April 15, 2012

Gunning For Success

Arsenal became the only Premier League team to go a whole season unbeaten in the 2003/04 campaign, finally settling for a article of 49 games in a row without defeat. And this article also holds another indispensable memory for Arsenal fans, as the 2003/04 season was the last period which complete with The Gunners atop of the table. And with only a solitary Fa Cup to their name in the following season, the North London side are now on course to go 6 years without winning a title. So where has it all gone wrong for the previous 'invincibles'?

Ultimately, one major constraint seems to be limiting the inherent success of The Gunners. Unlike the majority of Premier League sides, Arsenal's ownership is operated as a non-quoted collective wee company, thus meaning that the controlling of club is close-knit. This has allowed Arsenal to be run in an efficient business-like manner, one which saw the side turnover £379.9m in the year ended 31st May 2010, production a profit of £72m. And it is these profit levels that are harming Arsenal's on field credentials. Arsene Wenger has arguably become the greatest expert at establishing his youth stars into first team maestros, as well as seemingly having the ability to move on ageing members of his squad as their careers begin to fade, and it's these attributes that have helped lead to Arsenal's financial success year on year. However, it is these antics that are now causing Arsenal fans to demand the once victorious Frenchman as the impatience grows, with concern to the lack of silverware currently displayed in the Arsenal trophy room. Wenger's managerial ability is now being questioned more than ever, with regards to both his transfer course and the mentality installed amongst his players.

Of course, no-one knows the real basic scenario apart from Mr Wenger and the Arsenal board with regards to the current situation. It has become facilely presumed that Wenger constantly has a healthy bank equilibrium ready at his dispense in order to improve the Arsenal team, and with every transfer window that passes, fans and critics alike demand as to why Arsenal were not strengthened in the manner required. However, are these funds nothing else but available? Shareholder's former target is to maximise wealth, which only comes about with increased profits, and these profits aren't likely to growth if they allowed Wenger to spend £30m on an established top ability player rather than £3m on a inherent youth star. On the other hand, funds may be available; any way another enterprise model of risk and repaymen may be the infer as to why funds have been scarcely spent. The Frenchman obviously has the ability to assert Arsenal as a top 4 side on a 'budget', thus ensuring that he can keep the board happy by maintaining Arsenal as one of the biggest clubs in the League, as well as ensuring that the board are happy due to the financial side of the business. If Wenger was to spend money, and Arsenal failed to build upon their current position, then the risk of cutting the board's profit share won't outweigh the lack marginal success missed out upon. Pessimists may feel that if Wenger was to splash the cash, then Arsenal may be thought about favourites for a number of titles, any way as seen with City over the last two years, spending money doesn't certify success instantly, and with Wenger's reputation beginning to sink amongst the Arsenal faithful, an unsuccessful season after a summer of spending may be the final nail in the coffin on his glorious Arsenal career. So if this is the case, you can partly understand the logical thinking behind the Arsenal set-up, despite his risk adverse nature.

At the end of the day though, we are unlikely to know the full extent of Wenger's money situation and transfer course until an official statement is made by Wenger or the club, and until this moment, Arsenal fans should admire the job that the Frenchman has done over the 15 years that he has been at the helm. If the Arsenal board were nothing else but that keen to cut their personal wealth over success for the club, then nothing else but they would have dismissed the Frenchman and employed a risk seeking owner such as Mourinho whom has not been afraid to spend the cash when it has been available. I feel that their commitment towards Wenger highlights the basic mentality of their existence. And in the contemporary climate where football clubs are falling into management left, right and centre, you can again understand the logic in terms of the board trying to sustain Arsenal as a long term success, rather than a club such as Chelsea or City, whom would both come unstuck if their associated parties jumped ship along with the funds that are nothing else but running the club.

As stated above though, it has become clear over the last few seasons that Arsenal wish a number of additions if they are to truly threaten for the title. Thomas Vermaelen made a huge impression in his debut season, and added some much needed stability and composure to the side. His absence this campaign has been apparent, as Arsenal's back line have been at fault on a number of occasions while the season, costing them indispensable points. However, even his return to the side may still leave Arsenal short at the back. Djourou has come on leaps and bounds this campaign, any way the Frenchman doesn't appear to have the inherent to make it as a real top class centre half, and likewise with his fellow Frenchman Koscielny, whose inexperience at the top level has been facilely apparent in his debut season. An ideal candidate for the role would be Borussia Dortmund centre half Mats Hummels. At 22, the defender has fullness of years left at the top of his game, and his undoubted talent has been on show all season as he played a pivotal role in helping Dortmund fetch The Bundesliga title. The German has the rough edge required alongside Vermaelen, whilst still being technically astute.

In the middle of the park, similarly to Djourou, Alex Song has matured into an foremost player for Arsenal this season. However, the mentality and self-discipline of the defensive midfielder has to be questioned, as the 24 year old has ordinarily been caught out of position as he bombards up the field, thus leaving Arsenal exposed to a counter attack. On top of this, the Cameroonian lacks any real leadership qualities. This is an issue that stretches across the whole team, due to the youthful nature of the side, and is an undoubted infer as to why Arsenal appear to 'choke' when the players are required to stand up and be counted for. An ideal candidate for the role would be West Ham talisman Scott Parker. The midfielder has shown all throughout the 2010/11 campaign that he has the intelligence and ability to make foremost contributions to matches, and this was recognised when he was awarded with the writer's player of the year award. The Englishman would add the much needed discipline, palpate and leadership that Arsenal have been severely lacking for some time, and he would make an instant impact in tightening up the youngsters.

Up top, Arsenal lack consistency. The main man, Robin Van Persie, appears to be made of glass, and it is becoming increasingly common for the Dutchman to be on the side-lines. Nicklas Bendtner has proven time and time again that he does not have the ability to be part of a title winning side, Russian Andrei Arshavin appears to have lost interest in the game and Theo Walcott can still appear as raw as he was when he first arrived at The Emirates. And it's these issues that can leave Arsenal struggling on occasions, as they play neat passing football with no end product. There are two key players that would fit abruptly into Arsenal's system, whom it is likely would make an instant impact. Eden Hazard has openly spoken about his admiration of Wenger's style of football, and the wing wizard could generate a deadly combination with Samir Nasri. The Belgian has the speed, trickery and intelligence in order to replace Walcott and Arshavin, and at 20, the playmaker has years left at the top of his game. Fc Porto have had a very impressive season, which has partly been down to the form of front man Radamel Falcao. The Columbian has notched 39 goals so far for Porto, with an impressive ratio of a goal every 1.25 games, and this can be put down to his clinical finishing, impressive heading ability and his fabulous insight of the game. He can offer both a strong and agile front line, production him an ideal focal point for attacks. Given the level of aid ready at Arsenal, there can be no doubt that the 25 year old would have any issues seeing the back of the net.

And on top of these areas, Clichy's form appears to be going downhill, and could perhaps be a weak link within the future, and despite the emergence of Wojciech Szcz√Ą™sny, Arsenal have been constantly criticised with regards to their goalkeeping situation. Even without funding from the board, it could be argued that Wenger has the chance to sign the above players by offloading some of the deadwood currently at The Emirates. The likes of Bendtner, Eboue, Almunia and Rosicky, amongst many more, could all be sold in order to fund the transfers of the required match winners. One thing can be inevitable though, if Wenger fails to improve the beginning 11 while the summer, there will be even more added pressure upon position from the fans and media if they fail to accomplish their inherent in the 2011/12 campaign.

Gunning For Success

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