And so it begins: the season is barely five minutes old, but Arsenal have already lost to Stoke and the ‘Wenger Out brigade’ are in full force. May’s FA Cup final victory is seemingly a distant memory and mutiny abounds after a thoroughly predictable defeat in the Potteries. This was a huge dollop of classic Arsenal in the second half of Arsene Wenger’s tenure, a maddening blend of abysmal defending, wasteful finishing and endless frustration. Already questions are being asked of the board’s decision to award Wenger a new two-year contract this summer and the Frenchman is under serious pressure.
Did Arsenal fans really think this season would be any different? The Gunners ended up fifth last season, the worst league finish in Wenger’s 21-year tenure, and they have not done enough in the transfer market to make up the gap on the teams above them. Alexandre Lacazette looks a better option up front than anything Arsenal had, while Sead Kolasinac is a decent workhorse to bolster the defence, but it is not enough. Not nearly enough.
Arsenal’s problem has never been scoring goals. Conceding far too many has been their Achilles’ heel and that was the case once again last season. Wenger hoped a switch to three at the back had put paid to such problems. It hasn’t. Arsenal shipped three goals in their season opener against Leicester, but got out of jail due to their forwards’ efficiency in front of goal and pulled off a 4-3 win. But against a stubborn Stoke side the forwards could not break through and the defence was shambolic. Saido Berahino and Jese Rodriguez strolled through the Arsenal backline and the Spaniard slotted in with consummate ease.
True, Arsenal were denied a goal that looked onside and should have had at least one penalty, but they simply were not good enough in any department. The defending was dreadful. Playing two left backs at centre back and a right back as left wing back was a simply baffling tactical decision from Wenger. The players do not look comfortable in the slightest with this three at the back system and Wenger may well be persuaded to abandon it and write it off as a failed experiment if results do not improve.
Mesut Ozil was anonymous again, poor going forwards and infuriatingly unwilling to track back and help out the defence. The German is a luxury player and Arsenal cannot afford to carry him right now. Granit Xhaka was horribly wasteful in possession and once again Arsenal conceded as a result of his misplaced pass. Neither he nor Aaron Ramsey can put a foot in and Arsenal really lacked bite in the centre of the park. Danny Welbeck continues to display a complete aversion to putting the ball in the back of the net when presented with decent chances.
This is clearly a team that needs a lot of work, and Wenger has failed to act once again in the transfer window. The return of Alexis Sanchez would improve matters, but he might not be at The Emirates come the end of the transfer window. Arsenal clearly needs a centre back, a holding midfielder and a winger, and fans can only pray that Wenger finally acts. The club has been linked with all manner of stars throughout the summer, but arrivals have not been forthcoming.
Right now Arsenal are a huge long shot to win the league. Make sure to review odds and research bet365 before placing action and you will see that the Gunners have gone all the way out to 14/1 to win the title following their collapse at the Bet365 Stadium. Few will fancy taking those odds right now as Man Utd and Chelsea look far more interesting options. Get your chequebook out pronto, Wenger.