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Arsene Wenger has arguably commanded the best Premier League team to-date and has overseen the most successful period in Arsenal Football Club’s history.
So, it is strange that he cannot command a coat zip. Maybe it isn’t ‘of quality’, I don’t know.
Named the ‘Invincibles’, following an astonishing forty-nine game unbeaten run that lasted the entire 2003/2004 season and beyond, this Arsenal team was known to be creative, ruthless and full of leaders. They were a tough test for anyone.
Wenger even revolutionised football by implementing new training methods and stricter diets. The one sticking point for many fans and pundits, however, was a lack of English players in the set-up.
Instead, Wenger danced in the French market and built his team around men from his own country, including Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Sylvain Wiltord and Patrick Vieira.
Bringing up English talent
In December 2012, Wenger changed his beret for a bowler hat, so to speak. He finally appeased the fans with some English blood after many years of criticism.
Arsenal fans could begin to be excited about talent closer to home. Carl Jenkinson, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had agreed long-term contracts at Arsenal and were promised to compete with the best of the business once more.
‘I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together. The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players.’
The future of Arsenal and England, he said.
Five years later, these players are at a career crossroads. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Why has Arsenal failed to nurture and develop promising English talent?’
To make things worse, the decline of Arsenal has seen a rise of their North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
Not only have Spurs started to become a resurgent force in the Premier League, but they have enjoyed significant breakthroughs into the England squad within the past 5 years, including the likes of Dele Alli, Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Danny Rose.
With full-backs Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs seemingly being eased out the Emirates exit door and Jack Wilshere, professional hospital patient, struggling to assert himself in the starting line-up, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain appears to be Arsenal’s last hope. But even he is considering leaving on a free.
But what about Calum Chambers, I hear you say? And Theo Walcott?
Calum Chambers helped Middlesbrough get relegated. That says it all.
On the other hand, Theo Walcott had one his best campaigns as an Arsenal player in 2016/2017 season, but fans have grown impatient with his inconsistency. Unfortunately, he has not hit the heights of Thierry Henry.
Back to chasing French talent
With the Arsenal manager now chasing French talent, namely, the acquisition of striker Alexandre Lacazette and linked moves for Monaco’s Kyllian Mbappe and Thomas Lemar, has Wenger reverted to his old ways?
Is Wenger’s British Empire over? Did it even get started?
But Arsenal fans, we can remain optimistic. Two words. Rob Holding.
Written by Jack Kelly
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