Why Arsene Wenger needs to figure things out
People were too busy to question Arsene Wenger's shaky start to Arsenal's campaign after their 4-3 win over Leicester last weekend, as everyone celebrated their comeback in the last 10 minutes. But Arsenal was in the spotlight again this weekend as they went down 1-0 to a properly organized Stoke City team, courtesy of a dream debut goal from their new loan signing, Jese Rodriguez.
Stoke have never been easy opponents for any club in the PL ever since the days of Tony Pulis, who made them famous for their rough game under the leadership of Ryan Shawcross. But under Mark Hughes, they've managed to find a tactical edge to their game too. As for Arsenal, they look like a team which is clearly isn't ready to compete at the top, let alone the UEFA
Champions League Europa League.
With Alexis Sanchez still out, Wenger's men lacked the cutting-edge in their game. Sure you could argue that the offside call against Lacazette was harsh. But 40 millimeter or 40 meters, if you're ahead of the last man, the linesman will raise his flag.
One player I was quite interested in was Mesut Ozil. He's a top notch player, I won't deny that. But the man needs to learn that once he loses possession in the final third, it is his duty to track back and help out the defense. Instead, he gets frustrated with himself and doesn't go back. Every world-class player that Arsenal ever had, be it Patrick Viera, Theirry Henry or Denis Bergkamp, was a complete player. All of them were willing to put their body on the line and at the same time swiftly moved into the final third.
This is what makes a complete midfielder in today's game. During the group stages of the UCL last season, Steven Gerrard said that Ozil is the type of player anyone would love to play with. On his day he can play both parts of the game. But right now it doesn't seem like he's into the game. When Arsenal didn't have the ball his movement wasn't near his standard. Not that he did a lot with the ball when he had it. He needs to get his focus on the game and just play with his heart when he's on the field. With so much hype surrounding Ozil and his contract, he needs to shift a gear to prove it to the Arsenal faithful that he deserves a stellar £250,00+ contract.
Arsenal looked complacent with all the possession they had, and Xhaka, who has become an integral part of the Arsenal midfield, lost possession which led to the solitary goal of the game. Alex 'The Ox' Chamberlain looked comfortable in his position of RWB, which meant that Bellerin had to play down the left, which he's never been good at.
A few minutes into the game, it was evident that he was uncomfortable in that position, especially against the pace of Diouf.
During the post match interview, Wenger blamed a sluggish makeshift defense and incorrectly turned down for a penalty and a goal wrongly ruled offside. The way Arsenal got themselves up and running after going a goal down, they probably did deserve a point at the end. But this can't become a recurring theme. Going down, bringing on Olivier Giroud, and hoping that the super sub does his job. This might work against mid-table teams, but you can't pull off a Harry Houdini trick when you're playing away from home against Chelsea or Manchester City.
Arsenal needs to get the Sanchez issue sorted too. It has been clear for some time that he won't sign a new contract unless he gets the price he demands, which for me, seems a bit too much even for a player of his standard. Clearly, the team needs to whether Sanchez will be plying his trade with Arsenal or somewhere this season. Arsenal can take a gamble with him and let him see through his contract, or make good money from him. I mean £75 million for a player who is entering the last year of his contract seems like a very good deal to me.
Wenger had a point regarding the makeshift defense too. When you play two wing backs in a back three, you're calling for trouble. Wing backs usually have an attacking mindset. But playing at center back is a completely different ballgame. The lack of fit center backs and the inexperience of youngsters like Rob Holding is starting to become a problem at the Emirates. If Arsenal decides to play a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 throughout this season, they will need to find a solution to this center back issue.
Arsene Wenger needs to figure out his tactics and get his season up and running. Or else by the end of it, we're going to see a resurgence of the #WengerOut campaign. And who knows. Maybe this season the WengerOut mania will be successful after all.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.