Why This Arsenal Side Isn’t As Good As Previous Ones.

I’m sure you all saw the game. It was dire, boring and finished with a shocking conclusion which, for the first time ever, lead to me simply clicking the ‘x’ on the tab which contained the stream to my beloved Arsenal and closing myself off to the anarchy which would invade Twitter in the coming hours.

There was a lack in tempo for much of the match, little movement or interchange from any of the players and what seemed to be a serious lack of desire to win. So why is this particular Arsenal side so lacking in creativity? Well, I’m not saying I know more than Arsene Wenger, but the lack of goalscoring chances created in comparison with the 2010/2011 season, all the way back to the start of the Wenger era, has to be down to the change in the style of players brought in by Arsene Wenger.

The current midfield is based on a trio of players who are very capable of keeping possession. They should find it fairly easy to be creating enough chances for us to win football matches. However, it’s not happening. Mikel Arteta isn’t showing form anything like what he produced last season, which is affecting our build up play due to the fact that he looks sluggish in his speed of thought and in his agility, something which often costs us possession or he now tends to simply passing sideways without any real purpose. Now, this may be down to him having to adapt to an entirely new position, or tiredness as is the case Santi Cazorla, but should they really be tired at this point in the season? We’re only in December after all and as Arsenal fans we’re more used to this kind of thing happening in March than halfway through the campaign. However, we were witnesses of a less sincere version of ‘ slow start to the season syndrome’ occur last season, one that has reared it’s ugly head yet again.

'We want our Arsene back!'

‘We want our Arsene back!’

The reality is that we look far less creative than we did in previous seasons, and in my opinion that’s down to our wingers. Of course, last year we had the genius of a certain striker called Robin van … oh, errm I forget his name … anyway he decided to jump ship, but if you look at our wide players in times gone by, we had the creative talents of Robert Pires, Marc Overmars, Freddie Ljungberg, Alex Hleb, Andrey Arshavin when he was on form, and hell, even Samir Nasri to admire and watch in awe as they caressed the ball with ease, created chance after chance and still chipped in with the goals at times. When you look at our direct front three against Swansea of Gervinho, Podolski and Walcott, you can probably see why there’s such a lack of creativity, seeing as in the past we relied on our wingers so much to create chances.

None of these guys are the creative types who will look to slide in a through pass like a knife through butter, and all of their preferred positions are strikers, if you like, they are all ‘number 9s’ in a way.  With the exception of Theo, the three aforementioned have all looked pretty ordinary in recent games. I don’t want to criticise him too early in his Arsenal career but for me, Lukas Podolski isn’t showing enough of his ability. Apart from his finishing which has for the most part been clinical, he looks lacking technically and his passing isn’t what I’d expect from a player of his quality. We saw yesterday that he went completely missing for most of the game, and it was no surprise to me when he was taken off.

Gervinho on the other hand is a complete enigma, he works extremely hard in almost every game but I’m afraid he just doesn’t have enough talent to play for Arsenal. Yes, he can beat a man with ease, but his hesitation, lack of decision making and what seems to be incompetence when passing or shooting is something which means he is unlikely to make it as a successful Arsenal player.

Arsene Wenger needs to look seriously in the January transfer window at a number of quality players to bring in, a task I wouldn’t begrudge him of due to the difficulty in signing players half-way through the season. Contrary to what many people think on the possible return of Henry, I wouldn’t mind bringing him in. He would help to galvanise the team but without the recruitment of others on top of his loan, his signing would not be enough to help us climb back up the table into a respectable position.

It is imperative that we sign a creative wide man, a defensive midfielder willing to do little more than win the ball back and move it on to our more creative players such as Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere, and a striker who will not only score goals but also help create chances for his team-mates. Of course, this kind of striker is not easy to find so it’s lucky I’m not the Arsenal manager, but it would help the team fluidity and challenge those players who think that they don’t have to put a shift in to get a place in the starting line-up. For what it’s worth, I don’t actually think Wenger is doing enough to motivate the team, and for the first time most of the players look like they’re not playing for him, something which is clearly a recipe for disaster.

If we’re going to play possession based football then there needs to be far more movement off the ball, more interchange between midfielders and wingers, and overall, more shots on goal, something which for the meantime will  could make up for our inability to create goals out of nothing. With three direct players in the starting front three, possession football is something which does not really suit our attack and therefore we might as well look to play more long passes into space behind the opposition defence.

The reality is that we need to find players good enough to play for an Arsenal side fighting for the top four. Players who are better than the ones we already have. We do have funds in the January window estimated to be at around £40m, however, signing direct players who lack technique simply doesn’t work for a side who like to keep possession and rely on it to help create chances. Hopefully we’ll see a return to the Arsenal we know and love very soon, otherwise we’ll be saying goodbye to the infamous coveted ‘trophy’ of Champions League qualification.

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Leave a comment


  1. Ja

     /  December 2, 2012

    Some good thoughts here, I liken Gervinho to Glenn Helder, a desperate last hurrah from each respective manager to add spark to a stale team, to replace quality lost. Will it end the same way for Wenger that it did for Graham?

    • I hope not, he’s probably the right man for the job but he needs the funds available to make this team compete again.

  2. owens

     /  December 2, 2012

    Well said,..sincerely wenger is losing it..

  3. To be frank why wouldnt d team play poor when our so called manager keeps on playin tactics or formation dat is nt workin 4 d team,opponents find it easy to mark out d players due to 1 dimension play wenger keeps playin every match.we fans keep on insisting wenger and board should buy player,wat is d use having fast players in d squad dat wenger can nt play 4-4-2 formation,more attacking and fast play formation than keepin possession withov no result.u said podoski was lost in d match,i dont blame podoski,why play just podoski alone upfront when he is closely marked by d central backs.wenger is really getting d tactics and formation wrong,lets look at manu,they have van persie and rooney as d attacker upfront while young and valencia support,man city do have aguero and tevez or dzeko as attackers upfront while nasri and silva supports.lets look at wenger selection-szyn-sagna,mert,thomas,gibbs(defence),Arteta,wilshere(dmf,amf),podoski,cazorla,walcot,(attack/winger,amf,attacker/winger)giroud(attacker).To me a total wrong selection of play.cazorla positioning is totally wrong,lets look at silva and cazorla,they play similarly bt mancini will never play silva behind aguero or dzeko.cazorla should be played on d wing,allowing giroud or podoski play behind d striker.lets look at manu,scholes will never play behind van persie,dat is why rooney is always behind van persie.wenger should restructure his tactics and formation to suit d players nt to suit himself.wat is wrong playin 4-4-2 wit dis selection-szyn-jenk,mert,thomas,gibbs(defence),gerv,cazorla,arteta,ox(midfield),giroud and walcot(attackers) or play 4-1-3-2 formation-szyn-jenk,mert,thomas,gibbs(defence)arteta(dmf)gerv,cazorla,podoski(midfield)giroud and walcot(attackers). Or play 4-2-3-1-szyn-jenk,mert,thomas,gibbs(defence),cazorla,arteta(amf,dmf),podosk,walcot,gerv(mid attackers),giroud.

  4. My fellow arsenal fans,have u all nt noticed wenger only plays 1 dimension tactics and formation to d end of d match,even though d tactics and formation is nt working.which match did wenger change d tactics or formation during play to 4-4-2 to secure winning 4 us,when we are desperately looking 4 goals.wengers decision making during matches very poor,how can a coach wait til 70mins to change a player when we are desperately looking 4 a goal or win.wenger just sits there waiting 4 a magic from d players when they keep on passing d ball allover d pitch,just having possession without no result.Arsenal played and won better when playin with 4-4-2 formation,wenger just erased d formation and started playing formation dat have stop arsenal from winning trophies.To be candid,if wenger is to buy players in january,it will still be the same thing becos of d formation wenger is playin in arsenal.lets look at everton,they dont have a large squad bt david moyes prefer to play 4-4-2 formation dat suits d players.mr wenger needs to go back to 4-4-2 formation dat won arsenal silverwares,d 4-2-3-1 formation is just nt working,open ur eyes wenger.

  5. Twivil

     /  December 2, 2012

    Arteta and Cazorla are the worst CMids Arsenal have had for decades. They can’t pass and move. There is no link play and zero forward momentum. As if that is not bad enough- when did you EVER see Podolski, Gerv or Wally interchanging and linking the way our sides did 6 years ago? Jack, Rambo, Rosicky and the Ox in the engine room please with Caz and Wally up top. Let’s get some proper closing down, some drive and some proper movement off the ball. Let’s get back to the mid noughties.

  6. goonerdave66

     /  December 4, 2012

    Can’t argue with most of that James my boy. Well thought out and written. Time for some brave decisions and if you are correct placing Santi out wide on left where Nasri was may be the first of them. Until Diaby fit move Jack into CAM, Mikel back where he was and Coq coms in?

    • James Cook

       /  December 4, 2012

      Thanks man, yeah I think that’s all we can do at the moment. Problem is that I don’t think Coquelin is quite ready yet and I’m not sure Mikel and Ramsey works as a pivot.

      – Sent from my HTC –

  7. erinkitola olalere

     /  December 18, 2012

    i want arsene wenger 2 sign 2 strengthen our team in january he should try as much as possible 2 sign a quality player i beg u sir


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