When the Gunners took a 2-0 lead against Fulham last weekend, fans would have been forgiven for expecting Arsene Wenger’s men to see out the game comfortably. Instead, they were treated to an unnecessary rollercoaster of a fixture which finished in a 3-3 draw.
The London outfit’s plight continues to puzzle observers, some of whom consider the team to be good enough to give the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea a run for their money. While the Arsenal boss blamed a lack of "defensive urgency" from his side, I believe the problem lies with Wenger himself.
A team more often than not takes its cue from its manager and the Frenchman has cut a defeated figure along the sidelines in recent games. Looking weary and fed-up with the squad’s performance, Wenger’s inability to turn things around could be an indication that the 63-year old has taken the Gunners as far as he possibly can. As manager of a club like Arsenal, Wenger cannot afford to fail in his attempt to bring out the best in his players, but he appears to be struggling to do just that.
With only Santi Cazorla to call upon when it comes to playmaking, it has become far too easy for opposition teams to snuff out the creativity from midfield. In addition, the Gunners are now paying the price for selling away Robin van Persie, a player who contributes 20 goals in a season, without signing a proven goal-scorer to replace him.
Wenger’s recent decisions have not worked out well for the team. If they fail to record a morale-boosting win against Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham side this weekend, I think it might be time for the club to consider a change in philosophy or personnel.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are a team that know all about undergoing change, having started with a three-man defence against Chelsea recently. The Reds did not look particularly comfortable with the tactic and they would not have managed to come away with the draw had they continued doing so in the second half.
After bemoaning that his team were not clinical enough against Liverpool, Ronerto di Matteo now faces a tricky tie against high-flying West Brom without the services of captain John Terry. Regardless of what one thinks of Terry as a person, his short-lived performance against the Reds was a good indication of what Chelsea had been missing during his ban and his manager must be disappointed to have lost him again so soon.
The Italian is also likely to be worried about how his star-studded attack stuttered in front of Brad Jones’ goal-mouth last weekend. Squad rotation appears to be a non-existent concept for the Chelsea forward line, but I think it’s time for the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata to be given a rest, especially when Di Matteo can call upon Victor Moses and Marko Marin to take their place. I am baffled as to why we have not seen Marin strut his stuff for Chelsea this season.
Striker Fernando Torres has hit another dry spell, but it is unlikely that Daniel Sturridge will get the nod ahead of the former Liverpool man simply because the Blues cannot afford to leave a player they shelled out £50 million for on the bench. I am expecting another goalless game for the Spaniard against the Baggies, as Steve Clarke’s men are an organised outfit that will not cave easily.
—Former Liverpool and England International,
Steve McMahon is a football expert with ESPN