Does Arsene Wenger Know What’s Best for Arsenal?


Arsenal fans and pundits alike haven’t always been on the ‘Wenger In’ side of the Wenger debate over the past year or so. It was only a few months, a few weeks for some after the aggregate Monaco loss, ago that countless North Londoners were calling for a dramatic change in staff, specifically of the manager. Now however, this lot, for the most part, has been silenced. The question still remains, though: can Arsenal consistently challenge for titles and trophies under Arsene Wenger, or is a replacement in order to do so needed?

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After several transfer windows in the past years, it seemed as if Arsene Wenger was content with fielding squads good enough to achieve 3rd or 4th place in the BPL. It was Wenger’s unwillingness to spend, especially on players in Arsenal’s partly unaddressed areas, that unquestionably held the Gunners back from winning consistent trophies. Then came the last day in 2013’s summer transfer window when ‘The Boss’ signed German playmaker and Arsenal record signing Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid.

In the 2013-2014 season after however, only one player, Swedish central mid Kim Kallstrom, was signed in the January transfer window. The need for a central mid, though arguable, wasn’t foremost, though, as the first choice striker Olivier Giroud struggled with fatigue and injuries and the inexperienced, raw backup Yaya Sanogo couldn’t prove himself on the first team stage. The failure to sign a first team striker, an obvious need, plagued the Gunners in the latter part of the 2013-2014 campaign, and pressure began mounting on Arsene Wenger’s shoulders as it seemed, yet again, that the Frenchman was complacent with just a top four finish, unwilling to do what it took to genuinely make a title challenge.

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After the Gunners won the FA Cup in May 2014, it marked the the first trophy earned for the North London side in nine years under the same manager. Though a great achievement nonetheless, pressure remained on Wenger’s shoulders, and in the summer Arsene Wenger chose to address several problems in his side by signing around 77 million pounds worth of players (per, but he seemingly and inexplicably left holes at the defensive mid position and Arsenal also started the season with only 2 first team center backs. By the end of the window, many were calling for the axe of Wenger, as going into a season with even three first team center backs in the BPL is as good as asking for trouble. Yet again, it seemed as if Wenger was shooting for fourth place and nothing more.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

In the first half of the 2014-2015 season, the Gunners were underwhelming to say the least. Once again, injuries plagued the first team, and the North London club wasn’t even able to string together three consecutive league wins. Wenger’s position at Arsenal became more insecure than ever then, as the Frenchman’s tactics were consistently bettered by opposing managers. As usual, the Gunners weren’t beating other quality league sides either. By the start of January, the un-achieving Gunners, deservedly so, weren’t even in the top four.

The second half of this campaign has been a different story. In the January transfer window, Wenger signed young, promising Polish defensive mid Krystian Bielik and a capable first team center back in Gabriel Paulista. The manager also had already brought back Francis Coquelin, but it was in January that ‘The Boss’ began starting the defensive mid consistently. Wenger had addressed the need for more defensive presence in his side. January also marked a landmark for Wenger and Arsenal in other areas besides just spending on players in positions where sufficient quality was lacking. Arsenal managed to shut out title-challenging Manchester City in a tactical battle at the Etihad in a 2-0 win. Ever since, the Gunners have been firing. They’ve knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup, have lost only twice in the league since New Years, and are second in the live table, having just beaten a ‘big side’ in Liverpool 4-1.

If credit goes where it’s due, credit should go to Arsene Wenger. It seems as if he’s changed from his old, arguably stubborn self. His willingness to spend more to improve lacking elements of his side has shown itself recently, and he’s even become happy to put a more defensive, counter-attacking style- something that’s worked on numerous occasions- into action. Wenger has rarely been beaten tactically this year, too- just look at yesterday’s win: a 3 goal deficit Arsenal win against a ‘big side.’

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Wenger seems a changed man. He’s put a turned-around Arsenal in the BPL title talk after a terrible start to this season. The manager’s achievements in the latter part of this year cannot be overlooked, and unless Arsenal manages to direly mess this season up somehow, Wenger should stay at the club. Going into next year’s season with fresh signings and a stronger side, Arsene Wenger can most definitely win the title with Arsenal, and it will be ‘Le Prof’s’ changed philosophy of managing the Gunners that will have the most say in doing so.

Next: Arsenal v Liverpool: Match Report