The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Firing blanks

Thousand of Arsenal fans across the globe (me included) must be scratching their heads in sheer frustration wondering what’s happening to the club in the current Premiership season.

They have managed only seven points from seven games, are a mere two points above the relegation zone, and have played their eighth successive away game without a win.

Is this the club that earned the nickname of “The Invincibles” a few seasons ago when they went 49 league matches unbeaten?

Where are those glory days of Denis Bergkamp, Ian Wright, and Theirry Henry, when Arsenal could rip the stoutest of defences to shreds? Where are the days when a midfield patrolled by Paul Merson, Patrick Vieira, Ray Parlour and David Platt created openings for the forward line to exploit? Where are the days when the back four consisting of, amongst others, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon, offered an impenetrable wall that blunted most attacks, and, if rarely breached, had a David Seaman in goal to provide the final protection?

The current Arsenal squad leaks goals with an unfailing regularity that is alarming (16 goals in seven league matches), if not shocking.

“When I first came to Arsenal, I realized the back four were all university graduates in the art of defending. As for Tony Adams, I consider him to be a doctor of defence. He is simply outstanding,” said manager Arsene Wenger some years ago.

As an English writer put it, “The current crop have a couple of GCSEs between them.”

The forward line has been firing blanks, too, squandering the chances that have been created for them by a yet hard working midfield.

No surprise that Arsene Wenger is frustrated, however hard he might try to conceal this.

The club has not fully utilized the transfer window to buy big name players and has, instead, relied on the players that have come through the Youth Academy.

Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri have made their exit, and while players such as Theo Walcott have the legs, the fluidity visible in the midfield does not convert those opportunities up front.

The Gunners performed brilliantly for several years after Arsene Wenger took over as Manager in 1996, and finished in either first or second place in the league in eight of Wenger’s first eleven seasons at the club. It has been a sad decline, by the club’s lofty standards, ever since, though the club did well enough to qualify for the Champions League even in 2011.

Questions are now being asked about how much longer Wenger will continue even if the owner of the club declared his confidence and announced that the Wenger would leave only when he chose to and nothing else.

Wenger is a purist, and has always maintained that his club plays attractive and technically pleasing football. He has handled criticism well, and, as an English sports writer recently penned, adopts the approach befitting of Rudyard Kipling’s most famous work: “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but then make allowance for their doubting too…”

However, it has been an ominously poor start – the worst in 58 years – and even the otherwise confident Wenger has conceded that the club’s Premiership title ambitions are over.

The question is whether Arsenal will do well enough to qualify for the Champions League. It appears to be a long shot right now, going by recent performances.

The Gunners have not gained a major trophy since the 2005 FA Cup. The current season, bar a miracle, threatens to leave the cupboard bare once again.

That’s a pity.

 

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October 6, 2011 - Posted by | About this and that, Football | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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