How Wenger can turn it all around in December

How Wenger can turn it all around in December

Wenger must use the pace of Vela and Walcott to overcome Arsenal's lack of height

After a difficult week that has included losses to both Sunderland and Chelsea as well as the shock of losing Robin van Persie for 5 months, Arsenal fans will be hoping to get things back on track as soon as possible. The trouble is, looking at the December fixtures and the players available to Arsene Wenger, it might not be so easy.

The Carling Cup game at Manchester City, a place we have already lost this season, is first up on Wednesday. That will be followed by the visit of the notoriously physical Stoke City who currently sit in 9th on the table and have conceded just 15 goals in 14 games before we travel to Athens, Anfield and Turf Moor to play Olympiacos, Liverpool and a Burnley team that have won 5 out of 7 home games.

None of them are easy games and the biggest concern is just how we are going to get back to winning ways. After scoring 36 goals in our opening 11 games we have failed to score in the last two and much of that comes down to our lack of a physical centre-forward who can compliment the smaller players around him. In short, we are badly missing not only van Persie but Nicklas Bendtner as well and if we are to hang on to Chelsea’s coattails during December then the manager needs to find a solution quickly.

Personally I believe we can get through this difficult period by relying on two attributes that the available squad has in abundance: experience and pace. Until we get the injection of height that Bendtner and Abou Diaby’s returns will bring, I’d like to see Wenger play a team that balances plenty of experience to fight through tight, messy contests with the pace we need to not only get in behind teams but exploit them on the break as well.

That means Eduardo being trusted to come good in the middle, Andrey Arshavin continuing to operate from one wing and the explosive Theo Walcott or Carlos Vela being used on the other. I’ll admit that neither Walcott nor Vela has particularly impressed in the past few games, yet their raw pace needs to be used to give the more technical players someone to thread dangerous passes through to. Without variety in our attack it’s hard not to see more games like Sunderland or Chelsea.

In the midfield the Song-Fabregas-Denilson triangle appears to be the best way to go. It provides a solid base of winning the midfield battle and allowing us to play possession football. I should add that I’d like to see Rosicky or Nasri come on for Denilson to add more creativity in games where the midfield battle has been won but the goals are not flowing.

Defensively I don’t think things should change from the Chelsea game. Thomas Vermaelen and William Gallas are still our best partnership, Bacary Sagna and Manuel Almunia are shoe-ins while Armand Traore should fair far better with a couple of games under his belt. Concentration appears to be the key in this area and one would hope the back five will communicate well and pull together to provide us with a more solid defence than we have been seeing

I realise that very little of this will be relevant to this week’s Carling Cup game – it’s more of a muse about our current situation and how we can make the most of the next month of football. I’ll have a proper match preview tomorrow but in the meantime, let me know what you think.

Have your say on what Arsene Wenger can do to improve Arsenal in December by leaving a comment.

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33 Responses to “How Wenger can turn it all around in December”

  1. Le Panda
    December 1, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    Keep the faith, if we just do our job and win our games, who knows what can happen?

  2. walter
    December 1, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    An American theologian once declared, “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” What we have in our lives is beyond the comprehension of endless souls, and surpasses all other objects of this world. To harbour a desire for the material possessions one possesses requires an understanding of their intrinsic greatness – thus a television, for example will provide entertainment, and a high-performance sports car will yield self-esteem benefits. Every possession in this world reflects a price that is synonymous to the unique value it provides. However, what we have attained is priceless – however does not cost us a penny…

  3. walter
    December 1, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    Whilst we definitely need a new goalkeeper, looking at the match again and listening to some podcasts, I wanted to put forward a what-if scenario. What-if Arsenal had been at full strength and Chelsea had been missing Ashley Cole, their back-up left back (Ivanovic?), Drogba and Anelka. Ashley Cole created their two chances, but would a third choice left back have managed that? Drogba then scored 2 goals. Had we had Clichy or Gibbs, we may have been better in attack and had the guile of Van Persie or the height of Bendtner to put more pressure on the Chelsea defence. I’m not papering over cracks as clearly the squad does need various improvements, but wanted to make the point that had the missing players been reversed and we were at full strength and Cheslea missed the equivelant players, the result might have been quite different. Like I said it’s a what-if scenario and am just interested in knowing other people’s thoughts.

  4. unchained
    December 1, 2009 at 10:23 pm #

    what if it is 18 months now and wenger’s contract has expired

  5. Akbar Ghaffar
    December 1, 2009 at 11:15 pm #

    It is about time everyone of us realize that we will never ever have our full squad at disposal! Times have changed and thanks to 4 cups and International duties, these players have fatigue and are injury prone. These guys are not robots, they need rest and something what Wenger fails to understand. You cannot let these players play 3 matches non-stop every week now or then. We need a bigger squad and a physically stronger squad to cope up with teams like Chelsea. We were out-muscled! We need physcially strong and variety of players to cope up with different situations. It is quite simple!

  6. Johno
    December 2, 2009 at 12:01 am #

    We have too many players living in the comfort zone. Arshavin in particular seems to feel that he can drift in and out of the game with impunity. Ever since his arrival last January his form has been poor, his fitness levels leave much to be desired. If he can’t cope with Premiership football then he should be shipped out. We can’t afford passengers. I want to see some desire to win. I want to see players sweat blood for the team.

    I want to see a top class striker signed as soon as the transfer window opens, we can’t afford another eleventh hour fiasco like last January.

    For Wednesday’s match Walcott must start as the central striker, his pace will be crucial against Toure and Lescott, neither of them being noted for their speed or ability to turn at pace.

    Wenger has said that the Carling Cup is not on his radar. It bloody
    well ought to be! It is a winnable trophy and may just provide a boost in the morale of the team and more importantly of the supporters.

    The sight of thousands of fans heading for the exits with fifteen minutes left to play on Sunday was one that will be repeated all too often unless all our players wake up and realise that success comes not from complacency but from strenuous effort.

  7. walter
    December 2, 2009 at 12:09 am #

    The refs’ double standards, the difficulties, the hidden things and the human side of it all. By Walter Broeckx

    I already have written a few pieces on some double standards that were used in some Arsenal games the last weeks. Both against Sunderland and Chelsea the Arsenal players were allowed half of the physical challenge compared to the opposition.

    It was for my eyes clear to see and I saw it after some 15 minutes and knew it for sure after half an hour. You cannot tell it by one decision but it takes a number of “mistakes” so see it and to know there is a system in it.

    I can tell you that if you want to change a match as a ref, or better have influence on the game, you have to do it in a way that it doesn’t catch the eye. The way Mike Dean does it in games with MU is clear to see, if you are not a United fan that is. In recent weeks we have seen it in the way to do it: by constantly bending the rules for one side and not for the other. It works in many ways for the team you want to help.

    The other team feels there is something wrong but they cannot change it and thus get frustrated. So that team will begin to try to match the physical challenge and you then just give a foul each time and… the frustration grows even bigger.

    If you are lucky some players go mad and you can send them off. It was the ref who started it but if the players cross the border then no one can argue with the refs decision to send someone off the field.

    Because the players get frustrated their concentration levels drop. They are more worried about the ref and forget how to play football and so they have a double handicap. Not able to battle back with the same means but also losing their own foot balling abilities. So you win anyhow.

    But there are some hidden things that only refs know and which put on pressure that is given in a subtle way. One example comes with the seeding of some teams.

    Refs know then that the higher authorities would like those teams to go through to a next round. And it are those same authorities that appoint the refs for the games so if they are happy that team X wins the game they are happy with the ref and will give him more games as he has shown a “reliable” ref.

    In the country I live it is known to the refs in the highest league will not to give penalty’s against a certain team. Only when there is no other option, let’s say a player makes a save with his hands on the goal line, then you can give the penalty and it won’t harm your career.

    Everybody knows it , and everybody keeps the mouth shut because it can harm your career if you come out with it in the open.

    There is also something else that nobody ever speaks about but which could make a big difference. Refs in the PL are mostly in the age of between 27 and 45 years. And most of the refs are married. Now suppose your wife is also a football fan and she supports a certain team, called X. So you have to do a game of team X and you know that if you come home after the game and if team X would have been defeated, and then imagine it was the refs fault, would you feel comfortable in refereeing that game?

    Well my wife doesn’t know anything about football and she has no team she likes so no problem for me but I can bet that there are other wives out there who do follow a team. You could risk sleeping a few days on the carpet next to your bed for a few days.

    But then comes the most human side of it all. Suppose you have kids. And they are very proud of their father who can blow games with United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and so on. But almost every kid that follows football has a favourite team. Lets called it team Y. And so you go off to a game leaving you family and your kid wearing the shirt of team Y when you leave them. You know that he will burst in to tears if team Y loses its game. You cannot imagine that team Y would lose because you make a mistake. I am a father so I know the last thing I want to do is to make my kids sad. I ask you, how can a ref blow a game with team Y in a fair way? You cannot or you should have a ice cold heart hidden somewhere in your chest.

    The fact that all refs have their own favourite team is the least worry in fact. I have done games with my local team and I can tell you they haven’t been happy with all of my decisions. But to make your kids unhappy…. you have to be ice cold.

    So how can you avoid these things ? Simple: by taking the refs out of control of the country’s FA. In the highest leagues you should only have refs that come from other countries. The chance that they have difficulties like I said with wives and kids are very small. You would have after a few years a level in refereeing that applies in whole Europe and more consistency.

    But I bet a few dollars that the FA won’t let this slip out of their hands. Why ? The answer is clear for those who want to see it. The influence a local FA can have on their refs would disappear and this is the last thing they want.

  8. theicehammer
    December 2, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    If, had been, had we had, suppose, missing plalyers been reversed, we might be, what if, what if, WALTER”£$%^&*()? what if my sister had balls she would then been my brother. What are you talking about mate. All teams go into the season knowing its a certainty they will pick up serious injuries. If the club has funds available it build strength in depth. How often has Wenger said he has the funds but does not spend it. Chelsea have experienced replacements when they suffer injuries. Like i ave been bloging the past wk Arsenal were never going to beat Chelsea. THEY ARE FAR TO POWERFUL IN THE MIDFIELD AND DEFENCE AND UP FRONT. NO MATTER HOW MUCH SPEED ARSENAL HAVE THEY WOULD NEVER HAVE BEATEN CHELSEA ON SUNDAY. THE TEAM IS FAR FAR FAR TO PHYSICAL WEAK. ANDY you have got to realise the reason Arsenal suffer so many injuries is because “most” of their players are built for speed and agility. Very slim players without an inch of fat or bulk on their bodies, like racing dogs, greyhounds. Their peak performance is very high as you have seen BUT they can not maintain that high for more than 4-5 games then if they are not replaced they break down one way or another. Look at the past 4 seasons. If Wenger does not promote a different type of build to help and protect the greyhounds nothing will ever change. Especially the excuses from Wenger. They are perfetic. Your trying to freshen things up but your using the same players. There is nothing new to learn about them. Arsenal will have another good spell sometime soon but what will follow we have to many times before. Sorry mate. I feel more sickened by Arsenal than Westham who are crap enough. Remember you are so so close to being a fantastic team, but you wont get there until Wenger faces up to your weaknesses.

  9. theicehammer
    December 2, 2009 at 1:02 am #

    I cant take anymore of this, i off. Good luck in the next game.

  10. Meshack
    December 2, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    The gunners need to improve on striking pressure.

  11. Anonymous
    December 2, 2009 at 1:57 am #

    theicehammer for president. The what if talk was sooo irritating. Thanks mate

  12. Ianinja
    December 2, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Its true we have the concentration of a meth junkie. Anyway that was a long comment by Mr Walter gave me a headache….

  13. Shard
    December 2, 2009 at 2:25 am #

    Its easy to say that we got outmuscled but watching the game i didnt think so at all. Except our attack of course.
    None of their goals came from us being outmuscled and our midfield won the battle. For a while so did Vermaelen and gallas. But we just cant defend properly over 90 mins. The attack will sort itself out but we need to defend as a team.
    There’s a saying at least in basketball ‘Attack wins games but defense wins championships’.

    As for the doom mongers, Im sick of losing to chelsea but I’m sicker of our own ‘fans’ sticking the knife in.

  14. NewGooner
    December 2, 2009 at 3:30 am #

    1) Play our BEST players at Man City, but no, he has already committed to sending second string players. If any of our current first team players had any pride, they’d complain that they don’t play Carling Cup. If the Chelsea ‘mercenaries’ are proud to play in the Carling Cup, who are Arsenal to say it is a minor trophy?

    2) Adjust the tactics already. No natural player as a central striker, play to the individual players characteristics, use Vela and Eduardo or Eduardo and Arshavin as strikers, not only 1 striker, especially as our strikers look off form, having 2 increases the chance one will score. Also don’t use players in positions where they don’t perform, Rosicky-Nasri are central midfielders, so play them there, not as wingers, if you want wingers, in January buy a real winger.

    3) Start planning for January, Ales Song-Billong may not come back in good condition after the AFCON 2010, even worse, he may get injured, so don’t take the risk, buy a champion defensive midfielder. Then buy a champion striker and not Chamakh who is not a killer striker. Utd have Rooney, Chelsea have Drogba, Liverpool have Torres, we have no killer striker, RvP is not a killer striker (yet).

    Using the Moggi formula that won many championships in Italy, buy 2 players for the starting lineup every window, we should get 2-3 now, and another 2-3 in July and they should all ideally come from teams that win trophies like Porto-Lyon-Wolfsburg, players used to winning things. Vermaelen has now been poisoned and is not fighting as much as he did when he came, because this current group sometimes play like losers.

  15. shambogunner
    December 2, 2009 at 3:41 am #

    walter if chelsea ‘had’ been missing those players they would hav made the necessary changes to personel and then,more importantly,they would hav changed their system to suit…ie anelka lone striker with kalou/malouda/ballack playing off him.we still woulda got outfought and out muscled as our replacements are like for like and i can only assume this is why wenger never tries to change our tactics to nullify an opponents strengths….ever.
    nice 1 icehammer and it says alot that arsenal are frustrating u as much as ur beloved west ham who are struggling….i too am feeling exasperated at repeating myself bout our problems when its apparent our manager is so stubborn and reluctant to look at things and make the changes…hes gone as bad as ferguson for being a sore loser now and his interviews are unbelievable at this stage
    i hav lost faith in walcott,deni and nasri who iv given the benefit of doubt to for a lng time and hav been impressed very rarely
    it kills me to come on and read that almunia is a ‘shoe in’ in relation to our 1st choice 11,it really does becos its probably an accurate statement and an example of how sentimental and shortsighted our manager has become
    just 1 final thing bout the return of diaby to bolster our aerial options,what a howl that is hes shocking in the air iv never seen him contest a header in any area of the field with an opponent because hes a kitten on the field…the only time hes even headed a ball towards goal for arsenal was when he lept unchallenged to head by sleepy in old trafford….really i wonder if people really watch these guys when they play

  16. gooner4ever
    December 2, 2009 at 3:44 am #

    ‘we won the midfield’
    ha ha ha ha….its just gets better
    realists= doom mongers….wot ever happend to tellin it as it is????

  17. Femochie
    December 2, 2009 at 6:03 am #

    Well, I don’t see arsenal winning any trophy this season.
    Spur’s almost broke into2 d top couple of years ago.. Now they are desperate..
    L.F.C, dt can win 9 matches in a row, got their worse run and are 2point behind arsenal don’t mention a game at hand.
    U guys ever played FM,
    Morale are always down after losses so no suprises.
    Arsenal guys were n’t fit, AW tactics is wrong, refree influenced the match.. bah! bah! bah are excuses.
    U reaped what u sowed.
    If the runs is lyk this, then what happen in 2010…
    Astonvilla, manutd-chelsea- liverpool.
    Be lighten up a bit.

  18. theicehammer
    December 2, 2009 at 6:18 am #

    Shambo, believe it or not i actually watched the game again just to give walter the benefit of the doubt. When watching it on screen you dont notice the true power of Chelsea any way as much. You dont get to see how organised they are as a unit when defending in midfield and the back four. You dont notice how much they cover one another, how they scrap and fight. I can tell you one thing the noise from the supporters or lack of noise speaks volume. i kepted looking at Wenger and he looked puzzeled. I kepted thinking why cant he see it, what game is he looking at. I really feel sorry for Pat Rice because he was around when Arsenal could look after themselves not run round it or evade it with speed. They use to meet it head on if needed. Win the war first. What would Patrick have done out there. W E N G E R!

  19. theicehammer
    December 2, 2009 at 6:32 am #

    NEWGOONER, when Song does go who is best replacement. What bout Johan Djourou or Eboue.

  20. theicehammer
    December 2, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Good news, the spur are 2-0 down to the manure. By the way do you think u will beat us in the FA cup. Fix draw.

  21. Fm
    December 2, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Pokn nose in other club game. why n’t wash ur dirty linen

  22. gooner4ever
    December 2, 2009 at 8:02 am #

    icehammer i dont know wot wengers thinkin man becos at times alot of our own fans think the same and share his views,i did for years but its time now to get real,iv said many times before its not all about winning but a club like ours shud at least be in a race and competing.wev been asked for patience and to give this group time to mature….how many more lacklustre displays must we tolerate before we ask ourselves the big question???even when these guys hav reached their peak,are they gonna be good enough??i mean will he be telling us in 4 years time ‘wel these guys are 27/28 now and in their prime,i really believe it is their time’, thats a long time waiting to say ‘i told you so’ arsene….and if they wer improving at the rate necessary for us to be convinced we are contenders we wudnt be getin scutched by chelsea at home in the very same way as last season,the same frailties were exposed then aswel
    im not among the many calling for wenger to go but i think its time he take an honest look at our squad and admit some are simply not up to it.how many of our 11 wud make the utd/chels 11? cesc,rvp and arsha the rest wudnt come within an asses roar!!!almunia,deni,diaby,eboue,traore,vela,nasri and walcott wouldnt make the chels 16,but i find fellow fans defending these guys and shoutin from the rooftops when they put in ONE decent performance of how classy they are in games where were cruising,yeah its great they all want the ball when were 3-0 up at home,but i thinks its time the bar was raised from mediocrity….goddamn utd wer able to beat the spuds with fringe players toni who wer more resolute than our boys….you can say im been a doom monger or negative or whatever but as a dedicated lifelong fan i thinks its sickening to see our stadium emptying with 10 mins left of a london derby vs one of our fiercest rivals its embarrasing but i dont blame them…we as fans bought into the managers plans and promises and kept the faith and now do we keep paying to watch gutless performances like sundays and the champs league semi-final last year where we are left empty and frustrated walkin towards the exits with 10 mins left in the game….c’mon we dont mind losin to a better team but can we at least put up a fight

  23. NewGooner
    December 2, 2009 at 8:17 am #

    @ TheIceHammer, Djourou is out for the season and Eboue will be at the CAN 2010 as well. This leaves only Denilson, however we must be realistic, Denilson is not a player yet for trophies, and he isn’t as good as Song-Billong. We need a player better than Song-Billong so that when he returns, he has genuine competition to get back in the side, we need a new player there.

  24. georgetown gooner
    December 2, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    i love this blog you guys make me laugh, i use to think i was the only one who got so wound up bout the arsenal but lads keep the faith its a difficult time but we,ll be back.god stuff as usual andy.

  25. georgetown gooner
    December 2, 2009 at 8:57 am #

    meant good stuff andy.

  26. Darragh
    December 2, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    Funny how I was so worried about Traore for the Chelsea match, but actually played quite well.

  27. Mac Daniel
    December 2, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Good article, and excellent posts.
    As for my two cents worth, I think that 4-4-2 is the way until Bendtner is back, and then 4-5-1 when the big Dane is in the house. Also playing too much possesion soccer in the EPL with all finness and no muscles will always result in injuries to our players. Add the fact that we have a shortage of depth in the squad, and you cann’t realistically expect miracles from the squad.
    Now here is the interesting question: Dose Wenger realise this situation? I think he dose. So what’s going on then? I don’t even want to think of the answer.
    A defensive midfielder, and a goalkeeper is our bare minimum requirement. Most of us would ask for a proven striker as well. traditionally Wenger has stated that the January window is too short to make acquisitions so to buy three expensive signings is out of question. But if we don’t buy at least one player come January then we must accept that this management has no plans to win trophies this year. We will find out doon.

  28. Andy @ Arsenal FC Blog
    December 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks Georgetown + Mac Daniel.

  29. Darragh
    December 2, 2009 at 5:48 pm #

    Don’t think we need a DM, MacDaniel. Song is awesome at this position. Perhaps we need some more height, maybe a bit more aggression, particularly up front.

    I think are squad is good, just injury ravaged. A full strength squad would not have given away the game like it did with Chelsea.

  30. syahazman
    December 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    Good discussion for the fans, wonder if the players & wenger reads this.

    We miss sorely when henry left us and we did’t really recover since then.

    The Chelsea game was a very physical game and we’re not able to match that with speed.

    I’d love to see wenger brings in someone senior to muster the midfield come january. To me- midfields determines our ability to sustain- as what was shown by chelsea.

    Arsenal should win the next game since it was already strike two.

  31. rehan siddiqui
    December 2, 2009 at 9:35 pm #

    I do not see gunners catching Chelsea or man u for that matter. It is all wishful thinking and possibly another fourth finish for 2010. wenger making promises cannot hide the team’s shortcomings.He either deliver or should quit when his contract expires and give a new man chance to restore gunner’s pride.

  32. Hans Monsma
    December 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

    read all the excuses and bullshit about our inability to come good physically… brains is great – ability is fantastic but wenger should come to understand that featherweigts no matter how good will always get knocked out by the heavy weights… Time for wenger to depart! bring on the Italians who will beef up our sides size think of the skill we have setting things up for Drogba and Anelka wed be scoring 5 and 6ses.
    But wenger is senile and thinks he knows… the fans want silverware – he wants money in the bank – whe he has it he hoards like an old women with a wet bloomers… he is the downfall of his own castle – he can not see that the foundation is rotting away.
    MUST IMPORT 2 3 big guys… our skills will make any beefy striker look good – see the mediocrity of Mr. Man citi now that he has no one to lay it on for him… he was even pulled off in the 2nd half last weekend.
    We can make even a Bent look good or a Heskey such is our skill.
    WE NEED SIZE!!!!!!!!!!1

  33. spanishgunner
    December 3, 2009 at 2:38 am #

    Folks , I have no idea how to provide you with a link but there’s an excellent piece on SkySports.com, Football , left hand side, Football Features , Men versus Boys. Read this . Top , top article. Also the letters to it . Some really good stuff .

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