Arsene Wenger has treated the Premier League public to a fresh show of defiance after being asked whether Arsenal can win the title before the end of his contract.
The veteran of 18 years at the Gunners helm replied with an upbeat assessment:
“I think we have what is requested to do it. We have to fight like mad now to come back as much as possible to show that we can compete in every single game.”
The bwin odds moguls disagree with the professor in no uncertain terms, pricing up a title wins over the three remaining seasons of Wenger’s current contract as follows.
Arsenal are 50/1 to overhaul Chelsea this term, while it’s 7/1 their fourth title under his tutelage comes in 2015/16 and 9/1 that 2016/17 brings their next Premier League crown.
However the FA Cup holders are as short as 1/10 to miss out on the silverware they seek until beyond the expiry date on their manager’s current deal.
It’s a damning assessment, but one that is likely to prove correct unless Wenger can bring himself to do away with a trio of ills that have been undermining the Gunners’ progress for some time.
It’s time to embrace pragmatism
The failure to compete against their title-rivals has been one of the enduring motifs of Arsenal’s glacial decline.
Wenger’s seeming refusal to preach something akin to the pragmatic approach that allows Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea to avoid defeats on the road at will must change if they are to challenge for the championship.
Lest we forget, his ‘Invincibles’ drew no fewer than 12 of their 38 games in 2003/14.
Sweep the club clean of injury-prone first-teamers
Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are first-team players that spend as much time injured as they do starting games at full match-fitness.
There must come a time when Wenger acknowledges the importance of having a relatively consistent starting XI is greater than whatever pain might be caused by seeing his most fragile stars flickering intermittently elsewhere.
Forsake the British spine
The stated intention to buy British after the high-profile departures of Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri saw Wenger cast his rod in the direction of the reddest of herrings.
After all, there was no thick-as-thieves British contingent at Manchester City in 2013/14 and there is none at Chelsea, the Premier League’s champions elect, this term.
While the sceptre isle’s national sides continue to flounder in the shallows of the major international competitions it may be time to abandon what is a quaintly patriotic policy in an age of international footballing capitalism.