I wont do the obvious, and now slightly boring, opening paragraph recording Arsenal’s second half of the season implosion, we all know what happened. With regards to the Gunners ‘collapse’ though, Jack Wilshere has come out and said that it was all because they lacked a ‘nasty streak’, “I think we can be a bit too nice at times”. Is that really all Arsene Wenger’s side lacked? Would a more aggressive Arsenal side have achieved an unprecedented Quadruple?
This isn’t a huge eye opener, such criticisms have been labelled at Wenger’s Arsenal since 2005 (this is no coincedence that this was the year Patrick Vieira left). The Frenchman’s style of play during his Gunners career epitomises everything this current Arsenal side lacks, desire, fight and a leader; so many ‘flaws’ surely can’t all be solved with a ‘nasty streak’?
Yes, a nasty streak is missing from the Gunners play, but Wilshere went on to say “Man United are the best at it. They get round the referee. We have to be more of a team, be more aggressive, show more authority and take control.” Surely bending the rules isn’t the answer? Harassing referee’s and having a ‘nasty streak’ hasn’t single-handedly helped Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson achieve twelve Premier League titles, so there must be more problems than Arsenal’s lack of aggression.
A ‘nasty streak’ wouldn’t have stopped Laurent Koscielny’s ‘clearance’ in the Carling Cup final which began the downward spiral, but a ‘nasty streak’ would have no doubt resulted in Arsenal taking three points from St James Park when 4-0 up. My point is, in one off games, such as Carling Cup finals and Champions League last 16 games, Arsenal lack hunger, lack desire and lack any form of ‘Yes we can and want to win this’ something which is embedded deep within their psyche; you don’t lose cup finals because enough of your players didn’t surround the man with the whistle.
Adding a bit of ‘bite’ to the Arsenal line up, is a necessity but with regards to Wilshere’s comments I feel the Englishman feels it is a case of just buying a couple of Gennaro Gattuso’s to stick in the middle of the park and the problem will be solved. Many will disagree with what I’m about to say but in my eyes Arsenal have that ‘nasty streak’ in their squad already but they don’t use it. Alex Song is of the Vieira mould, Wilshere is passionate boarding on ten red cards a season, Thomas Vermaelen’s nickname is the ‘Verminator’ which speaks for itself, and Robin Van Persie believes any decision against Arsenal by the referee is a personal insult to him, they have the ruthlessness to be successful.
However and it is a ‘huge’ however, until Arsene Wenger stops defending his team till the cows come home, the likes of Clichy, Denilson, Arshavin and Eboue will keep the mentality, that is very evident in their play, ‘Oh well my bank account is £75,000 better off this week and the manager will take all the stick for my poor performances.’ Ok, I appreciate I may have described the scenario in it’s extreme but the point none the less is valid. Wenger never blames his players, which is honourable to a certain extent but Emmanuel Eboue’s decision to trip Dirk Kuyt in the penalty box, when the Dutchman was going away from goal in 102nd minute of the game, was reckless and down right stupid. That is just one of a whole host of examples where Arsenal players have showed stupidity time and time again and until Wenger stops saying “This team is absolutely amazing for what they do at their age” they will continue to shirk responsibility and make silly mistakes, without ever fearing a Fergie-esque backlash. The ‘nasty streak’ has to start with the manager and the rest will follow suit.
Whether you think Wenger is to blame or you think I am just talking out of my Arsenal, let me know on