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As Arsenal's title hopes collapse at Wigan, Sportsmail asks: Where do the Gunners go from here?
Published : 19 Apr 2010 11:48:18Rss feed
More frustration: Arsene Wenger saw his Arsenal side collapse at Wigan The day had started so well for Arsenal. After Chelsea's defeat on Saturday evening, the door had reopened on the Gunners' title challenge, but it was quickly slammed back in their faces. A catastrophic 11 minutes at the end of the clash with Wigan saw Arsene Wenger's side throw away a two-goal lead, losing 3-2 - a result which ended any hope they had of catching league leaders Chelsea. Arsenal fans won't need reminding that it is now five years since the club won anything. The FA Cup victory over Manchester United in Cardiff in 2005 was the last time they lifted silverware. No one would argue that Wenger has developed a wonderfully talented side, among the most entertaining in the world to watch. But you fancy there are more than one or two fans down at the Emirates who would rather just win some silverware... and soon. So what are the problems facing Wenger? Sportsmail takes a trip to north London to analyse the key issues. Issue number one - the Number 1 issueDoes Wenger seriously believe he can win titles without the help of a world-class keeper? Time and again the Arsenal boss has been let down by Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski this season. From the own goal against Manchester United, to the poor effort which let Birmingham in for a draw. And but for his theatrical dive, he may have saved Danny Rose's effort in the recent north London derby - Almunia hasn't been at the races this season. And his understudy has hardly shone, either. Fabianski embarrassed himself in the clash with FC Porto - the own goal and subsequent back pass shambles led to the Gunners' defeat. And his fumble against Wigan allowed the Latics to equalise shortly before conceding a third goal as Arsenal's title challenge disappeared. Solution: Get on the phone to Hugo Lloris, Joe Hart or, if you'refeeling brave, give Tottenham a ring to enquire about Heurelho Gomes. Another goalkeeping howler: Fabianski drops the ball, allowing Titus Bramble to equalise for Wigan To sign or not to signWenger is rated for his judgement, be it tactical, when buying players or playing mind games with other managers. But would anyone argue that allowing Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry to leave have proven to be good ideas? With this in mind the Arsenal boss should cross heaven and high water to keep Cesc Fabregas at the club. The talismanic Spaniard remains the lifeblood of the side, the crown jewels that simply can't be tempted by a return back to Barcelona Granted, Vieira and Henry departed towards the end of their careers but at just 22, Fabregas is the future of the Gunners and Barca need to be warned off. Solution: Break the bank and tie Fabregas down on a huge contract. He must stay: Arsenal should break the back to keep Cesc Fabregas OAPs at the backWenger may point to the fantastic season enjoyed by new-boy Thomas Vermaelen but really, what else is there? Arsenal have ended the last two matches with the centre-back pairing of Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre who have a combined age of 67. Both games have ended in defeat. Vermaelen's regular partner at the centre of defence William Gallas is ruled out for the rest of the season but there's still no guarantee over whether he'll return next year. At 32, Wenger is only likely to offer Gallas a one-year extension to his contract which runs out in the summer, so the France international may look elsewhere for a longer contract. Solution: Is the player eligible for a bus pass? Don't buy him. Simple. Case for the defence: Mikael Silvestre and Sol Campbell Midfield mysteryOne position Arsenal aren't lacking is midfield but what they do have is too many players of a similar ilk. Wenger has made his policy to buy young, creative midfielders, but now he has a surplus. The Gunners midfield now lacks power and an experienced head. A gap which needs to be plugged. Also, teams will be less likely to try and kick lumps out of Arsenal if they have their own midfield general running things. Solution: The dinky players may look good but buy a big man to back them up. Surplus: Arsenal have too many young and creative midfielders like Samir Nasri Splashing the cashAfter five fruitless years for Arsenal, Wenger must concede that the current mix of players are not going to win him the title. He'll point the finger at several injuries to key players but all big clubs need a squad large enough to handle the rigours of a long season. But Arsenal fans will be pleased to hear that Arsene intends to bolster his squad by anything up to five players in the summer. Marouane Chamakh is believed to be joining on a free in the summer and Wenger is also keeping tabs on Benfica winger Angel Di Maria and team-mate David Luiz. Solution: Show Arsenal are still a force to be reckoned with Mr Wenger - get your chequebook out. Maybe it's finally time to buy: Arsene Wenger should think about splashing the cash this summer You bottled it! Wenger blasts beaten Arsenal after title hopes end at WiganN'Zogbia leaves it late to end Gunners title hopesARSENAL FC
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