On the weekend, Arsenal saw its slim hopes of a title extinguished. A two goal collapse resulting in a draw at West Ham coupled with wins by both Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur left the Gunners thirteen points off the lead and six off second place. While they still have a game at hand and are not mathmatically out of the race, any hope of two shocking collapses from the leading teams who have been consistent all year is wishful thinking.
How bad is it? After 32 games last season, which you might remember as the Chelsea Walk, Arsenal sat second with 66 points, only six behind the eventual champions. Arsenal are on pace for only 70 points which would be their lowest point total since 2011/12 and 65 goals which would be worst in 10 years. It would be the most optimistic person who could look at this season as anything but a "disappointment".
And it's a "disappointment" to be laid squarely at Arsene Wenger's feet. After bumping along to an eventual third place finish last time around, the boss looked at the team and added the following players: Cech, Petr. That was what Wenger felt was the missing factor that would vault Arsenal the final few spots up the table to truly challenge for the league title (or any of his preseason comments were disingenuous).
But instead of being a better team, Arsenal have been worse. If not for the disorganization of Man City and Man Utd and the utter Mourinho destruction of Chelsea, this season could easily be labeled a 5th place performance. Whether players didn't improve as expected, injuries unsettled the team or the team was tactically ill-prepared, the evaluations were Wenger's and they were wrong.
Thanks to this season, one could reasonably expect a massive response for the next. Merely the recent shift in managers, including Conte, Klopp and some guy named Pep, signifies that the landscape of the Premier League is about to undergo some vast changes, except at Arsenal. While Arsenal's campaign might spell the end of another managerial career (say, someone like LVG?), Wenger has been tipped to remain for his last season under contract (for now). But despite overtures to Arsenal's war chest and buying some big names, it is hard to actually believe Wenger will betray his incredibly loyalty to the current roster and overhauling this team to the levels needed to keep pace.
Well, they say if you want something done right, you should contract the job out. (Wait... nah, let's roll with it.) In this series, Fixing Arsenal, I shall tear the team asunder and make some calls on what is working, what is not and what signs of hope there are. I welcome you to join me in pretending to be logging onto FM 2016 and taking a figurative sledgehammer (you're welcome, Ted) to the squad and then argue about the results. Please keep it above the belt.
Tomorrow: Fixing Arsenal - What Is Right