Arsene Wenger seems to be bereft of ideas of late as Arsenal's football has become boring. – EPA Photo
TO quote Kings of Leon: “I’d take one in the temple” – yes, I’d take one for Arsene Wenger any time.
But I think it’s high time he leaves.
The Gunners owe Wenger the world – he has transformed the North London club’s training programme and revolutionised their game into the progressive, attacking football that silenced the “boring Arsenal” taunts for good.
But now, the dynamic, visionary coach cannot be more uninspired and moribund ... One can even say that Wenger has become ... boring.
This was in evidence against Everton last week. The Toffees not only outplayed Arsenal to seize a 3-0 win, but also out-Wengered Wenger.
As many pundits had pointed out, Everton played like the Arsenal of old.
Arsenal were simply “old”, tired and slow. Sure they were missing key players, but Everton did not need to do much to tear them apart.
If anything, Wenger should lose sleep over how his football philosophy is more successfully practised by his younger opponents, namely Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez on the Merseyside.
While Liverpool are racing towards the title race, the Gunners are predictably stuttering towards another Top Four squabble.
After almost 10 barren years, this should be no surprise for the Arsenal faithful, but what makes it so painful this time around is that their season had promised so much earlier.
Worse, it looks like Everton have grabbed even that consolation prize out of their hands with their win last weekend. Now, the Gunners look like they can’t even stay in the Top Seven, much less the Top Four.
Sure, Arsenal’s fixtures are “easier” compared to Everton’s. But they will need favours from Everton’s opponents, including both Manchester clubs, to stop the Toffeemen.
Regardless of whether they get the last Champions’ League spot, many feel that Wenger’s time is up.
Another case in point, literally adding insult to Wenger’s injury: the report is that his fitness and training programme which has brought in the trophies may be the reason behind the dearth of them now.
Fitness experts have pointed to his “outdated” drills and techniques as the cause of the perennial injuries plaguing the club, and halting their progress every season. Wenger, myopically, is pointing to hair products as the culprit.
He will need a more ingenious answer to save the Gunners’ season – starting with their game against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday night.
Wenger said last week that Arsenal’s problem is their brittle “confidence, charisma and belief”.
True, if Arsenal can gather up their nerves on Saturday night and rediscover their hunger – not to take anything away from Wigan who are a good side; they are the FA Cup holders who beat Manchester City en route to this stage after all – the Gunners might just get a break.
But that alone may not be enough. What they need is a change of personnel. For now, they have to make do with the returning Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Yaya Sanogo to at least give them some winning guile.
Hariyati expects Arsenal to inject some bottled charisma to their game and win 2-0.