McMahon: Wenger is Arsenal's problem

Fox Sports pundit Steve McMahon is holding Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger responsible for the team's run of disappointing results.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal
Steve McMahon

By Steve McMahon

When the Gunners took a 2-0 lead against Fulham last weekend, fans would have been forgiven for expecting Wenger's men to see out the game comfortably. Instead, they were treated to an unnecessary roller coaster of a fixture which finished in a 3-3 draw.

 The London outfit's plight continues to puzzle observers, some of whom consider the team to be good enough to give the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea a run for their money. While the Arsenal boss blamed a lack of "defensive urgency" from his side, I believe the problem lies with Wenger himself.

A team more often than not takes its cue from its manager and the Frenchman has cut a defeated figure along the side-lines in recent games. Looking weary and fed-up with the squad's performance, Wenger's inability to turn things around could be an indication that the 63-year old has taken the Gunners as far as he possibly can. As manager of a club like Arsenal, Wenger cannot afford to fail in his attempt to bring out the best in his players, but he appears to be struggling to do just that.

With only Santi Cazorla to call upon when it comes to playmaking, it has become far too easy for opposition teams to snuff out the creativity from midfield. In addition, the Gunners are now paying the price for selling away Robin van Persie, a player who contributes 20 goals in a season, without signing a proven goal-scorer to replace him.

Wenger's recent decisions have not worked out well for the team. If they fail to record a morale-boosting win against Andre Villas-Boas' Tottenham side this weekend, I think it might be time for the club to consider a change in philosophy or personnel.

Liverpool are a team that know all about undergoing change, having started with a three-man defence against Chelsea recently. The Reds did not look particularly comfortable with the tactic and they would not have managed to come away with the draw had they continued doing so in the second-half. There was much more stability at the back when Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers decided to revert to a comfortable back four, a move I consider integral to the team's improved second-half showing.

Although Chelsea had several opportunities to kill off the game, the Reds can take heart from their performance against Roberto Di Matteo's squad. The manner in which Liverpool pressed for a winner after Luis Suarez's equalizer should prove to be a confidence boost for the squad, though Rodgers must work on expanding the almost one-dimensional Reds attack.

After bemoaning that his team were not clinical enough against Liverpool, Di Matteo now faces a tricky tie against high-flying West Brom without the services of captain John Terry. Regardless of what one thinks of Terry as a person, his short-lived performance against the Reds was a good indication of what Chelsea had been missing during his ban, and his manager must be disappointed to have lost him again so soon.

The Italian is also likely to be worried about how his star-studded attack stuttered in front of Brad Jones' goal-mouth last weekend. Squad rotation appears to be a non-existent concept for the Chelsea forward line, but I think it's time for the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata to be given a rest, especially when Di Matteo can call upon Victor Moses and Marko Marin to take their place. I am baffled as to why we have not seen Marin strut his stuff for Chelsea this season, as the winger comes highly-rated from the Bundesliga.

Principle striker Fernando Torres has hit another dry spell, but it is unlikely that Daniel Sturridge will get the nod ahead of the former Liverpool man simply because the Blues cannot afford to leave a player they shelled out 50 million pounds for on the bench. I am expecting another goalless game for the Spaniard against the Baggies, as Steve Clarke's men are an organized outfit that will not cave easily.

Steven McMahon's Premier League Predictions

Arsenal vs Tottenham

This is an all-or-nothing clash for Arsenal. It's almost like a cup final so I'm going with home advantage. Players don't need any motivation for this one and I'm expecting Andre Villas-Boas' negative tactics to cost him.

Prediction: 2-1 (Halftime: 1-0)

West Brom vs Chelsea

Although West Brom have showed great spirit so far, I think the quality of Chelsea will come through. The Blues can't afford to lose even at this stage of the season.

Prediction: 1-2 (Halftime: 1-1)

Reading vs Everton

Prediction: 0-2 (Halftime: 0-1)

QPR vs Southampton

Prediction: 2-1 (Halftime: 1-0)

Man City vs Aston Villa

Prediction: 3-0 (Halftime: 1-0)

Newcastle vs Swansea

Prediction: 1-1 (Halftime: 0-0)

Liverpool vs Wigan

Prediction: 3-0 (Halftime: 1-0)

Fulham vs Sunderland

Prediction: 2-1 (Halftime: 1-0)

West Ham vs Stoke

Prediction: 1-1 (Halftime: 0-0)

Norwich vs Man United

Prediction: 0-2 (Halftime: 0-1)

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