How To Trash Arsene Wenger’s Legacy


So Arsenal crashed to a 3-1 defeat to Liverpool over the weekend. Despite my colleague Andrew Nicoll’s optimism that eventually “Arsenal: We can work it out” I detect an air of over-reaction from among even the most resilient. One of my loyal Twitter followers made the following tweet:

“A strong action is needed or all what we have built in the last 12 yrs will collapse. We will have to start from the bottom.”

While the sentiment is from a good place, in my opinion it is insufficiently rooted in reality. If we base our opinions on the unbiased data, Saturday’s result was not really surprising.

In my last blog “Who Will Replace Santi Cazorla”, I shared with readers the results of my analysis of the Squawka data on Arsenal midfielders demonstrating, in no uncertain manner, that apart from Ozil and Cazorla there is a serious deficit in quality midfielders at the club. This I argued explains the club’s significant decline in Points Per Game (ppg) since Santi suffered his long term injury last October. Why then would any rational, objective football fan be overly surprised we failed to win the game. We came close to drawing with the ultimate goal bound shot by Alexis, but it was blocked and in the subsequent counter-attack, with Origi beating the offside trap by a hair’s breath and setting up Wijnaldum, the result was put beyond doubt.

Unlike the Robbie Earle’s and Kyle Martino’s of this world who, on my tv feed, engaged in the most hysterical anti-Wenger diatribes, blaming the manager’s failure to start Alexis Sanchez as cause for the defeat, as serious supporters of the football club we need to look beyond the headlines. Fortunately for us whoscored.com maintains a database of some key performance indicators for all clubs in the Premier League.

Indicators Arsenal’s Season Avg
Arsenal vs LFC Difference
Goals 2.2 0 -2.2
Shots 15 7 -8
Shots on target 5 3 -2
Pass Success 79% 77% -2%
Aerial Duel Success 56% 58% 2%
Dribbles won 18 8 -10
Tackles 19 16 -3
Possession 56% 48% -8%
Points 2.1 0% -2

In all statistical categories, except Aerial Duel Successs, Arsenal was substantially below its season average. Key failures were in making Dribbles, maintaining Possession and taking Shots at goal. Pundits engaged in sensationalism, such as Earle and Martino, “act” totally innocent of the fact there were two other key players missing from Arsenal who are vital to the overall success of the team especially in the key data categories.

As great an individual footballer as Alexis Sanchez has been at Arsenal this year, in scoring goals and making chances, he has way inferior statistics to Ozil and Cazorla in Passing Accuracy and retaining Possession. These were the key areas where AFC lost the game on Saturday. Clearly, when brought on in the second half, he added dynamism to the team assisting in one goal but ultimately it was not enough to swing the game decisively in Arsenal’s favor.

 Squawka Data Ozil Cazorla Sanchez
Avg Performance Score 27 25 41
Total Appearances 22 8 26
Shot Accuracy 50% 67% 59%
Avg. Pass Accuracy 87% 91% 73%
Avg. Pass Length 15m 16m 16m
Avg. Chances Created 2.68 1.25 2.5
Avg. Goals Scored 0.23 0.25 0.65
Avg. Defensive Actions 1 2 1
Avg. Duels Won 53% 28% 52%

Repeatedly I have had sceptics pushing back at the data, not acknowledging that by failing to identify the objective reasons for Arsenal’s current struggles they will never find the correct solutions. In fact those sceptics are bound to become even more despondent if  Arsenal fails to adopt the conventional option of changing the manager. Many I have seen eventually join the bitter anti-Wenger mob because they fail to grasp real solutions and and thus fall for the usual bread and circus most other clubs provide their fans.

Here is a “shocking” revelation. My analysis of the data reveals Arsenal is still some distance from becoming a dominant team in the ever increasing arm race among our top-6 rivals. The moneyed clubs are spending big not only on top-top players but experienced, talented managers. The ignorant muck and dreck of English football management have been replaced by the likes of Guardiola, Mourinho, Klopp and Conte, all of whom have won top titles in big domestic European leagues and if they have not won the Champions League have recently gone to the finals. Pochettino is the exception in terms of titles, but being a disciple of Bielsa, an innovative coaching legend, has transformed Spurs into a serious outfit who press relentlessly.

While Wenger was the innovator in bringing possession football to England, most of his competitors are building teams aimed at countering Arsenal’s strategy. Pressing and counter-pressing is the main strategy designed to disrupt and regain possession, quickly break on Arsenal’s high line, create overloads and create good scoring chances. As a result, Arsenal’s results this season, except for the win over Chelsea achieved with Santi Cazorla, have been pathetic.

Indicators With Without Difference
Shots 14 10 -4
Shots on target 5 4 -1.5
Pass Success 83% 78% -5%
Aerial Duel Success 38% 47% 9%
Dribbles won 11 11 0
Tackles 18 22 4
Possession 49% 51% 2%
Goals 3 1.3 -1.7
Points 3 0.3 -2.7

While the data set is very limited, only one game with Santi, based on six other matches between the top-6 the reality is very stark. Creating only 10 shots per game and 4 on target is not going to win many games against the top clubs in the PL. A measly average possession of 51% and a 78% passing rate is not going to cut the mustard for a possession oriented team. Scoring barely over one goal in these games is not a margin that guarantees a high probability of winning. Absent a player of Santi’s quality over a prolonged period, with the next best midfielder being a 21 year-old with less than two years experience in the league, is a recipe for repeated frustration.

It is arguable that the current squad may be good enough to consistently beat the other 14 teams in the league, but given the vagaries of form and the impact of injuries/fatigue while competing in four competitions annually, it is a virtual miracle Arsene Wenger has steered Arsenal to an average of just under 4th in the league over the last 10 years. The Board, quite rightly, made a big song and dance in the notes to the most recent 6-month financial statement of spending over £90 million on new talent while the wage bill increased by over £40 million.

However the data is speaking loudly; the club is excessively reliant on two top-top quality midfielders and it isn’t working. Seems to me the Board has no choice but to push the boat way out this Summer to land the right player who can make a difference in central midfield. Failing this I could see Arsene Wenger’s legacy being trashed by the usual suspects at the approaching twilight of his career.

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95 comments on “How To Trash Arsene Wenger’s Legacy

  1. some quotes from today’s presser

    Wenger: “Sanchez played in all the games when we didn’t perform. Football is not about one player, it’s much bigger than that.”

    Mertesacker is asked whether players want Wenger to stay, Wenger interrupts: “It’s not down to the players to choose a manager. I can understand when results are not there when I’m criticised but it is not up to players to decide their manager”

    Wenger on his future: “I have built this club. I want it to be successful so I want to take a bit of time before making a decision.”


  2. his may be a duplicate comment!

    Excellent shotta,

    Over at the old blog we often spoke of the “three amigos” (not including back four and keeper) required for recent AFC teams to overcome the hurdles *coughs* before them: they were at one time or another a trio in different campaigns of:

    Fabregas, van Persie and Rosicky/Helb (of the 08 vintage)

    Fabregas, van Persie and Arshavin/Nasri (hitting the heights for one season, 2011 I think…)

    And the rebuilt squad which of course had first Santi, then a strong season with Santi Ramsey and Ozil all starting and then following some injury strife for Rambo in the following years up popped Alexis after chatting to “Venga on da beach” an act which infuriated those who now are furiously insisting that the two have had a recent row (quote from Cazorla:” I can’t believe how close AW gets to his players”…)

    all fairly simple and easy to understand conjecture and as I’ve understood shotta has simply been highlighting how important the CM component of the three amigos meme is with the recent focus on Cazorla. Not forgetting the additional loss of the leaders who led the club in the last period: Arteta, Mertesacker alongside Cazorla as the senior group.

    Song and or Diaby (during his relatively fit pre-Robinson/Essien hack window of 08/9-11) were not petitie small CMs but AFC did start one season with three green CMs, Denislon Song and Fabregas and anyone who expected a team of green rookie CMs (including ‘big uns’ like Song and Diaby) to win a title was either:

    a) ignoring everything they’ve ever seen in modern football

    b) trolling their readers for clicks

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The sunshine bus has a flat then?
    We need that fiddler from the titanic.Or drugs maybe? I’ll phone my boy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There has been a certain resentment and a coordinated approach to get rid of Mr Wenger since he arrived,in 1996. Only his skill,belief,stubbornness and resilience and undoubted successes have kept him going. The successes have been grudgingly acknowledged, but the attacks did not stop even during the unbeaten season. Game 50 at OT was celebrated as a victory for the league by many of the hacks,since that day there has been a constant chipping and sniping away on the journalistic and pundit front aided by PGMOL .

    PGMOL employees are humans (Incredibly)who have family and friends who read and hear (probably some who agree with the position) the negative stance against Mr Wenger and around the dinner table Chinese walls don’t exist (Something to consider for the supporters of Donald Trump) were these things are debated,influence is brought to bare.

    The Arsenal shirt since the days of Sir Henry Norris has always been a heavy shirt,the noise will always be a problem. Natural human psychology shows that the constant chipping away at his ability and integrity has filtered down to the fans,which is increasingly affecting the players.
    The problem now is the over bearing noise, the players now need to circle the wagons and go down fighting for the man, who has constantly and consistently stood tall for them.
    That is the Arsenal way.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Thanks, A5, that’s the first positive comment I’ve seen in days. IMO every game is another opportunity for players to show what they are capable of. And they are capable of a lot. I don’t know what is causing the malaise, (my humble opinion is that manager uncertainty is upping the stress level in each game, and we ought to go ahead and announce, one way or the other). I only hope they don’t look at the stats and draw the conclusion that none of them are good enough to make a difference.

    And before I get accused of being a fan girl, it’s not just Aaron that’s taken a hit around here. That’s just the topic that sets me off enough to say something instead of keeping my mouth shut. I should do better about defending the rest, but I just run out of energy, and I feel like I’m swimming against the tide. (Are sad faces banned too? If so…insert very sad face here).

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Zlatan and Tyrone have both been charged I see.

    I trust both will enter an early guilty plea and waste no one’s time.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Team news: The latest on Mesut Ozil

    Arsène Wenger faced the media on Monday ahead of his side’s Champions League last 16 second leg against Bayern Munich.

    The Arsenal manager provided the latest team news update, including the fitness of Mesut Ozil, and this is what he said:

    on the team news…
    I think it will be a similar squad to the one that was at Liverpool on Saturday.

    on Ozil’s fitness…
    He is not in the squad, he only had one session yesterday and he was sick – he was out the whole of last week and I don’t think he is ready physically to be in the squad. He should be okay for the weekend.

    Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170306/team-news-the-latest-on-mesut-ozil#sKxRBoXqOEaYeoj4.99


  8. usual fake outrage from the usual suspects over Wenger’s “I built Arsenal” comments today. but here is an explanation of what he actually said.

    Raphael Honigstein‏Verified account @honigstein 1h1 hour ago

    To be fair to Wenger, the German word he used was “aufgebaut”. Can be translated as “built” but also as “built up” (which he meant, I think)


  9. Alabama, @ 1:14 pm

    Don’t be too downhearted – there is always a silver lining to every cloud.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I see the FA were following our conversation on here yesterday Fins and Mings can expect a longer ban for stamping

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Korrect, aufgebaut means built up. Gebaut is built.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Alabama,

    You must have written your plea for positivity at 5:14 am US time – same as Wichita Ks.
    No wonder you were feeling down!! lol

    Liked by 2 people

  13. @HenryB actually it was 7:15 am, (6 hrs difference) a diatribe the typing of which caused me to be late for work (Oops). But, due to inability to sleep, I had been up since 4:30 am, so you could be onto something. Thanks for the encouraging words.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wenger on the squad and his future

    Arsène Wenger was once again asked about his future at the club in his press conference on Monday ahead of the Bayern Munich game.

    The Arsenal manager stressed his focus is fully on the Champions League last 16 second leg, but had this to say:

    on whether all the players want him to manage Arsenal next season…
    Honestly, I don’t think it’s down to the players to choose a manager. Your questions are not adjusted to the press conference when preparing for a game. The players have to perform and Per has just said that. The board chooses the manager. If I ask you, ‘Is everybody in your company behind you?’, I promise you I will find someone at Sky who is not happy with you and would like to be in your position. It’s your bosses who choose whether you’re here or not. I can understand that I am criticised after these results, but it’s not down to the players to choose the manager. The players have to perform for this football club. I think we are at the best club in the world, and we have to show pride and commitment to defend the pride of this club. It’s not about the politics. We are not at a political club here, we are judged on performance. I have to perform and the players have to perform.

    on what goes wrong at this stage of the season…
    First of all, it’s always a very difficult period because you play in the last 16 of the Champions League. In the last four or five years, we have always played against Barcelona or Bayern Munich. We’ve played four times against Bayern Munich who are the best or second-best team in Europe. It’s always a difficult period. If you look at the recent years, we have also done very well from March until May.

    on why he hasn’t signed contract extension yet…
    I haven’t come to a decision yet. I’ll wait a bit and see how the season finishes here. I’ve been here or 20 years and think I’ve built the club up. It’s important for me that we’re always successful and that’s why I’ve given myself a bit of time.

    on when the decision will be made…
    I don’t know.

    on if he could imagine managing another team…
    At the moment, my concentration is on the Bayern Munich game, so it’s very difficult for me to talk about it at the moment.

    Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170306/wenger-on-the-squad-and-his-future#zqPvVip58Pa6lZyp.99


  15. Arsene Wenger is far too patient – he needs to tell the media to F off with their constant questions about his future – they’ve asked and been answered in every way perceivable. Change the damn record! There was barely one question about the game and how he might approach it given that we are up against it. All I’m hoping for is that the players stand up and be counted. They are better than we have seen recently and I’ll take any result as long as they give their best on the pitch.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. We have, of course missed Santi. But how much have we missed Per too? His presence, on and off the field, has been really important in the last years.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. AW is the greatest. Listen to him waxing in German. I hate to see his legacy trashed because he doesn’t have the right ammunition for the fight.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Millsy: I wouldn’t be sure about the smiles for the cameras. Twelve years as a fan has taught me to not get overboard with drama beween star players and the club. I have seen that movie multiple times; Vierra, Henry, Fabregas, Adebayor, RVP and Nasri. Wenger will do everything to keep a star player but if the relationship breaks down he is not hesitant to cash-in. Stay tuned.


  19. A better version of the interview. Kind of interested in who the club will bring in player wise in the summer. Shotts- has the “bust up ” been confirmed by anyone outside of the news papers? Sports news seems a bit like the world of David Icke?


  20. No doubt we are in for a few weeks of careful media analysis of every facial expression, raised eyebrow, licked lip and wiggled ear in order to fathom what the Chilean flank man’s future plans are. In every toothy grin the mysteries of the Universe can be read.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. 1886‏ @1886_blog 3h3 hours ago

    Coyle, Martinez, ‘Arry, Howe, O’Neill and Henry. Piers Morgan proving he knows nothing about football (again). Embarrassing.


  22. The WOB hate the phrase be careful what you wish for.

    (Not that the media are always reliable)


  23. have to laugh at that Double Thick cunt from AFTV, he is whinging about Wenger ‘s presser today, and he is telling people they have to watch the presser today, as it shows how arrogant AW is as he claims he built the club.

    the laughable thing is, Wenger’s comment is he “built up the club”, and by the way the comments were made by Wenger in German, so its so plainly clear that Double Thick, is telling people to watch an interview, that he himself clearly has not actually watched, and is spouted his fake outrage from nothing more than some mistranslated quote made by some other fake outraged WOB.

    You can see I dismiss even the notion that Double Thick, speaks some German, after all the knob can barely speak English.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Lincoln City FC‏Verified account @LincolnCity_FC 2h2 hours ago

    We can confirm that our allocation of 8,942 tickets for our @EmiratesFACup Quarter Final at Arsenal has been sold. http://www.redimps.co.uk/news/article/2016-17/arsenal-v-imps-sold-out-3612108.aspx


  25. Yes, heard about Wengers press conference.
    Who are these clowns? Wenger is a football nerd and knows more about Arsenals history and building than most. Idiots.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. TH as manager? Funniest joke I’ve heard in a long while – if they were permitted I would be posting multiple ROTFLMAO smilies right here!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Yes, just hope that TH stuff is just media nonsense…..or mischief in the event our manager does not stay on.
    The WOB will no doubt dismiss it as Arsenals PR machine in overdrive or something
    But, there may be a something worth thinking about in all of this, if Mr Wenger does leave in the summer, doesn’t mean the club will try for, or be able to get all these fancy Spanish, German and Italian names they are coming up with, nor their past favourites like Coyle, Moyes Martinez et al


  28. am I wrong in being pleased that Chelsea are winning at WHU, I want them to win so as to discourage our top 4 rivals from kicking on in a title chase. It feels wrong to want cfc to win, but the head says its for the best.


  29. There are varying degrees of wrong Eduardo, kind of with you on this one

    Liked by 2 people

  30. well young Kroenke has been on the Arsenal board for a while now, and the only thing I know about him is that he speaks even less than his silent father. So just which journo has he decided to divulge the inner thoughts of the Arsenal board to, and how come the said journo has not one single quote included in his “exclusive”

    from what I gather, the whole TH thing comes from a notion a journo proposed earlier in the season, that it would be a good PR thing if the Arsenal board made Henry the assistant to whichever manager eventually replaces Arsene Wenger.


  31. Tend to sympathise with that Eddie. If Chelsea stumble, the Spuds will get the bit between their teeth and ……… no I cannot write it, but …….

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Pyles Malmer has a world exclusive tonight –

    Wenger has signed a new two year contract, and told the board he will sell both Ozil and Alexis in the summer and rebuild the squad.

    an ANR exclusive is right up there with a Sunday Sport exclusive.


  33. Eduardo. Hadn’t sorted my thoughts on that one but,yeah, that’s where we are.

    Not keen on thought of pgmol having no title considerations to speak of and just the top four race to deal with though.

    No particular preferences between Tott, City, Pool, Utd when they play each other, generous stuff for most or all when playing others, and extra bad for us at all times would be my guess.


  34. remember when this guy was the man to replace wenger


  35. While the data shows we lacked creativity the way we conceed goals has been a real problem. I have commented many times on the respondsabilities of the players in front of our full backs to come back and cover. Theo, Alexis, Alex I, Tge Ox, Ozil, Danny, have all failed to adequately cover the full back. On Saturday this resulted in mane having enough time to have a cup of tea before dispatching the ball in the net. Remember the first goal came from a goal kick not from a breakdown in a long spell of our possession. Having a brilliant two footed diamond in the centre of midfield matters little if every time your full goes to cover a CB or gets attacked two on one there are players missing.
    Teams love to sit back and counter us whether that’s pressing our back four or sitting deep behind the ball however if we can’t defend as a team then all the creativity in the world is a waste of time.

    Liked by 4 people

  36. How does one post a picture on here?


  37. if its a picture from the web, just right click it, copy image location and paste it here


  38. At least the chances of the spuds winning the league have narrowed a bit again. Life’s little mercies hey….

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Positively Arsenal‏ @Blackburngeorge 1h1 hour ago

    “have to laugh at that Double Thick cunt from AFTV,”
    Lol, Double Thick ! Is that new or have I missed it?

    I’m sure that is what the DT stands for, am I wrong.


  40. Arsenal_fans_q8‏ @Arsenal_fans_q8 8h8 hours ago

    Brilliant analysis by Niall Quinn on the arsenal situation..

    “Arsene Wenger does not consult twitter” 👏🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Taken at face value, Wenger is in an interesting position here.
    The team must always come first, but if the manager does take bold decisions, others in place must back him in performances to support those decisions…..Sanchez is one hell of a player. If these articles are true, it is unfortunate, as Sanchez made an impact when he came on at Liverpool…..the starters in that game did not cover themselves in glory
    Management is not easy…….if these things are true,,they just need to bang a few heads together and start performing for the whole of the match.
    Frustrating reading such reports……a bit like amazing creative original bands who can , at their best, do brilliant amazing things, but split up prematurely due to stupid petty ego driven arguements, while sterile formulated corporate well drilled outfits like Coldplay and U2 are allowed to thrive in their vacumes.
    Sorry, that reference was a bit oblique, just heard Coldplay and it upset me


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