Is the Wenger Era Over?

Can Arsene Wenger ever win again?

The better team won.  Simply looking at the statistics illustrates Barcelona’s domination of Arsenal during last night’s Champions League match.  Barca had the look of the best team in the world and proved it against one of the best teams in all of England.  They held possession for about 70% of the time.  Arsenal did not have ONE SHOT on goal.  Not one.

In fact, when asked what Arsenal could do at halftime to get back into the game, Graeme Souness was dumbfounded.  He did not have an answer for Arsenal.

Now most people would point the finger at Wenger and claim he has no idea what he is doing post the ‘Invincible’ era.  However, I would argue that although Wenger has yet to win a trophy in six years, he is still one of the only managers to consistently remain at the top of the Premier league and participate in the Champions League (Ferguson, Mourinho are the few others).  Moreover, when you play the best team in the world at their own game (let’s face it, Arsenal plays the same style as Barca at a B level), you are facing an uphill battle.

This latest match should not be the turning point against Wenger, and, although many analysts argue that his ways are historic, his methodologies are still winning.

Jack Wilshere illustrated his growing talents once again.

Yet, as a coach, Wenger does need to evaluate his bench.  Bendtner is not a solid replacement to the common injured Van Persie.  Clearly, Rosicky can not hold his own as well as Walcott.  In fact during this game, only Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri really looked like they knew what they were doing.

So although he has not won many trophies in the past few years, he has consistently created opportunities for cup titles.

And if I was an owner/player/fan, I would rather have a multitude of chances than no chances at all.

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6 Responses to Is the Wenger Era Over?

  1. Minesh says:

    I think your argument is inherently flawed. Wenger only knows how to play one style, and his teams simply do not know how to adapt. Why do you think their record is so poor against the best teams in England?

    Please tell me when he has created opportunities for cup titles in the past 5 years. They have never challenged for the EPL- its been btw Chelsea and Man U. His teams have not made it to the semis of the Champions League since they were in the final in 06. Arsenal fans are delusional if they think their coach is top notch.

    He complains after every match. We played the prettier football. We had more possession. So what! Teams know the way to beat you is on the counter, so they will let Wenger convince himself that his team is controlling the game. But the fact of the matter is they are not.
    Why would a coach ever try to play Barca the way Barca plays? That is suicidal- that is all on Wenger.

    Additionally, I don’t buy your argument that because he gets his teams to the Champions League, he is one of the best. Up until last year, there was a huge gulf in class btw the top 4 and the rest of the league. No one had money besides those teams, so they should qualify.

  2. buckeyes says:

    I agree completely about Narsi and Wilshire… the only arsenal players that can hold their head up after that game. In fact in the second half those two were the only ones trying to win the ball back and move forward. The rest of the team played like a practice team squad that was put out there to walk through a bunch of offensive drills. Bystanders, at best.

    Clearly a barca fan myself, I will say it is very frustrating sometimes to watch them pussy foot around on simple chances trying to create the perfect goal instead of just taking a shot from inside the area. If you dont shoot, you cant score, and sometimes I think barca forgets that. However, when you have Messi to bail you out I guess it can just become a habit.

    Side note : props for not blaming the game on the ref’s 2nd yellow card of rvp. If he wasnt an idiot and didnt throw a retaliatory fist at dani alves’ face following that scuffle early in the second half, he would have never been in that situation in the first place.

  3. The Unknown Sports says:

    Minesh,

    I will take your points one at a time.

    First, in terms of opportunities it has been the consistent placement at the top of the Premier and in the Champions league that allows for cups. By definition, just being eligible to participate in the tournament is an opportunity in itself. And Arsenal, under Wenger, has been eligible 13 consecutive times (2nd only to Manchester United in all of England). The FA Cup and Carling Cup have mainly been used to give experience to upcoming players, so that was never a priority (and is not one for the other top tier clubs as well).

    Second, in terms of your ‘suicidal tendency’ for Wenger’s tactics against Barca, he did try to go the defensive, which some would say was the strategy downfall at Camp Nou. Arsenal is not meant to be a defensive team. That is simply not how the team is built, and is not the team philosophy. That is like asking Aaron Rodgers to not air it out against better offensive teams and rely on the defense. Or better, telling the Spurs to go all out offensive against a better defensive team (if there is one). Not playing their strengths is what held Arsenal back (and you could see how awkward they were playing).

    Third, not considering Arsene Wenger as a great coach is ludicrous. Let’s look at the stats. Wenger has a 58% winning percentage while at Arsenal, Ferguson has a 60% winning percentage, Redknapp holds a 50%, Clough had 47% while at Derby, and Bob Paisley at Liverpool held a 56% winning percentage (Mourinho has an absurd high rate as well, but that is another story). I would say Wenger is up there. And on top of that, he has not had the backing of rich billionaires to fund transfer fees, Wenger has managed to create a self sustaining club model to maintain excellence while not monetarily losing out.

    Lastly, the only point that I would agree with is the lack of winning against the top clubs in the past 5 years. That has been an issue, but it is turning around (see this season). The one aspect that Arsenal needs is a consistent and solid defense. Once the team gains that (like back on 04), the team will definitely be able to compete with the best once again.

  4. The Unknown Sports says:

    Buckeyes,

    Yes, I do not think that the ref was the main reason why Arsenal lost.

    However, the second yellow was the dumbest thing I have ever seen from a ref…there was only 1 second between the whistle and V. Persie’s kick and that deserves a yellow?

  5. Minesh says:

    I don’t buy that. Just because you qualify for the Champions League over and over again is not proof that he is one of the best. Good- sure. A team of Arsenal’s club should be CHALLENGING, and they have not challenged for the EPL since 04. They were trounced by Man U in the 09 semis. A good coach should be able to tactically outmaster his opponents, and Arsene cannot. Case and point is this year- they have the EPL in their hands, yet they can’t even beat the small clubs.

    I don’t buy your philosophy argument. The good teams are aware of where they are and take what their opponents give them. Arsenal just play one style against all teams, and they cannot do that against all teams. I mean did you honestly think playing Barca at their own game AT home would work?

    As for ownership, Arsenal’s majority shareholders are Russian and American billionaires. So cry me a river.

    I’m tired of Wenger complaining after every loss. Be a man- admit you were outcoached and don’t know how to adapt.

  6. Minesh says:

    Also, I don’t think your Rodgers or Spurs examples are applicable.

    What’s more applicable is if the Packers are facing one of the best secondarties in the NFL. In that case the Packers will run the ball more to avoid exposing themselves.

    In this game, Arsenal knew coming in who they were facing. A team that controls the majority of possession and slaughters anyone who goes on the offensive against them (refer to 09 champs league final). A good coach would know this and try to soak it up and attack on the counter..esp with speed through the middle with Pique and Puyol gone. The counter is what got you guys back into the game at the Emirates?

    Did Arsene just think his team was going to troll into the Nou Camp and play ticki tacki against Barca? Please- even you don’t buy that going on the offensive is a good strategy- esp when you have a 2-1 lead. What happened in this game is that Gunners had no direction- and that is Wenger’s fault.

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