As one of the world’s best football managers and analysts, Mr Wenger totally ignores one of the fundamentals of the game. Like it or not, Arsenal’s last real match was sometime when their team sheet had the name EMMANUEL ADEBAYUOR on it. Not that he was playing anything to talk about. I am trying to draw a timeline.
I will spare you the long story of ‘Boys to Men’ approach that we have been waiting for since his kidsnet looked like the iPad 2 of football at the time. After the expiry of their ‘sell-by date’, due to high levels of expectation, someone thought they saw the Gunners play like Barcelona and told these aged kids. Usually, I get a lot of love from Emirates residents on the blog but somehow, they must have missed one of my post.
Trusting they will read this one, Barcelona do not just play everything forward just like that. They penetrate by opening crevices with side way passes that are a problem to deal with tactically. Arsenal have turned themselves into ‘route 2 football’. You will remember Wimbledon F.C being the masters of ‘route 1’. The newer generation must imagine Stoke City at their worst to get an idea.
Leaving the Barca-Gunner comparison, here is why cabinets at the Emirates will be trophyless for a lengthy while. Their last drawn home match against Wolverhampton Wanderers typifies their game since the last day they played football years ago and I stopped supporting them after a two season grace period.
Arsenal emanate from too much greed. The world’s expectation of their talent coming of age was summed up by Wenger when he said they want it too much. They are just too hungry. I am surprised he saw this today.
Just like Sir Alex Ferguson who have spent a good chunk in the century as an employee of Manchester United, Jomo Sono of South African side Jomo Cosmos, share the same lengthy service but for a different reason. He is the owner of his club and SAF just an employee. Given this contrast, it extends to the general fortunes of the two sides.
Arsene Wenger has the privilege of comparing well with both in that he has a credible decade and a half at the Emirates, a close second by any measure to the Manchester United manager and he proudly shares the fortunes of the club with that of Cosmos.
(To keep those who are unaware of South African diski, footy if you are from another planet, Jomo Cosmos is owned by Jomo Sono and have been relegated and promoted from the local league a record times and they have never changed the coach).
Direct to the scrotum, Arsenal spend 90 minutes of the match attacking, attacking and attacking. A lot of teams die to have the capacity and the luxury of that offensive movement. Why this is futile is this. Football fluency is based on a forward force called the momentum of attack. The Gunners present themselves with this opportunity only twice in a match; at the beginning of each half.
Simply put, they push their opponents against the wall and get stuck there, toiling all day huffing and puffing for nothing. To have a baby, you must remove the barriers and all contraception, and this is what Arsenal are not doing.
In the forward movement of the team, the momentum gets lost, just like a very good back swing with a hammer and a strike on the head of the nail. Prudent game plans call for the restarting of the formula as it were, drawing the opposition out of the comfort zone of good defending areas. They way Tottenham Hotspur plays now, they may not need a second swing of the hammer to crack the nut. Arsenal does, but all they do is swing once and push the hammer with their might. It is the way the two teams play, and Spurs being the best team by far in the Barclays Premier League.
This poor approach by Arsenal has too fatal effects. It drains the team’s mentality to methodically formulate and orchestrate penetrative and productive probes. The match is seen as entertaining with a lot of, but sterile, possession. There is no room left on the pitch for Theo Walcott to utilise. There is panic as the central midfielders and defenders push ahead leaving yawning gaps behind.
The second ill of the unfortunate pattern of play is that it horns the defending skills of the opposing team. It becomes like a practise session and the defenders and goalkeeper get better with every futile attempt. Arsenal becomes the best team to play against and getting a point becomes a bonus to an otherwise great outing by defenders.
Of late, you will agree with me that the Gunners have been far more direct in their attempt to break down opposition. This is a vital sign of impatience and lack of leadership on the pitch. Robin van Pierse is a very good man and player, but being a striker and the teams expectation being that high, the energy to organise the team gets swallowed by the duties of scoring, hence he is more scoring than pushing his team-mates’ performance.
Take solace, this phenomenon is normal where a coach stays too long with the same crop of players without much productivity. The solution has always been to change the coach or the whole team. Wenger is like Jomo at Arsenal and selling many players like Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy has not changed much fortune, but I actually think it is not necessary as Wenger can turn that around. For now, they will fight it out for fourth spot against Chelsea and Liverpool and watching a few Spurs matches won’t hurt.