Arsenal vs. Swansea: Mediocre Gunners Have Run out of Excuses
As the boos rained down at the Emirates at full time, the situation became truly dire for Arsene Wenger and his increasingly hapless squad.
For years, there has been excuse after excuse for why Arsenal cannot compete with the big boys of English soccer, and finally, fans have had enough. Emirates Stadium, a 60,000-seat palace that is rarely filled to capacity, is usually the biggest argument Wenger and the rest of the club's executives will make when frustrated fans ask why their club has fallen so far from its previous heights.
The move was in 2006. We are on the verge of 2013 and Arsenal has no one to blame but themselves for the cut-rate marketing deals they took to help finance the move away from Highbury, a move that was supposed to help the club compete with the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea.
Instead, it has become a crutch to explain why the club continues to replace world-class players with increasingly lesser talent.
Cesc Fabregas left two summers ago and has just been replaced by Santi Cazorla, a talented player, no doubt, but not in the former's class. Not only that, but now the Spaniard's form has dipped as Arsenal have constantly played him due to a lack of options.
Robin van Persie was replaced with Olivier Giroud, a fine striker, but still not nearly as talented as the Dutchman. Even with the addition of Giroud, there isn't any quality depth behind him, as Marouane Chamakh collects dust and the club had no use for Nicklas Bendtner, who is currently on loan for the second straight year.
If you needed any more proof that Arsenal have run out of ideas, the fact that Gervinho, a player who couldn't find the back of the net with a map, is playing centrally for the club, should be all you need.
Fans are constantly told that the money is there for Wenger to spend, and yet, year after year, the club turns a tidy profit as their chances of competing for the league crown or any silverware at all slowly slips away. It's an insult to people's intelligence, as it has become obvious that CEO Ivan Gazidis is currently happy with charging the highest ticket prices in the league, only to pocket the cash to satisfy the accounting department.
Not only do the club lack ambition in the transfer market, but they have also allowed themselves to be bullied by players, refusing to show any spine at all when a player tries to dictate policy. Fabregas, Samir Nasri, van Persie and Alex Song have all forced their way out in the last two summers alone, all under contract, and all left for hefty transfer fees, only to see the money left unspent.
Who is most to blame for Arsenal's failures?
At some point, Wenger and the club have to put their foot down and send a message. Instead, the script has become all too familiar and Theo Walcott is following it word-for-word. The speedy winger has gotten down to the last year of his contract (not for a lack of trying on Arsenal's part, to give credit where it's due), and it's all but assured that he'll either be sold in January or leave on a free transfer in the summer.
As that saga drags on, right back Bacary Sagna is near the end of his contract and it seems increasingly unlikely he'll be with the club for the long-term. Sagna is one of the most consistent players the club has, and we saw today how much he is needed, as his backup, Carl Jenkinson, made a horrendous error leading to the second Swansea goal.
The young defender tracked back towards midfield with the ball (a staple of the Arsenal attack at this point), and was easily dispossessed, leading to Michu going in on goal for his second of the match. By then, the fire drill at the Emirates was truly on and it became evident the fans have lost all patience with Wenger, Gazidis and the ever-silent owner, Stan Kroenke.
Wenger said after the game that he understands the boos from the crowd after displays like today's, but when he is pressed for answers as to why things haven't changed at the club, answers are few and far between.
All that's left is lip-service, the only thing Arsenal is consistent with these days.
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