Arsene Wenger has, without doubt, been Arsenal’s most successful manager. During his 21 seasons in charge of the Gunners, Wenger has won the FA Cup seven times and the Premier League three times. In fact, while many will remember Leicester City’s remarkable Premier League win for many years to come, few can deny that Arsenal’s “invincible” 2003/2004 where they went unbeaten in the league is something special.
Unfortunately, even with three “Manager of the Year” titles to his name and the record for longest serving Premier League manager under his belt, Wenger has become the epitome of the phrase: “every dog has its day”. Yes, he’s made the club perennial contenders. Yes, he’s maintained a tight financial ship while those around him have sunk under a mountain of debt. And yes, the team is still capable of winning trophies. However, all this doesn’t mean he’s the right man for the job anymore and that he should have been given a new two-year contract.
Wenger Stuck in the Early Noughties
As sad as it might be to say, football moves on and Wenger simply hasn’t. Sure, he can still keep pace with some of the top teams, but he’s limping along and often times the beneficiary of another team’s failings rather than his own successes. For example, when Arsenal won the 2016/2017 FA Cup, it was against the odds.
Heading into the match, Arsenal were 4/1 outsiders and as much as 5/1 with some online bookmakers. In reality, Arsenal took the win after Chelsea were reduced to 10 men, but even then it took until the 76th minute for the Gunners to make it 2-1. When the whistle blew, the players, fans and manager were rightly ecstatic, but the performance wasn’t exactly vintage Arsenal.
In fact, the team’s inability to match the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea when it comes to firepower (77 goals vs. 80, 86 and 85 respectively) isn’t a good sign. Moreover, when you consider Arsenal’s goals against (44) was 11 more than league winner’s Chelsea and a staggering 18 behind Tottenham, it’s clear there are leaks that need plugging. This, however, it all boils down to this: will Wenger pull the trigger?
A Lack of Transfer Skills is Costly
Following years of near misses and disappointment at home and in Europe, it always seems to be the same story at the end of the season: will Wenger buy any world class talent? His once impressive record for spotting and nurturing young talent has now become something of a running joke and his record in the transfer market is the only thing more disappointing that this season’s performances.
Now, this could all change if recent reports are to be believed. Wenger was recently spotted in France and could be poised to offer a world record bid for youngster Kylian Mbappe. Also on the supposed hit list are Riyad Mahrez and Arda Tura. Moreover, with the Arsenal board reportedly “demanding” Wenger spends the £165 million at his disposal, he’s also willing to offer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £100k-a-week to keep him from joining Liverpool.
Unfortunately, until any of these things happen, Wenger’s reputation precedes him. In fact, not even the bookmakers are buying into the hype as Arsenal are still lagging in next season’s betting stakes. A look through the latest odds on the Sun Bets football betting pages show Arsenal are 12/1 outsiders for the 2017/2018. Not only is that significantly worse than Chelsea’s 2/1 price, but a higher betting line than Manchester United who finished below the Gunners last season.
The Old Dog Needs Some New Tricks
Age might only be a number in life, but in football the older master often falls to the younger genius and that appears to be Wenger’s main problem. His unwillingness to move with the times is commendable, but damaging at the same time. Maybe the fact he was almost out on his ear at the end of last season will force him to buck his ideas up, sign some players and re-find the attacking form that made him a legend at Arsenal. However, as the saying goes, it’s not always easy to teach an old dog new tricks.
Daniel Smyth is a freelance sports and betting writer with interests in poker, football and MMA. With almost a decade in the industry, Daniel has become a leading voice in his field and someone that’s always able to sport the best odds.