My mind is made up. It’s taken me until the 33rd game, but I truly believe Leicester City will now win the title. Not much of a revelation is it? But Leicester are in unchartered territory and I’ve never witnessed a team achieving what they are achieving in my lifetime. Every player will go down in history as a club legend, and the season will be written into folklore.
Despite their 3-0 home win against Man Utd yesterday, Tottenham are unlikely to get maximum points in all their five remaining fixtures so Leicester probably only need two more wins, which they’re more than capable of getting.
Lately, Leicester have been squeezing out 1-0 wins George Graham-style as their opponents have adopted a negative game plan sitting deep to prevent them from utilising their counter-attacking potential. It hasn’t been pretty, but Champions need to win ugly at times.
Leicester invariably find a way through packed defences because they’re on a magnificent ride, are playing with great confidence and have individuals like Riyad Mahrez who can change a game in the blink of an eye.
And as Sunderland found out yesterday, one lapse of concentration and Jamie Vardy is still as deadly as ever.
Leicester still have some tough fixtures coming up, but they’re equally as likely to beat Everton or Man Utd because they will have more opportunities to utilise their counter-attacking threat than they would against a defensive team.
Next up for Leicester is West Ham, and you can bet they will deal with Andy Carroll better than Arsenal did on Saturday.
Clearly, Wenger did nothing in training to help his team counter Carroll’s aerial threat. You can blame the players all you want – and some of them are obviously cack, but they’re clearly not being given the right tactical guidance, information or knowledge they need to counter specific threats. In fact, I’d wager they’re not being given any guidance at all. I’d put my house on the fact that Wenger would have said nothing whatsoever about Andy Carroll at Colney last week.
But forget Carroll, I reckon Arsenal are now in danger of losing their two biggest attacking threats. Ozil is slowly coming to the realisation that Wenger is clueless and he is wasting his career working under him. All the signs are there in his press statements, which have caused friction with his manager.
Ozil is 27 and his next contract could be his last chance to play for a big club at the very top. He’s clearly not looking to sign a new deal unless Wenger can give him a good reason to stay.
Alexis Sanchez is in exactly the same boat, his indifference is starting to show on the pitch, where he no longer bothers to track back and help his teammates. These are the early signs of players who are not fully committed, fed up with the players around them and looking for something to be done about it before heading for the exit door.
Both Ozil and Sanchez’s agents will be more than happy to pocket a big payday by moving their players on and Wenger is giving them all the ammo they need to build a persuasive argument for their clients to leave. You can bet that several big clubs will already be sniffing around the duo, as their contracts expire in 2018 and Arsenal will have to sell next summer - at the earliest - unless they want to risk throwing £60-£70m down the toilet.
After another season of abject failure, symbolised by the incompetence, negligence and arrogance that Wenger typifies, I believe that Arsenal’s future is starting to look particularly bleak. Apart from the contractual issues mentioned above, the club is in a rut and needs to dump a lot of players and spend big.
Debuchy is as good as gone, there is no future for Flamini, Arteta or Rosicky and decisions need to be made on Wilshere – who is draining the wage bill despite never being fit, and Cazorla who is getting old now and may struggle to be the same player after surgery for a serious knee injury. Some would be justified in claiming he is not good enough to achieve the Arsenal supporters’ objectives anyway.
The striking department is a mess. Never has Walcott looked more of the clueless footballing imbecile that we always knew he was, and Welbeck and Giroud will always be profligate. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s defence may be good enough to help Wenger secure his precious Champions League placing – just, but that scenario will shift next season if Spurs and Leicester repeat their heroics and Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea all improve, which I would think is a complete and utter certainty.
At the moment, the future seems bleak whether Wenger stays or goes. Some big decisions need to be made, yet one has to wonder whether there is anybody at boardroom level that is brave or educated enough to make the right choices.
Regardless, if they leave the nutter to his own devices, it’s ten times more likely the club will nosedive out of the top four and lose its crown jewels (Ozil and Sanchez) next season than Wenger rise like some phoenix from the flames. Any sane supporter must surely pray that 2016/17 will be Wenger’s last, and equally pray the club has an intelligent succession plan in the offing.
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