by Nia Griffiths
Arsene Wenger has spoken about the need for squad stability and reiterated the point that keeping the team relatively unchanged throughout the season is key.
When Arsenal returned from the Barclays Asia Trophy without a single injury, many of us weren’t sure how to react. This isn’t because it’s not good news – it’s excellent news, but we’re so used to having something catastrophic happen early-on in our season that we end up just holding our breath, waiting.
In fact, instead of being thankful that we have a fully fit, strong squad, many of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, were thinking: it’s only a matter of time. Which is terrible but something we’ve become conditioned to over the years.
Not only that, but we’ve kept all our strongest first team players and even made a world class signing in the form of Petr Cech. Happy days indeed.
“When you lose your best players it’s impossible [to win the title] and when you see that some other opponents have strengthened their squad and are already stronger than you, it’s difficult,” the boss said.
He admitted, “We only just got in the top four [previously] because we managed to grab every point but you see other teams still strengthening their team and you’re losing your best players, it’s difficult to be convinced that you can win the league.”
Wenger went on to describe how times have changed, saying, “What is true [now] is that we have a stability that we did not have before on the squad front. Before, I was more exposed to who will go and now the question I get more is, ‘who will come in?’
“That means that our potential on the market has changed. Will we win the Premier League? We’ll give it absolutely everything, but it’s a very awkward competition. You have five or six competitors. We have a stability that gives us strength, but it’s very difficult to guess how strong the other teams will be.”
He’s got a point and it’s something we’ve now started to notice as fans. Players want to stay, they don’t just play out of loyalty and ‘for the badge‘ but because they genuinely see this current squad doing great things, and that’s brilliant to see from the outside.
As a fan, sometimes your heart can rule your head and you can’t understand why all these players are leaving. You love the club so much that you can’t fathom why they’d want to go anywhere else. When you look at it now, it’s clear that although we do have the players who genuinely live and breathe the club, we’re also attracting those who don’t necessarily, but see themselves winning trophies with us.
The very same reason they used to leave just a few years ago.
“[Stability] is undervalued but that’s what we want to show,” Wenger continued. “Chelsea have a good stability, especially defensively, and they took advantage of it from the start of last season.”
“What you could say is that last year we missed our start for different reasons. One of them was that some players were not mentally ready after the World Cup. It was also because we had the Champions League qualifier and that cost us a lot of energy against Besiktas.”
He added, “We have a tricky start again. West Ham look to have bought well and Crystal Palace are a strong team. We have to be ready from the beginning but it will be a tricky start.”
Hopefully our squad will remain fit and we can see what they’re made of.