The new year is upon us finally, and we can now close the book on 2008, arguably the most painful of “The Wenger Years”.
The most painful part was seeing our hopes of silverware slide away during the early months of 2008, after building up a fantastic team, and playing fantastic football it all went wrong. Dumped out of all competitions, undeservedly, we then lost Hleb, Flamini and Gilberto in the summer, weakening the team, rather than strengthening it.
You all know the story, and aside from highlights such as beating Man Utd and Chelsea, the opening of this season has been poor, compounded by inconsistency, injuries and crisis.
The captaincy issue and Gallas’s behaviour, our woeful defending especially the loss of Toure’s magic touch, plus poor cover in midfield have left the team in tatters. Now Fabregas is injured we really have serious problems. Worse still the boardroom unrest and uncertainty; Lady Nina out, Usmanov’s interest, are contributing to a bad situation.
The focus is now on Arsene Wenger. This man completely changed English football in his time here, and he is worshipped at Arsenal. A lack of trophies has made people question Wenger and there is a huge demand for money to be spent on new players.
I really have no idea about what will happen to Arsenal in 2009, I don’t think anyone does. It doesn’t look great, a threadbare squad, and a race just for 4th place with Villa, which if lost could see the departure of our remaining established players e.g. Fabregas or Ade.
If we invest wisely now then we could reap the rewards. But long term succcess depends on the reaction of the players. So far we have seen very inconsistent displays from this squad, losing to poor teams like Man City. We need midfield players like Nasri, Denilson, Diaby to play to their full potential and stay injury free. With some clever additions we have a great squad. BUT, strengthening and confidence are both desparately needed.
2009 could see Wenger’s Arsenal rise from the ashes of last season. I’m not saying we can win the title, but build some foundations for 09/10 and stay in the Champions League. Otherwise it could be the end of the Arsenal we know. I hope Wenger has the chequebook ready!