Arsenal FC: fighters, tough, resolute, stable, and loyal.
The badge should tell you a lot about the club. Arsenal's players began as workers for The Royal Arsenal, providing the nation's army with the ammunition and armory it needed for war.
Thanks to the hard work of the likes of Herbert Chapman, who brought in Cliff Bastin, Arsenal became a force in English football.
Since then, the make-up of the Arsenal team has pretty much been the same. A few flash players teamed with hard-working, no-nonsense professionals. Even with Wenger this had pretty much been the same until the last few seasons.
Arsene Wenger joined in 1996 and added greater success to the already impressive trophy cabinet. Arsene won the Premier League trophy coupled with the FA Cup. Adding foreign talent to the already existing core English contingent was a masterstroke.
The foreign players learnt a lot from the experienced English talent. Let's not forget, how would they have known how to compete in the most physical league in the world?
Times changed, players got older, and the English players in the squad depleted. The face of Arsenal began to change, but the existing foreign players had learnt from their English seniors about the history and what is needed for success in this league.
You can tell in the way players like Vieira, Toure, Bergkamp, and Henry spoke and applied themselves that they carried the Arsenal spirit. Players like Campbell and Ashley Cole also kept that identity running.
Then a change began to happen.
The football had become something else; free flowing, attack-minded football was the only football Arsenal would play. Players, however, were beginning to leave due to their age or dreams of playing for bigger clubs.
Bergkamp retired; Vieira, Henry, Sol, and Cole left. Edu, Silva, and Lehmann were also allowed to leave. Despite their age, many still believed they could deliver. I am one of those. Sometimes it's not all about youth and ability; experience is also important on and off the field.
Incredibly, that left a 23-year-old Cesc Fabregas to eventually become captain after Gallas didn't do so well.
Suddenly the players in the main squad were young, inexperienced, and mainly foreign. There is nothing wrong with a foreign player, but it did appear that loyalty to Arsenal was not their main agenda.
Flamini, Hleb, Toure, and Adebayor soon followed their predecessors. What was the reason for these players leaving? Toure, once the strongest fighter in the Arsenal shirt, no longer wanted to play for the team in which he was tutored by Sol Campbell.
In my humble opinion, I believe young players need guidance and instruction from senior players. It always helped Arsenal in the past, but now Wenger's new philosophy had taken over.
Not wanting to give anything more than a year extended contract to over 30-year-olds was one problem. Buying players who are weak, inexperienced, and often did the same job was another.
The defence was neglected in favour of the attack. Defence was once the cornerstone of Arsenal, but now it was a by-product. Arsenal also have another problem besides their defence, and that is the goalkeeping situation.
For me, Arsenal's identity has been lost with the kind of players we now have. When your very own captain can't wait to leave you, then there is an underlying problem in that squad.
Who will believe in the team if the captain does not believe?
Arsharvin seemed unimpressed with the lack of star quality and purpose in the team. He is right, but the fact that Wenger can't even keep his players from undermining him is also another worry. Wenger has let his experiment go too far and risks losing the very player on whom he bases his argument.
There is an obvious lack of British spirit in the team. If Wenger decides to buy some quality, premiership-experienced players it would help the squad vastly.
Players like Micah Richards (an Arsenal fan), Scott Parker, or Phil Jagielka can bring more than talent to the squad.
For example, look at the return of Sol Campbell. For me, he showed more passion in the last few months than any other player. Maybe his ability is not as great as it once was, but you can see what he does for the squad off the field. It begs the question, why was he allowed to leave?
Will Wenger show his hand and bring in some experienced British and Premier League made players?
I doubt it.
Wenger has done a lot, but the loss of identity and the lack of loyalty are worrying features of his recent Arsenal squads.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!