Arsenal's repeated mistakes raise serious questions about Arsene Wenger's future

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 15.08.2016 22:24

"I want Wenger to leave Arsenal eventually with his head held high but if yesterday is anything to go by - it could get messy." an Arsenal fan wrote after the disappointing defeat against Liverpool in the opening game, seemingly confused about Arsene Wenger's performance. Well, as Arsenal fans very well know, the team's fragile and inconsistent performances are not something new, and considering Arsenal's home defeat after some promising pre-season games, they are still the same unpredictable Gunners as usual. Nevertheless, the reason why Arsene Wenger is still in charge after a near-fruitless decade that followed a hugely successful decade is that he was the creator of many great performances, moments and talents in the Premier League. But as the paradigms shift in football and new strategies constantly evolve, Wenger seems to have problems adapting his game to the spirit of the time.

First of all, Wenger is one of the rare coaches who was not inspired by Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone's tactics, which is based on intense pressing in the opponent's half and conducting swift counter-attacks from where the ball is intercepted. What differentiates this game from its relative counter-attacking games is that Simeone's version does not accept playing the game in his own half, rather he pushes the opponent into their half without taking the initiative, which creates more danger for the opponent and less for Atletico.

However, Wenger still pursues the Barcelona revolution in 2009 when Guardiola's tiki-taka ruled everyone, but he mistakenly regards his opponents as still the same counter-attackers. Added to that, Wenger's game is at almost the half speed of what Barcelona played in those years and, interestingly, they are still inferior to Barca in terms of organization. Arsenal have put themselves in one of the most dangerous scenarios a team can be in; a young fragile team short on speed and organization that trying to play a bald, dominant style.

To my mind, Wenger's decision to pursue a different approach is not a mistake, because Simeone also came up with a new strategy when tiki-taka ruled. His mistake was that he could not develop a strategy that would breach an intense press, create passing opportunities in every area of the field and eventually create opportunities, disturb the opponent before they become dangerous and create opportunities via set-pieced counters. Rather, Wenger has talented players in each and every position to satisfy the demands of tiki-taka, but does not have a concrete plan on how to utilize them to achieve the results I mentioned above.

Finally, I admire Wenger's radical and idealistic approach, but in order for him to be beneficial for Arsenal, he has to read the new era in football accurately. He must not forget that he does not have an infinite credit anymore and Arsenal fans have become more anxious and impatient. If he wants to stay at the Emirates, he has to adapt his game to the new rules or create his own rules to make his own revolution.

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