Arsenal: The Season It All Unravels For Wenger?

A summer of transfer uncertainty and the possibility of a stronger Spurs has left Arsenal in a precarious position. Philip Cornwall wonders if it's time for Wenger...

Last Updated: 13/08/13 at 13:35 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Football People On TV: Paul Scholes

25 comments

It's a sad thing to say, but Scholesy suffers from just being a bit plain, from not having the analysis of Neville or anger of Keane. He is Lowry's idea of a pundit...

F365's Foreign Managers Quiz - Questions

Post comment

With the stampede for Jurgen Klopp in full flow - how much do you remember about foreign managers in the Premier League?

All Articles

LAST SEASON

Premier League 4th FA Cup fifth round League Cup quarter-finals Champions League last 16

Manager Arsene Wenger (since September 1996) Odds on being first out of his job 33-1 (13th=)

Players in Yaya Sanogo (Auxerre, free)

Players out Vito Mannone (Sunderland, £1.5m), Denilson (Sao Paulo, free), Andrey Arshavin (Zenit, free), Marouane Chamakh (Crystal Palace, free), Andre Santos (Flamengo, undisc), Sebastien Squillaci (Bastia, free), Johan Djourou (Hamburg, loan), Francis Coquelin (Freiburg, loan)

Club turnover in 2011-12 £245m (4th)

Handicap betting to win Premier League +9 points (4th)

It is a tedious saga generally but there is something satisfyingly contrary about Arsene Wenger's pursuit of Luis Suarez. Truly, the Liverpool striker is not the big-money signing most Arsenal fans have dreamed of down the years, either in his personality or in the fact that he may well not arrive. The manager wants to spend £40m on a player whose ability is too often eclipsed by his other actions and whose club seem unwilling to play by the perceived rules.

John W Henry's comments about Fernando Torres in October 2010 before a January 2011 sale have been highlighted, but three weeks are not three months and the chances of a ready-made replacement being found for Suarez are slim. In addition, when it came to the selling of Torres the price Chelsea paid was Andy Carroll plus £15m; Carroll's unfulfilling Anfield stay has just come to a permanent end and Henry may well consider it best to avoid a repetition of such a last-minute purchase. A deal for Suarez remains possible but whatever Arsenal paid there would be a price for Henry's credibility and it is narrowly odds-on that the Uruguayan will still be a Liverpool player on 3 September. If this proves the case then that £40m (plus a quid) may have been burning a hole in Wenger's pocket.

There is the move for Bayern Munich's Luiz Gustavo, but a £14m defensive midfielder does not whet the appetite like a big-money striker. This is especially so at a club that lost a superb goalscorer last summer, in Robin van Persie, then watched him win the championship. Theo Walcott enjoyed his most prolific season, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski also reached double figures, but now that Arsenal are reaping the rewards of their new stadium and fresh commercial deals they have to be replacing Van Persie more directly.

It could easily be worse for Arsenal. At least they are in the Champions League qualifiers, they do have that assumed allure (it could all look very different if Fenerbahce win on and off the pitch), after Tottenham fell just short of fourth. But that makes it all the more puzzling they have gone after a troublesome and potentially unattainable striker rather than one more available and reliable. Big spending is not always a success - Andrey Arshavin left by the back door in the summer after never quite living up to the £15m price tag - but Wenger succeeded last summer with Santi Cazorla and Arsenal should be bringing in a player of that calibre every single summer.

On the plus side, Jack Wilshere is fit at time of going to press, but every rival has had a more active window and so have many of the sides that Arsenal must beat lower down the table. This could all change in the next couple of weeks - or Wenger could be made to change.

In 2011 Wenger had a deadline day splurge on Mikel Arteta, Per Mertesacker and Andre Santos in the wake of the 8-2 at Old Trafford. This year, Arsenal play Tottenham on the eve of the window closing. Any defeat, not just a heavy one, will be alarming, especially if Spurs have kept hold of Gareth Bale.

Arsenal kick off against Aston Villa at 3pm on a Saturday, before travelling to Fulham for a televised game. In each midweek they face Fenerbahce, in a tricky looking Champions League qualifier with an off-field complication, as the Turkish side have been thrown out of the competition by UEFA over match-fixing but reinstated temporarily. Their final appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which gave them a temporary injunction, is due a couple of days after the second leg and on the eve of the group draw. If Arsenal lose then they may get a reprieve but it is a murky situation.

Gooners want some clarity. In the immediate future they want a striker signed, they want qualification for the group stages and they want a plain indication of continued superiority over Tottenham, all by September 3. That is all possible and individually maybe even probable, but as a treble it looks unlikely. In the longer run they want to end the incomprehensible trophy drought. But there are times when Wenger seems determined not to give them what they want and if Daniel Levy successfully stands firm up the other end of north London then there is every possibility that this could be the season it really unravels for the Frenchman.

Philip Cornwall

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

A

nd we always will love Ozil. I don't really mind if no other team can see just how brilliant he is, or if people think he is rubbish, because we know he is far from it. He is a fantastic player, and if people cannot see that it can only be a good thing, in that he will be at Arsenal for years to come, pulling the strings from behind a glass veil.

ganachus
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

I

like the list and Ozil in particular does seem under appreciated when you look at his stats (an odd thing considering his fee or maybe because of it). Palace have a few and I've always thought Dwight Gayle at Palace was under rated, certainly when you look at his goals per game ratio. You can probably also add Ryan Bertrand at Saints who should be in the England team in my view.

sensiblepoolfan
F365's Top Ten Unheralded Players Of The Season

N

ew Shaun Wright Phillips, there I've said it. If any club offers stupid money we'd be stupid to say no, he's not a potential worldie by any stretch and I feel that after a few years warming the bench at city or Chelsea he'll be back at QPR smoking sheesha pipes under Harry Redknapp.

uncle monty
Sterling Case For Leaving 'Bigger' Club

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Real Madrid without Karim Benzema for crunch Champions League clash

Real Madrid will be without striker Karim Benzema for Wednesday's Champions League clash against Atletico Madrid.

Lionel Messi can stay at Barcelona until he retires, says president

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says Lionel Messi can stay at the club until the day he decides to quit football.

Liverpool stay silent on rumours Jordan Henderson has signed five-year contract at club

Liverpool have declined to comment on reports midfielder Jordan Henderson has signed a new five-year deal at the club.

Mail Box

Brendan Rodgers Deserves Another Season...

"I am not bashing Chelsea, however..." The Mailbox takes aim at Jose Mourinho once again and under-fire Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers "deserves another season".

Klopp Over Rodgers? Not On Your Nelly

Liverpool fans have short memories and should give Rodgers more time, while Jose's tactics and claims are getting many more in a stew. It's the afternoon Mailbox...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company