A very interesting article from Arsenal legend Martin Keown explains what he thinks needs to change, note the part of loaning out some of the youth earlier to toughen up and gain experience which is a very good, and proven method (just look at Wilshire), but unfortunately not one that we can do right now. Here’s the full article as featured in The Daily Mail:
SPEND FOR THE FANS
Arsenal’s fans were unbelievably supportive at Old Trafford. But there is a feeling of ‘spend some money and we can all get right behind you for the season’.
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They understood that Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri had to go, but they feel aggrieved that other clubs are managing to sign players. The fans are desperate for new faces – they want to embrace exciting new stars.
A new arrival creates a buzz of expectation and reinforces a belief that your team is equipped to compete. A Scott Parker-type recruit would be good. He is someone Jack Wilshere would look up to as an England team-mate and he would help lift the younger man’ s performances.
Arsene Wenger won’t necessarily agree, because Parker doesn’t fit the Arsenal mould as he’s not especially technically gifted. Arsenal don’t normally break from their policies but they haven’t lost 8-2 before, so maybe it’s time to try something different.
They might have to pay a bit more money for a new signing than they’d be comfortable with – and perhaps a higher wage – but if the new signing gets an extra 10 per cent out of three or four team-mates, that has to be worth it.
The club’s scouting network is outstanding and they will be looking all around the world for players. All compartments of the side need improving. To be a successful team, you need reliability in performance and availability.
At the back, Arsenal are not getting that from Laurent Koscielny, Thomas Vermaelen and Kieran Gibbs, so new recruits are merited. Signing someone like Gary Cahill from Bolton would work. He’s got good technical ability, has hardly missed a game for Bolton and has vast experience.
WENGER MUST STAY
After beating Barcelona at home in the Champions League last season, Wenger would have thought everything was in place for his team to move up a notch. But the wheels have come off.
There needs to be a tweak to the strategy at Arsenal. The conveyor belt at the Emirates football factory cannot keep churning out immaculate footballers for rivals to buy. Arsenal moulded Nasri and Fabregas, but they were both snatched at their peak.
The last time Arsenal spent big was in 2009 when they signed Andrey Arshavin for £16.5million. Before that you have to go back to 2000 and the £13m paid for Sylvain Wiltord.
That was before the club were committed to the Emirates Stadium project and Wenger has faithfully followed the company policy by balancing stadium debt with the requirements of his team.
But his reluctance to spend could potentially only favour his successor. He should spend big now – first for himself but also for the club. Wenger is a proven builder of teams – he just needs new faces.
There is no magic wand to make everything OK in a few days. Six of the 11 who beat Barcelona weren’t available against United because they’d either left, were injured or suspended.
Arsenal have to rip it all up and start again, but Wenger is, without doubt, the man for the job.
FARM OUT THE KIDS
Arsenal have a history of sending products of their youth programmes out on loan. I went to Brighton, who were in the old Division Two, before I made my Arsenal debut. And it helped me because I returned ready to go into the team almost straight away. Going on loan makes you realise that the game is not just about pretty football – it’s also about the rough and tumble.
It would have been helpful to send Carl Jenkinson out on loan once the ‘Arsenalisation’ – the passing and technique – had been stitched into his game. But Arsenal do not have the resources to do that. There’s no longer that middle tier of players between the first-choice stars and the young, emerging talent.
These kids in the Arsenal team are cutting their teeth in the biggest arena there is.
You applaud the fact that Arsenal give young players a chance, but they would have a healthier chance if they were going out on loan first. Look at how well Jack Wilshere did at Bolton.
Don’t underestimate the value of making your mistakes elsewhere, and coming back a wiser and more experienced player.
It could be time to abandon the 4-5-1 system and go back to a 4-4-1-1, which worked so well when Arsenal were winning trophies.
Dennis Bergkamp played in behind Thierry Henry so effectively, but when he left and Fabregas emerged it was deemed necessary to play three central midfielders because Fabregas is not defensiveminded and needed covering.
But that means that there are never enough bodies in the attacking third and they are not creating enough chances.
Fabregas’s departure can be used as a reason to revert to a 4-4-1-1, with either a new player coming in or Gervinho playing just ahead of Robin van Persie.
The other negative of the three in midfield is that there is a false feeling of safety in numbers. It’s easier for someone to hide from putting in a shift in a midfield three – as we saw from Tomas Rosicky at Old Trafford.
I am a fan of video analysis, but I know that the manager at times worries that the player can become paranoid when a mistake is pointed out, negatively seeing it as a weakness rather than positively as an area on which to improve.
But the players will all have seen the TV pundits pointing out their mistakes already so maybe it’s time to further embrace this form of learning.
The players must work on how to react when they lose possession. There is such uncertainty over the basics. For example, as a defender, you drop off if the opposition has lots of time on the ball because they can pick out any pass they want and you need to be in position to cover that.
Arsenal’s defenders are not doing that, as you could see from Jenkinson charging upfield against United – putting himself in a position from which it was impossible to recover. Arsenal have an excel lent coaching staff, and as ex-defenders Pat Rice and Steve Bould know their stuff. But from recent performances it’s clear their message isn’t getting through.
All players learn in different ways. Some players are visual learners, some learn from instruction, some learn by walking through and practising and some learn the hard way – from their mistakes in a match.
As a player, I learned from watching footage of my mistakes and putting it right next time. Video analysis is a good learning tool as long as it is used in a positive way.
The key to working with these players is to utilise every tool available to help them to grasp how to develop together.