With his bloody-mindedness and inability to coach a back four, Arsene Wenger seems hellbent on ruining his legacy. Step forward Steve Bould...
Whilst Arsenal were busy throwing away leads by the gift of goals at Ewood Park, their under 18 side, lead by Steve Bould, secured a third clean sheet of the season, which resulted in their third win.
When Arsenal reached the champions league final in 2006 they did so by racking up a record number of clean sheets. Clean sheets kept kept by a makeshift back four containing Phillipe Senderos and Matthieu Flamini. That Martin Keown was coaching at the club during the time is no coincidence.
Arsene Wenger, the greatest manager in the history of Arsenal Football Club, stands on the periphery of his legendary time in charge.
One more step in the direction of the disastrous and the volume of those questioning his expiry will no longer be a whisper. With every poor result such as that at Blackburn it becomes harder to defend Arsene Wenger. The glimmers of hope become more difficult to see.
How does Arsene now turn away from the cliff and regain a sense of direction before the stain on his legacy is made permanent by the ultimate insult; the sack?
It was hoped new signings would bring much needed improvement following carnage at Old Trafford. Whilst we must give them time to settle, the honeymoon period of Artera, Mertersacker and Santos was washed away in the Lancashire rain.
It was awful. Arsenal dominated the first half without being clinical enough to take full advantage. When a lead is taken it rarely lasts long enough to secure three points. It just about did at home to Swansea but a fragile brittleness was exposed by a Blackburn side so poor their supporters protested against their manager before the game.
Yet sixteen points from the last sixteen games tells it’s own story. As does the glaring flaw that produced the following results
Blackburn benefited from two own goals and a close offside decision in their favour. Arsenal missed chances to extend a lead taken twice, and the further opportunities away in the dying moments as they pitifully begged for an equaliser.
Arsenal might lay the blame at luck were such a performance a one off. Yet sixteen points from the last sixteen games tells it’s own story. As does the glaring flaw that produced the following results, going as far back as October 2008;
And now Blackburn. A rancid incapability to defend in the most basic manner flows through those defeats and crumbling draws like sewage through a drain. It leads to the unavoidable truth; Arsene Wenger cannot forge a cohesive defensive unit.
The 1998 double team was based upon George Graham’s back four. The double in 2002 still contained Adams, Seaman and a sprinkling of Dixon. They were joined by Sol Campbell, who was already an international defender of stature who didn’t need coaching. The old guard and the old Spurs captain were joined by Ashely Cole. When the elder statesmen made way, they left behind Sol and Ashley to carry forward the Arsenal way into the invincibles of 2004.
Although there’s been the odd Stepanovs, Sylvestre and Squilacci along the way, I don’t buy into the notion that Arsene cannot spot a decent defender. Lauren, Toure, Sagna and Vermalen suggest otherwise. Koscielny has also impressed at times. Individually at least, all are good players.
What separates Sagna and Koscielny from Lauren and Toure is that they have no defensive guidance. No Adams to instil the Arsenal way. No Sol Campbell to take control and organise things on Arsene’s behalf. As such it turns to Arsene Wenger and his coaching of a back four.
The lessons to be learnt in that long list of shame were not. If Arsene does not have the answers to the defensive questions asked in the 4-4 at Newcastle what faith can there be that he will be able to correct the wrongs of Blackburn?
Arsene Wenger needs to change the way he manages Arsenal Football Club before Arsenal Football Club is forced to change it’s manager. A sad predicament that you feel guilty for even thinking, given all that Arsene has given to the club.
Keown’s methods didn’t suit, even if they worked. How else can you explain the fact he was not retained?
Sadness is joined by frustration as the change required is somewhat simple and takes us back to Martin Keown and Steve Bould. If Wenger can’t organise a defence he should ask for help from someone who can.
In Martin Keown he has somebody willing who has already helped in the past. He made a positive impact and created a unit effective enough to keep out Europe’s finest. They were not great players, but they worked together with ideas drilled into them from Keown to reach a level few expected. Keown was vocal and not shy to give opinion around the training ground. This was in contrast to the tranquil atmosphere Arsene has created. Keown’s methods didn’t suit, even if they worked. How else can you explain the fact he was not retained when results say he should have been?
A man who does still work at Arsenal is Steve Bould. Part of the greatest back four in Arsenal’s history, Bould would know a little about defending, certainly his experience warrants consultation form time to time. As he continues to impress with the academy, the young coach would benefit from working with Arsene in training as would our defence from working with him. Why then has Steve Bould never been invited to take part in first team training?
Arsene needs help. This is no way for such a man to tarnish the greatest of legacies.
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