With Arsene Wenger having signed a new three year contract at Arsenal at the end of the season, here are some key issues for him to address before the start of the new campaign, in order to improve upon this seasons FA Cup triumph…
This is a difficult one because without Wenger’s faith, players like Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Wojciech Szczesny and Kieran Gibbs would not be the players they are now. No-one wants Wenger to lose this faith and foresight in handling young talent but at the same time, he needs to realise which of the current crop aren’t up to scratch, and look to move them on. The alternative would be to follow the path taken by other big teams where so few young players ever get a sustained first-team chance, regardless of how promising they are, because of a manager’s concern with the next result.
The issue for Wenger, however, has been that it is possible to take this faith too far. Philippe Senderos, Nicklas Bendtner and Manuel Almunia are examples of players who were indulged beyond a point at which it was clear they were not quite good enough. It will now be interesting to see how Wenger now deals with Yaya Sanogo, a striker who hasn’t scored a single goal in eight appearances. Wenger must be ruthless over these next three years.
Preparation & Medical Set-up
Many have blamed the team’s failure to maintain their Premier League title challenge on injuries to key players and it is clear that the final table would have looked very different had Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil not missed long periods of the season through injury. Alex Oxlade-Chamblerlain, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby were other potentially important players who were injured for sizeable parts of the season.
Injuries happen to all teams, but no other side has lost more ‘days to injury’ than Arsenal over the past five years. Theories to explain this include: the training methods, A style of football that invites dangerous tackles and even a transfer policy favouring technically gifted but maybe more fragile players. The answer clearly requires detailed and expert analysis and could be a combination of reasons, but as Arsenal discovered this season, improving this will be utterly crucial to the club’s chances of winning more silverware next season.
Adapt and Evolve
Wenger was rightly acclaimed as a visionary when he arrived in England. His methods, particularly in the physical preparation of players, have since been followed but sometimes also taken forward by his rivals. Wenger’s stubbornness is no secret and in order to keep up with the opposition Wenger needs to be open to new ideas, advice and help from outside experts.
Also, this is likely to be his final three years at the club, so Wenger should maybe begin to start planning for the future and putting in structures to support the new manager to create a seamless transition into a new era. Something Manchester United struggled with in their appointment of David Moyes
Not only are these cringey, they are also incredibly unprofessional. If I’m not allowed to take my phone out while working , then a Premier League footballer like Wojciech Szczesny shouldn’t be allowed to take his out on the pitch. It wouldn’t happen on Brendan Rodgers’ watch at Liverpool, nor any of the other top four sides for that matter. To become Premier League Champions, we have to have the mentality and behave like Champions, not kids.
A common critique of Arsenal is that they lack leaders, big personalities and players with the dressing-room authority to inspire their team-mates in the most important games. Arsenal used to have the likes of Tony Adams, Sol Campbell and Patrick Vieira. Now, club captain Thomas Vermaelen can’t get into the side.
Mikel Arteta has been a brilliant vice-captain and role model but is not likely to be at the club much longer as he is already 32. Jack Wilshere remains a long-term candidate for the captaincy but is also uncertain of his starting place and his constant tantrums and injury problems would raise a question mark over his suitability at this current moment in time. This would leave just two candidates left.
Per Mertesacker now has the look of Arsenal’s on-field leader, after struggling to adapt to the physical, fast paced nature of the Premier League, and should arguably be given the armband from next season. However, Aaron Ramsey has led by example and become Arsenal’s talisman, with the teams performances dipping when he was out of the team and improving again when he returned. He highlighted his amazing season with the winning goal in the FA Cup Final. However, he is likely to need more than one good season before being given the responsibility of wearing the armband.