Arsenal is heading for another season that will end without them winning any trophies, although they spent a significant amount of money during the summer. While Shkodran Mustafi improved Arsenal’s defense dramatically (until the game against Watford, Arsenal haven’t lost a single match with him in the starting lineup), Granit Xhaka is probably one of the main reasons for Arsenal’s winter slump. But there are lots of other arguments why Arsenal is losing ground in this time of the year, almost every year.
Let’s get back to round six of English Premier League and the derby between Arsenal and Chelsea. At the start of the season, betting tips seemed that six teams would fight for the title. Both Chelsea and Arsenal were among them, and they played a big London derby match at the end of September. Arsenal outclassed Chelsea and defeated them by 3:0! It is interesting that was the third game in a row that Chelsea haven’t won in the league. There were opinions that the new manager Antonio Conte wasn’t the right man for the job. But, after the match against Arsenal Conte did something brave, something that Arsene Wenger hasn’t done in a decade – completely changed his formation and playing style and benched some players who were indispensable to the club, such as Branislav Ivanovic. From that moment on, Chelsea recorded 13 straight victories and probably secured the championship title. Arsenal will most likely fight for the fourth place again.
Arsenal had the same old injury problems – when Santi Cazorla became unavailable, their troubles started. Although they had Cazorla, Ramsey, Coquelin, Elneny and Xhaka to cover central midfielder position in the last two matches, not completely fit Coquelin and Oxlade-Chamberlain had to cover that role because all the other players were unavailable.
Another issue that Wenger didn’t handle correctly has a name and a surname – Mesut Ozil. The German international is the most expensive Arsenal player, and he is refusing to sign a new contract. It almost seems that Ozil is blackmailing Wenger and the French manager simply has to put him into the starting lineup. It is virtually impossible to explain why he doesn’t bench him and give a chance to Walcott, Iwobi, Lucas Perez or Welbeck instead – all of these players did more than Ozil this season and they all had much less playing time. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger had lots of wrong decisions in the last couple of years, so maybe he feels that Ozil in this form is irreplaceable.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Arsene Wenger is too stubborn to change, and he can win Premier League title with Arsenal only if all other bigger teams completely fall apart. However, in the last season we had that exact situation, but instead of Arsenal, Leicester City grabbed the title. It will be the best for everybody if Wenger leaves the club at the end of the season.