Arsenal’s disappointing start to the season could be put down to many things. Early season rustiness, fitness worries, the dismal performance of Petr Cech and many more, have all been blamed for the defeat to West Ham at home on Sunday afternoon. But, if we look a little further, the problems lie a little deeper.
If Wenger has failed in anyone department, it is that he has failed to recruit a finger-pointing, rousing leader in his squad.
Not since the likes of Patrick Vieira or Emmanuel Petit have Arsenal had a guy who can grab the game by the scruff of its neck and lead the side to victory. With the exception of Alexis Sanchez, who is a different kind of leader and motivator, Arsenal have nobody to turn to when things are going badly.
An immensely talented squad, no doubt about it. But, when things are not going to plan, who is there to drive the team on? Where are the guys like Tony Adams, Vieira, Keown?
Some will argue that in a team of ten internationals, including two World Cup winners in Mesut Ozil and Per Mertesacker, they should have guys who can rise to the occasion, no matter the circumstances. This was not the case on Sunday.
In total, Arsenal had players who had accumulated 515 international caps between them. Internationals from major forces like France, Spain and England as well as Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech. And off the bench in the second half came Copa America winner Sanchez and England regular Theo Walcott.
Ex-Arsenal manager, George Graham was even scathing in his assessment of Arsenal on Sunday, criticising the ‘big players for not performing or getting a grip of the game’.
It can often appear like the players are reliant on somebody else stepping up to the plate. In the absence of a fit Alexis Sanchez, the side were devoid of passion and quality on Sunday.
When the chips are down, too many times Arsenal come up short. Time for one or more of Wenger’s players to step up and show real leadership qualities. Like Rice, McLintock, Adams and Vieira.