WTTGT Writer: Matt Mace
Arsenal by definition is a force of attacking prowess. So there isn’t a more fitting name for a team that over the last decade have battered teams with a relentless barrage of attacking aptitude. Defensive frailties and a barren trophy case aside, the Gunners have certainly lived up to their billing. Yet with the departure of influential playmaker Fabregas and the imminent sale of Samir Nasri, many will question if Arsenal still have the weapons to down opponents.
Die hard Arsenal fans will allude to Arsène Wenger’s revolution of the way that Arsenal play their football. Yet, if by turning our attention to Spain and most notably Barcelona, then many will state that Wenger’s style wasn’t revolutionary at all, in fact it was just an incomplete blueprint of the Catalan club. Yet to say that either of these clubs are the inventors of a visual master class is not only biased but also ignorant. Evidence of glorious football can be seen throughout the last century, and whilst some of these teams are currently struggling to impose themselves on the footballing world, it is from the fallen giants of football that Wenger can resurrect this Arsenal team.
The Ajax team of the 70’s and 80’s as well as the mesmeric Brazil ‘82 team are confirmation that the beautiful game truly did exist before the turn of the millennium. Yet look at these two teams now. Ajax trying to replicate the “total football” that was so brilliantly introduced by Cruyff and co. are finally restoring some national credentials after ending their 7 year stint without being champions of the Netherlands. However, the Amsterdam unit have failed miserably to maintain their status as a European juggernaut.
Even the mighty Brazil, who arguably possessed the best team not to win the World Cup in ‘82 have struggled to recreate that hypnotic short passing game. However, it is from this example that Wenger can learn. Despite not having players such as Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Eder at their disposal, Brazil (and most notably Dunga and Perreira) have changed their playing style in an attempt to fast track through a transitional period. And whilst the process has been a slow and somewhat painful one Brazil (hosting the 2014 World Cup) will believe that they have a great chance of winning the most coveted prize in football.
Even Uruguay, winners of the first ever FIFA World Cup have emerged from the international wilderness to once again claim their place amongst the footballing greats. And all of this under the guide of astute manager Oscar Tabarez. The 64 year old wasn’t obsessed with high octane samba football that many of his fellow South American’s were drooling over. Instead, Tabarez incorporated a playing style aimed at hurrying opponents before swiftly attacking them with Uruguay’s devastating front-line. This has resulted in a World Cup semi-final as well as lifting the Copa America last month.
So with the ‘easy on the eye’ players slowly reducing at Arsenal, maybe Wenger should try and incorporate a more defensive aspect to his youthful team. Players such as Ramsey, Wilshere and even Frimpong are midfielders more than capable of putting in defensive shifts as well as hurrying opposition all over the pitch. Perhaps players such as Walcott, Miyaichi and Gervinho who evidently have pace to burn should incorporate more defensive attributes to their games, such as not giving defenders anytime on the ball. By hunting the ball at high ends of the pitch the unconvincing defence will get more protection, whilst winning balls in advanced areas cuts out the need for the slow paced passing game that was evident against Udinese; and allows for more clean-cut chances for our forwards.
Whilst it is not a necessity that Arsenal change their style of play, even though it has proved fruitless over the last 6 years, it is fair to say that something needs to be changed at Arsenal otherwise this barren run looks more than likely to continue.