Arsenal Times
Can we trust Wenger to deliver his philosophy?
By AJ the Gunner
March 5 2009


Wenger has always maintained that he will not compromise The Gunners' style of attacking flair football, and this has always been his footballing belief, and ultimate priority. He often maintains before every season that at Arsenal there is always a mixture of outstanding qualities, with factors in the team that are excellent. Wenger considers himself a crusader for Total Football.

Champagne Football?

 The attacking brand of football of which the ultimate goal is to entertain the fans dictates that Arsenal must be faithful to the way they approach the game, and try to improve when they can. Players who are technically gifted are bought, or obtained in youth, and groomed to suit this style of football [I often wonder where the likes of Song fit in with these types of players].

What I want to argue is that Arsene always maintains emphatically that footballers live in a highly privileged world; and that it is the team's responsibility to give the fans moments of happiness.  Where they are able to step out of their daily life and into a dream world of football made in heaven, go home from a game thinking "Today I had an exceptional moment".

 Since the ultimate goal is entertainment, has what we have witnessed so far this season remotely resembled what Wenger promised fans? Gone are the days when we played that breathtaking, quick passing football that fans back in Nigeria call ‘Champagne Football' which was compensation enough even when the results didn't go our way.

False optimism

Of late we have not witnessed the brand of football promised us; instead we have been forced to endure a lackluster unfulfilling football that produces results that label us as an inconsistent side that has lost its cutting edge. This, as many of us believe by now, is the result of fielding an unbalanced team; with certain players that under normal circumstances would have no business playing for a club like Arsenal.

The club remains optimistic that it is heading in the right direction pointing to the fact that we have been finishing in the top 4 in the league on a regular basis. However, even this achievement is seriously under threat, with Villa ahead of us, and Everton breathing down our necks. The team has to stop the rot of inconsistency, stop dropping points, win our remaining games, and hope that Villa implodes.

Limits to ambition

Because even if the Gunners win the rest of their games, finishing 4th is not entirely in their hands as Villa needs to drop points for them achieve this. Has Arsenal reached the point where it fights for the 4th place with the likes of Villa and Everton?

The Board maintains that we are an ambitious club, ready to challenge for trophies but does what we are witnessing of late show great ambition? When we hear Peter Hill-Wood say that Arsenal won't be affected even if we fail to play Champions league football next season one begins to wonder what message he is trying to pass across to fans (or the team come to that. Ed).

 Is PHW suggesting that playing in Europe and winning trophies are no longer the priority of the club? Wenger believes that it is the responsibility of every big club to win games with style and Arsenal must have that ambition and will to always fight for that. Well I don't know if all the goalless draws and scraping through games resemble playing with style. Winning convincingly has become a tall order for the team.

Nonetheless, beating West Brom, and with Villa losing at Citeh it should give cause for hope. But the team must start winning in style to fulfill that hope.

Not prepared for injuries

The worst part of this is that we have now joined the boo boys club, those who resort to booing their team instead of supporting it. How pathetic.

One can argue that injuries to key players have been our biggest problem this season. I can't even remember the last time we had our first 11 players play together as a team. This has been a bane for several seasons; it's strange that a manger in the class of Wenger has continually failed to consider the possibilities of injuries to key players when planning for a season. He started this season with only one real world class central midfielder, as if nothing could ever happen to him.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger shows his frustration to the fourth official

Frustrated Philosopher 

Quality not quantity

 For crying out loud we even started the season knowing that the key players that were injured would not return till most of the season was gone.  For me, Wenger has failed to apply the true meaning of the term ‘Strength in Depth'. He has filled the club with players who struggle to hold the fort for key players who are injured.  In effect we have a large number of players but lack strength in depth because these players are not match winners.

 Football is not about quantity but quality. It's not about ‘the young and the juvenile' but the mixture of youth and experience. The good news is that key players are returning from their injuries but the fear is; do we have enough games left to rescue our stuttering season?

 Wenger's track record

Wenger has proven over time that he has what it takes to steer the club in the right direction but are we still patient enough to let him do this once again? Have we fans run out of patience or do we feel that only a trophy won will be enough to convince us to believe once again.

The biggest issue is can Arsenal fans look beyond the possibility of not winning any trophy yet again, not playing Champions league football next season, and still trust Wenger's philosophies.

It's a tough question especially when the entertaining football promised us is fast becoming a distant memory. Stability is always the key in football but can Wenger raise another squad capable of really consistently challenging for trophies when it is proving difficult to keep a stable side. A players' loyalty is not guaranteed these days.

Wenger says Trust My Philosophy. The big question is can we?