Progress? Maybe not
By Ian Henry
After the reverse at Southampton
In the build-up to the Southampton match Arsene Wenger described last seasonís defeat at Southampton, in which the team capitulated weakly and our then first choice goalkeeper played his last league game for us, as a turning point. Things got better after that defeat, apparently. Fast forward just under a year later and we witness another capitulation at Southampton. This followed an excellent win over Man City, and with Leicester having lost earlier in the day, we had the chance to go top in this most unpredictable of seasons. A gimme surely as we are up against a Southampton side with just one point from the previous 15 and on the end of a public dressing down from their manager. When Arsenal announced an unchanged team the implicit message from the BT Sport commentators was the match should be a formality and Arsenal would climb to their rightful place at the top of the table. After all, we are now (or rather were before the game) the favourites for the title.
As we saw, things turned out rather differently; our esteemed editor has reviewed the match so I wonít comment on the 90 minutes on the south coast. Rather letís focus on the squad and what ought to happen in January. And to start with, letís ask an obvious question - why does Arsene Wenger, an intelligent man, handicap himself from the start of the season? Team are allowed a 25-man squad (of players over 21 years of age), yet we started the season with just 22 squad places filled (Chambers and Bellerin donít count as they are under 21). So we start we three fewer players than we could have done, but in reality we start with 19 because Wilshere, Rosicky and Welbeck are out with long term injuries. And, if I remember rightly, Arteta and Debuchy started the season barely fit, while Flamini and Campbell were only still at the club because the club could not move them on. So the 19 becomes 15 core players over 21 years of age. And now we have Cazorla and Coquelin out with long term injuries, Alexis having suffered a setback and, quite probably, Ozil in the red zone, will soon suffer an enforced absence (I hope not but I wouldnít be surprised).
Why on earth does the club permit this situation to arise? Why doesnít the club not play to the rules, and fill the squad? Itís not as though we donít have the money and itís not as though the club didnít know it had players who have poor injury records. Mystifying, utterly mystifying; and nonsensical. Yet despite the unnecessarily weak squad, we are second; however, does anyone of you reading this who thinks Arsene knows best not think that the team could benefit from another three players being signed before the season started, or even now?
Having beaten Man City, and despite having lost four games, this remains arguably our best chance of winning the league for many seasons. But if we donít see a strengthening of the squad in January, and at the start of the month, not on the 31st, then as with last season, defeat at Southampton could well be the turning point, only this time in the wrong direction.
27th December 2015
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
mbg 14:38pm 27th Dec 2015
In the build up to the Southampton match this old past it manager did what he has been doing for the last eight nine seasons and will continue to do until sent packing back to France, talk shyte, and when the game finished and just like all the others, humiliations, embarrassments, and all that went with them continued to do it. wenger out. - Post No. 85932
Bard 17:43pm 27th Dec 2015
Some very good questions indeed Ian. In all the subterfuge and spin that emanates from Wenger and the club you could be forgiven for thinking they would indeed be able to answer your questions. Sadly as you havent worked a day in football you wont get a coherent answer. The only reason I can come up with is we try to do things on a shoestring, cutting corners wherever possible. I have posted many times before it is complete spin that the club are remotely interested in trying to win anything. As long as we are there or thereabouts and stadium is full at least theoretically and we produce the odd good run that keeps the fans hoping that is good enough. - Post No. 85948
Rob 12:11pm 28th Dec 2015
Hammer ! Head of Nail ! Bosch ! Well said Ian. That's as clear a summation as anyone could ask for. - Post No. 85970
15th January 2017
Online Ed: Arsenal win comfortably at Swansea