Thursday, 8 May 2014

Why Arsenal wouldn't have won the league even without injury woes

Arsene Wenger played it well. He always does play it well. Amid one of the most insulting defeats against the Top 4 clubs (other than Arsenal, of course) and the exacerbating conditions in the away matches of English Premier League for Arsenal which gave rise to excruciating questions and a feeling of intense doubt among Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger once again, politically correct as always – very beautifully veneered away the blames in the shadows of excuses that involved FFP, referee misjudgments and majorly injuries.

When we came out of Christmas, we were in a strong position and what you want then is to have your strong players available in March and April, but we had too many injuries”, said the Frenchman as he looked up at the reporter with his blunt smile as usual, depicting the expressions that are never expected and the answers unprecedented.

Giving excuses is what a manager is good at, but with Arsene Wenger it has become a tradition. In a club as big as Arsenal that ranks fourth in the world in terms of revenues, money is really not as big a problem as it has been portrayed to be. The frugalness and economic spending that has been attached to the club is really not as much as Arsenal’s as it is Arsene’s. Getting the club to a decent position without spending much is what Arsene Wenger is good at, but the word ‘decent’ in Arsenal’s dictionary has been deteriorating year by year.

If we don’t win it (Premier League title) I will take full responsibility."

These words spoken by Arsene Wenger in February 2014 still reverberate in the minds of passionate Gooners as they look up at the Premier League standings, which in a month saw Arsenal sliding to a position which was never even thought of this season. And towards the end of the season, all the words we find out of the mouth of the manager are ‘injuries and injuries’.

So now let’s get deeper into the scenario. Would Arsenal have won the Premier League title if all Arsenal players were fit?

The answer is as simple as it can be. No. 

Arsenal’s major problem this season like every other season has been a face-off against big teams. When the season started well off by defeating teams like Liverpool and Tottenham, people thought that this might just be what Arsenal needed. But in the next few matches Arsenal revealed their Achilles’ heel. The problem was the attack. 

All the teams could potentially judge the fact that Arsenal’s attack is just not good enough even with the help of world-class playmakers such as Cazorla, Ozil and the rest of the army. Even a layman could understand that Arsenal’s frontmen Oilivier Giroud and Nicklas Bandtner were far from able to helping Arsenal to the title. The team with full strength got defeated by Manchester United who were at their worst form in the past 20 years and soon after that a shameful 6-3 defeat at Etihad made situations worse. 

In all these matches, players like Ramsey and Walcott did not prove to be of much help. Reason? Because these players are in the process of being club greats but they still lack the potential of being consistent in every big game. It was clear as day that Arsenal needed a DM like rock, and a prolific striker that could convert the brilliant passes of Cazorla and match the speed of Rosicky.

Would you think that a match against Manchester City, in which Arsenal conceded luckily only 1 goal in the last 10 minutes inspite of City hitting more than 25 shots on target (and still making a total of 6 goals) was ever to be considered an even sided match? Clearly the team was not underperforming; it was incapable of matching the strength of Manchester City even with its full strength. 

Still, somehow other big teams stumbled and Arsenal managed to remain on top till January. But these rankings were a hallucination created which Arsene Wenger couldn’t foresee. While he was too complacent looking just at the then standings, the bigger picture could be seen by many. Teams like Manchester City and Chelsea ranked below Arsenal only because they stumbled in less important matches against weaker teams and they obviously had the potential to come back strong against these teams. On the other hand Arsenal lost to the teams against which it ‘could never win’. This clearly meant that even though Arsenal ranked ahead of the others, it needed reinforcements more than them.

Why then, did Arsene Wenger did not get a replacement of Olivier Giroud/Nicklas Bendtner? Only Wenger knows.

And the result we all know has been ever disappointing - shameful defeat in the hands of Liverpool by 5-1 which saw the first chance of the match missed by Olivier Giroud, and then conceding 5 goals. Wouldn’t the equation be different had Arsenal taken the lead then? 

And how can we forget the match which Wenger would never forget – his 1000th against Chelsea, we all know what happened there. Same old story.

Arsene Wenger might be putting himself off the blame a little too much. The problem is more the attitude than the result. The man is too stubborn to accept mistakes. The ‘You cannot buy class’ thing has gone a little too far with Arsenal. On the other hand, Manchester City, inspite of losing their main striker Kun Aguero are managing to win the title because their bench of forwards are better than Arsenal’s main men upfront, and Manuel Pellegrini has been as quite as ever.

The FA Cup might be a trophy in itself, but it can never be redemption of the insults that Arsenal have endured in the Premier League. And what’s even more disheartening is the latest statement by Arsene Wenger in which he claims to buy a forward but openly states that it would not be a replacement of Olivier Giroud. In short – he assured you all that the main striker will still be Giroud. And the next season if the same thing happens – the answer will also be the same - ‘Injuries’.

-Vib_H (Follow me on Twitter @Vib_Hafc)

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