Had someone told you Arsenal were one of the leading sides in the Premier League less than a decade ago, you’d be hard pressed to find that evidence based on their current performances. Recent seasons have been some of the most forgetful for the Arsenal faithful, with no silverware to show since 2005 and growing anxiety amongst some fans. Yet still the same problems are niggling away at Arsene Wenger, and nothing seems to be changing.
Over the past couple of seasons it seems Wenger has always insisted that he was building for the future. Players like Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshire and to a lesser extent Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas all came from Wenger’s promising youth but haven’t yet translated into experience and knowledge or long-term careers with the club. Even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s performance against Man Utd has to be placed in context when he’s still only 18 years old and learning.
Sometimes, however, the philosophy of Arsene Wenger’s constant building for the future stops. Previous seasons have seen the returns of Jens Lehmann, Sol Campbell and most recently Thierry Henry for short term spells or when injury crisis have occurred. Valid reasons existed for letting the players go when Wenger did, usually because they were past their best and had served their purpose for the team, leading to accusations of desperation rather than a carefully thought out signing.
Rather than replace the outgoing quality with players of equal measure, the current squad of players looks weaker than past seasons by considerable measure. Certain stars still remain, but while others like Clichy and Fabregas have left, Gervinho, Yossi Benayoun and Mikel Arteta haven’t been able to muster the same impact that their predecessors have had, even before Andrey Arshavin’s recent performances are mentioned.
The point may come soon when Arsenal aren’t able to attract players of title winning quality and already some have deserted to pursue silverware rather than wait. Arsene Wenger’s post-match interview at the weekend cut a figure that was left lamenting his side’s inability to match United’s quality for 90 minutes, showing the gap between the sides. If Wenger still can’t find value in the transfer market, whether he can keep his prized assets remains to be seen.