Wenger will “win title in three years”, Coral ask what is needed?
Arsene Wenger has claimed that Arsenal, odds-on at 4/7 with Coral to finish in the top four this term, will win the Premier League within the next three years, before his current contract expires in 2017.
Their FA Cup success last season brought their first trophy for nine years, which many thought would act as a catalyst in pushing for the title this term.
However, it seems not even the Gunners were prepared for Chelsea’s summer transfer plans, or even for what would follow. Jose Mourinho’s Blues are unbeaten in all competitions, and Arsenal currently trail their London rivals by 13 points in the Premier League.
Wenger acknowledged the underwhelming opening to the season. “Of course. We have not started very well, but we never had the squad together since the start of the season,” he said. “It was a post World Cup start typically.
“I think we have what is requested to do it [win the title]. We have to fight like mad now to come back as much as possible to show that we can compete in every single game.”
Having spent £77m this summer on new players, slightly more than Chelsea, it was hoped that Arsenal would at least still be challenging for top spot at this stage of the campaign.
However, for once, new signings have generally sparkled; Alexis Sanchez has been a revelation and Danny Welbeck is repaying the faith that the club showed in him. Even youngster Calum Chambers, while having made the odd mistake, has showed plenty of ability.
It is hard to pin failings this season down to just one thing. The same old problems still seem to exist. Defensive frailties, lack of discipline and no obvious leaders, who are not afraid to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
So, if Arsenal are to win the Premier League in the next three years, what exactly do they need and how are they going to rectify things?
Change of approach
It is widely believed that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.
By that then, the vast majority of us are arguably insane, so does this apply to Wenger too? Granted, he revolutionised football, introducing this ‘pass and move, possession’ style of play to English football, and initially was successful due to it.
However, his unwillingness to adapt caused Arsenal to endure their longest trophy drought in recent times. Pep Guardiola won everything while at Barcelona, playing a unique ‘tika-taka’ brand of football, though when switching to Bayern Munich, following a year out, he recognised that a different style was needed; a more direct approach, mixing aesthetics with strength and lightning counter-attacking.
Players at Arsenal have been allowed to do what they want at the club for far too long, and this clearly affects their mindset, both on and off the field. While Wenger believes in a laid-back management style, clubs that have won the Premier League in recent seasons have had disciplinarians in charge who have a regimented routine.
Undoubtedly, the biggest of all time, Sir Alex Ferguson constantly enforced discipline within Manchester United, which saw them win multiple trophies. Roberto Mancini, Carlo Ancelotti and Manuel Pellegrini have won the Premier League with a stricter, more-structured attitude, and arguably the best of them all, who will go onto challenge Fergie’s record, Mourinho takes it to another level.
If Arsenal are to win the league again, this could well be the most important factor of all.
Rounded transfer policy
Too often has Wenger concentrated on plugging gaps in the team that he doesn’t need to. For years, Arsenal have been crying out for a midfield general, though it has always been the manager’s insistence that the right player has never been available. Rewind nearly 12 months, and Arsenal could have signed Nemanja Matic, who was identified by then former club Chelsea, and has since been brought back and become one of the best engine room anchormen in the Premier League.
Selling ex-club captain Thomas Vermaelen this summer is a decision that stumped even the generic football fan. It has been in defence where Arsenal have struggled this season, with both Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny injured at the same time, and left back Nacho Monreal having to fill in at centre back, plus 19-year-old rookie right back Chambers.
There have been mentions of World Cup-winning centre half Mats Hummels being linked to Arsenal, and someone of his quality would without a doubt improve the team. The Gunners, though, have seen top players opt to join the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich in recent years, but the captures of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil may well have made an impression on future top transfer targets that could now be persuaded to the Emirates.
The retirement of Pat Rice had a huge effect on the Gunners briefly, though the promotion of former defender Steve Bould, from the youth set-up to assistant manager, helped to shore up Arsenal’s defence. The Gunners need more of this influence from ex-players who were successful at the club.
With Thierry Henry set to leave New York Red Bulls, a move back to his beloved Arsenal as a striker coach could be fitting, while Robert Pires could be tempted from the Indian Super League, with the season soon set to finish. Bringing both into the coaching fold, will only help to develop players further.