2014 has been an odd year for Arsene Wenger. Last Christmas his side were firmly in the title battle and had been leading the way for much of the season, yet just 12 months later fans are calling for him to leave the club – he arrived way back in 1996 – and a top four push is looking tricky given poor form and a the presence of a many, many rivals.
But the 25th is almost here, and the Frenchman may get a few timely presents under his tree… So here are FIVE we at FFC Towers think may be on his list to Santa.
How silly does selling Thomas Vermaelen look now? Very is the answer! In truth, the Belgian wanted to leave and Barcelona is a big lure for any player, but getting a replacement in should have been a pressing concern for Wenger. Reports suggest that he tried, but ultimately, despite negotiations with Kostas Manolas, it was another transfer boo-boo from the Frenchman. Injuries have not been kind since, forcing full-backs and midfielders into roles in the Gunners’ backline, so Wenger would love to see a fresh centre-back – particularly in the shape of Mats Hummels – under his tree on the 25th.
One of the darker moments of Arsenal’s season came when Wenger was roundly booed at a train station in Stoke. In truth the performance his side put in during the 3-2 loss to the Potters was poor, but such treatment of an iconic manager who’s brought success down the years to a great club proves just how fickle the modern game is. Maybe a first-class travel card would be idea for the Gunners boss so he can slip out of the executive lounge and onto his carriage in peace, or even a personal chauffeur for those trick away days.
1) 312 ‘Significant Injuries’ in the last 11 seasons (10 days or more out)
2) 25 injuries this season
3) 13,161 days lost over the last decade
4) 874 days lost this season
5) Topping the table (most injuries of all Premier League sides in 2007/08, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2013/14.
Maybe a top class physio team could help with these damning stats.
Wilshere and Ramsey are two of the Gunners’ most vital players. The pair, albeit similar in approach, have worked well together in recent times, and are well-versed in the ‘Arsenal way’ of playing. Their combined absence has forced Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla into central positions – Mikel Arteta is also out – and out more pressure on Mathieu ‘Mr Yellow Card’ Flamini.
It may be a little simplistic, but luck plays a big factor in football. Has Arsenal found a fourth against Anderlecht earlier this season they may not have the embarrassment of the 3-3 draw on their shoulders, and if Martin Skrtel was not quite as brave – he played on with stitches in his head – over the weekend, the big Slovakian would not have been in place to nod in a late, late equaliser.