Arsenal: We're Stuck In A Vicious Cycle Of Which Wenger Is Fronting The Blame

A demoralising defeat to Blackburn Rovers wouldn't have boosted the confidence of the squad one iota ahead of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, but Arsenal's lack of continuity is evident and it's slowing beginning to kill us.
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A demoralising defeat to Blackburn Rovers wouldn't have boosted the confidence of the squad one iota ahead of Bayern Munich on Tuesday, but Arsenal's lack of continuity is evident and it's slowing beginning to kill us.

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It all seems too familiar for Arsenal fans. So familiar that the first line has probably been used to death in articles about the Gunners in recent years, but it's difficult to offer a unique take on something that just keeps repeating itself. Signs of promise, chance at glory, inevitable failure.

The question, though, is why it keeps happening. The blame has mainly gone to Arsene Wenger, with fans suggesting that he can no longer motivate players, or sign adequate ones, or devise suitable tactics.

Two common themes of Wenger's best sides - those that he put together himself - has been that the core has been together for a while, and they've produced scintillating attacking football. Take the 'Invincibles' - Henry, Bergkamp, Pires, Ljungberg and others had been playing together for years, and thus knew each other well.

Then there was the class of 2007/08 - Hleb, Fabregas, Adebayor, Van Persie and Rosicky had been together for a while, and this nucleus saw Arsenal produce some fantastic football and a firm challenge for the title.

Even the quartet of Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie and Walcott had threatened to bring home a trophy having formed a fantastic connection over the 2010/11 season. However, the first three left for different reasons, leaving Walcott as the only one left.

Now look at the Arsenal side - Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski were brought into to offset the departure of Van Persie, and have been adjusting to their team-mates ever since. They've shown very bright signs of having adapted - the football Arsenal played in the 5-1 against West Ham earlier showed that the first choice side had gelled to some extent.

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However, against Blackburn, Giroud played in front of Gervinho, Rosicky and Oxlade-Chamberlain, rather than Cazorla, Podolski and Walcott, three players who are used to him and vice versa. The trio supporting him on Saturday did not seem to know his game at all, with his various flick-ons, which would usually find a player on the same wavelength, amounting to nothing.

Individually, Arsenal's players were certainly good enough to beat Blackburn - as is often the case after the Gunners slump to another depressing defeat. It seems that a lot of the players are still strangers to one another; things may have improved on that front with the first team, but it appears that the fringe players are still woefully unfamiliar with each other. You would be forgiven for thinking that Rosicky and Giroud had never played together.

Arsenal are a team that rely on high tempo attacking play, and thus require the forward players to know each other well and to be able to combine spontaneously. If the players don't know one another well enough to do that, then the forward play is disjointed. That even damages the defence - they lose the ball when having committed men forward, leaving the defence vulnerable to a counter-attack.

This unfamiliarity is all down to the lack of continuity and the huge turnover in the squad. Seemingly unable to keep their best players, Arsenal are stuck in a vicious cycle. Lose key players; forced to reshuffle; wait for team to gel in disappointing season; see remaining top players agitate and leave.

It's a depressing circle to be caught up in, although with the contract extension of Theo Walcott, Arsenal may well be able to keep their core together this summer. They desperately need to be able to build on their previous season, rather than taking one step forwards and two back. What will be required is patience as the team continues to gel. That, however, is one commodity which many fans are beginning to run out of.