Arsenal: Why Arsene Wenger Can Salvage the Gunners' 2012/13 Season
There is no more beating around the bush here, no more sweeping this situation under the carpet and hoping you don't trip over it. Arsenal, their players and their manager are in a truly dire situation.
Their worst start to a Premier League season during Wenger's tenure was doubtless, emphasised by an embarrassing late collapse at Fortress Emirates (he says with just a tinge of sarcasm) to an excellent Swansea side, who are exceeding many expectations under Danish football demigod Michael Laudrup in 2012.
In the wake of an apparent dressing down from assistant manager Steve Bould wherein Arsenal's players were heavily criticised, being accused of not taking responsibility and letting the club down, Wenger has an enormous labour ahead of him if he wants to galvanise the morale of both his players and the Arsenal faithful; the numbers of fans calling for Le Professeur's head grow with each passing day.
Many fair-weather fans will have likely already given up all hope for the season. Like in recent years, there are assuredly those who would write off Arsenal as being a presence in bouts for silverware up until about February or March, but then expect them to flounder and fail.
Take last season as a prime example: already too far behind the Manchester clubs in the title race by mid-February, defeats to Sunderland in the FA Cup and AC Milan in the Champions League second round ensured Wenger's men would finish trophyless once more.
That is not to say that it is only fair-weather fans who are calling for Wenger to leave, as well: even those who have bled red and white since even before Wenger's time are among those who unequivocally believe the Frenchman's time is up. Opinions are split; Arsenal fans of all kinds are divided.
However, in this mind, if this is to be Wenger's last season at the club he has become synonymous with, then he will do all he can to better his chances of staying. Le Professeur is not about to go out without a fight.
Absolutely imperative is strengthening the squad in the January transfer window. From some of the world's most exciting goalscoring talents, such as Edinson Cavani of Napoli to Athletic Bilbao's Fernando Llorente, to intriguing defensive prospects like Lille's Mathieu Debuchy, the club have been heavily linked with players from the continent by those who think Wenger needs to make upgrades.
Wenger in or Wenger out?
A secondary task here would be to offload some of Arsenal's players with detrimental wage deals; alas, as is so often pointed out by Bleacher Report users, this is something so much easier said than done. Who would be willing to fork out £65,000 a week for Marouane Chamakh, for example?
Despite Ivan Gazidis' claims that the club he is Chief Executive of is financially comparable to Europe's giant clubs, the squad, and any attempts to improve it, are hampered by poor contracts like Chamakh's and Sebastien Squillaci's, for instance.
Still, Arsenal must find a way to streamline the squad in such a way that ensures competition for places is always relevant, instilling a philosophy wherein no one player is guaranteed to start every game.
While his performances so far in his young Arsenal career have been superb, Santi Cazorla cannot get complacent—he must continue to perform consistently well to lift his teammates. Cazorla's situation is just an example—the would-be shoe in starters must avoid becoming lazy and must fight to appear on every team sheet.
Wenger's defenders ought to stop trading on his former glories; yes, the Frenchman did take the club to the dizzying heights of Premier League and FA Cup success on multiple occasions, as well as through that famous 2006 Champions League campaign that ended with heartbreak in his home nation. But not since Patrick Vieira and Dennis Bergkamp were still in Arsenal shirts has he lifted a trophy.
Instead, he has to use those glories to inspire the cast of characters he has at his disposal in these glum times. Long-serving players like Bacary Sagna and Tomas Rosicky came to the club hoping for trophies but have seen none; it is time for them, with leaders like Thomas Vermaelen, to boost the club upwards.
In many ways, Arsenal have the talent to challenge for the title. Players like Jack Wilshere, Lukas Podolski and Cazorla could feature in any Premier League starting eleven—and that's completely serious. They just need to be revitalised, given a fresh outlook. Bould's influence on the squad could be seen in the stalwart defensive performances and clean sheets of the early season; maybe his influence needs to be felt in other ways too.
Wenger, as a manager, needs to repair his reputation.
Arsenal, as a club, are no longer the fearless Invincibles they once were.
There is a way out of the darkness, a light that never goes out, if I dare quote Morrissey. Whether the light can be found under Wenger is something that divides Arsenal fans, but until it's known whether Wenger is staying or leaving for the foreseeable future, the best thing everyone with Victoria Concordia Crescit in their hearts can do is get behind him.
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