The Gunners are on their worst run for 42 years and Goal has looked at some of the key reasons behind the slump
It’s been 42 years since Arsenal have been on a run of form as bad as this.
The Gunners head into Monday night’s game at West Ham without a win in nine games, you have to go back to 1977 to find the last time that happened.
Currently without a head coach, the north London side are 11th in the Premier League and are just four points above the relegation zone as they prepare for a festive period which includes matches against Manchester City, Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United.
So how has it come to this? Below Goal takes a look at some of the contributing factors behind Arsenal’s worst slump in decades.
At any organisation – sporting or otherwise – the ownership needs to be strong and decisive. If it’s not, problems will arise and at Arsenal there is no doubt that the Kroenkes are a major problem.
Josh may be taking a more active role nowadays and we saw him talking to the players at London Colney following the sacking of Unai Emery, but ultimately this is still Stan’s club and he is far more interested in what is going on in Los Angeles than London.
His priorities lie with the LA Rams and his SoFi Stadium project in Inglewood. When finally completed, it will be the most expensive stadium ever built.
To Stan, Arsenal is just a cash cow. He’s never put any of his own money into the club, yet all the time he has seen the value of his shares go up by hundreds of millions of pounds.
The lack of decisive leadership from the top has been highlighted once again by the Unai Emery situation. It was clear for all to see that a change was needed, yet Emery was allowed to remain in his post for weeks longer than he should.
When you compare the situation to what has just gone on at Tottenham it speaks volumes. Daniel Levy took the decision to sack Mauricio Pochettino and within 12 hours Jose Mourinho had been appointed.
When they were beaten at Leicester in the final game before the international break it gave Arsenal the perfect opportunity to make a change. Even if they didn’t have a new man lined up it would have at least given Freddie Ljungberg a fortnight to work with most of his players.
But instead they sat on their hands and let things drag on. Ljungberg now has been thrust into a mess with very little time to work with his squad between games. What hope does he have?
When Stan Kroenke first arrived in 2007 Arsenal had just been in the Champions League final, wind the clock forward 12 years and they are now facing up to the prospect of their first season without European football in 25 years.
The 2014 FA Cup really does feel like a sliding doors moment for Arsenal.
When he lifted the trophy aloft after the 3-2 win against Hull City it was unclear whether Arsene Wenger would stay. His contract was up and he hadn’t committed to a new deal.
Had Wenger gone then you do wonder where the club would be now. He didn’t though, he signed a new deal and went on to win two more FA Cups.
But despite those victories over Aston Villa and Chelsea in 2015 and 2017, the divide within the club grew.
The constant battle within the fan base between the Wenger Out brigade and the Wenger Knows Best loyalists became more bitter by the week and those divisions have never really gone away.
There has been a disconnect between the team and the support for some time now and it only takes a few defeats for that to become a major problem.
Wenger staying too long only added to that issue and on the whole his signings were poor. The club spent big money on transfer fees and on contracts when that cash could have been spent far better.
The one summer when Arsenal really should have kicked on was after the 2015 FA Cup win yet the only addition Wenger made was Petr Cech. Not a single outfield player was brought in and Arsenal went on to fall away during the 2015-16 season while Leicester won the title.
It was a massive missed opportunity. The lack of ambition that summer set the wheels in motion for the Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil contract sagas that went on to dominate the headlines for the following 18 months.
This has been a massive problem for some time now, with Aaron Ramsey’s exit last summer the latest in a long line of errors when it comes to contracts.
Ramsey was allowed to get into the final year of his deal and then when it looked like he was going to sign, the offer was suddenly taken off the table.
For Ramsey, it was no big deal, he just went and signed for Juventus and pocketed a massive signing on bonus. But Arsenal are certainly counting the cost of that decision, with a player at his peak leaving the club for free. How they could do with Ramsey now.
Not so long ago we had the Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil sagas. Ozil eventually stayed after being handed the biggest deal in Arsenal’s history, but that has proved to be a costly error. Sanchez, meanwhile, was allowed to join Manchester United.
Time and time again Arsenal have got themselves into difficulties with player contracts and the problem has consistently hung over the Emirates like a cloud for more than a decade. Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna, Robin van Persie all left for far less than they were worth and now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette are in the exact same scenario.
Arsenal actually have a very competitive wage bill but it has been poorly managed, with average players having been handed far too much over the years. That wage bill was manageable while the club were in the Champions League, but three years outside of Europe’s elite competition are now taking their toll.
“It’s no secret that we have a Champions League wage bill on a Europa League budget right now. That’s a fact.” Those were the words of Josh Kroenke earlier in the summer and they have been proven by the club’s latest set of accounts for the 2018-19 season which showed a loss of £23m.
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Whilst Stan Kroenke may not have invested any of his own money, Arsenal have still spent plenty since the purse strings were loosened and Mesut Ozil was brought in from Real Madrid in 2013.
But so much of that money has been wasted. The recruitment on the whole has been poor, most notably in the summer of 2016 when Granit Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez were brought in at a price of close to £100 million ($132m).
Others such as Danny Welbeck, Mathieu Debuchy, Gabriel, Calum Chambers and Sokratis have all come in for in excess of £10m and have failed to make much of an impact.
Over the past decade Arsenal have not had many success stories in the transfer market and they have also sold very poorly at times, especially when you compare their record with other top-flight Premier League teams.
In January, Liverpool sold Dominic Solanke to Bournemouth in a deal that could eventually reach £25m ($33m), the same amount of money that Arsenal have received for Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Danny Welbeck, Serge Gnabry and Wojciech Szczesny combined in recent years.
Ivan Gazidis – now at AC Milan – must take huge blame for Arsenal’s failure to secure the right price for a number of those players. The former chief executive was the man in charge when most of these deals were done.
When you look at some of the transfers taking place now, the money Arsenal have brought into the club over the past few years has just not been enough. Juventus signed Szczesny to replace Gianluigi Buffon, yet Arsenal only received around £10m ($13m) for the Poland international.
The arrival of Sven Mislintat as head of recruitment in 2017 looked set to be big moment, with the German arriving with a massive reputation for unearthing talent.
But Mislintat was soon heading for the exit door having been overlooked for the technical director role in the power vacuum that followed Gazidis’ shock departure for Milan.
And while last summer’s recruitment – led by head of football Raul Sanllehi – was met with widespread approval, it has so far proved unsuccessful with club record £72m ($95m) signing Nicolas Pepe failing to adjust.
With Pepe scoring just one Premier League goal, a penalty against Aston Villa, and with players such as Ramsey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi leaving, Arsenal have been left totally reliant on the goals of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
At the back, David Luiz has done nothing to solve the issues Arsenal already had in defence and the Gunners have been left with a back four and midfield that lacks any sort of pace and mobility.
The fact that we are now in December and Arsenal have a minus goal difference shows the poor make up of the current squad.
Gazidis was chief executive for nearly 10 years and Arsenal failed to make any sort of significant progress during that time.
Off the pitch, commercial deals flatlined while on the pitch three FA Cup wins failed to gloss over the consistent failings in the Premier League.
Gazidis’ time at the helm was littered with poor dealings in the transfer market and Arsenal also allowed several key players to run their contracts down. The wage bill was also allowed to spiral.
Wenger was allowed to hold power for too long and then when Gazidis did finally push through the change that was needed, he left the club within a few months of appointing Unai Emery.
It was a time when Arsenal needed some sort of stability, yet the money on offer from AC Milan lured Gazidis away and his departure created a power vacuum which led to Sven Mislintat leaving his role as head of recruitment and Raul Sanllehi taking charge.
It remains to be seen whether Sanllehi can go on and prove to be a success, but in Gazidis he doesn’t have too difficult an act to follow.