It doesn’t matter what excuses Arsene Wenger uses this time about his direction, finances and ability to make Arsenal a big club again, it’ll all sound like lies. Santi Cazorla isn’t as influential, Jack Wilshere, healthy or not, isn’t the man to change everything and Wenger’s latest experiment at striker, this time with Lukas Podolski, was a miserable failure.
Things were so bad on Saturday afternoon that Swansea looked much more like the team playing inside their home ground. There was no pace, no verve, no enthusiasm in Arsenal’s game. Wenger keeps trying new things, never letting a single idea or formation to settle for more than one match. Constant changes show panic, and it’s like the Arsenal player feel it too.
Gervinho thrust back in the lineup. Theo Walcott, despite not signing a new contract, playing on the right, where he doesn’t really want to feature. Lukas Podolski, not a striker, playing as one nonetheless. Mikel Arteta as ineffectual as he has been for most of the season, with the defensive menace and tenacity you’d like to see from your defensive midfielder, even if he is a converted one.
On the other side, Swansea looked like a trained team, disciplined, patient, who knows how to turn the switch on and off. As Arsenal were desperately trying to find a goal to make someone among the 60,000 fans happy about what he saw, they let another set of defensive errors ruin their day. First it was two central defenders missing out on one of the most basic concepts: One covers, one marks and steps out to meet the attacker. The second was Carl Jenkinson unaware of where he was on the pitch, turning the ball over to Nathan Dyer for another Michu goal.
It seems that we’ve been hearing the next line quite a lot of the last couple of season: Arsenal’s worst start under Arsene Wenger. They’ve now fallen to 10th in the Premier League, with only 21 points from a possible 45. The Champions League is still within reach, only five points away. The title? Manchester United, comeback kings of England, are 15 points in front. Arsenal have won only one match from their last six.
Wenger thought that going to the formula of Podolski and Gervinho, although in a different set up, will bring the goals and results back again. Podolski shouldn’t be playing in the middle and Gervinho, obviously lacking confidence and notion that his manager has any faith in him after a prolonged benching, shouldn’t be playing at all. At the current state, it should be Podolski on the left with Olivier Giroud, as limited as he may be, in the middle, unless Wenger finally wants to give Theo Walcott the chance to play the striker. For now, there doesn’t seem to be a reason for the former wonderkid to remain at the Emirates.
Wenger’s midfield is also a mess. No movement, except for the only enthusiastic player out-there Jack Wilshere. Desire isn’t enough, and his ability isn’t where they need it to be, especially with Cazorla struggling to connect with the young Englishman like he did with his previous partners earlier in the season.
A way out? Arsenal have too many good player to not at least be a few places higher. While their offense is stuck and their defending can be confusing at times, they’re not that bad of a team. But the time of Arsene Wenger is over, he just refuses to acknowledge it. He doesn’t deserve to be sacked mid season, but he hasn’t done anything to deserve another season at the job.