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Void of direction, where are Arsenal heading under Wenger?

In the aftermath of Wenger’s contract fiasco last season one thing was clear. If the manager wasn’t going to change, then something else had to.

Signing the contract extension put the Frenchman under immense pressure, as the Gunners’ rather vocal fans appeared dejected by a dismal campaign with an FA cup victory used as the tape to mask the cracks. A fast start to the season was pivotal in Wenger’s plight to win over his critics, however, after only eleven games, it already seems evident the issues around this club are only increasing as opposed to being addressed.

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Their last game against Manchester City served as a microcosm for all that’s wrong with this Arsenal side at present. Losing to City is nothing to be embarrassed about, they’ve strolled past plenty of high class teams already, nevertheless, if Arsenal are serious about re-staking their claim as a Champions League side, they cannot afford to lose in the manner they did. Guardiola’s side played with a ferocious intensity the Gunners simply couldn’t match, with Arsenal’s team selection for such a massive encounter under serious scrutiny.

Someone within the club needs to accept responsibility for major recruitment shortcomings, how it’s possible for a club of this stature to have such a lack of defensive depth borders on negligence. Starting Coquelin and Monreal at centre back is begging for trouble against arguably the most potent attack in Europe right now. How is it Santi Cazorla can be so poorly missed in a side packed full of central midfielders. The stark contrast between how the two clubs are run is paralleled by their respective central defensive midfielders. Xhaka and Fernandinho were signed for roughly the same price, yet while the Brazilian is instrumental in the way his side plays, Xhaka appears out of his depth, as play consistently bypassed him against Pep Guardiola’s side. How is it that for the same amount of money there can be such a gulf in ability?

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The next issue is by far the most puzzling, I can only imagine how Lacazette must have felt upon hearing Iwobi’s name read on the team sheet. He has every right to be furious that he’s currently being kept out the squad by a largely unproven winger and someone who clearly has no future ambition to remain at Arsenal. Sanchez has been outscored by the Frenchman so far this season, and cut a dejected figure on the pitch, yet consistently picked in a desperate attempt to convince him to stay. These actions illustrate Wenger attempting to please the impossible, while neglecting a striker with world class potential. All this while Ozil is an absolute shadow of the player who first stepped into the Emirates, also set to leave with his tail firmly between his legs in the summer.

This is a club where the decision making at every level seems so poor, it asks more questions than it provides answers. How is it possible to overcome Manchester City and then the champions, Chelsea in the FA cup, but then fail to instil that mentality in league games and end up appearing pedestrian? Their overall lack of ability to beat the heavyweights, coupled with the inevitability to drop points against weaker opposition, means it’s increasingly unlikely to see them lining up against Europe’s elite next season.

Written by Harvey Sayer.

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Premier League Table

# Team MP W D L P
1 Manchester City 15 11 2 2 35
2 Liverpool 15 10 4 1 34
3 Chelsea 15 10 3 2 33
4 West Ham United 15 8 3 4 27
5 Arsenal 14 7 2 5 23
6 Tottenham Hotspur 13 7 1 5 22
7 Manchester United 14 6 3 5 21
8 Wolverhampton Wanderers 15 6 3 6 21
9 Brighton & Hov… 15 4 8 3 20
10 Leicester City 14 5 4 5 19
11 Crystal Palace 14 3 7 4 16
12 Brentford 14 4 4 6 16
13 Aston Villa 14 5 1 8 16
14 Southampton 15 3 7 5 16
15 Everton 14 4 3 7 15
16 Leeds United 14 3 6 5 15
17 Watford 15 4 1 10 13
18 Burnley 14 1 7 6 10
19 Newcastle United 15 1 7 7 10
20 Norwich City 14 2 4 8 10

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