Arsenal: 10 Things That Must Change After Recent Setbacks

Matthew CelentanoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2012

Arsenal: 10 Things That Must Change After Recent Setbacks

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    Wednesday was a bad day for Arsenal supporters.

    After months of anticipation for this mouth-watering clash at the San Siro, Gooners were utterly disappointed to see 90 minutes of a pure nightmare. And that's really what the match was—it was a nightmare for the North London outfit.

    So, immediately after the 4-0 mauling, questions were asked about Arsenal—lots of questions.

    What's needed to revitalize our defense? Is Theo Walcott good enough? Do we have enough creativity in midfield? Did Arsene Wenger get his tactics completely wrong? (Well, the answer to that last one is an outright yes.)

    This has been one of the roughest seasons for Arsenal in years, so here are 10 things that must change following their "worst night in Europe" in the 4-0 loss to AC Milan.

Bring in a New Defensive Coach

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    It's become apparent to me that Arsenal need more than just a good centre-back or two to bolster their defense.

    If you actually look at the Gunners' preferred back line, there's really nothing wrong with it.

    At right-back is Bacary Sagna, one of the best in his position in the world.

    The preferred centre-backs would be Thomas Vermaelen, Arsenal's best defender, and Laurent Koscielny, the master of anticipation who seems to improve every match.

    At left-back is either Andre Santos of Kieran Gibbs, two players who can certainly improve on defense but are sound on attack.

    So, then, what's the problem? Why do Arsenal need a guy like Christopher Samba or Jan Vertonghen when the back four are already solid defenders individually? While either of those players would be nice, I don't think they're the key to fixing the Gunners' defense.

    Arsenal need a new defensive coach entirely. The defenders' biggest trouble right now is simply organizing themselves and communicating with each other, so my proposed solution is to bring in someone who's a proven expert at defending, someone who can share his knowledge to Arsenal's defense.

    Hint: he's the man in the picture...

No More Injury Risks

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    When Francis Coquelin hobbled off with a hamstring injury after just 10 minutes of action against Sunderland, Arsenal supporters couldn't help but blame the Arsenal physios.

    Coquelin has suffered recurring hamstring problems this season, and it probably wasn't such a good call on the Arsenal physios part to give the promising young talent the go-ahead for Saturday's match.

    The risk is extremely high, as Arsenal are now missing yet another defender ahead of their North London derby on Sunday.

    The Gunners simply can't afford any more injuries, so the physios must be cautious when deciding whether or not someone is fit enough to play.

Give the Ox a Permanent Starting Place

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    Believe it or not, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could be Arsenal's best player at the moment (behind this guy, of course).

    Sure, he scored an own goal to seal Arsenal's FA Cup fate on Saturday, but honestly, I didn't mind that.

    He's made up for that unfortunate owl goal with brilliant performances week in and week out.

    The 18-year-old is so productive on attack, cutting in on the wings and either delivering a good ball or shooting himself.

    In my opinion, he's currently miles ahead of Walcott (ironically), with less pace but a much better footballing brain and a better finish.

    I dont think I'm the only Arsenal supporter who thinks the squad would very much benefit from the Ox starting ahead of Walcott, Ramsey or Rosicky.

Get Rid of the Deadwood

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    Arsenal are currently a club with a ton of deadwood players on whom they'd be much better offer just cashing in.

    As a prime example, I'll use Sebastien Squillaci.

    Signed last summer in order to bring experience and defensive prowess to the squad, the French centre-back has instead brought nothing to the Emirates—if anything, he's made Arsenal worse with his countless defensive errors.

    The Gunners would be making the right decision by just selling Squillaci and replacing him with a more capable backup defender.

    Like I said, Squillaci isn't the only deadwood in the squad. Hopefully Wenger will clear out the useless players in his squad this summer, replacing them with proven quality.

Put Aaron Ramsey in a More Holding Role

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    After impressing at the beginning of the season, Aaron Ramsey's talent now seems to be going to waste.

    He's been playing in the attacking midfielder role in front of Mikel Arteta and Alex Song, but the position just doesn't seem to suit Ramsey.

    It seems like he'd be much better off playing more as a holding midfielder next to Alex Song, with Mikel Arteta playing in front of the two as the attacking midfielder.

    Feel free to leave your thoughts on this one in the comments, as it's based on opinion, but a change in position could very well revitalize Ramsey's season after a few anonymous performances. 

Win the Next Three Premier League Matches

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    This one is a lot easier said than done.

    Nonetheless, it's crucial.

    Arsenal's next three league matches are against Spurs, Liverpool and Newcastle.

    While the North London derby is always a must-win simply because of the pride at stake, there's much more on the line now.

    A win would take Arsenal within seven points of Spurs in third place, and the Gunners desperately need the three points in order to retain their fourth-place spot.

    Arsenal should also see this match as an opportunity to spark a late resurgence and gain ground on their North London rivals.

    The following two matches are absolutely crucial if Arsenal want to prove that they deserve a Champions League spot. Both Liverpool and Newcastle are serious top-four contenders as well, so losses could easily see the Gunners slide down the table, while wins will establish the Gunners as favourites for a top-four finish and give them some breathing space from their competitors.

    This is crunch time for Arsenal.

Beat AC Milan

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    I'll admit it—Arsenal are out of the Champions League.

    Sure, it's not impossible to beat AC Milan 4-0 at the Emirates and then send the match to extra time and penalties, but does anyone seriously see this kind of upset against the Italian champions?

    But that doesn't mean the return leg against AC Milan isn't important.

    This is a match that will come right in the middle of the crunch time that I mentioned in the previous slide, and it's a match that Arsenal can certainly win. 4-0? No. But 2-1? Maybe.

    A win here could give the Gunners tons of confidence to go on a winning run in the Premier League.

Don't Let Two Bad Results Turn into a Slump

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    When Arsenal get into a slump, they have a tough time getting out.

    But right now, they're not in a slump.

    Sure, they crashed out of two cups within four days and are now unofficially going trophy-less for a seventh straight season, but it's still just two bad matches.

    Before those poor results, they were putting together a good run in the league, winning 7-1 before completing a remarkable comeback against who else but Sunderland.

    Arsenal are still in the coveted fourth place in the Premier League, and winning the next few matches will see them become favourites to stay there.

    Please Arsenal, no slump.

Extend Robin Van Persie's Contract

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    One of the scariest things an Arsenal supporter can do is picture their club without Robin van Persie—it gives me shudders.

    Not only is he their best player and the top scorer in the Premier League, but he's also the face of the club.

    He's Arsenal's superstar, and without him the Gunners are just a club with a world-class manager and a bunch of good, but not superstar, players.

    Sure, they've got a few brilliant players like Alex Song and Jack Wilshere, but Van Persie is currently one of the most dangerous players in the world and the spearhead of Arsenal's attack.

    Everyone affiliated with Arsenal Football Club is crossing their fingers that the Flying Dutchman will sign a contract extension with the North London outfit, but it could very well come down to Arsene Wenger's activity in the transfer market this summer, which I'll address in the next slide.

Spend Money!

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    More than anything, something that needs to change this summer is Arsene Wenger's stubbornness in the transfer market.

    There's no doubt that it's held back the club—just look at the players Arsenal were linked to this summer that they easily could've bought.

    There's Juan Mata, Chelsea's best player this season and one of the best midfielders in the league.

    Then, of course, there's Scott Parker, Spurs' midfield engine this season who probably could've been signed for just 10 million pounds.

    And let's not forget Jose Enrique, the left-back who Liverpool snapped up for just 5 million pounds, arguably the best left-back in the Premier League so far this season.

    Arsene Wenger simply can't let this happen again in the Summer Transfer Window. He needs to spend money in order to prevent Arsenal from enduring an even worse season than the current one, as well as to convince Robin van Persie that the club has enough talent to win trophies.

    No more French Ligue 2 prospects, Arsene. We need players who can deliver now.