Arsenal lack fight. Arsenal lack character. Arsenal have no back-bone. Even neutrals must be sick of reading the same propaganda on a daily basis from papers, websites and various other sources. But what grounds do Arsenal have to defend themselves? Three consecutive draws in the Premier League against teams they should be beating has seen their title challenge de-railed. They lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup. Barcelona sent them packing from the Champions League. Lowly Birmingham beat them in the final of the Carling Cup.
They are well on the way to another trophy-less season and negativity, even hostility towards Arsene Wenger and his squad is at an all time high.
The problem with Arsenal is not that they lack fight – it’s that they are carrying too many passengers. There are too many remnants from Wenger’s youth experiments dragging the squad down. I’m not going to trot out the same list of players that has already been done on countless sites – if you’re an Arsenal fan you know who has made the grade this season and who hasn’t. There will be plenty of changes to this Arsenal squad this summer.
But this isn’t another article picking faults in Arsenal’s squad. I’d rather look at the players who have provided Arsenal with drive, determination and energy this season. Players who I genuinely believe can drag Arsenal towards future glory should the squad’s supporting players be good enough.
Jack Wilshere, 19-years-old and already a lynchpin in the centre of Arsenal’s midfield. He can tackle as well as pass and refuses to be intimidated. If everybody in Arsenal’s squad had Wilshere’s spirit, I have no doubt that Arsenal would still be out there competing for trophies.
Next up is Alex Song, who has gone from a peripheral player to damn near essential for this Arsenal side. If you need any evidence of Song’s ‘fight’ go back and watch the first leg of the Barcelona game. He was everywhere, breaking up play and keeping Arsenal in the match. He’s tireless and always gets stuck in. A very important player and arguably one of the best defensive midfielders in the world (I say arguably because I’m not entirely sure he’s a DM given the freedom afforded to him by Arsene Wenger).
Then there’s Cesc Fabregas, who is often criticised for not being enough of a leader. He received a lot of flak after the second-leg of the Barcelona game, but he was clearly playing with an injury. Otherwise he plays with pride game-in, game-out, leading by example. He’s Arsenal’s best performer and never lacks heart.
I’d also chuck Robin Van Persie and Thomas Vermaelen onto the list of players who provide Arsenal with fight – at least when they’re fit. The suggestion that Arsenal lack ‘fight’ is a myth – there are plenty of Arsenal players with both the desire and the ability to win trophies. When the deadwood has been discarded and decent squad players have been brought through, I have little doubt that we’ll see a whole different Arsenal.
An Arsenal that has threatened to make its mark for years but has been held back. An Arsenal with a genuine shot at bringing home trophies.