bought
For this one, one might have to look back at the start of last season when on a fateful day in the summer Arsenal FC paid 11 million pounds for another one of those French league players with a bulging forehead and supposedly Ronaldo-esque feet. Though Arsene has been responsible for unearthing many a French talent in his time, this day will not be mentioned in the glory books.
Gervinho, in one word, has been pathetic since the day of his arrival. All his mazy dribbles and futile races with the fullback to the touchline were deemed as his first season syndrome by the fans; and after seeing another Frenchman Koscienly come good in his 2nd season, Gooners certainly expected more from their ugly duckling.
Apart from the fact that the Ivory Coast man has been just as appalling in his 2nd season, if not worse, Wenger then shifted him into the false 9 role in hopes to replace a certain Dutchman. The only difference being that RVP is one of the best in the world at this position, and Gervinho might just be one of the worst.
The Ivorian always seems confused whether or not to attack the centre backs and is then often seen back at his old position next to the fullback. The only problem in this case is that now he’s supposed to be the central striker and with the absence of any other forward in the XI, the likes of Ramsey and Cazorla tend to drift into the front-man role; now those are the ‘False’ No. 9’s
The day Bryan Ruiz and Berba exposed Arteta’s flaw
When Mikel Arteta was drafted into the Arsenal squad on deadline day, many people mistook him as Cesc’s replacement and there was heavy criticism against Wenger to have made a folly. But here Wenger’s strategy worked well as he paired up Arteta and Song as the destroyer and distributer.
But as has been the case in many previous seasons, FC Barceona ruined Arsenal’s season before it even started. Alex Song was tempted to move to Barca, a club with much more riches, a club with many more talents to compete against, a club that plays in a league dominated by just 2 clubs, and a club that plays in a league with some of the most appalling of defenses.
The departure of Alex Song and Wenger’s resolve not- to- buy- to- replace meant that Mikel Arteta was told to wield the sword as well as shield it. Arteta took up a Song-like position but was instructed to play much more freely rather than roughly. After this worked against the likes of an even worse Liverpool, Wenger praised Arteta as being a complete midfielder who could play anywhere in the middle. How wrong the Frenchman was.
Arteta’s displays from then on have been spineless, if not grotesque. He has been dominated at the centre of the park by the oppositions attack, and his non-existent pace leaves him with only one option of conceding free kicks at dangerous positions.
The day Kieran Gibbs got injured
Wenger sold Gael Clichy last summer saying that Gibbs deserved more playing time, and how right he was. The 21 year old Englishman has been highly impressive in his displays from last season, and has formed an encouraging combination with Podolski on the left.
The game against West Ham in which Arsenal were already winning handsomely saw Gibbs depart with a slight discomfort in his thighs, and Wenger termed it as short term. But as Gibbs missed the next month and a half’s action, Wenger was forced to give Andre Santos a few run-outs at left back.
Andre Santos could easily be called the ‘most unfortunate Brazilian’ footballer. Like any typically Brazilian, Santos tends to attack more than defend, but there are few things that Santos lacks which are a plenty with those of his tribe; pace and skill. Santos might just be the only player in the team who is slower than Mikel Arteta, and this leaves his left back post empty most of the time. This makes Vermaelen to drift there and thus exposing the centre back pairing .
Santos’s other quality, or rather the lack of it, is his unbelievable skill and footwork. Brazilian full backs of the likes of Michel Bastos and Marcelo are often seen leaving players helpless with their dribbling and step-overs, but none of these are on show with Andre Santos. The ‘chubby’ 29 year old tries to display some of these unattainable thrills, but often ends up losing the ball.
In the past week, there have been innumerable calls for Wenger’s head from fans and ex-players alike. Strong rumours of Pep Guardiola’s interest in the Arsenal job are doing rounds. And also, the fact that Arsene Wenger is irreplaceable and can never be sacked, doesn’t seem to hold true now.
Similar was the situation when the legendary Herbert Chapman was about to start his regime at the club. Arsenal then was managed by Leslie Knighton and Sir Henry Norris was the club’s chairman. Norris had kept a wage limit on the player’s salary as $1000, above which Knighton was not allowed to go. Also, another clause was that a player less than 5’8 was not supposed to be brought in; Sounds pretty familiar to Wenger’s system! Chapman was brought in when Knighton was not able to follow the ‘laws’, and the first thing that Chapman did was to break the laws.
Where is our Chapman when we need him now?