I know that some people love to simplistically polarise debate, you're either with us or against us, the manager is perfect or shite, but frankly life is rarely black and white, and football is no exception to this rule. It's easy to get carried away in the heat of the moment and completely lose perspective, in so doing one can be unfair and forget to appreciate what one does have.
It has not been a good couple of weeks and there have been many reasons for this, the manager has been far from blameless with some long term decisions and some shorter term ones, some players have not pulled their weight and we have not been the luckiest either. The cup final could easily have gone the other way despite the performance not being great in the first half, the Barca game saw us fighting an uphill battle after a refereeing howler, while the Manu game saw the kind of performance that typifies us when we at our most frustrating, luck and some excellent goalkeeper played its part too.
Arsene is no fool, it has been obvious from the way in which Denilson's role has gradually diminished that he is running out of patience with the mediocre Brazilian. I also sense that he is running our of patience with certain other individuals who have been given more than enough in the way of first team chances. Wherever we finish in the league this year, it is clear that certain players must be nearing the exit door and those at the top of any provisional list must include Denilson, Diaby, Rosicky, Arshavin and Vela.
Personally speaking I don't think we have ever properly replaced the backbone of our midfield since Gilberto and Flamini left in the summer 0f 2008. Song has developed terrifically well, Wilshere is a great all rounder and has had a great first year, but beyond this we really lack any strength in depth. This has been so so evident when the Denilson-Diaby combo has had its chance of late. There is some young talent coming through (Ramsey/Frimpong/Lansbury) but a solid combative player with experience would have added a lot at times this year. Arsene must know he has made an error in this regard.
Defensively I think we have improved massively, the emergence of Johan Djourou as a top notch centre back alongside the mobile Koscielny has been key, as has the progress of Mr Szczesny. A bigger problem for us has been our lack of pace and our consequent inability to kill teams off on the counter attack, as we used to in days of old. Theo has the electric zip, but beyond him we really lack the top drawer speed to scare defences. Our strikers are not slow but we lack a real pacey front man a la Henry or Anelka of old; our other wingers are not speed merchants either. Arshavin has gone backwards, looks overweight and lacks speed. Perhaps too much pressure has been then heaped on Samir Nasri.
Wenger may appear tactically naive but I think this is an easy explanation, it is more than he has now hamstrung himself by assembling a one dimensional squad of players that means he simply has to play in a certain way, we have lost the great diversity of squad that we used to have, there is not enough bite and grit in the midfield, there is not enough raw pace in our attacking players. We have seen that when something approaching our first eleven is fielded, we can beat anyone, Barca and Chelsea found this out, the problem is that with only a couple of injuries to players in certain positions we are left significantly weaker than we should be.
The league is still there for the taking and you never know, a lot will depend on injuries. If Bartley can be recalled then he should be, we need more cover at centre back given Djourou's absence, I would also be sorely tempted to recall Henri Lansbury but this would depend on the fitness of our other currently injured midfielders and I am not privy to that kind of insider information. What remains clear is that the balance of the squad is not right, psoitively the manager seems to be aware of these issues and I hope that he will address them in the summer. There are some players in this squad who are not of the right cut to wear an Arsenal shirt and this just has to be addressed, ruthlessly if needs be. Let's just hope the lads can turn things around and put together a run of results that will test Manu's character to its breaking point.