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Aleksandar Duric
Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sports

Arsene has erred, but the Gunners need him

The Straits Times | Aleksandar Duric | Thursday, May 8, 2014

Arsene Wenger will take charge of his 1,000th match as Arsenal manager on March 22, 2014, and the rest of English football is still catching up with him. The back page of London newspaper the Evening Standard screamed 'ARSENE WHO?' when the urbane Frenchman was hired by Arsenal in September 1996, but 18 years on, his approach has helped to revolutionise the English game.

Arsene Wenger has all but confirmed that he will be staying on as Arsenal manager after the Gunners' 1-0 victory over West Brom on Sunday.

How Arsenal fans receive the news depends on whether they see the proverbial glass as half full or half empty.

On one hand, this season will be the club's 17th consecutive top-four finish, and with it, the promise of Champions League football for another season.

On the other hand, fans can lament a disappointing end to a season which promised so much.

The Gunners were top of the league for 20 weeks, and fans thought the club could finally win their first English Premier League (EPL) title since 2004.

Instead, they had to be contented with fourth place again. That said, I belong to the pro-Wenger camp.

Yes, there are several issues on which I disagree with him. I thought he should have signed a striker in January, when injuries were taking their toll.

A new player could have re-invigorated their title charge, the same way Jose Antonio Reyes' signing did in January 2004. Instead, Wenger signed an injured Kim Kallstrom on deadline day.

I also think he should be open to buying older players, instead of investing wholly in youth. Older players may have little resale value, but their experience is crucial to any title charge, especially when the pressure is on.

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