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The Highbury Library animted promo v5 350x350

We know many players signed for Arsene, and not just Arsenal, we know that Liverpool and Tottenham, who are closest to our financial situation, have finished below us more times than not over the last 22 years, and barely matched our trophy haul even after net spend. Even with recent standings, we’ve managed a decent trophy haul and finishes compared to all the clubs in the league. But in the end, the consistency was no longer the same, and the disfigured resentfulness of time catches up with us all

 

Arsene Wenger, who prefers playing with a back four fronted by two dynamic central midfielders screening them, knew that he needed a player like Vieira to not only screen that back four, but also link that back four to the attack. If you’re building your play from the back, you need to build your squad from the back too, and once built (as it fortuitously was already in 1996) you need a way to link play going forward. Vieira provided that link for almost the next decade

 

We are not alone in this, if I spoke to more fans, it could be that 4-5 teams feel similarly, but are quiet about this because of their league position/expectation, but this goes back to what Arsene said about opinion. I feel he has a huge point when it comes to concentrated opinion that all goes one way and not the other. Taking last night’s game, if it was a penalty on Hazard, then it is a penalty on Maitland-Niles, furthermore, 10 more penalties a game during corners and more fouls on the pitch

The partnership seems like a straightforward one: Xhaka sits deep and dictates play and Ramsey bombs forward at opportune moments to link with Giroud and push beyond the lines of attack. Yet against Bournemouth, Ramsey was the player who opted to come deep to gather possession and Xhaka pushed higher up the pitch; this may have been a quick-fix as Arsenal were pushing for an equaliser but it still begs the question as to why Wenger would start Ramsey in the number 10 role and then when forced into a midfield two, that Xhaka would then begin operating closer to goal.

 

Yet Arsenal are in a strange position of power. For many years, Wenger has called the shots because he was valuable to the club. Consistent top 4, occasional title challenges, a reluctance to splurge money and a general acceptance that Wenger is a top class manager. However, with Wenger’s contract nearing expiration, the Frenchman has lost the trust of the majority of fans, looks set to miss out on Champions League revenue, has frittered a hefty proportion of his transfer budget away on unproven players and, probably most telling, seems to have lost the backing of key players

The culture of extremes makes it difficult to create a nuanced image of what is happening at Arsenal, or whether the journalists are intentionally disregarding Arsenal’s success as failure, because it doesn’t match up to their idea of success. After all, no matter what, if Arsenal doesn’t win the league, someone else will, and Arsenal will always be compared to them, not the teams that finish below them with more resources, not the teams that have never finished above them under Arsene, not the teams that won the league last year but are fighting relegation this year.

The prospect of a Santi-less life is one that no Arsenal fan should have to endure, at least not at the tender age of 27. Arsenal have been, I guess, hugely unfortunate to be without the diminutive Spaniard for the majority of the season. We may tell ourselves, as Arsenal fans, to expect to be without key players for large swathes of the season but nothing can prepare you for the loss of Santi. His presence in the team enables so many other players. He is our most comfortable ball-playing midfielder. His two-footedness, a facet that many of the best wingers in the world struggle to emulate, makes him unique

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more