So Freddie Ljungberg joins Thierry Henry as the latest experienced player to leave Arsenal football club. Only Kolo Toure, Gilberto and Jens Lehmann remain from the unbeaten first team. Its pretty clear that Arsene is in the process of a total rebuild and its a very tough job. The redevelopment of the 1998 side to the 2002 side was a gradual transformation. Arsene spent money on players who were well on there way in their career. Lauren, Pires, Wiltord, Gilberto etc were all international quality players when they were signed.
This time circumstances have changed and Wenger has been forced to change his transfer tactics in order to keep the club competitive with the money strong Chelsea and Manchester United.
In 3 short years the first team has changed from:
Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Campbell, Cole, Ljungberg, Vieira, Gilberto, Pires, Bergkamp, Henry
to (give or take a few)
Lehmann, Sagna, Toure, Gallas, Clichy, Hleb, Gilberto, Fabregas, Rosicky, Van Persie, Adebayor/Eduardo
As you can see alot the 'invincible' side were fantastic players in their time. I mean you can't replace the likes of Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry and Pires but I think the key phrase is 'fantastic player in their time' I think only Ashley Cole from that list could have improved under Arsene, the rest of the players had their best years at the club and were trying to get back to that same level which was going to be almost impossible.
This current crop are improving and are on the way up. The positive thing is that they are all playing together and they are learning how to play the Arsenal way. What does practice make?
Alot of people are concerned that this crop of players do not have it in them to win the league. I hear many fans saying 'We need to buy 3-4 top quality stars' but I really do believe that we have a champions league and premiership winning team within this current squad. We may have to be patient but I really do think that the likes of Cesc, Diaby, Rosicky & Van Persie will reach the world class stage at some point in their career and we have alot of top class players like Clichy, Toure, Eboue.
I guess the question is how long are the fans, the board and Arsene Wenger prepared to wait? We have come away empty handed for the last few years and have not found the consistency to challenge Chelsea and Manchester United. I think the board and the manager have patience for wait for success but alot of Arsenal fans are seeing the other big boys spend big money. Even pretenders like Tottenham and West Ham are spending stupid amounts of money on players trying to achieve success.
Well I bet you come the end of the season we will be head and shoulders above Spurs and West Ham because spending money alone does not guarente you anything. Having talent, teamwork and confidence will put you in good stead. We certainally have the talent, Wenger is working on the confidence lets see if we can get the teamwork together.