Graham V Wenger – Defence v Offence

WTTGT Writer: Lewis Kyriacou

A TalkSPORT poll hails Wenger as Arsenal’s best manager ever, with 61% of the vote and George Graham as second with 32%. But who is really the better manager.

Wenger has won one more league title than Graham and one more FA Cup, but the Scot won two League Cups and had success in Europe, areas that that the current man at the helm has come close to, but agonisingly failed.

Under the latter years of Wenger’s reign, Arsenal’s defence has been criticised. It is to Graham’s credit that Wenger inherited a back five instilled with such discipline that it functioned well under a new manager (Wenger).  Wenger’s visionary methods of changing player’s diets, however, prolonged the careers of many of that back five.

For one glorious season, Wenger managed to create a defence strong enough to go throughout a season undefeated. It was a side that boasted the best defensive and offensive record during that campaign. That title-winning side won the league in breath-taking attacking flair, a style instilled from Wenger’s coaching.

Wenger also has made some fantastic acquisitions. His first double winning side had Overmars, Anelka and Petit; the second won the PFA Player of the Year. He also signed Robert Pires and Thierry Henry, the ‘failed winger’ playing in Italy who would ultimately become Arsenal’s all-time top scorer.

But could Wenger win a title without players gifted with such natural attacking talent? Probably not, but does that make Graham the better coach? Likewise, it is unlikely that Graham could nurture attacking superstars capable of winning games when the defence would concede.

I guess the matter is of consistency. From 1998 until 2005, Wenger’s sides never finished below second, consistency that saw Arsenal move into the Emirates Stadium. True, Arsenal have failed to finish second since then, but the emergence of Chelsea and Manchester City’s crazy wealth has played its part.

Wenger is only at fault for being judged against the high standards he has created himself. For that reason, I would vote for Wenger.

Just a thought though; as Wenger inherited an amazing defence and built a great attack, if Graham replaced Wenger tomorrow, could he shore up our defence and allow the attackers to continue playing total-football?

Now that would be a formidable side…

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One Response to Graham V Wenger – Defence v Offence

  1. June 13, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Wenger did inherit a strong defense but eventually the famous 4 departed and for 2-3 season he had an amazing back four which did not included Adams, Bould, Dixon or Winterburn. Campbell, Lauren, Toure and Cole did exceptionally well and most people forget that. Unlike most people think, the back 4 are not the only ones responsible in making the side a good defensive unit. They are just the foundation. If people in front of the back 4 don't contribute then your defense will never be solid. Somehow I feel we don't organize ourselves well enough in front of the back 4. One more thing we lack is an aggressive defensive midfielder ala Vieira or Keane or Gattuso. Song is good but he's not impose himself enough. You need someone who can put in those slide tackles and let the opposition know he's there.

    Defensively, Vermaelen is good, Sagna and Koscielny are good. I don't trust Clichy. He is too casual at times and often causes the team to panic because of his lapses in concentration. Out of the many defenders that are rumored to come to the Emirates I'd like to see Samba simply because he is an imposing figure and that is exactly what Arsenal lack. Sol Campbell might not have been the most technical defender but he did his job by using his size to good effect. Ditto with Toure. What these big strong defenders give you is that sense of security and they are usually good in the air. and that is exactly what Arsenal.

    If I had it my way the back 5 would be

    Vermaelen Kos Samba Sagna


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