By Callum Brady
Arsenal are one of the legendary premier league teams and rightly so after having some of the great sides and elite players the premier league has ever seen, especially throughout the 2000's but ever since the move from the great Highbury stadium to the Emirates stadium Arsenal seem to have been in free-fall from a top-quality premier league club competing in Europe to at the time of writing this article a bang average team in the premier league team, and still on the decline. The club has been and still is littered with problems dragging the club down and they don't seem to be willing to resolve these issues.
The Stadium Move -
The first big issue is the stadium, after 93 years of Highbury being the home of Arsenal football club in 2006, the club made the move to the 60,000 capacity Emirates stadium and along with the move the club's hierarchy promised the fans that they 'should be able to compete at a level like Bayern Munich'. Since then the move has been labeled as a disaster, to start with the new Emirates stadium is very commercialised with large amounts of corporate space around the stadium and the highest match day cost of any club in the premier league for fans (statista.com). On top of that, due to the massive cost of the stadium said to be in the region of just over $500M (www.forbes.com) the Arsenal owners have been reluctant to spend money on the club and that resulted in the club being beaten to top talents by rival clubs over and over again throughout the years and over time they have accumulated a lower quality squad than everyone around them and that will be discussed later on. Finally, for the stadium, the great Arsene Wenger made the point once he had departed from the club that "We built a new stadium but we never found our soul - we left our soul at Highbury" this shows the profound effect that the move had on the club, whiles rivals like Manchester United and Liverpool play at Old Trafford and Anfield which are known around the footballing world as true cathedral's of football and Arsenal were now forced to play at the new stadium which had no life or identity and I do believe that the ex-gunners manager saw this as a tremendous disadvantage.
Lack Of Quality Leadership -
Having a successful team in any sport is almost impossible without a top-quality hierarchy as well as a dependable, non-problematic owner but as expected Arsenal doesn't have any of this. Stan Kroenke is the owner of Arsenal and to many fans, the man driving the ship into the rocks, the US billionaire is also the owner of the massive NFL franchise, the LA Rams who have recently completed the building of their new super stadium and in the eyes of many of the Arsenal faithful the 71-year-old is happy to sit in the US and oversee the success of his NFL franchise while Arsenal is some sort of other revenue stream that is still making him millions regardless of the fact that is the club is free-falling, Kroenke has made hundreds of millions on his investment since first buying into Arsenal and none of that has been put back into the club. In regards to the rest of the hierarchy at the club, there have been some key departures with Arsene Wenger departing after 22 years, the chief executive has also left and the head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has left for Milan. What this leaves you with is a mess in terms of the structure of the club with a lack of quality in key positions and that has inevitably has translated onto the pitch.
The Current Squad -
As mentioned Arsenal looks to be in free-fall as a club and taking a personal view of the squad that they have it doesn't look like they will be getting better anytime soon. Firstly, a problem can be illuminated jus by looking at the best players in the team who are, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Özil, Alexandre Lacazette who are all coming to the end of their primes in the next few years and all seem to be unsettled, having problems with the club and its direction. Moving onto another key issue with the squad and what I think is the biggest and that is the defence, for countless years now arsenal has been known as a disastrous team when it comes for defence and current defence is filled with players who can only be described as very low quality, there are players such as David Luiz, Sokratis, Kolašinac and Mustafi who are playing at such low quality and are making mistakes week in week out, at some point the question needs to be asked, how are club continuously making these terrible acquisitions.
if you look at the squad as a whole and compare it to other top squads around the league you can see a clear plan in place for the other teams and the likes of Liverpool, City, Chelsea, and Man United are set up a for the next 5 years with mixes of top talents with a future at the clubs, solid investment in young talent and lots has emphasis has been put in to make sure the defence is good moving forward and in comparison to Arsenal, yes they do have a young core but there are not top players who have a long future at Arsenal, the Van Dijks and Kante's of the world are all playing for the team's Arsenal are competing with and on top of that they have not put an emphasis on defence and this is most likely the key reason for their horrific league position.
To finish off on, I do believe amidst all disarray at Arsenal football club at the moment there are still some rays of light in a very dark tunnel. There are some positive youth prospects in Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Mattéo Guendouzi, and Reiss Nelson who hopefully for Arsenal fans can make the leap to the next level and improve the team, the gunners also have some solid players to build a team round in Héctor Bellerín and Bernd Leno who are highlights in this squad who I can see being at the club in the future. One more is Nicolas Pépé who will be at the club for a while and even though he has had an average start to his premier league career, he still has the chance to become a top player in the league and if Arsenal is planning on having any success in the future they have to bank on that. Arsenal are indeed in a free fall and are no longer one of the top clubs in the league, and as the future looks bleak on the red side of north London there are most likely some happy fans around the rest of London and maybe the league to watch this great decline.