Even the most optimistic of Arsenal fans or Arsene Wenger supporters would find it hard to agree with what “Le Professeur” has just told the press. The Gunners sit 11 points behind league leaders Manchester United, their defence has leaked 12 goals in the last four games and morale is at an all-time low, but Wenger still believes there is no reason why Arsenal can’t end the ongoing season at the very top of the league table. In his trademark style, the Frenchman has assured the club’s distressed fans that there is nothing wrong and their beloved team can still win the league table.
At this moment, not one area of Wenger’s team is performing at a satisfactory level. Some could point out that the club’s 13 goals scored in the last four games proves that at least the midfield and forward line’s productivity problems are over. But seven of those 13 goals came in a League Cup tie against the mighty Reading FC’s formidable defence, while Santi Cazorla’s strike against Manchester United was merely an individual flash of brilliance that came at a time when the game was already lost. A case of defensive naivety by the opposition could be made for several of the five goals scored by Arsenal in the last two draws against Schalke and Fulham.
In the striking department, Olivier Giroud may be improving but he still isn’t half the player of what we used to have until last season. Also, for a guy who is 6 feet 4 inches tall, scoring from a few headers is no major achievement. Podolski is being played out of position, Gervinho’s profligacy in front of goal is known to everyone and Theo Walcott’s days at the Emirates are numbered, if the latest round of football news is to be believed.
All of these issues mean that it would be a fantastic job if Arsenal can even finish in top four this season. Even Jack Wilshere had admitted before Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Fulham that Arsenal will now need a “minor miracle” to contend for the league title. At that time, the gap between Arsenal and Man United was still nine points, which turned into double digits after that game due to the two dropped points. However, Monsieur Wenger is still confident that his guys can somehow outperform the expensively assembled world class squads of Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs between now and May.
When a reporter asked him after the Fulham game if he genuinely believes his men can end their title drought by winning back the PL trophy this season, he replied: “I feel yes, of course. Yes, why not?”
After maintaining all is well on the title front, the 63-year-old then evaluated the defensive frailties of his side with similar overuse of positivity and claimed that the Fulham game was the first time his team’s backline was poor this season.
“It is a concern, because we looked quite solid defensively until now, and today we looked very fragile. I put that down to the fact that at 2-0 up, instead of becoming more aggressive, we became a bit easier, instead of continuing to push forward, to close them down. We let them play, and that was a big problem for us,” Wenger said.
Le Professeur likes to blame his problems on others, and this time, with the international friendlies approaching, he found an easy target. He held his players’ international commitments responsible for their poor performances at club level and then hinted that the fans shouldn’t expect him to do anything about it due to a lack of time.
When asked if anything is being done to cut out Arsenal’s defensive mistakes, Wenger said: “There is no time to train on it because the players go away every three days and you cannot practise too much… there is never a week where you have completely to prepare for the next game. It’s part of being at Arsenal.”
“I think [the international fixtures are] bad for us. I would prefer the team stays here and prepares for our next game. There’s a risk as well with the players that have played three games. You play another one and another one,” he added.