Arsene Wenger Must Retool After Loss to United or Risk Wrecking Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger Must Retool After Loss to United or Risk Wrecking Arsenal
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Arsenal's 2-1 defeat against Manchester United did not result from the latter's superiority in the match. No. Arsenal could not have asked for an easier match, a match that cried to the Gunners, "win me." But instead of heeding the cry, players and manager stopped their ears.

They will prefer to play Europa League football next season like their illustrious rivals—United and City—are poised to do this season. The allure must be too difficult to resist.

Make no mistake, this was always going to be a difficult match for the Gunners, or so I thought when I gave my thoughts in this article ahead of the match. 

"The likely scenario I can predict is a loss," I said in that article, and then continued:

This is not being defeatist, it's only that Arsenal will be unable to field their strongest side, and although United fans can say the same about their team, I think man for man they still seem the stronger side.

While Gooners should not dispense with hope and faith, they should keep the possibility of a defeat in sight. It's a realistic expectation, and facing it beforehand should prove a wise psychological strategy.

I based my projection on the fact that at the time, Thomas Vermaelen seemed poised to miss the match, a fact that appeared to point to Ignasi Miquel being played at the left-back position.

I thought Antonio Valencia would have a field day against him, especially since I anticipated that Andrei Arshavin would be played on the left winger position, a player who is hugely challenged defensively.

Furthermore, I anticipated difficulty in the midfield, owing to Mikel Arteta's unavailability for the match. The importance of Mikel Arteta to the Arsenal midfield, and to the team’s defensive structure as a whole, was underscored in the Swansea City match.

Also, at the time I wrote, Thierry Henry was only a tentative possibility for the match. As it turned out, Arsenal didn't really need him to win this match. 

One other factor that led to my predicting a loss was the Djourou factor.

I have spoken about my lack of faith in Johan Djourou in a past article. Before the Fulham game, I had said he would be targeted, and it happened. I thought Nani would give him a difficult time in this match. As it turned out, he was one of three factors that led to Arsenal's defeat.

The other two factors have to do with Wenger and the team's structure in the match. I expand on these in the following slides.

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