Arsenal need a tough nut to shield their prized possessions

November 17, 2008

Even manager Arsene Wenger has no clue which version of Arsenal will turn up to matches at the moment.

The one that swept aside Manchester United last week with a dazzling brand of football, thrashed Blackburn Rovers 4-0 away and dismantled Fenerbahce in Istanbul or the one that lost at home to Hull City, got bullied into defeat at Stoke City and was well-beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa last weekend.

Wenger moaned about a lack of consistency, while goalkeeper Manuel Almunia said that changes were going to be needed if Arsenal are to mount a serious challenge for the title.

While on their day they are the best team to watch in England, they are also extremely fragile.

The chant of “1-0 to the Arsenal” used to accompany the team of old, the one that ground out results while sending half the stadium to sleep. No right-minded Arsenal fan would want a return to those days but watching their side’s title challenge burn out almost before the Christmas lights go up in Oxford Street is hard to take.

Cesc Fabregas has been a shadow of the player that began last year so well, scoring goals for fun and pulling the strings in Arsenal’s midfield. But then, the young Spaniard had Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini doing his donkey work. The experienced Brazilian Gilberto also provided an alternative when a more defensive approach was needed.

With that trio all gone, Fabregas is sinking under the burden of responsibility. Denilson, Theo Walcott and Samir Nasri are beautiful footballers, but when things turn ugly, they go missing.

Even Wenger’s much-hyped youngsters, so impressive in the League Cup, come from the same mould — plenty of tricks and great for one-off games.

What Arsenal need now is a touch of steel and fans of the club will be watching carefully to see what Wenger does in the transfer window. The stubborn Frenchman is the club’s greatest ever coach but he may need to suppress his desire to create a thing of beauty when a bit of old fashioned brute force is required.

Wenger’s European scouting network is probably working overtime looking for a new Patrick Vieira….Find one and this current crop of Arsenal pedigrees could re-emerge next season as a serious title threat. Fail, and Arsenal will continue flattering to deceive while Fabregas, along with others, may start looking elsewhere.

PHOTO: Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger looks puzzled during their Premier League defeat by Aston Villa, Nov. 15, 2008. REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

[…] and dismantled Fenerbahce in Istanbul or the one that lost at home to Hull City, got bullied […] Go to Source Last 5 posts in Premier LeagueThe Carling Cup is different, that’s why we love it – November […]

Posted by Arsenal need a tough nut to shield their prized possessions | TotalClubFootball | Report as abusive

Spot on. Arsenal are crying out for a strong spine to allow the talented youngsters to cause havoc. A new goal keeper, a proven centre-back and a tackling ‘Patrick Vieira moulded’ machine in the middle of the park should do the trick.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

Veloso is the player we are missing, someone who is defensive minded, but can still play football. Plus he is no stranger to fitting in as central defender when needed! Veloso behind the likes of Fabergas and Ramsey with Van-persie, Eduardo and Vela up front we should be very threatening! Also think we should be looking to the likes of Afellay & Moutinho to back up Walcott and Nasri!

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

[…] need a tough nut to shield their prized possessions Full Article Even manager Arsene Wenger has no clue which version of Arsenal will turn up to matches at the […]

Posted by The press, after the disappointing defeat at the hands of Villa | The Gunning Hawk: A blog about Arsenal F.C. | Report as abusive

[…] to Source Share and […]

Posted by Arsenal need a tough nut to shield their prized possessions | Soccer News Info | Report as abusive

You’ve hit the nail on the head with this article Martyn.
Arsene please take heed. We have no problems with our current squad with exception to a “wall-like” DEFENSIVE MID who can run all day.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

Great article and correct and just got to hope wenger does buy some brutes in january.
He also needs to stop playing bendtner and start with vela when ade and rvp are missing.

He needs to break the bank to make sure he gets his man in january or loose big players at end of season.

I think if we can win every game up to the transfer window then we can win the title as we’d have gained points on the others but i think 1 more loss and it’s over especially if it’s against chelsea or liverpool

Posted by Russell | Report as abusive

I am a die hard Gunner living in Zimbabwe. Given the doom and gloom prevailing in our country at the moment, the beautiful game, provides us with much needed stress relief. We turn up in our droves at the local, all donning our Emirates regallia, hoping to see the scintilating football we have become accustomed to, under the Wenger era. Unfortunately a tie against any of the bottom clubs is nerve wrecking to say the least these days.

I would like to add to the article posted by Martyn Herman above. I think he has hit it on the nail. There is definately need for some steel in midfield. There is simply too much pressure on young Cesc Fabrigas. With the right backing, this young man can work miracles for Arsenal. The midfielders need to be encouraged to take shots at goal from the edge of the box. All too often, the build up is far too predictable. All the Arsenal midfielders have the ability and skill to run at defenders, but more often than not, they hold up play and look for the perfect pass. This is fine, however, it is costly as the opposition teams have read it and prepare for it week in week out. The Gunners have enough possession in any game to be able to vary their attacks. Upfront, Eduwardo could provide the clinical finishing that we so lack at the moment, we hope he is fit to play soon. Emmanual Adebayor is a great player, but could do with a bit of competition for the first team jersey. This undoubtedly will turn him into a world great. Bendtner is one for the future and could do with a loan spell at a smaller club to get some games under his belt. The defence should come right with time. Individually, we have great players, but we need to improve on defending set pieces and concentrating for 95 minutes. I believe Arsene Wenger’s formula will work, he just needs to take a step back from the beautiful model that he has created and add a few blemishes that will give the side grit and a killer instinct.

Posted by Taurai Makaure | Report as abusive

I also can’t believe Wenger is about to send Vela to Hull on loan to make room for Eduardo, who will never be the same player again.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive