The Arsene Wenger Conundrum: the ability to delight with flashy attacking football and frustrate with a stubborn refusal to change his transfer policy and his tactics to win games. To be clear, Wenger has done so much for the club. His eye to identify talent and patience to develop that talent is exemplary. His 9 year trophy drought can be forgiven, given the financial constraints of building a new stadium which now leave the club on a solid foundation for decades to come. So Arsenal fans may say thank you to Arsene for the past, but today they are wondering what is worse, his transfer policies or his lack of tactical adjustments prior to or during games?
All of Arsene’s weaknesses were on display in Sunday’s 1-2 away loss to Swansea. It is well known that Arsene failed to bring in a true defensive midfielder and an experienced central back to start the season and mind bogglingly, he started the season with only 5 experienced defenders! With a few injuries Arsenal started the game with an inexperienced central back, Calum Chambers, at right back and an experienced left back, Nacho Monreal, but definitely not a central defender at center back. The piecemeal back line looked fragile at times but held and with a wonderful free flowing attack Arsenal took the lead at 63 minutes. With a lead and 25 minutes to go, Jose Mourinho, the Chelsea coach, would send on another defensive midfielder, pack it in and score a second goal on the counter attack. Arsene made no adjustments, Arsenal pushed forward, turned the ball over in midfield, and with no effective defensive midfielder in place to protect their back line, Kieran Gibbs, the Arsenal left back, was forced to charge down and foul the on rushing Modou Barrow, setting up a delightful free kick by Gylfi Sigurdsson to tie the game. Things got worse for Arsenal and predictably so. All game Calum Chambers was torched by Jefferson Montero, the speedy Ecuadorian winger. Everyone saw this. Arsene, help the guy out! Perhaps because the only defensive sub available was the even less experienced 19-year-old Hector Bellerin, Arsene chose to do nothing. Sure enough, predictably, Montero again scorched Chambers on the wing and crossed to Bafetimbi Gomis who rose above and out muscled Nacho Monreal, (the slender Arsenal right back filling in at center back) to score the winner. Oh Arsene, how you can predictably delight and frustrate.