A thousand games as a manager of a top flight football club is a fantastic achievement. One that Arsene Wenger should rightly be applauded for.
He should be feted for revolutionising a team famed for grinding out ‘boring’ 1-0 victories. He should be applauded for introducing training and nutritional methods that helped to extend the careers of the famous back four he inherited.
He should be complimented for moulding and inspiring a team to go an entire season unbeaten in the Premier League football era. It is right that Wenger is heralded for these past glories.
Successes that now, in the light of some abysmal recent performances, seem as if they were a lifetime ago. Because, sadly in recent years the Wenger magic dust has not quite had the transformative affect required to turn his team into winners. Players capable of delivering a performance required to win a trophy or the league.
For this team embarrassed Wenger on Saturday at Stamford Bridge.
They embarrassed a club which, up until recently, was famed for having die-hard players willing to do what was needed to win silverware. More importantly, they let down the fans who are once again being asked to pay more money for a season ticket.
You wonder what thoughts would have gone through Wenger’s mind as he sat through his thousandth game managing Arsenal, watching his current side ship six goals. Perhaps he was reflecting on past glories of days gone by when Chelsea players feared Arsenal sides made up of prolific footballing talents and World Cup winners.
Because with exception of the odd Cygan and Stepanov calamitous types, Wenger’s past Arsenal teams were a perfect blend of physically imposing henchmen and fabulous flair players, all with a knack for clinical finishing, courageous intelligent defending, great footballing vision and precision passing.
The majority tall, powerful and pacey, a few were shorter, but most were technically gifted, highly competitive and utterly ruthless in attack and defence.
Perhaps this is where the problem lies. That Wenger abandoned his winning formula based on pace, power, athleticism and precision and replaced it with a soft centred tiki-taka, pass them to death approach. Methods more suited to La Liga rather than the fiery physicality of the Premier League.
As a result his most recent Arsenal incarnations have often resembled delicate shrinking violets, particularly when faced with physically competitive quality opponents in the shape of Chelsea, Man City, and Liverpool.
They have frequently been found wanting, lacking the requisite collective mental and physical edge needed to see off the opposition. They have too often this season, been bested in dramatic fashion by their top four domestic competitors. Perhaps there are too many footballing passengers in this team hoping a few fellow players will carry them to a win.
Some fans and pundits have criticised Wenger for being stuck in his ways. But perhaps he should revert back to his previous winning model of power and precision and abandon this feint-hearted tika-tika football experiment. Perhaps he should build a new team based on his previous proven winning formula of power, speed, clinical finishing and defending and in addition to the possession and triangular passing football he craves.
The fact Wenger crafted teams with powerful, pacey technical players and turned them into trophy winners (11 between 1997 and 2005) means that he is certainly not a specialist in failure, far from it.
Mourinho may have Champion’s league and domestic medals, but he’s yet to take Chelsea through a Premier League season unbeaten despite Abramovich’s millions. Only Arsenal's Special One has managed to accomplish that managerial feat so far.
Should Wenger decide to sign another contract, perhaps it should coincide with a decision to abandon this lightweight tiki-taka style and return to a proven winning formula. A formula focused on technically gifted pacey attackers and skillful midfield bruisers and defensive power houses.
It may mean that certain players will spend more time on the bench. It may mean average or under-performing players may move on.
But if it means Arsenal start winning more games against the so-called top teams and winning trophies, then so be it. If it means we see Wenger once again become the manager who accepts nothing less than world class performances on the pitch, then so be it. If it means that players who regularly deliver mediocre or below par performances decide to go, then so be it.
There should be competition across the board so no first team player is allowed to rest on his laurels. No one wants to see another mauling at Stamford Bridge or anywhere else unless it's Arsenal players running riot.
On a positive note, I gather Arsenal Ladies under-17 team beat Chelsea 5-1. Good on them.
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