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“If you eat Caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to Sausages “Wenger said after the fans booed a 1-1 draw against Boro on 29 November 1998.Going by this caustic statement , the Gunners would have suffered from an overdose of Sausages this last 2016-17 season.
Apart from the hunger for Caviar over Sausages, it is very interesting to note that the final standings in the EPL for that season, Arsenal lost the opportunity of winning the EPL by just 2 points 77 points to 79 points of Manchester United! They both won 22 games and the GD between them was just – yes, you guessed it! – Just one Goal!! And just for statistical interest, Arsenal scored 21 goals less than United (Arsenal 59 Goals and Man Utd 80!) and conceded 20 goals fewer. [Arsenal 17, Man Utd 37}. But in the end, Wenger would have still been bitter about the sausages!
Sadly, this season – 2017/18 –Arsenal are without sausages also! Forget the Caviar!!
How can Arsenal get back to Caviar days?
The simplest way would be to follow the great Jack Charlton’s advice, a take on Paul McGrath. He said, tongue in cheek, “Paul is one of the great, all-time greats. A very intimidating player…I used to tell him ‘just look at your opponents in the face, smile at them, and you’ll frighten them to death‘“.
This may not work all the time, though!
Best for Wenger is to plan short term, for 2017-18 only. First thing: Sell the fringe players. Lighten the wage burden and get some $100m in the kitty, in addition to the reported $150m that the Club reportedly gave him at the start. That means $250m on hand.
Use the subsisting contracts to keep the important and key players. Tell them that they will have to fulfill the terms of contract already in place. Tell them they should get the club back in Champions League by the end of 2017-18 season. That is the bottom line.
Ensure they do not leave. Let them go free in 2018-19. I cannot but help recall this very strong statement with this precedent vis-a vis Sanchez wanting to leave for Manchester City this season, never mind the super offer of Wenger for Sanchez to stay: Mark McGhee [Manager of Milwall] had this to say of one his players being persistently tied to a move to Spurs, obviously, he was dead against that: “The only way Mark (Bircham) will be going to Spurs is if he buys a ******* season Ticket.“ the message was clear.
The first option, and perhaps the only option, is for Arsenal to win the EPL and Europa. Nothing less. Towards this end he has to build a strong squad with quality in depth.
This previous season Man United played almost 70 to 75 matches. At times 2 to 3 games a week with hardly any time to rest and recoup. This was gruesome. Finally, they ended 6th in EPL but won the Europa and are in Champions League. End justifies means?
Arsene Wenger will be aware of this. There are other cups, trophies which he will have to take very seriously. He must have a quality squad. For that he must spend. And spend big. You cannot reap if you have not planted.
If Wenger can, and we know he can, win the EPL and Europa by May/June of 2018, then he would have given Arsenal and its board, a very early Christmas Gift! Simply because, winning EPL and Europa will give hundreds of millions of Dollars of several Revenue streams, TV rights, sponsorship renewals , advertisers contracts, and other similar revenues that could remind them of the “Caviar“ season of 2003-04. It was a fantastic season where they did not lose a single EPL match: winning 26 and drawing 12! Wow!! They need to replicate that champagne season in 2017-18.
That kind of achievement will ensure that those unwilling to stay will be compelled by force of circumstance to eat crow but stay. No one will walk free. It is difficult to imagine that anyone will leave the club that has won the EPL; now the excuse is they want Champions League which Arsenal cannot give. If they win both EPL and Europa, more players will come to the club – Wenger won’t have to chase the upstarts.
And the immensely increased revenues, will act as a cushion for Wenger to buy big in 2018-19. He will aim for CL and spend accordingly. He can build the team for the next 3 to 5 year.
But now in 1st Week of August 2017, he will have to plan at least for four more quality signings. He already has a great acquisition with Lacazette and Kolasinac.
He must bring in Lemar. He must get Mahrez, remember the season will have at least 60 to 70 matches, and he needs to rest the top guys: and keep them fresh for the EPL and Europa.
Similarly Jean-Michael Siri and Leon Goretzka will come in very handy in the midfield. Wenger will have to lighten the burden on Ozil, Lemar, Sanchez and Lacazette.
He will have Chamberlain, Giroud, Welbeck, Iwobi, Walcott, Xhaka, Ramsey and Cazorla [probably by October or so]. At the back Bellerin , Koscielny , Kolasinac ,Mustafi , Holding Monreal, Coquellin and Elneny. In a well-planned and well executed campaign, this group is a gold mine. With this setup, both EPL and Europa are within grasp.
We will do well to remember that the 2016-17 teams were just 3 points short of being joint third with Man City on points 75 to 78 of City. And with core of the 2017-18 bolstered by the additions will easily see them win the EPL and Europa.
Finally, Wenger must heed this anonymous proverb: Four things come not back : The spoken word. The sped arrow. The past life and THE NEGLECTED OPPORTUNITY.
By: Chaya Sai.
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