Saturday, Jan 31st 2015

Things Wenger can do to get his smile back at Arsenal

Saturday, November 26, 2011 - 00:00 -- BY DICKENS OLEWE

L’Equipe, a French sports newspaper recently quoted Arsene Wenger insinuating that he will quit Arsenal at the end of the season. In what can be considered Arsene Wenger’s most candid interview since selling Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas, Wenger told the French paper he has been hurting since he sold his most prized players.

Despite allegedly clarifying his comments and giving a hint that he will honour his contract, for a keen observer it was hardly convincing. Arsene Wenger has over the years shown an inclination to free flowing football. Winning is not enough for Wenger, winning in style is how he likes it. Despite six trophy-less years one thing that his team has been praised for is entertainment.

Wenger knew that he had to win something to disprove his critics but just when he thought he was about to get it right he lost two key players and now he has to start re-building. Despite impressing in recent games Arsenal are yet to convince. Arsenal’s second goal against Norwich gave an indication of a problem within the team, the over reliance on Robin van Persie.

Leading up to the goal Alex Song blatantly ignored Gervinho who was in a better position to score and passed the ball to the Dutchman. It’s no consolation that the scoring responsibility is not being shared as before.

I think for Arsene Wenger to fall in love again with his team he needs to drop Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta and Per Mertesacker for Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky or the now fit again Abou Diaby and Johan Djourou. Coquelin will shore up Arsenal’s midfield with steel especially because Andre Santos is still clumsy in defence.

Rosicky and Diaby are comfortable on the ball and are good passers, Djourou, despite not being a right back, is still better than Laurent Kosciely. Koscielny is a far better partner to Thomas Vermaelen than Per Mertesacker who makes Sebastien Squillaci look good. I think if Arsenal adopts these changes then Wenger could smile again.

Liverpool beat Chelsea in a game I thought neither deserved to win. The pace was laboured and the defences poor. I think a draw would have been a fairer result. Chelsea saved the worst blunder for last and Liverpool took advantage. I have suggested in this column before that Andre Villas-Boas may not survive the winter if he loses to Kenny Dalglish having already lost to Arsenal and Manchester United. I still think it’s a matter of time before he’s shown the door.

Liverpool host Manchester City who seem to steamroll every side they meet. Despite their perceived invincibility I think Manchester City are yet to be tested at the back. It’s so unfortunate that Liverpool will not have Steven Gerrard for this game. However, Kenny Dalglish has the players to ensure they win this match.

Liverpool need to play with a tight midfield to cut Manchester City’s supply chain. City are threatening going forward. Roberto Mancini’s side has scored more in away fixtures than at home. They will be in devastating form and Liverpool should be prepared. I feel Dalglish needs to swallow his pride and play 4-5-1 with Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy on the flanks and Lucas Leiva, Charlie Adams, and Jordan Henderson in the centre. Liverpool need to rattle Manchester City. This will be a football feast.

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