Pressure continues to mount on Arsene Wenger after Arsenal followed their capitulation against Anderlecht with defeat at Swansea on Sunday.
While former Gunners star Paul Merson has offered the most vocal criticism—branding his former boss “clueless,” as reported by Daily Mail — reports suggest Arsenal staff are beginning to lose faith in a manager who left his team exposed during Sunday’s defeat at the Liberty Stadium.
While Merson’s “harsh view is not shared by anybody at the Emirates Stadium, there is frustration inside the club over Wenger’s refusal to change his defensive setup.” It was reported that “backroom figures were left dismayed” by the tactical decisions made in Wales.
Even former England striker Alan Shearer criticised Arsenal for being “naive” against Swansea.
Having thrown away a 3-0 lead to draw with Anderlecht just days before their latest loss, it was telling to see so many Gunners shirts in the opposite half when Swansea broke forward to gain an equaliser.
Wenger failed to ease the struggles of Calum Chambers, who couldn’t maintain pace with Jefferson Montero. Bafetimbi Gomis out-jumped makeshift centre-back Nacho Monreal for the winner, which came from the excitable winger’s cross.
One has to ask why Monreal, or indeed youngster Hector Bellerin, weren’t pushed to right-back so that Chambers could dominate from his preferred role in the middle.
Wenger later suggested “nobody will touch” Chelsea at the top of the table, according to BBC Sport. His defeatist attitude is less than inspiring and may go some way to underlining why Real Madrid coach Paul Clement is “favourite” to replace the manager, as reported by Daily Star.
There’s no doubt Wenger needs a solid run of results heading into January. He must spend decent money to land an additional centre-back and defensive midfielder, while it may be worthwhile considering attacking reinforcements, too.
Danny Welbeck continues to work hard, but he has scored just once in his last seven matches. A lack of physicality behind the Englishman sees him drop deeper than he should, meaning midfield should be a priority when the window opens.
Yohan Cabaye as a viable target for the club, according to an English reporter. Cabaye is a player whose natural determination and multi-faceted game would strengthen the Gunners’ middle. Wenger missed out on the former Newcastle man when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain, underlining his often frustrating transfer inactivity.
Criticism of Wenger is almost an annual occurrence due to Arsenal’s lack of extended title challenges over the last decade. He appears to have given up hope of success already and must take responsibility for failing to address key squad deficiencies during the summer.
Worryingly, Wenger has only served to amplify these with his team selection, which has been guilty of placing his men under unfair pressure across the season. Chambers has performed admirably for the most part, but he was left battling against the odds by a manager who only reacted when his team went behind.
This lack of forward-thinking and anticipation is at the heart of criticism, which is starting to develop from within.
Failure to overcome Manchester United in their next Premier League date will only galvanise calls for Wenger to step down. Despite landing FA Cup silverware last season, any sense of progress seems to have diminished for a side who face another low-key battle to make the Premier League’s top four.