Arsenal sit 5th in the Premier League after 16 matches, 17 points behind league leaders Manchester City. For a team that has experienced and quality players in almost every position, this is once again very poor. The fans expect more from their team and the blame is once again pointing to the manager, Arsene Wenger. There were chants by the fans outside St Mary’s after the Gunners left it late to salvage a point from Southampton thanks to an Olivier Giroud header.
Arsenal were expected to bounce back after the defeat against Manchester United, but the team has slipped further back in the chase for the Premier League. The squad assembled by Wenger has the quality to challenge for silverware but has failed to live up to expectations. With the likes of Ozil and Sanchez always starting, the team needs to start getting more than they have at the moment from these two key men.
So what are the causes of Arsenal slip in the title race?
Looking at the team, two of the regular starters, or better put, two of the better players in the team, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are running the last year of their contract and it seems one or both will leave come January or the end of the season. Arsene Wenger has to know that no matter how little it might be, the contract debacle is affecting their performance on the field of play, especially Sanchez. The Chilean has been criticized correctly for not playing to his best and always holding on to the ball when he should be releasing to his teammates. Wenger and the board have to make a decision fast about him. Despite Wenger saying he won’t be sold in January, I think if he won’t sign a new deal, he should be sold for a good fee.
The excuse that Arsenal do not have quality players to compete with the likes of City and United is just running away from the real problem. Looking at every starter at Arsenal. At least six to seven will get a starting shirt in any club in the Premier League. The tactical set up of Arsene Wenger’s team has to improve. It is not compulsory that the same lineup should be started in all games, while William Hill football matches today could be the best bet yet in the Premier League this campaign.
Playing three at the back should not be the only option Arsenal. If Wenger wants to stick to this option, he should also know that any player that is not in form should be dropped. Granit Xhaka form has deteriorated and his passing accuracy dropped drastically. Elneny or Wilshere should get a run in his position but Wenger’s pragmatism has made him stick to the Swiss starting all games. Another player whose form has dropped is Hector Bellerin. Mathieu Debuchy should be given a fair chance in the lineup.
The claim is that regardless of form, anyone in the recognised starting eleven will always get the nod on match day have contributed to the result of the team. Competition has to return to Arsenal and Wenger have to sort out is starting eleven if he wants his team to put out performance that is proportionate to the ability of the squad.