Wenger beaten at his own game as he still struggles for answers
Arsenal 0 Swansea City 2:If Arsenal are in crisis then it is of concern that Arsene Wenger appeared to have so few answers in response to his team having been comprehensively dismantled by Swansea.
Two goals from Michu flattened the home team, leaving Arsenal 10th in the table as Michael Laudrup’s side inflicted not only defeat, but the ultimate insult – using the Wenger style of play to do the damage. It all adds up to Arsenal’s worst start to a season in 16 years, and the Frenchman’s worst at the club, too.
In a small dark room under the stadium Wenger was harried by questioners. The environment matched his mentality, battening down the hatches. Noncommittal in his answers he frequently shrugged his shoulders and began his sentences with: “I don’t know.”
Asked why the home form in the league had been so abysmal – only three wins this season – he said: “It’s difficult to put the finger on it.”
Does he worry that Arsenal could develop a fear of playing at home? “Well, we have to make sure that doesn’t come in.” Does he suspect there are signs? “No. I believe at the moment we cannot be satisfied with the quality of our game. At the moment that is more important than that psychological side.”
Wenger also admitted that the board has money to spend on players come January, but his insistence on finding solutions on the inside and not looking elsewhere is the crux of the fans’ frustration. Again he was asked, would he make signings in January? Again a vague response.
In his programme notes, though, Wenger had eulogised over Swansea’s three bargains from La Liga – Michu, 11 goals in all competitions now and a steal at €2.48m, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan de Guzman. Wenger described, with envy, the kind of scouting network needed to recruit at such prices, renewing his argument for home-grown talent paired with affordable buy-ins to run the ideal club.
But is the reality finally catching up on that vision? Is Wenger as confident as he ever was about being able to take the club forward? “Yes,” he said, “of course. But if you ask me always about my future I can only give you one answer. I always respected my contracts and that’s it.”
With three more home games this month, he will need to find answers, and fast.
In contrast to the Gunners’ current problems Swansea’s manager was buoyant, undefeated in seven games. “We know it’s a good moment and you know sometimes when you’re in good moments you think you can beat everybody everywhere,” said Laudrup with Swansea having also beaten West Brom in midweek.
“Obviously we know it will not happen [continuing unbeaten], we will lose games and we will also have days where we play bad but when you’re in a positive moment like this – we lost only to Man City 1-0 in the last 10 games and we’ve played a lot of good teams, so we just have to maintain and extend that moment.
“That’s very important to keep on going because you know suddenly there can come bad moments. We already know that this season because after a great start we had three consecutive losses, but we bounced back and that showed a lot of character.”