There has been a lot of analysis of this season's efforts so far, some would say there are too many opinions on show and that there are too many knee jerk reactions to one off results, I therefore always try to be cautious with my words. The season is now about a third gone, so we now sit in a reasonable position from which to judge our manager and our team. The question for me is could anything have been done better to avoid the problems that we have encountered so far?
Arsene has spoken again following Villa game, firstly he responds to the suggestion that he should have brought in another experienced player in the summer:
"Not really, we had no player we really wanted and for now we have no regrets. You cannot explain the own goal of Gael Clichy by the fact we haven’t got an experienced player in midfield. I think we were not, as a team, sharp enough to dictate the pace and be dominant in the fight [against Aston Villa]."
It is true that the lack of an experienced player did not 'directly' result in Villa's goal, however I find it very hard to believe that our lack of experience has nothing to do with our lack of consistency. I am sure a lack of experience is part of it, however it is certainly not the whole story. Villa created several very good chances as our defence gaped like the Rift Valley, the defeat was no fluke.
I think Ted was getting rather warm with his recent piece that explained our love of playing the technical possession game, this tactic does not have much margin for error; if we are on our game we can beat anyone, however if we are off it then we can look very average indeed. I would argue that our playing style encourages inconsistency, this playing style is what our players know best though, we have a very small side of excellent technical ball players; we are therefore excellent when we are playing well with the ball at our feet, however when things don't go to plan we don't have many players who can win the ball back or get properly stuck into the opposition.
The lack of a shield for Cesc has been talked of, for example many people thought Alonso should have been recruited in the summer. I don't think this is a problem that can be blamed on not bringing in one player, although the loss of Flamini has certainly hit us hard; it appears to be more of a systemic problem, we don't have the right balance of players in our squad to be able to vary our approach, we are a one trick pony of sorts. Wenger has openly admitted the lack of consistency, however he must look harder for the rational explanation as it is there staring him in the face:
“You have to accept that the game is played by human beings and sometimes physically they have a drop. It is very difficult for us to have a rational explanation about what happened today. I believe that the team want it but it was just like a few other times this year where it is unexplainable why we don’t really play at our 100% potential.”Our group of players are the best bunch of technical footballers in the land, we are the most pleasing on the eye by a mile when things click, however our unique brand of beautiful football is a high precision machine, and there is so little margin for error then when things slip a little, we cannot grind out a result and things fall apart. Michael Essien spoke of this and frankly I can see his point, to a degree.
This is not the only reason for our inconsistency, other factors (in my opinion) have included our lack of a rock solid centre back pairing, losing big Phil for Silvestre and some slightly dubious tactical decisions. Just to demonstrate my point, just think of the great Arsenal sides of Arsene's reign, there have always been some beasts in there, the likes of Vieira, Adams, Keown, Petit, Edu and Parlour would invariably have the bottle for a good old battle.
In my eyes you can only progress from openly and honestly looking at where you have gone wrong, learn from it and go about putting it right. Our current team does not have the correct balance, we have too many technical ball players and no one to win it back, we are also terribly small as a side and have no one who can dominate aerially in defense, as a consequence we can be terribly one dimensional and predictablein attack while the defence leaks goals. It's time Arsene faced up to this so when can address these problems asap.