Does Wenger actually have a plan as he once more allows Arsenal to enter a season short-handed?

Fail to plan - Plan to fail

Fail to plan – Plan to fail

So, Arsenal are starting another season short-handed. The striker to help Giroud has not been found and AFC are still one centre-back short. Granit Xhaka was brought in immediately after last season ended to ensure season ticket renewals and I don’t think the Club had any concrete plan to fill up the gaps in the squad going forward into this season.

Pre-season seemed to go well for the Club, at least in financial terms, and the win against Manchester City provided a morale boost, even though the match against Viking was, in my opinion, a total waste of time. Losing Per Mertesacker and Gabriel to injury should have forced the Club’s hand into signing an experienced centre-back already, especially with Koscielny likely to miss the first 2 matches due to an extended rest after France’s run to the Final of Euro 2016. Rob Holding may well be an excellent long-term signing for a low fee in today’s transfer market but he has no Premier League experience and will likely have to start on Sunday vs. Liverpool.

All unavaialble

All unavaialble

The Club should have made more of an effort to move Theo Walcott on to another Club. His fall/dive vs. Palace last season to preserve himself for an England spot that, in the end, became non-existent was farcical and I lost all faith in him as a player. I think the one of the reasons the Club have not moved him on is because there was no real plan to bring in a replacement as Arsene Wenger, for some reason unknown to me or most people, still has faith in him to come good. One of the other reasons is that his wage demands may simply be too high for another Club to purchase him given his recent lack of form and long-standing lack of effort, but this would be mitigated by the huge TV deal that is in place for the next couple of seasons. The final reason, and in my opinion the most important one, is that Theo Walcott still does not have the skills to play anywhere well enough to hold down a consistent place. He does not run around, cross well or defend enough for a winger and is not able to hold on to the ball well enough to play consistently as a striker for Arsenal in the current tactical formation laid out by Wenger.

Not good enough in either role

Not good enough in either role

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is another who should have at least gone on loan or possibly been sold. Joel Campbell showed much more productive work rate last season (e.g. not running with his head down but actually looking for team-mates to pass to) even if he didn’t quite have the stamina to last 90 minutes (something I imagine he has worked on in pre-season) and Serge Gnabry is returning to form after a string of injuries (and getting left out consistently by Baseball Cap at West Brom last season while there on loan) with some great performances for Germany at the Rio Olympics. Oxlade-Chamberlain has to improve massively this year, or even the untested Chris Willock may prove to be a better long-term bet for that place.

Not in Pivot

Not in Pivot

I had to laugh with so many calling for Aaron Ramsey to start in central midfield. The 4-0 vs. Southampton proved to me (again) that he does not have the discipline to control the match from midfield in the absence of Santi Cazorla and Ramsey’s errors led to at least 2 of the Southampton goals. If I was Wenger, I’d use Ramsey as a striker, since he loves to score goals and does not like to track back. It’s not feasible to use him as a Number 10 due to the superior presence of Mesut Ozil and he does not work hard enough defensively on the right-wing often enough against the bigger teams. However, in games where the talismanic German is absent, such as the opening fixture vs. Liverpool, Ramsey or Cazorla would get the nod.

Arsenal’s need for a striker is great, with the absence of Giroud due to rest. The options are limited, with only Alexis Sanchez, Akpom and the already-mentioned Walcott available. There seemed to be a complete lack of a plan in signing striker reinforcement, something I cannot fathom as the Club have needed one for several seasons now. Arsenal need to stop waiting for other dominoes to fall correctly into place and just pay the money that the selling clubs want. Alexandre Lacazette could have made a huge difference for Arsenal, yet the Club seems unwilling to match Lyon’s high-but-not-ridiculous valuation.

Is valuation to high?

Is valuation to high?

Antoine Griezmann was always a pipe dream due to his performances in the Euros and Atletico Madrid has no need to sell. I think even Jordan Ayew could have made a difference with his speed (and he’s a better option than Walcott in my opinion, as is a concrete bollard, traffic cone or steel cupboard), but, still, no-one was signed. Plenty of players use Arsenal as a stepping stone to a better contract (e.g. Mahrez, Icardi, and Vardy) and this happened because Arsenal did not make the effort to sign anyone in the first place. Fernando Llorente was available too, for free too if my memory serves, but no effort was made to get him and he joined Swansea. Yes, Llorente has similar attributes to Giroud, but he would have been another capable body up top as a stop-gap until another player was signed and it is unlikely that 2 strikers would start in Wenger’s tactical line-up at the moment anyway.

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The only area where Arsenal is well-sorted is in central midfield. Even with Arteta’s retirement and Rosicky and Flamini leaving the Club, Arsenal still have Elneny, Cazorla, Wilshere, Coquelin and, less a centre midfielder but an option anyway in Ramsey and Granit Xhaka has been added to the mix. Arsenal really need to find a central defender and a striker fast. I cannot see them moving Mathieu Debuchy on due to the injury setback to Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs is still required at left-back as back-up to Nacho Monreal.

In short, Arsenal need to make those signings. Prudence is not required as much anymore, unless there are (as I suspect) some intervening orders coming from Stan Kroenke.

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13 Responses to Does Wenger actually have a plan as he once more allows Arsenal to enter a season short-handed?

  1. PV4 August 14, 2016 at 10:31 am #


  2. crispen August 14, 2016 at 10:52 am #

    Timothy You blame Arsenal for not signing players that the media falsely reports that Arsenal is trying to sign. And even if they try it is just that trying ..a hundred times AW has said there are at least 3 parties involved in any signing, player , buying team and selling team.
    the fact that your suggested solutions are Ayew and Llorente speak volumes about your football… lets fill up the squad with NEW subs..Now that is exactly what we need.

    • Tim Hargreaves August 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm #


      Did you see the part where I said that Llorente could have been a STOP-GAP? That means as soon as AW finds another player to bring in, then Llorente would get moved on? I mentioned him because he would have been free, so only cost would have been wages and no selling club as he was released.

      Jordan Ayew is a promising young player and has performed very well for Ghana on the International stage in 2 AFCON tournaments. He has also been in the Champions League before with Marseille and we could likely have forced Villa into a sale as they would need the funds for rebuilding their squad into one to challenge for the Championship trophy.

      I mentioned those 2 players specifically as they would have been much cheaper options, since it looks like AW has not found a striker to his liking and, while cheap is not perfect, it would have at least meant one more option until the return of Giroud so that Alexis does not get overworked again.

      Also, you might want to check your reading comprehension where I blamed the Club for not signing ANYONE to fill those gaps – I listed players who used agent-generated “interest” from Arsenal to get themselves better contracts, not actual confirmed targets, as AW never tells the media whom he is after anyway. How can the Club be blameless for not signing anyone?!

  3. I.P. from south Africa August 14, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    Wenger’s defense against his constant lack of signings is always that he only adds quality to the team and do not wish to sign just for the sake of new signings. Well this statement every transfer window by him, I suppose, is proved by his signings of Chamack, Bendtner, Squilacci, Kalstrom, Giroud et al. How can a person that talks so much drivel every transfer window have any plan??? He will just repeat every season the same old same old
    rubbish until he eventually leaves of pass away.

  4. Werner August 14, 2016 at 11:15 am #

    Same year. Same story. Every year Wenger does the same thing over and over. Arsenal is the club with the most injuries. The hole world knows it except the manager. That’s why I think Wenger is the biggest idiot as a manager. No ambitioun and no clue what to do. It’s time he moves on. He keeps on moaning about everything. But what does he do about it. Nothin

  5. Mike August 14, 2016 at 11:31 am #

    How ridiculous can you get?!!!

    You’re some complete amateur with a blog and no knowledge of running a football club and AW is one of the most successful managers in the world. Now just ask yourself for a second. Who should I have more faith in………..

    • kene August 14, 2016 at 11:41 am #

      One of the most successful managers that only has 3epl title and no European cup. I bow for your judgement.

    • Tim Hargreaves August 14, 2016 at 1:07 pm #


      Wow. Standard AKB rhetoric there. You might have also noticed that we get INJURIES every single season, and those have scuppered our title chances for the last 5 years. Can you not see a pattern there?

      The best players aren’t really available to Arsenal, as the Club will not compete in wages or transfer fees with the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, etc.. But what the Club CAN do is ensure that gaps in the squad are filled. AW did that very successfully in the past, with players like Gilles Grimandi, Edu, Sylvain Wiltord and Ray Parlour – none of those players could claim to be world-beaters, but they were parts of extremely successful squads at Arsenal, where NO obvious gaps existed. Can you say the same about the current squad?

      Arsenal are going in to the Liverpool game with all 3 centre-backs with any real experience either injured (BFG, Gabriel) or unavailable (Kos). That points to a gap in the squad that needs to be filled. As I said in my blog, Holding may prove to be an excellent addition, but one more experienced man at the back would not be amiss. Take, for example, the 1997-1998 squad. Four experienced centre-backs in Bould, Keown, Adams and Garde – part of a Double-winning squad there (Petit would also have been able to play there but played in midfield next to Vieira). Much of the same for 2001-2002, with Adams, Keown, Upson and Campbell, with Grimandi also able to play at centre-back. Result? Another Double. 2003-2004 – guess what? Keown, Campbell, Cygan and Kolo Toure. Kolo had been at CB since Adams’ retirement, and had 2 years’ worth of experience at centre-back. There’s 3 seasons where having at least 4 experienced centre-backs have pushed the Club to trophies.

      As for the striker position, Giroud can’t do everything by himself. Alexis is a worthy option but he also is a key player for Chile and they never substitute him and he went into last season fatigued – that was obvious from his performances. Walcott has not been good value up top since his injury vs. Sp*rs and Akpom is still raw and did not perform miracles at Hull on loan there last season. Who else is left, with any experience? In the 1997-98 squads, the then-young Anelka was there to bolster Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp, with Chris Wreh as back-up. 2001-2002 was even better, with Henry, Bergkamp, Wiltord and Kanu with Aliadiere in a supporting role with the same main 4 forwards in the Invincibles season augmented by Reyes. Different options are needed for playing different opponents and, at the moment, Arsenal does not have those options, hence there is a gap in the squad that needs to be filled.

      Yes, AW is one of the best managers in the world, but it is baffling to myself and many others how he cannot see or is unwilling to fill the obvious gaps in the squad.

  6. Barbes August 14, 2016 at 11:38 am #

    I think this year has grown worst for Arsenal looking at the current hanky panky games in the transfer Window over the years. The title when down the drain last season mainly because of lack of back up and injuries. The new season is starting on old footing and tactics. Sometime i wonder what will happen to this club in the next few season if Wenger will still be in charge.

  7. kene August 14, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    It is a great waste of time to be an Arsenal supporter right. They just need to change the system. Our biggest problem is that we have directors that aren’t football fan nor lovers. Wenger should have been sacked like 5 seasons ago if we had an abrahimovic in charge.

    • Mike August 16, 2016 at 12:34 am #

      “It is a great waste of time to be an Arsenal supporter”. So it’s only worth it if there’s glory in it for you then? I think you haven’t quite grasped what being a real supporter actually means. Perhaps you’d be better off with one of the Manchester clubs or Chelski.

  8. Mike August 14, 2016 at 11:32 pm #

    Yep. And my personal history goes back to the 1960’s standing on the terraces as a kid but my knowledge of history, players and circumstances does not make me a manager if a football club. A proportion of what you say is reasonable enough but the difference beteween you and me is that I know I don’t have the skills, experience, knowledge and talent to manage a football club…..that is why I don’t pretend to know better than AW….

  9. jay allenby August 16, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

    He obviously does not have a plan. The man has not evolved with the game over the last 10 years. He should be sacked.

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