As it has done so many times, Arsenal’s season is reaches breaking point as the club approaches Christmas. Injuries are mounting, form is failing and the pressure is rising. By the time the Gunners have their traditional spring surge, it will be too late in many competitions. The time for Arsene Wenger to act is now if he is to make this a successful season, but what can he do to turn things around?
1) Get players fit
The introduction of Arsenal’s much hyped new medical staff seems to have done nothing to help with their injury problems. Key players like Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Mesut Ozil and Laurent Koscielny have all missed significant game-time, putting pressure on an already over-stretched squad. While Wenger might claim that the injuries are just coincidence, the stats say otherwise.
2) Get Aaron Ramsey playing well
The Welshman started the season where he left off last year, scoring goals and giving the team much need drive from midfield. But his form has tailed off as the season has progressed, and the rest of the side’s momentum has followed his dip. Wenger should drop the ponderous Mikel Arteta and play Ramsey deeper alongside Flamini.
3) Bring Theo Walcott into the side
The winger is slowly being nursed back to health after a period out, just in time to lead a turnaround. Ozil is out injured, Cazorla is out of form and Alexis Sanchez can’t carry the side forever. Walcott’s pace and ability to stretch the play will be far better suited to Arsenal’s more direct style than Cazorla’s more technical skill-set.
4) Buy defenders
Everyone with even a vague interest in football looked at the six Arsenal defenders had at the start of the year, following the surprising decision to get rid of Thomas Vermaelen and Carl Jenkinson, and said “they haven’t got enough defenders”, and so it has proved. Injuries to Mathieu Debuchy and Laurent Koscielny have meant that Nacho Monreal has been playing at centre-back for the last two games. It doesn’t particularly matter who the Gunners buy in January, they just need depth.
5) Play a strong team in the Cups
Arsenal’s FA Cup win in May gave the club a huge lift, and Wenger must keep this momentum going by giving his all to win both the FA and Capital One cups this year. As well as lifting the mood around the club and taking the pressure off him, the experience of winning competitions is what his young players need to help them challenge for the big competitions in the future.