Ever the ray of sunshine, Graeme Souness has been talking to the press about Arsenal’s title credentials, or lack thereof.
The former Liverpool man – shockingly – doesn’t think we’re even nearly good enough to go up against the likes of Chelsea. In fact, he reckons we’re ‘five or six’ players away from being genuine title contenders. So that’s only half our first team then? Fabulous.
“I used to think Arsenal were only a couple of world-class players away from winning the title, most notably a holding midfielder and striker,” Souness told The Times.
“Now they look as many as five or six away from being contenders
“A big reason for this has been the type of midfielder the Frenchman has signed in the past decade. This was a manager who won his first Premier League title with two giants — in every sense — in midfield. Yet since Patrick Vieira left the club in 2005, we have seen no one in the robust mould of him or Emmanuel Petit.
“I look at Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Andrey Arshavin, Samir Nasri, Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and they are all technically gifted ball-players.
“Yet they are all the same nicey-nicey types. You wouldn’t say Marcos Alonso or Victor Moses are better technically than any of those but an injection of the intensity and physicality they have shown for Chelsea this season would have significantly improved Wenger’s squad.
“You wonder if the Frenchman was drawn to these low-centre-of-gravity players because of the phenomenal success enjoyed by Spain from 2008-12.
“But Iniesta, Xavi and David Silva were great players, irrespective of their size. It is also worth noting he was never able to lure any of those great Spaniards to north London.”
While I do agree that Arsenal have really struggled to reach something resembling their best this season and, at times, it can appear that we’re ‘too nice’, our problems run far deeper than just adding players or switching out the ‘nicey-nice’ ones, as Souness puts it.
There are much more concerning matters at hand, like the fact that no one actually knows who will be Arsenal manager next season, or the fact that, no matter what the players say in the press, Arsene Wenger appears to have lost his impact in the dressing room.
On paper, Arsenal have one of the best squads in the league when everyone’s fully fit . There have been spells, here and there, when we’ve looked amazing. For example, our 3-0 win over Chelsea at the Emirates in September – Conte’s team couldn’t deal with Arsenal’s movement. That was the Arsenal we know and love… or at least think we do.
It’s not the players on the pitch, it’s what they’re doing – or not doing – while they’re there.