With Arsene Wenger set to stay at Arsenal for two more seasons, the Soccer Saturday pundits offer their views and advice to the manager.
The Frenchman announced his much-anticipated decision on his future on Wednesday and will now remain at the Emirates until the end of the 2018/19 term.
After a disappointing Premier League campaign last season, albeit one that came with another FA Cup victory, Soccer Saturday pundits Charlie Nicholas, Matt Le Tissier and Phil Thompson have had their say on what Wenger needs to do to improve the Gunners over the next few years…
He needs to win the Premier League, or at least get close. He could come back to me and say he finished second the season before but they never challenged for the title, really.
A lot of what he’s been saying should have been said earlier because the lack of clarity impacted the team.
I’m grateful for the FA Cup and there’s a winning mentality to head into the new season, but it doesn’t take all the pain away from missing out on the Champions League.
He should have made this decision three months ago because it would have taken a lot of the stress and frustration away.
The fabric of the team is in Wenger’s style and this is the strongest group of players he’s ever had so there are no excuses. He must identify the problems, (one of) which is clearly the defensive structure.
How did it take him this long to work out a back three was required? He bought centre-backs that can’t play in a back four and they were exposed for too long.
He’s got to face the music now and this is the strongest group but it’s still not good enough, so he needs to unload six or seven of the weaker players and, rather than signing more squad players, he must bring in another world-class defender, a top midfielder and a 20+ goal striker.
He needs another top midfield player with Santi Cazorla out. Raphael Varane or Virgil van Dijk would be ideal at centre-back and Alexandre Lacazette is the striker I wanted, but all this contract delaying has probably meant we’ve missed out on him.
We need a solution to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil now. I think Ozil will stay but Sanchez will probably go and losing 30 goals is really damaging.
He must treat the Europa League like the Capital One Cup and go for the title now and get back in the Champions League.
Matt Le Tissier
My reaction isn’t one of surprise, as we all expected it to happen. He’s obviously got some work to do to win over a sizeable majority of the fans who will be disappointed that he’s signed a new contract after his worst league finish since taking over.
He’s got to do his business in the summer, and I think they need a world-class centre-forward, somebody to strengthen the centre of their defence and then a holding midfielder as well. Obviously they missed Cazorla and it’s bad news that he’s out until October. I’m not a big fan or Francis Coquelin or Granit Xhaka, although you’d expect him to improve this summer.
Then the futures of Sanchez and Ozil are going to determine whether they need to do even more work.
They need to get off to a good start as well because the fans will want to get behind him again but it will quickly turn if the bad results start again.
I’ve been a great admirer of Wenger since he arrived but I hate to see a football club being pulled apart and I feel that’s exactly what is happening. I do believe if he loved the club as much as he says he does then he’d have stepped aside.
I just feel like Arsenal have lost their way. Yes, I know they won the FA Cup but looking at an overview of the season I feel Arsene stopped getting through to his players and they stopped learning, which is the most damaging thing.
Was it by luck that he went to back a back three? He didn’t seem to have any answers and then seemed to fall on a system everyone else was trying.
He’s been allowed to stay out of a feeling of debt to him because he’s been such a great manager, but he’ll have to take what is coming to him from now on as there’s no more time for sentiment.
As soon as they get a couple of defeats this feeling of discontent is going to start all over again. As soon as they lost to Liverpool it started and it lasted all season.