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How Arsenal Can End Their Trophy Wait - But Won't

Definitions play an important role in life. For example, drought – a prolonged shortage – helps to describe Arsenal’s current supply of trophies.Defining success in football isn't easy. For certain clubs, success is surviving in the Premie...

15 Jul 2011, 23:00 IST

Definitions play an important role in life.

For example, drought – a prolonged shortage – helps to describe Arsenal’s current supply of trophies.

Defining success in football isn’t easy.

For certain clubs, success is surviving in the Premier League. For others like Arsenal, expectations are as such that they need to be winning trophies. The aesthetically pleasing football employed by Arsene Wenger is not enough at the moment for a club with a proud tradition of winning.

 The former AC Milan manager, Arrigo Sacchi once said, “if you want to go down in history you don’t just need to win, you have to entertain.”

Arsenal fulfil the entertaining part but lack enough of the winning.

After six years without a trophy, Wenger’s time at Arsenal could be coming to an end unless he revives his wilting side.

Certain things need to happen if there is to be an upsurge in fortunes.

The core of the squad needs to be English. If you look at the teams who have won the Premier League of late, there has been a decent presence of English players amongst the squad. The last time Arsenal won the Premier League, the Englishmen making the key contributions were Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole, Ray Parlour and Martin Keown.

Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Kieran Gibbs are the current crop and experience stands out as something which is lacking in comparison. It is good to have a mainly youthful squad but this has to be balanced with experience. Last year’s Bundesliga Champions Borrussia Dortmund is a good example of how this can work.

Although Wenger’s policy of refusing to put square pegs in round holes and not splashing the cash is admirable, he has to find quality players in certain positions to succeed.  To do this, it might well require some spending. Most importantly, the Gunners need a reliable goalkeeper, something they have been lacking for a while as Almunia and Fabianski proved at times last season. Why no approach for Shay Given, a proven and quality Premier League goalkeeper has been made, is bemusing.

This needs to be followed swiftly with another centre back. Having spent a year getting used to the pace of the Premier League, you’d think Koscielny and Squillaci will be better for it this season. Whether Wenger takes this view and decides to not sign more defensive cover would be a risky strategy.

As much as fans may dislike it, Arsenal need to find an edge. Every great team has a ruthless side to them and this side currently doesn’t have it. Even Barcelona who play tremendous football have a dislikeable side to them. I’m not saying Arsenal need to start play acting by any means, but they’re not winning anything. The Gunners have had a few bruisers in the past with the likes of Patrick Vieira, Martin Keown and Tony Adams. A few more enforcers in their mould would help to give the Gunners that edge, failing that, a stronger mentality is needed.

Finally, a decision has to be made on the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. The squad needs to be settled going into the new season. Keeping both will help the chances immeasurably but they must ensure if either does depart, a replacement of the same calibre is found.

One question remains then – when will Arsenal next win a trophy.

“Maybe next year” is a popular response from many a Gooner.

As a football enthusiast, the heart says soon – it would be a shame to see such play not be rewarded with a trophy. The head says another year of misery, unless Wenger changes tack. If he doesn’t, he may not be the man taking Arsenal forward for much longer.

Either way, it could well be a defining season at the Emirates.

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