Boys Will Be Boys: The Arsenal Story




Arsene Wenger - Arsenal

Arsene Wenger – Arsenal

If ever the phrase ‘flatter to deceive’ were applied to football, it would be tagged first and foremost to the latest in a string of disappointing seasons that Arsenal have experienced. This season began only too well, with Arsenal fans hoping that this would be their year. And it was all going well till the second leg of their Champions League fixture against Barcelona. That was where their proverbial ‘spirit’ seemed to break and they never really recovered, going from serious title contenders to fourth place in ten games flat. It was a feeling Arsenal fans have only grown too familiar with. And with Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri seemingly on their way out of the club, Arsenal may have yet some more pain left to endure.

But, one asks oneself, how can a team which outshone Barcelona at the Emirates, have failed to win a trophy in 6 years, in spite of playing such wonderful flowing football at times? In fact, as a neutral fan, many would pick an Arsenal vs Barcelona game as their favourite to watch, in any of the recent seasons. So, what is going horribly wrong? Arsene Wenger relays half the answer, when he talks about what his team lacked this season, “The nerves to get over the line.”

“When we were under pressure we conceded some unbelievable goals – against Liverpool, against Bolton. They were decisive moments where we were not strong enough to deal with pressure.”

While it is true that Arsenal have crumbled on big occasions, one must not forget the underlying cause. While injecting youth into the system is a wonderful quality, one must be able to do it to perfection, a la Pep Guardiola or Sir Alex Ferguson. For every Jack Wilshere discovered, Arsenal have always had a Denilson who has been unable to handle the pressure or had enough of a performance to merit a place in the Arsenal first team. And while seemingly irrelevant, it is precisely this atmosphere in the club which has lost them the winning mentality and the clinical finishing prowess of the Thierry Henry era. Even Robin Van Persie admits, “Every year it always goes wrong in an identical way and that is frustrating. When you look at results in the last years, then Arsenal shouldn’t be talking about winning the league because too many times things have gone wrong.” It is perhaps unfair that a man who scored 18 goals in just 19 league starts should be made to endure such long spells without a winner’s medal, but such has been the philosophy of Arsene Wenger. And it would still be an acceptable philosophy if Arsene managed to hold on to all the club’s valuable players instead of deciding to cash in on them. One wonders, if Arsenal had a solid back four, instead of the newly bought in and rotated Squillaci, Koscielny and Djorou, how different the season could have been. Add to this a Gael Clichy who wants to leave the club and an inexperienced Szcezcsny between the sticks and you have a recipe for disaster. Sure, Vermaelen is back. But new problems are developing. And if Barcelona and Manchester United manage to poach their prized targets, Arsenal could well have to get rid of Arsene Wenger and look to their owners to splash some cash in order to regain some of the lost respect in the eyes of their opponents. Otherwise, boys will be boys, and nobody respects boys. Do they?

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