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Wenger can learn from the fallen giants

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.

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3 Responses to Wenger can learn from the fallen giants

  1. mr creosote August 22, 2011 at 8:42 am #

    So you're saying that we need to defend from the front. I agree. Had we been doing this for the last couple of seasons I feel we'd have won something.

  2. bluegreenius@hotmail.com August 22, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    very good incisive article.It is the tempo of arsenal that is now the real problem in style of play. We are very ponderous at times, playing keep-ball in tame midfield areas with no urgency or goal threat.
    We are not an offensive side as wenger claims as you will never see the box flooded with our players. Man utd for instance had 6 or 7 players in the box when they scored the winning goal in their opener. We dont attack the opposition's box and crosses are rare. Discussing the intricate detail of formations and tactics can get bogged down with irrelevant detail, so its better to consider the whole shape and style of the way we play. We havent the players to play possession football and suddenly strike for goal. We are an average side now and would be best suited in aiming for 1-0 victories as we havent the strikeforce anymore. Therefore we need top quality defenders as well as defending deeper from the front (as has been mentioned).We also need to pray that RVP stays fit as he is the only proven goal threat we have. This assumes of course that we fail to acquire quality players in the next week or so.

  3. JJsen August 23, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Nice analysis … the thing I dont like about Arsene is his inflexibility or hesitation to change the formation. We are just not the Arsenal that we have been from 2002 to 2006.

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