I don't tend to mention Arsenal much in my blog which I was thinking today was a little strange since they are clearly the Best football team in Islington and I love football. So I thought I'd share my thoughts on where they are ahead of tonight’s game with West Ham.
So it is becoming customary each year after Christmas to talk about what is going on at Arsenal and what to do going forward. Another loss at the weekend left them 7 points off 4 place Tottenham which is not a great position to be in, even a win tonight against West Ham will only reduce that gap to 4 points. If fact I think it says everything that now the talk is about getting that 4 place and champions league football with it rather than catching the leaders. Even 3 or 4 years ago the talk at this time would have been about a title challenge going wrong rather than a challenge for a top 4 finish going wrong.
So where did it start to unravel? Certainly you can look a Wenger and his transfer policy. I wouldn't be too quick to blame him for not spending huge amounts of money to buy in top class players as it can be a very dangerous game. You only have to look at some of big money spent on placers such as Carroll, Veron, Robinho and Boletelli to name but a few high priced players that simple haven't lived up to their price tag.
What I'd be more inclined to look at his the scouting network that use to serve Wenger so well when he first moved to Islington. Gone are the days where he could unearth the likes of Le Sulk, Henry and Viera. Yes there has been world class players come through the ranks but they are far fewer and further apart and they also seem to be far keener on moving on and giving their best years to another club.
I think you really need to look at the scouting network of other clubs and how they've improved to really understand the issue. When Wenger came to Islington and England he had a vast understanding of foreign players and leagues that didn't really exist over here at the time. On seeing the success that he had with these imports for relativity modest sums a lot of clubs set about changing their scouting structure to take advantage of unknown foreign players to the extent that people are now amazed that a player like Michu can be let slip through the net by the big clubs such is the extent of the scouting networks they operate. In fact it even says something about the scouting networks of the smaller clubs when you look at players like Michu and Ba and the clubs they went to first in England.
This has forced Wenger recently to look to the transfer market to bolster his squad with quality players. However some of his buys just don’t look that great. Players such as Giroud and Gervinho frankly would make the bench at Man Utd, City or Cheslea while it looks like it could take a little more time for the rest to gel with the team.
What Wenger has done recently which I think will be the building blocks for a great future team (I know this is said so often) is to get the young group of talented British players to sign extended contract in recent months. This could be the turning point in my opinion. Wishere looks like the type of player that could lead Arsenal for 10 years and he certainly looks ‘up for it’ which can’t always be said of some other players in recent years. If he can add the right players to this group (Walcott, Wishere, Gibbs , Ramsey) and keep them together then in a couple of years you could be talking about genuine title challenges again.
So what of tonight’s game and the rest of the season. Well my moneys on a win tonight (I'll delete this part if they lose :)) and to overtake Spurs to finish fourth. While Spurs look steadier than in recent years I just think they’ll fade towards the end especially if they get an injury or two to key players i.e. Bale.
Feel free to let me know your thoughts.
P.s. If you are going to the game check out Piebury Corner on Holloway Road an extension of the stand that’s on Gillespie Road. They do some amazing pies.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Your guide to everything Islington. My name is Nevan and I run The Best of Islington website, I'm constantly looking to find the best places to go and things to do is this lovely borough.