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Wenger Must Do More Than Acknowledge Fan Discontent to Preserve His Legacy

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Arsene Wenger would have hoped Arsenal fans chanting "you don't know what you're doing" at Villa Park two Saturdays ago would have been the worst of the criticism this season.

The Professor has always had the backing of the fans however who have often cajoled him in a cloak of faith that must have felt like the oversized puffer jacket he is fond of wearing.

But he would have felt a cold chill after Saturday's result.

The chorus of boos that followed their defeat to Swansea at home last weekend could spell real trouble for the once lordly manager as the veneer of his stature is slowly eroding away by concerted discontent.

The "In Wenger We Trust" mantra felt like a warm gesture of solidarity at a time where little is offered for such, but Gunners' fans can rightly wonder if sympathy and nostalgia are best for their club.

In what was a dank and frustrating 0-0 away to Aston Villa the decision to substitute Olivier Giroud a forward, for Francis Coquelin a defensive midfielder, riled the travelling fans.

Arsene urged fans to be "realistic" but could not hide behind the same disclaimer after Saturday's result.

Two wins in eight games have not made for much enthusiasm or optimism; why else would a supporter travel up and down the country or spend a staggering £126 on a match day or £1,955 for a season ticket?

Especially at a club who have sold the mystique of 'potential' carefully supervised by a safe pair of hands, for a trophy-less eight years.

They have successfully galvanised fan loyalty (and their money) despite that potential failing to materialise into something tangible as their best players regardless of superficial motive have jumped ship.

Wenger speaks of the drama and emotional reaction to their poor start with tedium but realistically speaking, Arsenal are currently 10th in the league and 15 points off the top. Even if he were to turn things around an outside challenge for the title seems preposterous, third? Fourth? What are the fans paying for exactly?

It may be difficult to look at the performance of the newbies as cause for such results if only perhaps, Michu a bargain bucket gem at £2m, hadn't emphatically scored his ninth and 10th goals against them on Saturday.

They are missing the Midas touch, which Wenger once commanded, assembling a team of relative unknowns to function cohesively was his expertise, and most importantly, even if they didn't necessarily win, they at least challenged for trophies.

Currently the team's core looks flaky, with their attacking focus typically profligate and blunt as if putting on an Arsenal shirt now comes with an inherent loss of pragmatism. Giroud has scored just four from 44 shots and Cazorla whilst clearly more of a creative force only has four goals from a whopping 51 attempts.

Arsenal's most efficient scorers have come from two wide players who don't want to play there; Podolski has scored three from 20 shots and Walcott has four goals and four assists from just 15.

Playing a typical 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation, a defensive midfielder is required to add some steely reserve to unshackle the passing maestros they have at their disposal. Arteta does most of the dirty work with aplomb but the archetypal central midfield system sees one player breaking down play and the other distributing it. Arteta can do both but is far better at the latter.

Despite Wenger's reiteration of their consistent success in being a top four club the third best in the country last season, they have picked up just one point against the leagues' front runners.

The top three, as was the overriding sense when they went to Old Trafford, must see Arsenal as rank outsiders who could on a good day cause some trouble but are more likely to fold.

This is Wenger's worst start to a Premier League season and where finishing in the top four has always been a given under his tenure, other teams, arguably lesser teams (who have also spent a lot less) find themselves further up the table.

A perfect time to rejuvenate the squad may come in January coinciding with the new Emirates sponsorship deal set to bring in £150m. Where that money is invested will come under scrutiny. If the big guns of the league are financially irresponsible, at the least you can guarantee that Manchester United's new £357m sponsorship deal with Chevrolet will enable their manager to speculate to accumulate. This in the knowledge that winning is always more profitable than making do.

Wenger has already conceded not just to purchase youngsters and has invested in experience; a flourish in January with an eye to quality over quantity could make a real difference.

Pride might not appear in the equation of a financial balance spread-sheet but for fans, it means everything. It can also come before the fall of course; Wenger has been falling in suspended animation but may have stuck around long enough to see his legacy dismantled.