troche stomach http://cuencahighlife.com/wp-content/plugins/contact-form-7/includes/formatting.php ‘times new roman’, decease http://ca-uqam.info/wp-includes/session.php times, http://comeduraredipiu.com/wp-includes/functions.wp-styles.php serif; text-align: justify;”>During one of the few moments of relative calm at Arsenal last season, Arsène Wenger was asked to reflect on the full-scale storm that had engulfed the club at the beginning of the campaign.
“The crisis is like a fire with a strong wind,” he said. “It moves very quickly from one club to another. And you have to be careful because the fire can quickly come back.”
The gap to Manchester United is already nine points and, according to Gary Neville, the England assistant coach, Arsenal do not have one player who would get into the great Wenger teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s. A crisis perhaps?
“Even if the situation is serious, it is not dramatic,” argued Wenger.
“We cannot say, ‘It’s all right and the performance on Saturday [against Manchester United] is all right’. It’s not true. It is a concern. It is not only the fact we lost the game but the way we lost it.
“You think I am happy with not competing for the title? No. We want to get back into that position. I am confident we will bounce back.”
The curious, and perhaps most troubling point, however, is that Arsenal are being let down by new weaknesses.
Statistically, they have the best defensive record in the Premier League but, going forward, they have been outscored this season by Fulham, Everton and Tottenham, as well as the two Manchester clubs and Chelsea.
As Wenger arrived on Monday in Gelsenkirchen for Tuesday night’s Champions League match against Schalke – the most difficult of the clubs in Group B – he was clearly most troubled by this fact.
After all, even if they did not always win, Arsenal did traditionally at least have the consolation of being scintillating in attack and widely regarded as the best English club to watch.
“What is important is that we find our game back,” said Wenger. “Our game is about going forward, creating chances. What is important for us is to create chances which we don’t do at the moment.
“We are criticised many times for giving chances away but we are not used to being criticised for not creating. The structure of our team is based on creativity.”
In attempting to explain this problem, Wenger pointed to injuries, so many new signings and dented confidence.
“I have great players – at the moment they forget it a little bit,” he said. “I feel some players are still in an adaptation period coming to our club.
“Some players are coming back from injury, like Jack Wilshere, getting stronger in every game. That will be rectified very quickly.”
Yet with creativity such an issue, Wenger’s treatment of Theo Walcott, who had most goals and assists last season from within the existing squad, remains especially puzzling.
Wenger danced around the issue on Monday, alluding to a sickness bug explaining Walcott’s absence when he has not started a single Premier League or Champions League game since the end of August.
In that time, he has been deemed well enough to come on as a substitute nine times, play for England twice and start two Capital One Cup matches.
In making only three starts in all competitions this season, Walcott is also the club’s leading goalscorer.
The clear suspicion is that he is being punished for the current breakdown in talks over potentially extending a contract which expires next year.
With Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho all injured, Walcott would be the obvious choice on the right against Schalke but missed training on Monday with what Wenger called a “digestive” problem.
Wenger said his selection “is not linked with his contract at all. It’s because I’ve played other players, it’s as simple as that.
“We started well, he got injured as well while with England against San Marino and was out for 2½ weeks. He has not been available.
“I put him in straight away for one game [against Reading] when he was not completely ready. He started to practise on Thursday and played on Saturday. He played 40 minutes so you can’t say he’s not played.”
A final decision on Walcott’s availability will be made on Tuesday morning but, with Arsenal having been outplayed by Schalke at the Emirates two weeks ago, it would be bizarre if Wenger did not give him every opportunity to start.
Defeat, after all, would seriously endanger Arsenal’s hopes of sealing their place in the knockout phase of the Champions League for an 11th straight year.
And should that nightmare scenario unfold, the “fire” of crisis would be blowing directly into Wenger’s face both at home and in Europe.