Arsenal made a roaring start to the campaign which led many fans to believe that the Gunners were capable of winning the Premier League for the first time since the 2003/04 season. Sadly it seems that it is not the case. The London club are six points adrift of the Premier League summit and they seem to be going in just one direction, down. There can be numerous explanations for the clubs faltering but no more so than their lack of leaders.
Sport in a Storm, an online football blog, reported that Arsene Wenger was annoyed by Paul Scholes’ recent comments that Arsenal have no leaders, but in all fairness the former Man United man is completely right. If we look at the club’s midfield, which is any clubs engine, they don’t have any stand-out leaders. Mikel Arteta wears the captain’s armband but he isn’t an authority figure, he’s a little too meek. Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshire could both go onto captain Arsenal but sadly they are too injury prone, neither seem to be able to play more than 10 games without sustaining an injury. As for Mesut Ozil, he is a gifted footballer but he can be petulant when things are going his way. Of all the Arsenal midfielders it is only Mathieu Flamini who is a battler, he’s the only one who will go toe-to-toe with the opposition midfield and he isn’t scared of picking up a knock.
The lack of leaders and battlers in the side is the reason Arsenal have come up so short against Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. Liverpool hammered them 5-1, Chelsea 6-0 and City 6-3, all because Arsenal’s midfield was overran. With players like Steven Gerrard, Yaya Toure and Frank Lampard, all the other top-four sides have players that will go out and hurt the opposition, players that enjoy a tackle and receiving one, something that Arsenal do not have and that is why Arsenal’s title campaign has so badly derailed.
Despite his ageing years Gareth Barry would be perfect at the Emirates, providing the perfect defensive coil to the side’s attack-minded midfielders. Ilkay Gundogan is another who would do the job perfectly for Arsenal.
To conclude, Arsenal need to strengthen their midfield if they are to have any chance of winning the Premier League. They have a lovely free-flowing midfield that is perfect for attacking but when the shoe is on the other foot and they face a team with the strength to attack them back they crumble, as seen in their performances against the bigger clubs. Arsenal need some mettle and they need it bad.