Unpopular Arsenal opinions
These are just random thoughts I have collated over time, and based on contrary views to common Gooner opinion.
Nothing presented here will be offensive to any person, though there will be some unexpected praise and constructive criticism towards the people cited here.
Views and comments against or for are very welcome:
- Wenger should be hailed by all of us
Yes, I am still Wenger Out. I think the good draw at Chelsea should be the template for years to come of how to play any top team. But then as our greatest ever manager, we should never tolerate any kind of vitriol towards him. This includes calling him the c-word, abusing his ethnicity, etc.
This is a man who has created some of our best ever teams, and our most consistent era in our history. Critique him all you will, but then his achievements are second to none, whether for us or in football generally.
Wenger is a man of humility, grace, intelligence, eruditeness, and flair, and despite his contemporary faults it is shameful, embarrassing, and frankly evil, to viciously mock him.
Whilst I want him to go, I would genuinely if meeting him in public shake his hand, hug him, take a selfie with him, and frame it in my house for the ages. He warrants that level of respect in my mind.
- Wenger did inherit players, but so what?
Didn’t Graham inherit Adams, the late, great Rocky Rocastle, Thomas, Lukic, Merson, etc? Didn’t Mourinho at Chelsea inherit Lampard and Terry? Didn’t Pep at Barca inherit Messi? What about Zidane, since he has “inherited” Ronaldo, Bale, Modric, Kroos, etc?
All managers will take on players that others have signed. This is nothing new, and cannot undermine their achievements. Life is about continuity. If there were no cryptology, then the Enigma machine would not have been invented, meaning no ICT as we know it, and thus no Internet, and no Gunnerstown, websites, and social media. By that logic, nothing we ever do is a true achievement, since it’s always built on something somebody did beforehand. Something we deem immaterial could in time develop to a great discovery in the future, who knows?
Was Wenger supposed to sell the back four and Seaman, or Ian Wright and Bergkamp, once he got here? I believe that it was Wenger’s new methods and players that did bring us the success we had. I don’t think many managers build success from virtually nothing, it’s not really possible. Sir Alex didn’t, as he relied initially on “players he inherited” to win the FA Cup, Cup-Winners’ Cup, and League Cups in the early 1990s. Hughes and Robson were not players that he signed, certainly not.
So let’s not condemn Wenger for things beyond his control. It was his talent to identify Vieira, Petit, Garde, Overmars, etc. to win the Double. Say Rioch got on with the players and board and stayed. Would he have done this to same or similar effect? What if we had got, if the reports were true at the time, the late, great Cruyff? Or the late, great Sir Bobby Robson? Maybe, considering both were highly talented managers in their own rights. We will never know, but then the effects would not be the same, for sure.
- Theo is unfairly singled out
I get, and agree with, the views on Theo. He may not have been the wonder kid he thought he would be. Nonetheless, some things that are said are unjust in my mind.
It’s said that he doesn’t score enough goals for his position. This is false, since for a winger (which even he himself admits he is) to score 100 plus goals in 400 games is good going. Giggs, possibly the best winger in PL history, and possibly one of the best wingers to have ever existed, had a worse goals to game ratio. Theo has been our top scorer on one occasion, and has averaged pretty well in goal-scoring terms.
It may be that he is not an outstanding and dazzling talent. But maybe Wenger made a mistake. He is not perfect, and he misjudged Walcott’s impact. His presence in the 2006 WC squad was also misguided. Granted, this per se was not Wenger’s fault. But then Sven Goran Erikson, the then England manager, rode on the wave of Theo-love at that time, which never has really peaked.
Theo will go down as a good player. Not world class in my mind (though I admit this is a subjective term), since his form at all levels has not been amongst the world’s very best. That said, I strongly believe that if he had never joined as the next big hit, we would be content with his performances and output. Walcott to me equates with, in PL history, Joe Cole or Valencia. A player who performed well enough for their clubs, and on occasion performed well for their countries. Seeing this:
had forever coloured our perception of him. And I don’t believe this kid (now a man I presume) was actually Walcott….
The very best wingers in PL history, for me, are Giggs, Overmars, Kanchelskis, Beckham, Cole, Bale, Ginola, and Robben. Theo, whilst not shit by any stretch, has not been at that level. However, he has carved out a reasonable career for himself nonetheless.
- Alexis is one of our best ever players
Despite the boos at the Bournemouth game, I do love Alexis a lot in our team. And yes, I believe he is one of our best ever players.
I can hear the laughs digitally, as it were…. But I do genuinely believe this.
Part of the reason that Henry and Wright are our two best strikers ever were not just their goals, but their skill, work-rate, energy, passion, desire, and graft. The definitive Henry performance in my mind was Arsenal 4-2 Liverpool in 2004. Not because he got a hat-trick, but because of his pace, finishing, work-rate, energy, and strength. He bullied the Liverpool defence in the second-half, and was the reason we won that game, and the title unbeaten in the end.
The classic Wright performance was Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle in 1996. Akin to Henry, Wright was key in the victory here, since he bullied, harassed, and out-paced the Toon defence to score a winning brace. Check it out here on YouTube. In this era, Wright stood out as our key player, since he had the energy and passion to harass defences and score goals.
Alexis, like Wright and Henry, stands out. Legendary status for me is not just about achievements on the pitch. It’s about how a player plays, as much as what he helps to achieve. And even when Alexis has a bad game, he invariably does something that is outstanding. The goal vs. Koln, and the assist vs. Doncaster, are examples this season. Akin to Henry/Wright again, both of them often had stinkers, but would do something that would either win a game, or get one out of their seat. I still recall Henry’s goal vs. Man United in 2007, where he got the Man of the Match (idiotically) despite doing nothing in the game, apart from of course the winner.
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A great player in any era is one who excites and shows skills beyond their peers. Alexis excites, and despite his admission that we wishes to leave, I believe he is one of the best players we’ve ever had.
Yes, he wanted to leave, and has publicly stated he wants Champions League football. However, many other legends have left for better/brighter things, or to realise ambitions. Brady left for Juve. Yet nobody admonishes him for it. Others have left largely since the club didn’t want them anymore. Wright knew his time was up, considering the emergence of Anelka. Henry was keen to stay, but Wenger knew that at 30, his peak years had probably receded. The “oh, but he wants to leave” argument clearly doesn’t wash with me.
Note at one point Ian Wright wanted to leave us, since he couldn’t get on with Rioch. This was a major factor as to why Rioch got sacked, after all. Nobody says that Wrighty’s handing in of a transfer request should undermine his status as a legend. Rooney wanted to leave Man United several years ago, but not because he didn’t respect/love the club, but disillusionment with the club’s direction. Despite what many United fans think, he’s still a club legend. It’s never as black and white as people perceive.
Alexis may well be at City next year, or United, or PSG. Though I will respect him as a top player, based on his skill-set, work-rate, technique, and guile, in our club’s history.
- The Invincibles team was not our best ever……
Don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing side.
Though for me, our 1998 Double team was superior.
Man for man, there is little difference. Lehmann was a top keeper, though Seaman was better due to a far calmer temperament. The back four is on par, though Vieira and Petit were a better combination than himself and Silva. Parlour/Overmars brought better width, and the tail-end of Wright and Bergkamp possibly were overshadowed by Bergkamp and Henry.
However, the reason I believe this is due to style of football played, and how it featured relative to recent Arsenal sides. Boring, boring Arsenal was a common chant in the early 1990s, and there was a lot of truth in it. My honest view is that the late 80s Graham teams were not boring. Liverpool was the best footballing team of that era, though we were not far behind. We played some decent football with Merson, Marwood, Limpar, Thomas, Rocky, and other flair/technical players. Smith also was capable on the floor. From 1992 though, once Rocky and Thomas left, I think we had a reliance on Wright for our goals. Moreover, players like Jensen and Selley were never going to be the creative flair we required. So from 1992 to 1995, I think we were boring.
Rioch, despite his inability to get on with the board and players, did attempt to change the style with some success. This peaked though once Wenger came, and Bergkamp was able to flourish to the greatest extent. Vieira, Overmars, Anelka, Henry, Pires, Ljungberg, were all players who enabled us to play stellar and aesthetically grand football.
Still, how we played in 1998 was not something we had seen before at Arsenal, nor in English football period. It was a grand bang for all to see, in that we wanted to win and win with style. This contrast to the dour latter Graham period, was cemented for many as the true dawn of a new Arsenal.
For the footnote in our club’s recent history, I do genuinely believe that the 1998 team was superior in Premier League history to the Invincibles. Though this is never to undermine the Invincibles or what they achieved. Yes, no other team in modern footballing history has gone unbeaten. But then the 1998 Double won two trophies in a season, the Invincibles only won one. In Christmas 1997, the prospect of a Double seemed bleak, though an immense latter season run ensured we overhauled Sir Alex to win the league and the FA Cup.
- Chelsea is not our biggest rival, the Borough of Haringey mob are and always will be
The recent draw at Stamford Bridge was telling in many ways. One of them for me was that Chelsea now has become a major rival for us. 20 years ago, it was never such. They were another London club. But in Premier League history, unlike the Borough of Haringey mob, they have actually won some decent trophies, including some we have never won let’s be honest. Both we and Chelsea have established ourselves as premier national and global forces, and in many respects such as fanbase, revenues, brand value, and overseas reach, are two of the biggest football clubs in the world.
The Wenger/Mourinho tiff, despite him now being at Man U, also contributed to this. Arsenal vs. Chelsea is now really a battle for who is the biggest club in London. They can mention their European Cup until they’re blue in their faces (pun intended). They still haven’t won the most trophies in the city, and they make less money than we do as per the 2015 and 2016 Deloitte rankings. Our monetary brand values are also consistently higher, as per similar Deloitte rankings.
However, I don’t get fans in honesty that deems Chelsea as our biggest rival. And above that lot from next door to Edmonton. Yes, we and Chelsea have been more competitive. This latest Spurs team under Pochettino is the most consistent they’ve had in decades. To quote former UK PM Harold McMillan, Spurs fans around today have never had it so good. But football rivalry to me is never a transient thing. It’s rooted in history, culture, and the essence of a club.
Chelsea was nothing to us before Abramovich went there. But Spurs is ingrained in our past, and what it means to be Arsenal. There are several cultural facets of being a Gooner in my opinion, just like any other club. We can be arrogant, but then we’ve achieved a lot, and are proud of it. Many of the great and exciting moments of modern English football have been made by us. We also value tradition, reliability, stability, and style. This is based off our manner of success from the Chapman era, up to the current day in Wenger.
Part of this culture is also a hatred of Tottenham Hotspur. As the nearest club to us, and one of a similar and smaller stature than us, it’s natural that we define ourselves to some extent against them. They certainly do to us, since Levy has taken great pride that his new ground will be bigger than ours.
Chelsea is really a passing thing. They won’t be great forever, and if they lack the funding/resources, they may not be as much of a force. They may not be like the 1980s Chelsea, as in getting relegated, but could without major backing be a mid-table club. Should this ever happen, then Spurs would still be around, as a club proud of holding a larger ground but with far less trophies than us.
As a Gooner, it’s always Tottenham who is the enemy. Not Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United, or Barcelona. Or Bayern Munich. I’m not an absolute stickler for tradition, but it has its time and place. There are some things inherent to cultures, times, and places, and Spurs as the prime enemy of Arsenal is one of them.
These as stated are some random points/thoughts.
Differing views are welcome, as it’s all subjective and opinion, ultimately.