Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Steven Beacom: Arsenal fans need answers from Wenger

First, top marks to Hull City. Beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates. What a result for them. One of the best in their history.

Not only did they defeat a side littered with world class stars, they did it after going a goal down.

A magnificent effort. And I’ll tell you this, it wasn’t lucky - the Tigers deserved it.

The way Hull, favourites for relegation, have approached this season has been admirable.

Sure, they have got men behind the ball and defended for their lives but when in possession they have been positive, which tells you a lot about Phil Brown’s management.

Despite all this, and I don’t want to rain on Hull’s parade, I’ll still be surprised if they stay up. And that brings me to Arsenal.

Losing at home to a team who are likely to get relegated is a shocking result.

Absolutely shocking.

After losing early in the campaign at Fulham, in recent weeks the Gunners, with Cesc Fabregas back from injury, looked as though they had the character, to add to their undoubted class.

But having watched them against Hull, Gooners will be asking Arsene Wenger (pictured) serious questions such as: When will our entertaining side win another trophy?

The last piece of silverware lifted by Arsenal was in 2005. That was the FA Cup and Manchester United fans will tell you that at least Dick Turpin wore a mask, such was the feeling of daylight robbery amongst Red Devils that day in Cardiff.

For the record United dominated the final only to lose out on penalties.

The season before, Arsenal had won the title without losing a game. In my opinion Wenger’s team in that campaign were up there with the Liverpool 1987-88 vintage as the most scintillating British outfit I had ever seen.

But that was then.

Arsenal retain that wonderful ability to thrill and play free-flowing football, and Wenger’s scouting system remains unrivalled with gifted kids from all over the world continually coming through the ranks, but if you don’t win any trophies, how happy can you be come May?

It’s like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower!

Wenger has given Arsenal supporters some of the greatest memories of their lives and he’s even safer in his post than Sir Alex Ferguson, but the loss to Hull City will have increased the fears in Gooners that another barren season beckons.

Champions don’t lose games like that.

Since that FA Cup final success, Arsenal’s chief rivals Manchester United have won two titles, the Champions League and Carling Cup, Chelsea have claimed the title, FA Cup and Carling Cup while Liverpool have lifted the Champions League and FA Cup. Even Tottenham have won the Carling Cup!

If Arsenal are to savour the joy and pride that comes with picking up winners medals, as well as playing the fantasy football that hypnotises us, sooner rather than later Wenger’s men are going to have to learn to win ugly.

Should they need a teacher, Wenger could always give one of his predecessors, George Graham, a call.

Low-key signings are best of the new boys

Who knows what January will bring but bar Robinho‘s astonishing switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City, the most high profile signings this season have involved Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berabtov.

If you were picking a team featuring the best signings of the season so far, you wouldn’t have Liverpool’s Keane or Manchester United’s Berbatov anywhere near it though, would you?

Budweiser have asked me to come up with my Top new signings XI.

True, it’s not a side littered with superstars, but it is a side containing 11 players who have adapted well to their new surroundings.

In goal Mark Schwarzer has helped make Fulham look a more solid unit while in defence Jose Bosingwa has finally solved Chelsea’s right back problem with Nicky Shorey extremely consistent for Aston Villa at left-back.

Shorey’s team-mate Curtis Davies was on loan at Villa Park last season, but in the summer made the move from WBA permanent which allows him to be included in this line-up. After one poor display last year, honest Davies said he was like a ‘pub team player’. Such is his current form I’d have him in the international squad now. Alongside him in this team is Anthony Gardiner who has helped Hull City to a better start in the Premiership than they could ever have imagined.

In central midfield Deco and Samir Nasri are obviously class acts for Chelsea and Arsenal respectively, especially the former who I’ve always rated. Deco could be the signing of the season.

Out wide Steed Malbranque has impressed me at Sunderland on occasions while at Manchester City Shaun Wright Phillips looks the player he was, funny enough, at Manchester City. It’s amazing what a run in the side will do.

Up front I’ve opted for Fulham’s Bobby Zamora and of course City’s Robinho, who when Kaka, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cafu, Romario, Zico, Socrates, Rivelino and Pele join him in January will be even better. Whether those boys from Brazil make my next Budweiser new signings team, remains to be seen.

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