Ho, ho, ho! Christmas is, almost, officially here, and like the rest of us, football managers are hoping for some lovely presents.
Arsene Wenger is, perhaps, more in need than most of some thoughtful gifts, with Arsenal’s season having lurched from disappointment to disaster on a weekly basis so far.
So what does the Frenchman need all wrapped up with a bow on top? Well, we’ve got a glimpse of his letter to Mr Claus, and here’s what we found…
The fans know it, the pundits are calling for it and anybody with a fully – or even partially –functioning pair of eyes is aware of the issue. Arsenal need defenders. Nacho Monreal’s woes at centre-back and a horrendous list of injuries have ruthlessly exposed a lack of depth at the back for the Gunners, who have changed their backline more often that we’d care to mention this season, with predictable results.
Money is thought to be in place, with a £20m minimum kitty deep enough to land at least one extra pair of legs to bolster their rearguard. Winston Reid and Virgil van Dijk of West Ham and Celtic respectively are options, with the pair well within Wenger’s budget. But will he move for them?
Scenes as Wenger boarded the train after his side’s shock loss in Stoke were, erm… a little unfair. The Frenchman was ferociously booed by disenchanted Gunners fans, who truly ran out of patience with their manager after the latest slip. But had Wenger plumped for better seats, he may have been able to slip seamlessly from the first class lounge (if there is such a location in the Potteries) and onto the train without facing a barrage of abuse. Surely some fan will chip in for an upgrade? No? Oh…
— IndyFootball (@IndyFootball) December 5, 2014
Arsenal’s injury list is frankly embarrassing. Jack Wilshere’s latest blow means that he’ll be out until Spring 2015, while a host of other players are keeping the Gunners’ physios inundated with work through the festive period. The perfect gift for Wenger would be a fully fit and firing Mesut Ozil, some defenders back in action and at least one of his experienced goalkeepers to be okay for 90 minutes of aerial bombardment.
2-0 down on a freezing Saturday in Stoke. Hope Wenger has his big coat on. pic.twitter.com/fpc5pYEAps
— Paddy Power (@paddypower) December 6, 2014
Wenger’s barrier against the cold has been a long running joke. From his hilarious zip issues, to sleeping bag references, opposing fans have been given nearly limitless ammo to fire pot-shots at the Frenchman. Surely some Love To Shop vouchers can be dug out for a new jacket…
Football is a result business, and Arsenal simply haven’t been picking up the points they need. With all of the traditional top four rivals stuttering, the Gunners had a real chance, and still have a good the opportunity, to get their quest for Champions League qualification on track early on, yet shock losses and the surrendering of leads have cost them big time. It’s not too late though, with the festive period presenting games thick and fast and the chance to focus on the league.
Second spot in Group D awaits for the Gunners, unless Dortmund slip up, making the draw next week a potentially dangerous one for the Gunners. Over the course of the last few years a failure to top their pool has forced Arsenal to take on some of Europe’s big boys, which has always ended in disappointment. The draw may be tricky again this time around, but a slice of good fortune may be what’s needed for the Londoners to make a long-awaited continental impact.