Last season, we saw Arsenal produce their worst ever league finish (5th) under Frenchman Arsène Wenger. Never did we think we’d see an Arsenal team in the Premier League finish outside of the top four, but last season the impossible became a reality.
With that poor campaign, the ‘WengerOut’ brigade began to make their presence known across the world. Protests were held weekly, and the media were merciless in their assault of the manager, but despite all that, Arsène Wenger persisted in putting pen to paper on a new 2-year deal.
Fast forward 8 months and the Gunners are set to topple last season’s achievements spectacularly. At the time of this article, Arsenal sit 6th in the league, THIRTY-THREE points behind league leaders, Manchester City.
Here’s why Arsenal have failed to make a comeback from last season’s poor finish.
When Arsène Wenger signed a new deal in May, many felt that the Frenchman would use that opportunity to embark on a fresh start and change his spending philosophy. That quest for change started well as the club broke their transfer record by acquiring Alexandre Lacazette, but that’d be the only marquee signing of the window, showing Wenger hadn’t truly evolved, again. So that’s one reason why Arsenal have failed to make a comeback from last season’s poor finish: Wenger’s outdated transfer business. Want another reason? Mismanagement of players.
The truth is, Arsenal have a very talented squad, a squad, in fact, capable of winning the title. But with Arsène Wenger managing those players, they’ve not come close to fulfilling their potential. And how can they when the Frenchman continues to play them out of position, with no protection.
Take for example Ainsley Maitland-Niles; the 20-year-old believes he’s a central midfielder, but instead, he’s been played at LB and RB by his manager. As a secondary example, look at Granit Xhaka, after publicly saying the 25-year-old can’t tackle, he persists in playing him as a defensive midfielder. Where’s the logic?
Many a player in this squad hasn’t fulfilled their potential because of the archaic coaching methods of Arsène Wenger. The boss doesn’t work on individual shortcomings; he instead leaves players to work identify and work on their own weaknesses. Names like Hector Bellerín, Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolašinac, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck have all stagnated under the 68-year-old this season. These are all players that’d look a million bucks under the stewardship of a Pep Guardiola or Zinedine Zidane.
While Arsenal have produced their worst football in the Premier League era, other teams have significantly improved. Tottenham have spectacularly surpassed their North London rivals again, while Manchester United and Liverpool have continued to improve. Meanwhile, Manchester City has blown everyone else out of the water, setting new records as they go.
The only way this can be seen as a mediocre season for the Gunners is if they can win the Europa League. Anything less and this season will be deemed a total failure, a failure that Arsène Wenger must pay the consequences for.