The Downfall (and possible upstart) of the gunners

By Richard Jones

So I figured that I’d begin this blog by listing the several players that I’d get rid of given the chance to take over the mantle and replace Arsene Wenger as manager of Arsenal FC. Then I realised- It would be far easier to list the select few that I’d actually keep. Of the thirty plus players currently in the first team squad, I would personally only persist with; Robin Van Persie, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuelle Frimpong, Thomas Vermaelen, Kieran Gibbs and favourite amongst Scrabble lovers’ Wojciech Szczensy. Thats 8 players. Wow. When I put it into words, even I’m shocked at how few of the players at the club I actually rate. I know it seems like a needlessly scathing assessment of a team I claim to love, but at least it’s an honest one.

If you have happenned to be living under a rock for the past month or so and remain oblivious to the incredulous downfall to Arsenal FC, It’s still easy to see by my thoughts that alot needs changing at the Emirates if Arsenal are ever going to dig themselves out of the crater that they willingly threw themselves into in the first place.

Arsenal’s tale has become a sad one. Since winning the FA cup in 2005 (beating bitter rivals Man United in the final) Arsene Wneger’s side has been in steep decline. We remain trophyless, with loyal fans watching three concurrent seasons seem apparantly promising, only to fall apart at the last minute. Last season, for example, Arsenal were the only team still left in every major competition come February, yet we ended with nothing to show. Results such as 4-4 at Newcastle and 3-3 at home to city rivals Tottenham destroyed our campaign and left our players merely pointing at one another. It kills me to say it- but in recent seasons, we have looked highly average and far, far behind our fiercest competitors.

That saddened analysis, however, goes no way in even begining to explain what went on during the close season. Arsenal’s transfer window began relatively well actually, with the reported £10 million acquisiton of highly rated Gervinho for Lille LOSC. spirits were high. As with most things at Arsenal though, every silver lining has an almighty black cloud lurking in the rear. After Gervinho’s signing, first choice left back Gael Clichy left to direct competitors Manchester City for a measly £5 million. It only got worse. Club captain Cesc Fabregas followed Clichy, joining long term courters FC Barcelona for a reporte fee of £35 million. The state of affairs took another nose dive towards the end of the window when ‘player of the season’ nominated Samir Nasri joined Clichy at Manchester City. Fans eyes welled up at the site of our best players being paraded around by other clubs. Still though, it got worse. Wenger now seemed to have almost £100 million at his disposal to strengthen his squad before the end of the transfer window. Leaving it until literally the last few hours, Arsene was only able to retreive mediocre Andre Santos from Turkish side Fenerbache, Vastly overrated Per Mertesacker from Werder Bremen, Chelsea reject Yossi Benayoun on loan and Everton playmaker Mikel Arteta. Fabregas and Nari were both 24 when they left, with seemingly their best years ahead of them. Their replacements, in the form of Arteta and Benayoun, are 29 and 31 respectively and have long since played their best football. This seasons transfer window then, was far from a prosperous one at the Emirates Stadium.

Results at the start of the season were ever more catastrophical than the club’s off field dealings. Manchester United embarressed Arsenal 8-2 at Old Trafford, Arsenal’s worst league defeat since pre 1900. This was to add to the 2-0 defeat against Liverpool in week 2 of the season. Arsenal were then beaten 4-3 away to Blackburn after poor own goals by Lorent Koscielny and Alexandre Song. After this, Tottenham defeated us 2-0 in the season first North London derby. That was 4 defeats in the opening 7 games of the Barclays Premier League. Title winnig sides consider 4 defeats in an entire season as poor. Arsenal have looked far, far behind their supposed rivals so far.

Perhaps it came as no suprise then that most expected Arsenal to be beaten away to highly rated Marsielle in the Champions League on Wednesday night. In a rare moment of defiance though, Arsenal’s under strength team came out on top in France, with Aaron Ramsey scoring the games’ only goal shortly before the final whistle. A great result for Arsenal at the moment. This fan was ecstatic. I spent 5 minutes on Wednesday night furiously hammering the f5 button on my keyboard after Ramsey’s goal, praying for the BBC to announce that the game had ended and Arsenal had got their much needed win. I tried to Tweet to Ramsey offering congratulations, but perhaps unsuprisingly his page would not load due to the sheer volume of fans  on the site in the same postion as me. After the game Arsene Wenger declared that Arsenal had “turned a corner” and that we would continue improving.

For the first time this season there’s an air of optimisim at Arsenal. Perhaps maybe, just maybe, we have turned said corner and will get better. No fan is expecting trophies’ this season, that ambition was well and truly pounded out of us in the opening games, but some fans are still secretely hoping for a top four finish, scared to jinx it by saying the actual words.

I hope you’re right Arsene, I really hope that the start of the season was a mere blip in the caticalismic upsart of Arsenal’s rise to brilliance. For now thouh, we Gooners just hope that this season won’t see the downfall of the team we love.

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One Response

  1. I’ve got a lot of respect for Arsene Wenger after what he’s achieved in English football, and for his managerial prowess, but is he the right man to take Arsenal forward? So far this season they’ve been rather flat since the departures of Fabregas and Nasri, perhaps new investment would help solve Arsenal’s woes. In all fairness I suppose they’ve improved as of late and that’s evident in the EPL table. Time will tell if they can continue to improve and establish themselves as a dominant PL outfit.

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