According to Arsenal legend Peter Storey, Arsene Wenger is losing the plot and was panicked into making his deadline-day transfer signings. He also believes that the Gunners will struggle this season even to finish in the top four and so could miss out on Champions League football next season.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Mirror Sport, Storey divulged his thoughts on Wengers transfer dealings and their current situation.
Storey said: “Arsenal have had a bad start and it seems like Wenger has panicked and he doesn’t normally do that, does he? He seems to have lost the plot. I mean, some of the people he’s bought, they’re not top quality, really.
“With Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri gone, you look at the team and it doesn’t seem that strong.
“Thomas Vermaelen’s latest injury is going to be a big blow, because he is one of the good players they’ve got, so is Jack Wilshere’s ankle problem.”
Storey, who played more than 500 games in defence and midfield for Arsenal and was capped 19 times for England, was particularly dismissive of 26-year-old German Mertesacker from Werder Bremen, and 24-year-old Gervinho from Lille.
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He said: “Mertesacker’s a big fellow, but he doesn’t look very mobile – he looks a bit slow.
“Obviously, he’s played a lot for Germany, but if he really is top-class, why has no-one else come in for him. Even Bayern Munich haven’t. As for Gervinho, he can go past players, but his final touch leaves a lot to be desired. Arsenal aren’t going to get relegated, but the best they can hope for is fourth place.
“Otherwise, they’ll be mid-table and once you get down there, it’s hard to get back.
“If you get dragged down to the middle of the table, you’re no better than the rest of them.
“Arsene’s had defensive problems for a couple of seasons. People have tried to tell him, but I don’t think that defence really is his strong point.
“He’s more interested in midfield and up front and all this intricate passing.
“He needs to get someone in there who’s got a bit more knowledge.”
Storey agrees with former Arsenal full-back Lee Dixon, who told Sunday Mirror Sport a few weeks ago that Wenger needs to bring in a defensive coach, such as Steve Bould or Martin Keown, to assist him.
Storey added: “Arsene needs a good, solid defence. They’ve got this young keeper Wojciech Szczesny, who isn’t bad. But Lee Dixon is right. They need a specialist coach to organise the defence and play as a unit.
“I went to one of the dinners they have at the Emirates and spoke to Don Howe [the coach who guided Arsenal to their League and FA Cup Double in 1971]. I think he lives right near their training ground and I asked if anyone had ever asked him to help them out and he said no.
“I know he’s in his 70s, but he could help, even on a part-time basis. Wenger needs someone like that.”
Some Arsenal fans suggest that the Gunners can no longer trust in Arsene. But Storey, who now lives in south-west France, countered: “If you just get rid of him, who do you bring in? It’s going to be very difficult for the board, isn’t it?
“If they make the wrong choice, they’ll put themselves in trouble for quite a few years.”
Storey makes some decent points, especially bringing in the likes of Bould or Keown to help coach the defence. But after yesterdays lackluster performance questions can be asked of Arsenals fluidity and attacking prowess too after Swansea managed fought their way back into the match. I disagree with the criticism of Gervinho, who I feel is an excellent buy and will be a great asset this season. We missed out on some key buys in Hazard and M’Vila, but hopefully these players will come.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe in Storey’s opinion?