If you follow football to any sort of extent, it is no secret Arsenal have fallen from the great power of international football they had wielded in the last two decades.
When you think of Arsenal you think of the great teams like the Invincibles of 2003-04 and the strong sides under Arsene Wenger in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Now you see Arsenal struggling to be taken seriously in its own country, let alone across the continent.
So where did it all go wrong for the Gunners?
It would be easy to point the finger at manager Mikel Arteta and his predecessors, but when you’re in charge of a club riddled with problems from top to bottom there’s only so much you can do. Arteta has been trying to slowly but surely help Arsenal come back up the ranks since he took over from Unai Emery after his disastrous spell at the helm.
He has definitely improved the club on and off the field while trying to teach the squad what it means to play for Arsenal – Arteta played for Arsenal from 2011 until 2016 – while also implementing a game style that brings the best out of many players. He has also given youth a chance to make sure they have the best chance possible to turn in to world-class players.
Squad culture is an important thing to any successful sports team no matter the code. As evident in the past three or four years, the Arsenal squad has lacked any sort of winning mentality. Before Arteta’s arrival it seemed many players didn’t know what it truly meant to play for Arsenal, showing in some of the actions from players – Granit Xhaka’s mid-game blow-up last year comes to mind.
Arteta has tried his best to instil pride for the shirt, but obviously there’s still a long way to go.
Although it may seem unfair to blame the fact the players simply aren’t good enough for Arsenal – many would disagree – sweeping changes to the team are needed to elevate the squad to Champions League quality. The defence needs serious sorting out as it is too inconsistent to be acceptable in the Premier League.
The midfield is solid but comprises some players on extremely large wages who need to be offloaded to make room, Mesut Ozil being the obvious example. This midfield sometimes seems to be lost in the game and struggles to stamp its authority on a match. It’s crying out for a midfield enforcer like Patrick Vieira once was.
Finally, attacking-wise Arsenal are quite stacked, and if they can keep hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they have the making of a somewhat solid squad providing the other changes needed are made.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the club is something Emery, the squad and the fans have no fault at all for, and that is the fact that the owner, Stan Kroenke, shows little to no interest at all in making the club a success and is only focused on making sure he is making as much money out of it as possible.
Kroenke was quoted in 2016 saying that he didn’t buy Arsenal to win trophies. “If you want to win championships, then you would never get involved,” he told MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.
When your owner shows a lack of ambition like that it’s little wonder the club often appears uninspired on and off the pitch.
Arsenal is a sleeping giant that could easily realise its incredible potential with changes that the fans have been crying out for.