However, there is a view that they also have to give him genuine assurances that the squad around him will be strengthened. And so it should.
What Arsenal cannot afford to do if they are to compete for honours is be in a position whereby they have to continue playing off-form players. And lack of squad depth is normally the reason this has to happen. Podolski is apparently a done deal, whilst confidence is high that M’Vila and Vertonghen will join and there will hopefully be a fourth addition, undoubtedly strengthening the playing roster. Sure it will cost money, but the wage bill is going up year on year anyway, and there is total and obvious deadwood that can be released, freeing up funds for the wages of newcomers who can only serve the club better.
Project Youth may finally be over, but Wenger will continue to use young players. The positive thing about this season is that he realises that the team needs more experience. Its addition has helped put two very decent runs of results together, especially that of the last few weeks, a time of the season that fans had learned to fear. What significance that Tomas Rosicky was starting more matches than Aaron Ramsey, in this regard? There is definitely a place for younger players in the first team, but by nature, they cannot be relied upon. Mikel Arteta makes a lot fewer errors than Alex Song, and his greater maturity is surely a factor in this.
If the current run continues – 27 points from 30 as I write – Arsenal will have good reason to rue the cheap points dropped against those sides fighting a relegation battle. The team have demonstrated they can raise their game for big challenges – but it is the bread and butter fixtures where concentration has been lacking. When the club was winning titles under Wenger, this simply did not happen so often. Sure, they sometimes made hard work of games, but as a rule results were achieved. This is what they must return to, and with the exception of QPR away, it seems they can.
All the signs are that Pat Rice will finally retire this summer, having wanted to a year ago but being persuaded to stay on. As great a club servant as he has been, it is a chance to freshen things up at the training ground, and one hopes that Arsène Wenger will choose a replacement who will have genuine impact rather than a perceived ‘yes man’. The selection of the new assistant is as significant as the major summer signings that we hope will be made nice and early this year.
Before I end, I want to quickly point people to an article on the Gooner Survey on page 27 of this issue, that informs you of the fact that our annual end of season survey will be online only this year – through our website onlinegooner.com. Please cast your votes after the game against West Brom that sees the end of the current campaign. And with that, my thanks to all our readers for continuing to support The Gooner. It has been a tough season, rarely boring, but sometimes difficult. And of course there have been some marvelous highs as well. Let’s hope when we reconvene in August there is genuine cause for optimism about the team we all care about.