Leicester 0-0 Arsenal
Arsenal followed their loss against Liverpool on the opening day of the Premier League season with another poor display as they drew 0-0 against Leicester on Saturday evening.
Once again Wenger’s failure to recruit a centre forward during the summer transfer window came back to haunt him as the continued experiment in deploying Alexis Sanchez up front failed once again.Anyone who has watched Arsenal since Sanchez arrived knows that his best position is not up front on his own but in either the number 10 role behind the main striker or on the flanks. Unfortunately the most important person at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger, does not seem to have realised this and is instead attempting to fool the World into believing otherwise. Unfortunately for him, his wishes have not materialised on the pitch as the Gunners have struggled for attacking fluency in each of their opening games. Against Leicester, this decision was all the more ludicrous as the slight frame of Sanchez was pitted against the robust Robert Huth and Wes Morgan. The idea that the pace of Sanchez could cause them problems was just as ill thought as the whole football world knows Leicester like to sit deep and catch their opponents on the break, therefore leaving very little space in behind.
The lack of forward options at Arsenal has been exacerbated even more with the decision to loan Joel Campbell to Sporting Lisbon for the entire season. This transfer has caused great consternation amongst the Arsenal faithful particularly at a time when the Gunners are struggling to pose an attacking threat. For those that believe Wenger has lost his touch the plight of Joel Campbell is held up as a symbol that the manager is simply not the same man he was during his early years at the club.
Campbell came into the first team last season after several loan spells, and couldn’t have done much more to justify a place in the squad if not the first eleven. The Costa Rican gave his all in every single game, running himself into the ground as he chased the ball down and helped out the defence with his tireless running. From an attacking point of view, he was always positive when in possession, scoring and creating goals almost every time he played and quickly becoming a fan favourite. Those who still strongly believe in Arsene Wenger however do not agree, declaring that Campbell was never going to be a World Class player and so the manager is justified in refusing to persevere with him. Yet this argument doesn’t really stack up. Apart from Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and possibly Laurent Koscielny, Arsenal do not possess any other World Class players. Those deployed instead of Campbell against Leicester, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain are far from World Class players but have been afforded numerous opportunities to grow and develop to no avail. So why not Campbell? Rumours of a poor attitude in training persist, but there were certainly no problems with his attitude come match day and ultimately is this not what matters? The likes of Ramsey and Walcott must perform fantastically well in training for Wenger to still pick them week in week out, but come match day they rarely perform to the standards required at a top club. Against Leicester Oxlade-Chamberlain showed glimpses of promise but was largely anonymous, as was Walcott apart from a chance late on which he spurned by shooting straight at the goalkeeper, when a square pass would have provided Giroud with a tap in. Such abject performances will only serve to further highlight the ridiculous decision to send Campbell out on loan.
The manager’s judgement is so clouded at the moment that he even selected a half fit Olivier Giroud on the bench and left the only match fit striker at the club, Chuba Akpom, at home. Giroud came on with barely 10 minutes left and failed to have any impact on the game, while Akpom watched at home, probably contemplating his future at the club. After all if he cannot get a place on the bench in such a dire situation, then what hope is there for him to forge a career at the club?
In defence Wenger is still desperately scrambling around Europe trying to find a centre back of a superior quality to those he already possesses and most importantly one who is affordable. The sheer desperation of the manager was highlighted perfectly by his decision to throw Koscielny into the starting line up despite the Frenchman having picked up a back injury in Friday’s final training session and also lacking match fitness. In the end the gamble paid off as Koscielny came through the match unscathed and produced a man of the match display too. The Frenchman was unbelievable as he became a one man defensive line, throwing himself into last ditch tackles and timing them to perfection, as well as putting his body on the line to block goal bound shots and covering his fellow defenders to clear his lines. Wenger praised the performance of Rob holding after the match, but without Koscielny Arsenal would not have even secured the point they did. In fact even with the Frenchman, they were fortunate to leave with a point as Cech was forced into a fine save late on before Bellerin was very lucky not to concede a last minute penalty for a trip on Moussa.This was yet another disappointing performance from Arsenal. They are far from their best at the moment and with a manager struggling to find solutions in the transfer market, appearing to be desperately short of ideas and making questionable decisions, this could well be a very long season for Arsenal supporters, especially with clubs around them improving all the time.