Arsene Wenger: The right man to take Arsenal back to glory.

Arsenal celebrated the 17th year (of appointment) of their long serving manager, Arséne Wenger with a clinical 2 – 0 win against the Italian side Napoli. That week ended with a hard-fought draw against WBA. The result was enough to keep Arsenal at the top of the table. International break and one more matchday later, Arsenal are still atop the table with 19 poins from 8 games.

With the kind of form and determination that the team has shown since March this year, it is unthinkable that Wenger’s Red and White Army will go through another season without winning any silverware. Is this transformation down to one good signing? No, it isn’t. It is the culmination of a process that the Frenchman started in 2005, when the club decided to shift its base from Highbury to The Emirates. At a time when Arsenal struggled to keep hold of their best players, the Academy continued to nurture youngsters capable of becoming the best players in the world. In the 2007-08 season, Wenger nearly did the unthinkable before a freak injury to Eduardo and inconsistent performances thereon cost them the league title.


Called Lé Professeur for his studious demeanour, Wenger has remained loyal to his fundamentals and continued to promote exciting talents like Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Theo Walcott, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and many more despite the frequent departure of players onto greener pastures and some players not living up to the expectations (yet). His approach to football is emphasised on an attacking mentality, with the aim of entertaining on the football ground.

Photo Courtesy @arsenalofkaPhoto Courtesy @arsenalofka

I have followed the club since 2000 and have been an admirer of Wenger. His ability to build a team from scratch and mentor exciting talents has won him accolades from admirers and competitors alike. Even with the new found financial might, I will not like the club and the manager to abandon the philosophy, for this is what separates them from the rest. Following the departure of George Graham, the reign at Arsenal was handed over to an unknown Frenchman who would change the fortunes of the club forever. Under Wenger’s guidance, Arsenal moved to a new training facility, won titles year after year as records tumbled; England witnessed the power and beauty of the mighty Invincibles, the club moved into a new home – The Emirates and finally the frustration of not winning trophies.

Here’s a quick look at Wenger’s statistics, compared to the man he succeeded.

source: wikipedia.orgSource:

After successfully building the Invincibles team, Wenger began working on the next generation of superstars. The result: Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and then: Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Laurant Koscielny, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Olxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Serge Gnabry, Gedion Zelalem and many more.

At the same time, the recent Arsenal Academy Cull proves that Wenger is not always right. His persistence with some players from the academy has not proved fruitful. Despite advocating promotion of players from the youth academy, Arsenal have only 3 players in the regular playing XI who have graduated from the academy: Kieran Gibbs, Wojciech Szczesny and Jack Wilshere.


The last 8 years have seen the rise of many world class players at the club. What the fans also witnessed in that time was(i) defeat in a CL final when they were not more than 20 minutes away from winning the ultimate prize of European Club Football,(ii) a heart-breaking injury to a striker when Arsenal were 3 months away from winning the league and (iii) a moment of madness that took away from them the League Cup when Arsenal were the overwhelming favourites to win it.

Every season saw the exit of established names. The players who were entrusted with the task of taking the club back to its glory days were lured away by the prospect of earning big bucks at other clubs, thus hampering Arsenal’s chances over the years. The one person who remained at the helm despite all this was Arséne Wenger. He weathered the storm, took the abuses and criticism as a part and parcel of his job and remained focussed on the goals the club had set for itself during the years of the financial hardship. The goal, a finish in the top 4 was essential to provide the club with a launch-pad to take the next step but it was often looked upon as detrimental.


The impact of the departure of world-class players doesn’t seem to have hampered Arsenal’s growth, at least statistically. Arsenal finished the 2011-12 season with 3 more points than what they had achieved in Fabregas and Nasri’s last season. Arsenal managed to accumulate 3 more points in the following season (3 points more than what they had in Robin van Persie’s final season at the club). However, barring the 2007-08 season, Arsenal were nowhere close to being the title contenders. The celebrations at the end of the 2012-13 season gave an impression that Arsenal were ecstatic with yet another top-4 finish. But there was more to it. The finish was enough to more or less a guarantee of a UCL spot in the following season, thus allowing them to attract world class players to the club.

The real transformation began when Arsenal managed to tie down the ‘erratic, exciting yet frustrating’ Theo Walcott to a new and improved contract. This was a signal of intent that Arsenal were now in a position to keep hold of their best players. That they let go Robin van Persie so easily was regarded as the breaking point but perhaps we did not see what the Grand Old Man of Arsenal saw. Robin had become a larger than life figure at the club, much like Thierry Henry in his last season. His presence was hampering the growth of the younger players and Arsenal needed to not boost his ego any further and show him as being leaps and bounds above the rest. The departure of van Persie paved the way for the rise to prominence of Theo Walcott (who had his best season at the club) and Aaron Ramsey. Remaining financially independent, the club now finds itself in a position from where they can compete in the transfer market with their hard-earned money. The acquisition of Mesut Özil (who is arguably Arsenal’s most exciting signing since Dennis Bergkamp) is the step in the right direction and will help the club bring on board the best players in the world.

A very significant, yet less spoken about event that transformed Arsenal was the appointment of former defender Steve Bould as the Assistant Manager last season. In the 2011-12 season, Arsenal had conceded 49 goals. Bould’s appointment had an immediate impact as Arsenal started impressively at the back. By the time the 2012-13 season ended, Arsenal had conceded only 37 goals (second best in the league after Manchester City who had conceded 34 goals). Arsenal also managed to keep 14 clean sheets throughout the campaign (5 at home and an impressive 9away). The much talked about zonal-marking for corners was criticised by the pundits but has proved to be successful though not infallible. Under the guidance of Steve Bould, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny forged a successful partnership at the back (towards the end of last season) and have kept club captain ThomasVermaelen out of the team ever since.(statistics taken from: )


Under Wenger, Arsenal have won the English Premier League thrice, the FA Cup 4 times and the Community Shield on 4 occasions. Yet, people believe he has been an under-achiever. That he managed to win 11 titles in his first 9 years at Arsenal and nothing in the next 8 years is as worrying as it is frustrating. But stepping aside from the success on the football pitch, Arsenal have become better and stronger than ever under him.

Many people had written off the Gunners after the departure of Robin van Persie but Wenger has managed to put together a team that looks crafty, classy and hungry for success. The midfield comprising of Arteta, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey, Oxlade Chamberlain, Cazorla and Özil is one of the finest across Europe. The only department that needs some reinforcement is the attack. Podolski, Walcott and Sanogo are injured, forcing the management to play key players out of their preferred positions. The void has (to some extent) been filled by another exciting young prospect, the German Serge Gnabry but it is unfair to expect a lot from him at the start of his career. If Arsenal can sign another striker/winger in the winter transfer window or get the best out of Nicklas Bendtner, they would be in contention for all the 3 domestic competitions.

The one chink in Wenger’s armour is his autocratic style of functioning, which some believe has cost the team dearly on many occasions. He enjoys unmatched power at Arsenal, so much so that he even decides whether the club should offer him a contract extension or not. Because of his stubbornness, Arsenal have missed out upon some quality players over the years. Signing of players like Igors Stepanovs, Francis Jeffers, Richard Wright, Jose Antonio Reyes, Mikael Silvestre, Sébastian Squillaci, Marouane Chamakh and Andre Santos proves that Wenger does not always have the midas touch while signing players. Arshavin not living upto the billing was partly due to the player’s attitude and partly because Wenger was adamant to use him on the flanks.

However, Arséne Wenger, for all that he has done for this club and football in general, does not deserve to leave without any further success. Arsenal’s supremacy under Wenger may to some be a thing of the bygone era but if signs are to be believed, Lé Prof is on the verge of recreating that magic. He will step aside when he feels the club is ready to survive without him. He has the best interest of Arsenal in his heart and for the club’s sake I hope that Arsenal can retain his services for many more years. Give him some time. He has the right team with the right attitude and the appetite for success. All he needs to do is spend the money wisely and strengthen the squad. He will deliver the trophies, and more importantly, give the world many more Henrys, van Persies and Wilsheres.

Please note that the views expressed in this article are my own. All statistics have been taken from verified sources. Inferences drawn are based on my analyses which may not always correlate with the actual data. Some of you may have a different point of view and I would love to hear it either here or on Twitter (@SilverHawk_24).

Samved Bharadwaj

Samved Bharadwaj is a Statistics Graduate and a freelance writer. A die-hard Arsenal fan, Samved also does Statistical Analysis of EPL matches.