Tony Adams. Patrick Vieira. Thierry Henry. Robin Van Persie – All experienced, driven Arsenal leaders during Arsene Wenger’s reign who took command when the Gunners needed to be dug out of a hole.
Jack Wilshere dug Wenger’s current Arsenal side out of a hole on Wednesday night with an inspiring man of the match performance and clinical late finish to dispatchSwansea out of the FA Cup, but he was unable to repeat his heroics yesterday afternoon at Stamford Bridge where his team lost 2 – 1 to London rivals Chelsea, in spite of a second half fight back.
In an interview given to Sky Sports prior to yesterday’s match, Wilshere admitted that he sees himself as a leader on the pitch at the Emirates. At the age of only 21 and having just recovered from a serious and lengthy injury, Wilshere should not be carrying the pressure of being the catalyst for Arsenal’s performances on his shoulders at such a crucial development stage in his young career.
Since Arsenal last won a trophy – in 2005 – the constant narrative surrounding the club is Wenger’s over-reliance on youngsters and his failure to add more experienced personnel to the squad to support them. This oversight needs to be corrected during the current transfer window more than ever before – Arsenal have collected their lowest points tally for this stage of the season under Wenger’s tutelage and look increasingly unlikely to finish in the Champions League spots for the first time since his appointment in 1996.
Sky Sports co-commentator Niall Quinn yesterday afternoon described Arsenal as “brittle” while pundit Gary Neville claimed that in recent seasons, Manchester United have been well aware of the Gunners’ “soft centre” which he and his team-mates attempted to exploit during matches against them. Arsene Wenger himself even confessed in an interview prior to the Stamford Bridge match-up that his team need to be “more physical and aggressive”. Yet, based upon Arsenal’s performance so far this season, many of their supporters will be unconvinced that their current crop of players are capable of demonstrating a ruthless streak which could be argued Arsenal have been missing since the 2003/04 season of “The Invincibles”.
Arsenal have yet to dip their hands into their seemingly deep pockets this January, although were strongly linked with a move for Napoli Striker Edison Cavani last week as Arsene Wenger admitted his interest in the player during a press conference. Uruguayan Cavani has scored 65 goals in two and a half seasons for the Serie A club and was recently voted as the 20th best player in the world by FourFourTwo magazine.
With summer signings Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud largely misfiring, having only amassed 12 league goals between them since their arrival, Edison Cavani could be the ideal candidate to ease the burden on young Jack Wilshere as Arsenal mount a challenge for a top 4 spot.
The Mazy Run