Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens; it is still the embodiment of Christmas, told the world over. So what better way to celebrate the festive season with a Premier League version of the classic story.
The Christmas Premier League schedule is the busiest part of the season, games come thick and fast, teams travel up and down the country and if they are lucky players and the managers get at least Christmas day off to eat some turkey, enjoy several helpings of Christmas pudding, pull a cracker or two before collapsing in a heap and watching the Queens Christmas Message.
It is the managers who bear the brunt of the seasonal stress, so let us dedicate the Premier League Christmas Carol to them.
Bob Cratchit – Roberto Martinez (Everton) – Okay so he is not in such a pitiful situation that Cratchit was – overworked, underpaid – but he is dealing with a stingy chairman who offers very little in the way of money to buy new players.
Arsenals’ record this season – Football League Cup – lose to League 2 side Bradford City in the Quarter Finals. FA Cup – lose to Championship side Blackburn Rovers in the fifth round. Premier League – currently fifth and fighting to finish in fourth and automatic qualification to the Champions League.
For a side that once dominated every competition, Arsenal now find themselves struggling to keep up with the title race, are only on the fringes of an automatic place in the Champions League and were humiliated in the FA Cup. So what has happened to the side that once competed with Manchester United each season for every major honor?
Since winning the Premier League in 2004, the FA Cup in 2005, and being Manchester Uniteds’ biggest rivals in the Premier League, Arsenal have gone trophy less for the past eight years. If you ask the question – is it down to a bad manager, bad players, lack of desire, or all of the above? The answer would be a resounding ‘no’.
Arsène Wenger (manager since 1996) has done a phenomenal job. The players he has brought into the club have been outstanding, he has organized his team to play beautiful attacking football and his dedication to change how the club is run and managed has been out of this world. So where did it all go wrong?
Since 2005 Arsenal have offloaded seventeen top players – these players have gone on to win forty-four major medals with eleven different clubs, while those who have stayed with Arsenal have won nothing –
The top players that have been sold are now some of the best players in Europe, and as you can see, most of these players were sold to Premier League rivals Manchester City – last seasons Premier League champions –
2005 – Patrick Viera (sold to Juventus)
2005 – Ashley Cole (sold to Chelsea)
2007 – Thierry Henry (sold to Barcelona)
2008 – Mathieu Flamini (sold to AC Millan)
2008 – Aleksandr Hleb (Sold to Barcelona)
2009 – Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure (both sold to Man City)
2011 – Gael Cichy and Samir Nasri (both sold to Man City)
2011 – Cesc Fabregas (sold to Barcelona)
2012 – Robin Van Persie (sold to Man Utd).
In recent years the clubs policy has been to sell their top talent (listed above) while buying in younger players – predominantly from France – to fill the gaps. While these players have go on to prove their worth, several of them have been sold while the others have so little experience at the top level the team has started to suffer.
Arsenal have had no natural leader and haven’t since Cesc Fabregas left for Barcelona in 2011. They lack experience and depth in defense and midfield and when the transfer window is open the club has failed to sign a big name player, even though player sales have generated over $250m in revenue – funds that should have been used to strengthen the team.
It has been argued the team lacks belief in itself. When they are on top of their game Arsenal can play some of the most attractive football in Europe. However, when their heads drop, their hit that self destruct button and they become easy prey, losing to lower league opposition such as Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup – a game they should be able to win with their eyes closed.
For a club that has so much potential it is a sad sight indeed. The Premier League was a far more interesting place when Arsenal were competing for honors and the games of the season saw the two top managers in European football (Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson) pit their wits against each other in the make or break fixtures between the two teams.
The last two years has really seen Arsenal struggle but this season the club has his rock bottom. Until the club and the manager can address where it all went wrong the team with so much promise will continue to under achieve.