Sunday, February 17, 2008

If Arsenal REALLY wants to win the league...

Dear Wenger,

As the dust settles after the 4-0 thumping, I hope that you will sit down and listen to an irate spectator who just wasted 90 minutes in the wee hours of the morning watching your lifeless Gunners. If you really want to ensure that Old Trafford not be a scene of joyous celebrations come May, it is probably time to take a look at the Arsenal team now and assess the situation. Although the Gunners are 5 points clear on top of the Premier League table, it looks very likely that this lead will collapse like a deck of cards within weeks. Last night's insipid performance by your fledglings should ring enough alarms to wake a corpse. This spectacular thrashing is the second in three weeks and you must definately reflect what went wrong.

I tell you what went wrong. First you sold your only flair player, Thierry Henry, and built a team around team players. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that move. After all, with 11 industrious men working their socks off for each other, it will be hard not to win matches. Yet, while this strategy may work against the smaller clubs, it will falter immensely when it comes to the big ones. Honestly, touch your heart Mr Wenger and tell me who in the current Arsenal side is capable of terrorizing defences the way Henry did? So much has been said about Fabregas but he is simply too one dimensional. Yes, he puts glorious passes. Yes, he splits the tighest of defences with a swing of his boot. But is it enough? After the departure of Henry, the Gunners lack the ruthlessness in front of goal. The players are simply too contented to stroke the ball laterally and hope that the defensive tide will part like the red sea. It is obvious that this is not going to happen if you come up against the likes of Ferdinand and Vidic.

Second, I cannot fathom why you refuse to strengthen your squad further with a few more signings. After recieving a truckload of cash with the sale of Henry, you preferred to splurge a fraction of it on Eduardo and stash away the rest in a Swiss bank. I understand your 'go youth' policy. But sometimes if you are serious about contesting competitions, you need proven players. We definately have enough proven players to form the first 11. Sadly, the rest of the squad players are simply not even good enough to play for Derby County. Have you seen the likes of Hoyte, Gilberto and Lehmann? There is only one word to sum up their performance thus far this season: Rubbish.

Third, when are you going to lose your patience with your goalkeepers? Lehmann has been a trusted No.1 for years, both for country and club. But at 38, age is slowly catching up. It has been obvious throughout the last two seasons when Lehmann appeared to be more interested in fighting than goalkeeping. It is a laudable that you decided to give perpetual No.2 Almunia a chance between the sticks. But goodwill doesn't bring titles. Good goalkeepers does. With all due respect, Almunia isn't exactly in the mould of Petr Cech, Van Der Sar or even Paul Robinson. If he was, he won't have been sitting on the wooden bench from Highbury to Ashburton Grove. It is obvious Wenger is desperate for alternatives and the transfer market doesn't allow a cheap, good and youthful signing.

Which brings me to my last point. Yes, I can see you have been trying very hard to prove that old adage 'You win nothing with kids' wrong. Congratulations you have proven your point enough. Everyone from London to Liaoning knows that. Now it's time to get serious and buff your team up with a few quality star players. I can never comphrehend how you allowed Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel to slip through your grasp. Those two would have been extremely ideal signings to strengthen the lightweight attack and midfield. Instead, both of them are wasting their talents at a club that cannot even overcome Barnsley.

In all honesty, the team you have assembled so far is solid. The EPL table does not lie. But after being at the wrong end of two thrashings from your fierciest rivals, it is time to reassess and strengthen your squad. I would not be too surprised if Arsenal fails to clear the final hurdle to the title come May.

Indeed, your excuse will be that this season has been a remarkable learning experience for your youthful team. Yet, let's not kid ourselves any further. I did not pay the top dollar to Starhub to watch youngsters go through a learning experience. With the price I pay, I expect you to deliver the title.


A Disgruntled Starhub Subscriber

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