Former Gunners midfielder Emmanuel Petit and defender Lee Dixon have spoken out on their frustrations after the 4-0 drumming from AC Milan, with Petit especially keen for Wenger to sell of some of the big named ‘dead weights’ in order to rejuvenate Arsenal’s squad before it is too late.
The French World Cup winner revealed that he is worried about the direction of the club after Wednesday nights fiasco in Milan, and feels that the likes of Andrey Arshavin, Tomas Rosicky and Theo Walcott are holding Arsenal back after their dismal performances in recent weeks.
Petit told www.sofoot.com:
I asked myself what has become of the team that I knew. It’s worse than I thought, they haven’t recovered from the departures of (Cesc) Fabregas (to Barcelona) and (Samir) Nasri (to Manchester City).
It’s a gulf which is confirmed weekend after weekend.
And what is perhaps the most worrying thing is the club won’t do anything this summer to reverse the trend.
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They don’t want to go back to overspending in the transfer market, and I think they’re right. But for two seasons, the level of the team has only gone down.
The problem is that previously the club compensated for its lack of physical strength with Fabregas. With him, Arsenal were the most attractive team to watch in Europe behind Barcelona.
There, in midfield, there isn’t anything now, the defence is constantly under construction. It’s fortunate that (Robin) van Persie is up front.
Certain young players haven’t done enough to justify the confidence that Arsene has in them. Walcott – somehow he’s going to have to reach the next stage. It’s been years that he’s been at the same level.
(Aaron) Ramsey, against Milan, I got the impression it was his (twin) brother on the pitch. In the way they behave, in their body language, we see they’re not there anymore.
We shouldn’t hesitate to talk about the end of the cycle. Regardless of age, we have to look seriously at certain players. Right now.
You have to send out a strong signal. You have to say to Arshavin, and to Rosicky: ‘Gentlemen, thank you, but goodbye’. And soon.
[on whether Lille’s Eden Hazard would be a suitable signing] I like him a lot but what has he done at a high level. Has he been good in the Champions League? We haven’t seen him. Has he been good for Belgium? He’s sometimes even a substitute.
What’s needed is five or six players of real stature, great experience. Players who are 27 – 30 years old at most.
Players with technical qualities, obviously, but also strong character. A group of guys who refuse to accept defeat, who inspire confidence in the rest of the team.
Although I understand where Petit is coming from in removing the players that aren’t good enough (especially the likes of Arshavin and Chamakh), it will be extremely difficult to find five or six star players that are available and will play with Wenger’s system (without spending over £100m). The last thing we need is another summer that brings in players for the sake of it like Benayoun and Park, but rather 2 -3 big names that can really rejuvenate the side.
Hazard is not the answer, his latest situation of wanting to play for Spurs ‘to learn’ is a worry and he will only be looking to use them as a stepping stone to Barcelona or Manchester City etc. He will simply do ‘a Nasri’ on us and is not worth our time, whereas a quality creative midfielder that can bring back the Fabregas spark such as Mario Gotze is perhaps the direction that the club should take and definitely another striker. Aaron Ramsey has shown this season he isn’t ready to fill the gaping hole of Fabregas and Wenger can’t wait around for this to happen.
Now on to Lee Dixon..
The former Gunners full-back Lee Dixon also expressed dismay after Arsenal’s poor performance and was puzzled as to why Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was on the bench.
Dixon told Betfair:
Everything that could go wrong in the game did and it was a really, really poor performance.
There are not a lot of positives, to be honest with you. It’ll be difficult for Arsene to pick the players up before a massive FA Cup tie at Sunderland this weekend. He’s got his work cut out.
I was surprised Oxlade-Chamberlain wasn’t starting the game. He’s been the man in form.
Yes, he’s a young lad but he’s shown he can handle the big occasions. We saw after 60-odd minutes what he can do, and he certainly asked questions of the Milan defence.
I don’t think [Arsenal] will keep a clean sheet.
Milan have got enough about them to score at the Emirates which will make the task impossible. I think it’s beyond them now.
Wenger obviously wanted to rest ‘The Ox’ with some crucial fixtures coming up and he is wanting to avoid overplaying the youngster as the Frenchman is keen to prevent another Wilshere-like situation. But the 18-year-old demonstrated when he did come on how important a player he will be this season, which begs the question is it worth renewing Walcott’s contract?
The Englishman has produced some amazing performances in the past but really has failed to live up to the initial hype and it seems his development is plateauing, as with Ramsey. To answer the question of whether he should be offered a new contract, I think yes, but he certainly shouldn’t be starting week in, week out. Gervinho and The Ox have much more to offer.
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