Arsene Wenger gave a very honest interview to L’Equipe (translated by News of the World) before the Wigan game where he really goes into detail about Arsenal’s inconsistencies early this season and how he feels about it.
“I did make a mistake in perhaps underestimating the harmful effects of last season, especially the loss of the title. I asked myself a lot of questions during the close season about the influence losing the title in the last two months might cause.”
I really felt that the way we lost the title last season was very hard on the players – to think that even after our awful run we were still only 4 points off the top shows how close we were to glory. The fact that players like Hleb and Flamini left also didn’t help in the short term.
Wenger went through his hardest time as Arsenal manager at Christmas, and there were some people calling for his dismissal. A lot of players got slated as well as his transfer policy. He admits that the present is a different story:
“The barometer is confidence and when that seizes up . . . now we are unbeaten for 18 Premier League matches and that leaves with me with a lot of regrets.”
“And I remained faithful to my policy when everyone told me I was heading straight for a brick wall. People reproach me for not having bought Gareth Barry or Xavi Alonso.
“But I am a prisoner of my own policy. Buying Barry or Alonso is killing Alexandre Song, Abou Diaby and Denilson.”
“You can’t do a public job in a big club, not win matches and say they are all imbeciles.”
“The fact that we are remarkably consistent shows we have quality. That is no coincidence.”
This is all very true – but I think he learnt a little more about Arsenal through the hardship. The sigining of Arshavin has made a huge difference, as well as the return from injury of players such as Walcott, Fabregas, Adebayor. Denilson and Song have come on leaps and bounds this season – Song’s performance and goal against Wigan yesterday underlines this fact.
The team is playing as a unit and has been through a lot over the last two years – the experience will only make them stronger and if Wenger keeps them together this youthful team will be one of the best he has produced.