The Conundrum Known as Arsenal

Stacey HoodContributor ISeptember 17, 2009

LIEGE, BELGIUM - SEPTEMBER 16:  Nicklas Bendtner of Arsenal looks on during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Standard Liege and Arsenal at the Sclessin Stadium on September 16, 2009 in Liege, Belgium.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

After the comeback last night in Arsenal’s Champions League game, it appears that the squad may be facing a bleak season thanks to the manager’s stubborn dedication to his transfer policy which saw only Thomas Vermaelen come in from Ajax.

Since 2005 the only team that dropped out of the top four was Liverpool, thanks to Everton’s run of success.

But no other team has broken into that elite group until this season, when Man City, thanks to its recent purchase and cash influx, pulled a “Chelsea” and bought every player that manager Mark Hughes expressed interest in signing.

The talk that Arsenal has become a selling club seems to be strengthened by the fact that they let Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor leave for the Manchester club.

The conundrum is that Wenger’s policy of fielding younger and inexperienced players pays off with a consistent top-four finish, however, he has yet to bring in more experience to support these younger players.

The defensive mistakes from the past seem to have been gone, thanks to the purchase of Belgian international Vermaelen, yet the back-to-back losses to Man Utd and Man City brings attention that Arsenal fans are in for another struggling season.

As mentioned previously, Arsenal is a conundrum and very frustrating side because just last season the squad was FA Cup and Champions League semi-finalists and took their now standard fourth place in the Premiership.

And this was without Hleb, Flamini, and Gilberto...players that a majority of pundits and supporters said the club couldn’t survive without.

With only four games played in the league and basically the season just starting, the Gunners have already contradicted themselves after blowing Everton out 6-1, putting Pompey to the sword 4-1, moving past Celtic easily, then losing to the two Manchester sides and struggling against Standard Liege in their opening round of the Champions League.  

So what’s the difference? This season has seen just about every team around the world copy Barcelona’s system which is basically a modified 4-3-3 system.

Arsenal used it to great success against Everton, Celtic, and Portsmouth, but seemed to have struggled with it against City and United.

Herein lies the question, does Wenger buy to support this system or does he adapt the players he has to the system?

Arsenal has been a free-flowing, attacking team and with the new system in play, even more so...but the problem with being an attacking team is that you have to have a constant finisher up top.

Robin Van Persie and Nicholas Bendtner have become first choices in the side with Eduardo coming off the bench as a super sub. Both strikers have their critics and Eduardo is still on the mends from his leg break last season.

The defense has appeared to be sorted with a revitalized Gallas partnering with Vermaelen, who has proven he is a great purchase for the Gunners.

Almunia has continued to be first choice between the sticks and unfortunately, his back-up, Fabianski, has yet to put in a solid performance when called upon.

The midfield unit has been solid, however they also have struggled at times and one has to wonder about such players as Song, Eboue, and Denilson. Are they actually world-beaters, or are they just there by default?

Time will tell, but again, the constant struggle in every game leaves much to be desired. Looking at the roster, there really isn’t a player on the squad who can strike fear into the heart of an opponent like someone such as David Villa or Leo Messi.

With goals coming from 10 of the first team players, Arsene Wenger appears to have quite possibly masterminded yet another coup for his side.