Crisis? What crisis?
Prepare yourselves, this might be a long week. Emotive language is being used in connection with Arsenal; ‘cataclysmic’, ‘earthquake’ and those are just from the manager. There is an agenda, it has building for some time. Wenger is perceived as the most vulnerable of the ‘big four’ managers, the weakening of the squad over the summer has served to entrench that outlook. Whether that is the truth or not is unknown. Personally, I don’t think the club will relieve him of his duties this season, if at all. Whether he feels that managing Arsenal is worth the aggravation is another matter.
Whilst the next seven days are important, only one of the two matches is crucial. Fail in northern Italy on Wednesday and it will be the first time that the club participates and fails to qualify for the competition proper since 1991 when George Graham’s talented side were battered on the counter-attack by Benfica at Highbury. Memory does play tricks but Sven Goran Eriksson’s side at that point were not great but they punished Arsenal with Isaias the tormentor in chief. I think he pitched up at Coventry at one point. This was one of the tipping points that steered Graham on a path toward defensive rigidity.
Followed swiftly by the trip to Old Trafford, failure in both games would probably see the biggest crisis driven headlines since lines were drawn in the sand. I fully expect depictions of broken cannons, wally without a brolly headlines as the media creates a mass nervous breakdown, online at least. Hysteria and hysterical. Rumours abound once more that Eden Hazard, Yann M’vila, Phil Jagielka or Gary Cahill will be arriving before the end of the month. So many stories do the rounds that even when the sporting director of Rennes comes out with a statement that M’vila will not be sold this summer, no-one believes him or that he actually made the comment.
It is easy to say that the situation could have been avoided, too simplistic to simply say that all of the business should have been completed before now. Even Samir Nasri’s move to Manchester City, due to be completed this week, has apparently stalled. Threats are now being made by Mancini that playing in the Champions League qualifier would create a ‘big problem‘. With all of their wealth, City’s parsimony is the key reason for this, Champions League football a mere smokescreen. The work of Nasri’s agents is the only reason the deal still exists according to most reports and now City do not want to pay them for this. A salutary warning for Nasri as to what life is going to be like when dealing with the corporate life at Eastlands.
But of all these things together do not sit well, they do not give the feeling that the club is in control. Arsenal cannot control the media stories, especially when the chief columnist at their pet media outlet is one of those pushing the crisis angle. It just sums everything up when Woolnough can bite the hand that feeds and then be asked to come back for more. It is impossible for Arsenal to get good news in sufficient quantity onto the back pages to stem the tide, to slow the apparent descent into oblivion.
So how bad is the current situation? Well, KSE will not have wanted such a bad summer, nor will they want the autumn to be any worse but they may not have any choice. The opening run of fixtures was tough, the scenario of facing Swansea still looking for the first win of the domestic league campaign not that far-fetched an outcome, especially with the form shown in pre-season. Should Wenger be worried? Yes and no.
Saturday’s defeat encapsulated the issues, some which can be solved with a couple of signings. Before the game, nine players were absent, Koscielny made it ten. No matter what transfer business is completed beforehand, ten players being removed from the equation weakens any team. It does need talented and experienced players to step up to the mark. Walcott and Arshavin were subdued too easily by Liverpool, below par is not permitted in these situations.
However, the lack of goals is one which whilst not setting off alarm bells at the moment, is flagging a potential issue: if van Persie doesn’t score, who will? Walcott pitched in with his goal against Udinese but that is it so far. Encouragingly both Frimpong and Nasri shot from distance which might signal a change in mood within the squad. Yet, the chances were not converted when they came and the points went north as a result. That will play on Wenger’s mind and is perhaps one of the reasons for Hazard rumours resurfacing – not that he is a noted goalscorer, more creative.
As I said earlier it is going to be a long week. The mood could be quickly changed if someone arrived ahead of the trip to Old Trafford but it seems unlikely. As is becoming the norm, a late flurry of activity close to the deadline is the likeliest outcome. Let’s hope that signings of Arshavin’s calibre rather than Silvestre’s appear.
Posted on August 22, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip. Bookmark the permalink. 413 Comments.