Is this Wenger’s last chance to build a new Arsenal side?

by admin

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A sight as synonymous with Arsenal as a 40-pass move which culminates in a miss-hit shot from Nicklas Bendtner, there is a banner at the Emirates Stadium which famously reads: “In Arsene we trust.”

Arsene Wenger enjoys absolute and unwavering support from the club’s fans and, while few managers have had such a profound influence on the Premier League, his tenure could soon enter a state of critical importance.

Since his appointment in 1996, Wenger has built two double-winning sides and a team which went an entire season without losing a single league game. Most crucially for the Alsatian, success has been founded on an unswerving commitment to attractive, technically superior football.

But, without a trophy since 2005’s FA Cup and now facing an exodus of key first team players, Wenger will be under more pressure than ever this summer to reassemble a competitive squad.

Gael Clichy has left for the riches of Manchester City, Cesc Fabregas looks set to return to Barcelona and Samir Nasri appears to be agitating for a move away from the Emirates.

These players would leave three significant holes in the Arsenal squad, and Wenger might need to adjust his prudent transfer policy to fill these chasms.

Wenger is reluctant to spend the same exorbitant transfer fees as his Premier League rivals, but he may be forced to reconsider his outlook if Arsenal are to mount a serious challenge for silverware.

But while the aforementioned players would be a loss to most teams, Wenger has a proven track record of allowing his most valuable assets to leave at the right moment.

Gloom abounded in north London when Thierry Henry joined Barcelona in 2007 and as Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars made the same move in 2000. The forecast for the Gunners was bleaker still when Patrick Vieira was sold to Juventus in 2005.

Every one of these players, however, faded dramatically upon leaving Arsenal, and Wenger was vindicated in allowing these talismanic figures to depart for what were handsome transfer fees.

Should Fabregas become the latest to defect to Catalonia, Arsenal can expect to receive funds in the region of £35m and, coupled with the sizeable transfer budget already at his disposal, Wenger could yet create a formidable squad.

The question is: can Wenger build yet another team, and will he have the patience to do so?

Alex Ferguson is eight years older than Wenger at 69, and the Manchester United has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for the challenge of rebuilding new teams for a number of generations.

There is in equal measure a professional respect and brooding personal rivalry between the two managers, which appears to have cooled in recent years with the increasingly trophy-laden United leaving Arsenal in their wake.

If Wenger is to reignite the flickering flames of animosity between himself and Ferguson, he will have to start by reinvesting in his thinning squad and, in doing so, revisit and rethink his footballing philosophy.

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  • Tommy Stoten

    Yep. Spend big or continue to be the Premier Leagues ‘nearly men’. A lot of Arsenal fans are growing impatient, and the old excuse about playing good football isnt going to wash anymore when they see United/Chelsea cleaning up all the domestic trophies.

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