5 things Wenger can do to kick-start Arsenal’s season

I want to make it clear that I don’t think there is any reason to panic with regards to the start to the season that Arsenal has made. 13 points from the opening 7 fixtures is certainly no disgrace and at the end of the day a 4-point gap at the top can be cut into in just a couple of games.

But as optimistic an Arsenal supporter as I am, there is no arguing the point that things have just gone a little bit strange in the last week or two. A storming performance in the Champions League against Porto was sandwiched between a shock loss to Hull and a lacklustre draw with Sunderland and it’s pretty obvious things are not going so well after a very bright start to the season.

It’s certainly no disaster at this stage, but I do feel that there are some things that the manager could do to get things heading in the right direction again. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of 5 things Wenger can do to kick-start Arsenal this season.

(1) Bring Johan Djourou back

Defensively Arsenal are looking poor at the moment and in my eyes the only solution is to bring Johan Djourou back into the starting team. Every man and his dog can see that the William Gallas-Kolo Toure partnership is just not working – a lack of height and physical presence the main reasons – and the restoration of Djourou to the side would solve the issue. Whether it is the captain or Toure who makes way I don’t really care, but the longer the manager goes without playing Djourou the longer Arsenal will go on conceding unnecessary goals.

(2) Play Alex Song instead of Denilson

I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Denilson but the season he has surprised me with some good performances and a couple of nice goals. However, he’s just not the right type of player to partner Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park, lacking both the physical presence and defensive awareness of Gilberto and the raw energy and aggressiveness of Mathieu Flamini.

While Alex Song is nowhere near the finished product yet he is more physical and aggressive, a significant improvement over the Brazilian in my eyes. As a result, Song should be brought into the side, freeing up Denilson to act as Fabregas’ understudy and allowing the Spaniard more freedom to hurt the opposition with his excellent passing and late runs into the box.

(3) Stick to 4-4-2

A 4-5-1 formation in away Champions League fixtures is fine but a 4-5-1 away to Sunderland is not. Quite simply it shows sides that are inferior far too much respect and at the same time takes this group of players away from a formation that they know well and get great results from, something that even the manager admitted after the draw with Sunderland. What’s more, it simplifies the role of the players, leaving the van Persies, Adebayors, Bendtners and Velas of the world to worry about scoring goals and the Nasris, Eboues and Walcotts to worry about creating from out wide.

(4) Pick players on merit and substitute those who aren’t performing

This might seem like a simple one but I haven’t seen it happen all that often this season. If a player puts in good performances one week then – unless they require a rest or the type of opposition absolutely forces a different type of player – they deserve to start the week after. I understand the need for rotation in modern-day football but at the end of the day the players who are in the best form should be playing. That means guys like Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou should have featured against Sunderland, for example.

Similarly if a player is not performing on the day then they should be substituted. There will always be times that a different type of player may need to come on but for the most part, if a winger is having an off day then it’s probably best to pull him off at half-time or shortly after for an equivalent player. The squad has enough depth on the bench to suggest that a player who is not cutting it can be replaced by another who will improve the side. I’d like to see it happen a little more often.

(5) Work on those set-pieces a little bit more

Offensively the boys are not doing too badly of late with Adebayor and Fabregas both scoring from corners in consecutive games. But defensively the concerns remain. Porto very nearly opened the scoring from their couple of early corners in midweek while Hull and Fulham have both scored from a corner on their way to beating Arsenal. I don’t pretend to be anywhere near the manager that Wenger is but it seems clear to me that this side have issues in defending set-pieces and they really should be putting more effort into addressing those issues.

What do you think?

Have your say on the 5 things Wenger could do to kick-start Arsenal’s season by leaving a comment.



  1. if you watched the losing goal was failed by Alex song which lose ball to sunderland player was ready to shoot. ok denilson is not good inough but song is not better yet. new sigh defenshif mefield isstill needed for being strenght squad.

  2. I don’t think your gunner have much luck with number 4 Spanish. For example, we can all see Gallas has not performed well in most of the games (if not all?). AW would never sub him IMO.

    Unfortunately because of this, your number 1 ‘kick-start’ will not result in JD coming on as a sub. Although i agree with you, i think JD should get a start from the start, so to speak.

    AW really got the formation wrong for this game. I had some concerns going into the game, then the formation came up on the screen *big gulp*.

  3. I would also add the another Arsenal problem is lack of sharpness corner scoring ,it very important for game solving like sunderland just did.

  4. I think this article is pretty much spot on. I dont hear many gooners who genuinely dont think we have the talent etc in the current squad to at the very least challenge for the title. The squad is very good.
    the problems we have are all of our own doing.

    As for sunderland game – I wouldn’t blame song for the goal. he couldn’t make the tackle without fouling Leadbitter and he knew that from there it would take a wonder strike to score – unfortunately it was a wonder strike – sometimes you have to accept that happens in football – no team can stop every goal from going in but the bigger picture shows we need 4-4-2 and one defensively minded player in midfield. I am still backing song to be our full time DM. I dont think we really needed Song AND Den sitting relatively deep on saturday when Sunderland only attacked about 3 times in the whole game! We need 4-4-2, certainly when it became clear just how negative Sunderland were.

    why is wenger moaning about Keane’s tactics when he did nothing to react to them in the game and whats more played exactly the same tactics himself! wenger needs to look at himself a bit more.

    as for playing in form players – I totally agree. Bentdtner, Nasri, Dourou and Vela should all have played on that basis. I thought Nik B really livened things up when he came on and played a really super 20 minutes. He is looking good but he still get a proper game.

    Set pieces would improve with Djourou in the team. Toure and Gallas need breaking up but I wont hold my breath.

  5. Gallas has to be dropped for Djourou.

    As for picking players on merit and dropping the under performers, I think we can all forget that.

    Adebayor hasnt looked interested this season, well worth holding the club to ransom for.]

    Fabregas hasnt had the ame effect as last year, this is due to no real defensive midfielder along side him to free him up. I would like to see Ramsey in the team at some point.

    Song has impressed me so far at times this season.

    The formation gave me the sense that w

  6. Gallas has to be dropped for Djourou.

    As for picking players on merit and dropping the under performers, I think we can all forget that.

    Adebayor hasnt looked interested this season, well worth holding the club to ransom for.]

    Fabregas hasnt had the ame effect as last year, this is due to no real defensive midfielder along side him to free him up. I would like to see Ramsey in the team at some point.

    Song has impressed me so far at times this season.

    The formation at weekend gave me the sense that Arsene Wenger didnt trust the team to go and win.

    Van persie on the left doesnt work and leaing out £12m Nasri was a huge mistake. Sunderland played defensive, so we combat it with another defensive one!!! Crazy stuff.

    Hopefully international break sees players free of injuries.

  7. NASRI SHOULDVE PLAYED his quick feet and amazing eye for goal wouldve done wonder rarther then denilsons woeful shotting i couldve done better myself

    fuck were missing flamini. say what you want about his money ways. but the footballer flamini was gifted he was mature

  8. People have to realise the board have given Wenger far far too much room. How long has Fergie gone without winning trophies recently? even when they’re not winning the league they get something – be it fa cup and carling cup. Wenger – you say whats the point of finishing in bottom half of league and winning carling cup? Well – how would that be the case with Arsenal? The youngsters will be OK till semi final if Arsenal keep getting easier teams and then put some experience in if they come up against Chelsea, Manyoo etc. 4th place is assured at least and Wenger knows it.

  9. Woah, there’s some Wenger-bashing going on today.

    What can I say? Things aren’t too bad, really. I think everyone has a right to be upset with the last week or two but I don’t overly understand the “Wenger is over it” or “sack Wenger” sort of comments.

    I’m interested, do people prefer Gallas or Toure to be dropped in favour of Djourou? Or is he not the answer at all?

  10. JAY – Gallas will unfortunately not be dropped. He is the captain.

    If AW was to drop Gallas, he would never say so to the media. AW would say he’s not playing because of an ‘injury’ just like he did with TH14.

  11. Id like to see Toure and Djourou given an opportunity but i dont think it will happen *read above comments*.

    I dont think its all that bad either. I just think AW got his formation wrong for this game.

  12. Have to agree on all 5 Spanish. Great article.

    I think the major one is bringing Song in to replace Denilson. For me, Denilson is not the answer to our defensive midfield problem, he’s a replacement for when Fabregas is injured. We need a terrier.

  13. Why not move Toure to DM then slide Djourou in alongside Gallas? Leaves us a bit thin in the backup department but Silvestre should be getting back soon as well…

  14. Actually, yes I think it is time to panic! With that many missed oppertunities and 1 point gained from our last two games against Hull and Sunderland, and giving up first place not once but twice to chelski!!!! I’m just worried how we’ll do against united and chelski! The bottom line is if Wenger fails to deliver us a trophy this season then I vote him out! I mean, the man was a mastermind and all… but there is that word “was”. He just isn’t delivering us doubles and unbeaten seasons anymore!!! And after waiting 3 bloody years I want to see a trophy going to the emirates this year!!!

  15. I wouldn’t like to see Kolo as a defensive midfielder. I just don’t think he’s got what it takes. His positional sense is one thing that sometimes lets him down, and I think that’s the major strength players like Makelele and Gilberto had. They read the game so well.

  16. Agree with Djourou coming in maybe for gallas but his goals are important…do not agree with song for Denilson…..Denilson has more vision and is getting better and better….he has outplayed even Fabregas in the last 3 games!

  17. A couple of things:

    (1) Toure will never play as a defensive midfielder. Wenger has ruled it out many, many times and it’s just not going to happen. Much as some of us would like it to…

    (2) I don’t think Song is necessarily BETTER than Denilson or that Denilson has played poorly. It’s just that Denilson is not a defensive midfielder. He might have outperformed Cesc a few times this season but that’s because he’s not doing the job to free him up. Usually when Mathieu Flamini played well last season Cesc would play well as a result, at the moment that’s not quite happening.

  18. I think that Gallas should be left out for a game or two, and, when fit, nasri should start.

  19. I think that playing Alex Song in midfield is the most important, although he was tackled which led to the goal on the weekend I think that comes with inexperience. Having him in front of the back two will create stability… He’s more of a Diaby-esque player than Denilson and will also provide threat from set-pieces.

  20. 1. I really like Djourou, but I really like Gallas and Toure as well. I would be gutted if Toure were dropped, and I still rate Gallas as a top defender, although he is some way off his peak of a few years ago, unfortunately. Gallas is out of sorts right now, but I support Arsene Wenger’s hunch that Gallas regaining form is a safer bet than bringing in Djourou, but just barely.

    2.Maybe you’re right, and I do like Alex Song, but I think Denilson is the right player to have in there right now. Having said that, Denilson needs to play better and quit giving the ball away. Some rotation might not hurt, but I’m really pulling for Denilson to be a key player. One thing I’ve advocated for a long time is giving Denilson a chance in wide midfield (I’m not a big Eboue fan).

    3. Spanish Fry, you’re a great guy, and a hard-working blogger, but here you’ve absolutely bottled it: 3 up front, my man. It’s the only way to go. All out attack. Adebayor, RVP, cutting in form the right (never again wide left, please), and Walcott or Vela tormenting opposition, cutting in from the left. Back them up with Cesc, Denilson, and Nasri and you’ve got a mouthwatering 433!

    4.You’re spot on there. Playing the players in form would solve a lot of the problems.

    5. I’m very frustrated with the corners. Arsenal get SO MANY corners. I’d like to see them create a lot more from them. Teams are more than happy to concede corners because Arsenal usually kick it right to the first defender. And then, on the other end, when Arsenal give away a corner, they’re like deer in headlights. Shocking, really. Although that Cesc goal was nice. He’s tops, that lad.

  21. Agree with almost everything. I also think Ade-badge-kisser should be dropped and Gallas should not be our captain anymore. Djourou has to come in and Cesc for Captaincy. He can be like Gerrard for us. He is a winner and fulcrum of this team. Stick with 4-4-2 and ask Song to stay upfront the back 4 and give Cesc the chance to dictate the game. He will find Walcott/Nasri with precious passes and also strikers. We must bounce back and it style. We might not have room to make anymore mistakes. Arsene Grandpa cannot not be silly any more with his philosophies. Players underperforming should be dropped like Ade, Gallas and Denilson(Not under performing really but is not DM)

  22. Also Steohen Appiah is still out there… Ideally I would love to grab Yaya in January but thats a bit risky…

  23. I have serious doubts over the sanity of peoples who say that things are not disastrous this season.

    We are 4 points behind with no match played against the top four.Rest of top four teams have all played against each other with manutd playing both Liverpool and Chelsea.This november we have to face stoke,manc,manu,chelsea,villa and with surety none can guarantee even 6 points from them seeing the current form of our team.

  24. I think we are all underating the oppositon here.Didnt Liverpool struggle to break Stoke down and similarly had a good Gerrard goal disallowed which could have changed the game. Yes it is baffling thaat we played 4-5-1 at Sunderland and nearly sunk buy another wonder goal. Its har to see Wenegr not plying his captain unless he is inured and both Toure and Gallas are injured. However Djorou is a real giant and it is unfortunate that he cannot be acommodated in the team presently. Ahmed we have never been outplayed buy any of the top four teams in the past 3 years even with a poor squad and to be fair we always raise our game for these big games.Its the “smaller teams” that fight for everything and defend for their lives whic are always the challenge. To be honest I think we have an even better team this season with the luxury of more opptions . Last year we didnt even have good otpions on the bench. Id rather start poor an finish strongly which undid us last season.

  25. The mistake Arsene is making is having too much confidence in Denilson and Alex Song. These lads are playing like school boys. Put Nasri on the left, Eboue on the centre and Cesc on the right. The inclusion of Ade, RVP and Bentner at the same time does not work. They do not get the rhythm right. Arsenal players do not seem to be hungry enough like Liverpool’s

  26. For me, Arsenal have to get the defence right. Great full backs but sadly,they continue to leak goals from set pieces. GET IT SORTED! They clearly need a strong leader in central defence. Gallas IS NOT a strong leader. In attack, the gooners are fantastic. It’s in defence that they have to tighten up and command more respect. If not, they will win nothing.

  27. I am in agreement with all 5,more escpecially the fourth one. Playing players, who are not performing, just because they are first team ‘regulars’ is highly unjustified. I think it is high time the players who ARE performinig get a say. Mr Wenger clearly believes in young talent and the majority of the squad is young so it would not hurt any one to put in a player who is performing well at that time. Although Mr Wenger’s arguement may be that the ‘performing player’ is likely to be having an ‘off day’as a result of age and a lack of of concentration. Even then, just to keep the already existing confidence of the on form player Mr Wenger should allow for him to prove himself. Other than that those are some GOOD POINTS MR FRY wish Mr Wenger would have raed them!

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