columnist Rob Facey looks at the spine of Arsenal's team and
urges Arsene Wenger to crack open the piggy bank at the Emirates.
Arsenal's title challenge all but ended on Saturday as
Arsene Wenger's side slipped to a 2-1 defeat at the Britannia Stadium, but is
the problem rooted in the squad itself rather than being down to a slump in
Post match, Wenger admitted that Stoke deserved the three
points through gritted teeth, fighting the urge to complain about Rory Delap's
long throw tactics.
But the truth is, as pointed out by Mark Lawrenson of all
people, this Arsenal side never looked comfortable under pressure. They are
reminiscent of the team that used to struggle when playing Bolton under Sam
Allardyce, a view shared by victorious goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen.
"They lack that
spine you need [to win the title]," said the Stoke goalkeeper, as reported in The Guardian.
"I think with the
way the other teams are playing, it's going to be really hard for them now to
become champions. Arsenal are a fantastic football side but they are lacking
that bit of physicality.
came here they matched us in the challenges whereas Arsenal weren't quite
there. That's the difference; they want to play all the time and sometimes you
have to work hard and earn that opportunity to play your football."
So with this in
mind, is the Arsenal spine – Almunia, Gallas, Fabregas and Adebayor – strong
enough to emerge from this slip to mount a challenge?
unable to cope with things being hurled into his box; all four Spurs goals came
from shots from outside the area, and both of Stoke's came from long throws
into the six yard box.
Gallas has come
under fierce criticism ever since his petulant display at St Andrews last year,
and even though Arsenal fans say otherwise, he and his fellow defenders have
been different ever since.
undoubtedly one of the most talented footballing midfielders in the world, but
in order for him to shine he needs someone to do the dirty work, and Arsenal
are lacking this at the moment. They are missing the likes of Gilberto and
Flamini, both excellent players in their own right, but prepared to put in a
shift in order to let Cesc shine.
spine is completed by Emmanuel Adebayor, a player whose goalscoring
achievements can not be ignored, but who spent all summer trying to manufacture
a move to the San Siro; is he really the right man for the job? Is his heart in
it, or will he start flirting with clubs in anticipation of the post season?
What do Arsenal
fans think of their latest slip up? Is it curtains for the title challenge for
What can Wenger
do in order to strengthen his side; surely the need for a new defensive trio of
goalkeeper, centre back and holding midfielder must be of great priority?