Reviewing Arsene Wenger’s Managerial Performance in the Turn of the New Year

Arsenal boasts of one of the largest fan bases in the world for more reasons than one. A considerable chunk of the fans love the swift, highly technical, intricate and entertaining football; others love the fact that it’s not owned by some sugar daddy from the Soviet Union or the Middle East that keeps fiddling with the affairs of the team.

Some love Arsenal for the diversity of different football cultures coming together as one while others love the club for a manager that represents vision, principles and continuity, Arsene Wenger. The French manager is adored by many Gooners and football fans alike for his service to Arsenal and football in general.

In the first half of his 15-year stint with the club, Wenger amassed an amazing trophy haul of three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and four Community Shields and he has been unlucky in the Premier League on five occasions, as well as one FA Cup final loss, two Carling Cup final losses, two Community Shield losses, one UEFA Cup loss and of course, the 2006 UEFA Champions League final loss to Barcelona.

I’m not going to take anyone down memory lane because we all know how the last six years have turned out in the world of Arsenal. The trophy cabinet at the Emirates is presently occupied by a Black Widow Spider and she has no plans of leaving until the club decides to evict her by winning any silverware of any sort…not the Emirates Cup.

2011 had its good, bad and ugly moments but every Arsenal fan looked into the New Year with optimism because the club had found its feet in the Premier League with series of very impressive performances. Arsenal also conquered its Champions League group and booked a double date with Serie A giants AC Milan. The team lost in the Carling Cup final of 2011 but a loss to Manchester City in the quarter finals was enough to kill the Carling Cup dream for another year at least.

2012 has seen Arsenal play four games (three Premier League and one FA Cup) and the Gunners have lost an astonishing three. I intend to give a quick tactical review of the four games played so far to know what went right or wrong.


Arsene Wenger started the game with:

Szczesny; Djourou-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Coquelin; Arteta-Song-Ramsey; Gervinho-van Persie-Walcott.

Without the regular fullbacks, this was more or less Arsenal’s strongest team. Arsenal opened the scoring when when Koscielny nodded home a deflected cross from Ramsey to put the away side ahead. Fulham got the equalizer when Phillippe Senderos headed the ball back into the 6-yard box after a Szczesny error and Sidwell was on hand to head home Fulham’s equalizer. The game clincher arrived when Seb Squillaci that nodded the ball straight to Bobby Zamora who wasted no time in lashing home the match winner with seconds to spare.

From the tactical side of things, Wenger brought on Tomas Rosicky and Yossi Benayoun for Gervinho and Theo Walcott (that had stinkers) and sacrificed Aaron Ramsey for Seb Squillaci when Djourou was sent off.

Zamora’s goal was a sucker punch and the introduction of Rosicky and Benayoun had a minimal effect in helping Arsenal’s cause. Sadly, Squillaci turned out to be the scapegoat on the night and the fans barraged at him and everyone else through social networking applications.

Conclusion: Wenger did the best he could as a manager making like for like substitutions in the wings but Djourou’s red card didn’t do any favors. He had to summon Squillaci from his lair to help the defense and the game clincher wasn’t really the Squid’s fault though.

Rating: Despite the loss, Wenger gets an 8/10


Arsene Wenger started the game with:

Szczesny; Coquelin-Koscielny-Squillaci-Miquel; Arteta-Song-Ramsey; Arshavin-Chamakh-Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Arsene Wenger promised a strong line-up and he had the perfect blend of youth and experience in the FA Cup tie against Leeds. Arsenal spent the entire game knocking on Leeds’ door but in a moment of never-ending 12s, Alex Song fed Thierry Henry with 12 minutes remaining. The legend scored his 12th goal against Leeds in 12 appearances wearing number 12 on his Arsenal shirt in 2012.

From the tactical side of things, Wenger brought on Nico Yennaris to replace Francis Coquelin (injury) before bringing Theo Walcott and Thierry Henry for Marouane Chamakh and the Ox respectively in his bid to get the winner.

Henry’s fairytale moment against Leeds was a stuff made in dreams and the fans kept basking in euphoria deep into the night.

Conclusion: Wenger was spot on with all his substitutions as they came into the pitch to produce the goods. Yennaris had a great evening while Thierry Henry stole the headlines. Walcott wasn’t that impressive though.

Rating: Qualification to the 4th Round sees Mr Wenger get a 10/10.


Arsene Wenger started the game with:

Szczesny; Djourou-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Miquel; Benayoun-Song-Ramsey; Arshavin-van Persie-Walcott.

Swansea had a reputation for a miserly home defense but they were put to the test by Arsene Wenger’s men. The Gunners went off to a flyer when Arshavin teed up the red-hot Robin van Persie that feinted a shot at first before lashing it past Vorm in goal with just four minutes gone. Swansea pegged Arsenal back from a fictitious penalty that was converted by Scott Sinclair.

An Arsenal error in midfield saw Nathan Dyer put Swansea ahead but Theo Walcott levelled the contest again with a deft chipped finish. Within seconds of leveling the match, Danny Graham drove the nail in Arsenal’s coffin with a match winner.

From the tactical side of things, Wenger brought on Rosicky and Henry to replace Arshavin and a peripheral Benayoun. The boss went for broke when he sacrificed Mertesacker for the Ox but a late surge wasn’t even good enough to get Arsenal a point.

Conclusion: Wenger underrated Swansea a bit with his selection and many Gooners wanted to see Ramsey leave the pitch because he was simply atrocious to say the least. There’s was also the issue of Andrey Arshavin starting but he didn’t put a foot wrong against Leeds…his shooting boots were missing on the night though.

Rating: A back to back defeat coupled the boss’ starting line-up sees him get a 6/10 rating.


The inspiration behind this post…

Arsene Wenger started the game with:

Szczesny; Djourou-Mertesacker-Koscielny-Vermaelen; Rosicky-Song-Ramsey; The Ox-van Persie-Walcott.

The starting line-up had all the ingredients of a squad that was ready to get back with a bang following a poor run of back to back defeats. Vermaelen’s timely return was a major boost while Rosicky and the Ox started the game.

Manchester United got the lead close to the break when Antonio Valencia nodded Ryan Giggs’ cross home. Arsenal equalized when van Persie drilled his effort past Anders Lindergaard courtesy of a well-cushioned pass by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Man Utd stole all three points late on through a Danny Welbeck close range finish.

From the tactical side of things, Wenger brought on Nico Yennaris for the haunted Djourou, Andrey Arshavin for the Ox and Park Ju-Young for Ramsey.

Please feel free to share your conclusions and your Wenger rating for the Manchester United game with your comments.

I’ll end this post with a comment from a fellow Gooner, Captain D’ Sun:

“When a manager is confused, nothing goes on well. Steve Bruce clearly struggled with his players before getting sacked but Martin O’ Neill has made a massive turnaround with the same lot.”

“Arsene Wenger is no motivator, he’s ancient tactically, he has no Plan B, his decision making is poor and he can’t even make a good team selection any more. The only quality attribute he has left is his shrewd financial skills.”

“The saddest part of it all is that he’s no longer ambitious. He’s clearly satisfied with his past achievements.” 

Be the judge of that.


Posted on January 25, 2012, in Arsenal. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. i like the last coment and i wish he leave arsenal for real madrid

  2. Sad but true, that old captain is spot on, time for change!!

  3. But Chaley, if we remove Wenger who would be better? Have u seen Chelsea lately?

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