I have had this thought in my mind for a long while – to create a comprehensive list of weaknesses of Arsenal as identified by fans, pundits, and others.
This list is not a judgement on the club, manager, or the players. All the criticisms in this list aren’t necessarily valid. I believe most of these arguments don’t hold water upon closer inspection but want to avoid a debate on the merits of each, at least for the time being. Since everyone has their favourite gripes against the club and those working for it, such a debate will go out of control in no time.
I just want to put down everything in one place and see how the opinions compare to it over the course of the season. If time permits I will also try to see how other teams fare against this list. I think it will provide us a good benchmark and some interesting discussion points over the course of the season. So please help me in building this list by mentioning any supposed weaknesses that I miss out on (There are so many complaints that I am sure to forget a fair few of them).
I have broadly classified this into criticisms of Players, Manager, and Board.
- Strikers (and others in general) are not clinical enough
- Club lacks a 20 goal a season striker
- Big stars were never replaced
- Players lack a winning mentality
- Players lack leadership
- Central defenders don’t command their area
- There is no organizer in the team
- Full-backs can’t cross
- Full-backs can’t block crosses
- Very few players can attack balls put in the box
- Players can’t defend set-pieces
- Can’t defend long balls
- Attacking set-pieces are wasted
- No consistent free-kick taker
- Club lacks a world class goalkeeper
- Don’t shoot from outside the box often enough
- Not physical (big,tall) enough for the Premier League
- Lack grit and determination
- Some players are lazy
- Some players lack commitment
- Get injured on a regular basis
- Cannot hold on to leads
- Cannot counter-attack at pace
Wenger (and staff)
- Tactically – Anywhere from weak to utterly clueless
- Defensive coaching is poor
- Playing style lacks balance
- Lack of a plan B
- Blind to obvious problems
- No/Poor training on attacking and defending set-pieces
- Reluctant to spend money
- Gives ridiculous interviews/ Makes excuses
- Rewards underperforming players
- Happy to finish fourth – lacks winning mentality
- Prefers tika-taka football and ignores the other needs of the team (many points mentioned under players)
- No 2 and others are ‘Yes Men’
- Medical staff cannot keep players injury free
- Happy with fourth as long as Champions League money is coming in
- Don’t care about fans
- New owner(s) just want to make money
- Not interested in investing in the club
- Sold the club short on commercial deals
- New commercial team has not performed
That’s all I can think for now. Please add to it based on what you’ve read over the last season or two. I realize there is a bit of redundancy but I want to err on the side of excess rather than leave something out.
Just so no one gets me wrong, I want to reiterate this is not a list of weaknesses/problems that I agree with. It’s just a collection of top criticisms that I have heard or read in the past two years. Some of these concerns are valid, some are partially valid and others are just a result of the fans’ frustration or borne from the creative minds of anti-Arsenal hacks and pundits.
Of course, if we take some distance and look at this list, it is startling at the very least. How can a team with 23 issues (can increase based on your suggestions) of such magnitude with an additional 15 against the manager and his staff come in the top four of the Premier League with such consistency? Surely others who have spent hundreds of millions must finish above such an Arsenal side, no? It took Man City more than half a billion pounds and three years just to finish three points above the Gunners with so many issues? Why haven’t the Tiny Totts overtaken the Gunners despite doing what many Gooners have been asking for (sacking managers, selling and buying players in bulk)?
As I said I don’t want to judge anyone or discuss any of these points so will leave you with these observations and those questions. I will return to this post tomorrow with an interesting comparison and then again during the course of the season when something relevant turns up.