While following the Arsenal v Hull game on Saturday, I read something very interesting; “It’s not ‘Boring Boring Arsenal’ any more, but it’s ‘Predictable Predictable Arsenal’ playing the same way home and away whatever the opposition.” The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It was something, as a devout Arsenal fan, I have failed to notice since the beginning of last season.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I love the way Arsenal play football. It is my humble opinion that they play the very best football in the world when they are on form. However, there is a time and place for that kind of football and when your playing badly against a determined side, working incredibly hard for each other and in desperate need of 3 points, you should put the fancy football to the side for the time being and dig out the result by any means possible.
Manchester United, Chelsea and on occasion Liverpool are able to grind out results no matter how badly they are playing and it’s this quality that has been the base for United’s and Chelsea’s title challenges over the past few seasons. Winning ugly, despite it’s title, is one of the most beaufiful and satisfying things in football. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in the dying moments of a game is something every football fan can appreciate and unforunately, the ability to ‘win ugly’ is something that Arsenal do not posses.
As an Arsenal fan, you would expect me to be feeling very confident ahead of a home game against a newly promoted side, who were one of the favourites to finish bottom of the table. I wasn’t, however. Perhaps it was just a once off thing or maybe it was something more. Over the past couple of seasons I’ve seen Arsenal slip up time and time again against sides that were deemed to be inferior and that certainly has shaken the confidence I have in my team and the manager.
Teams who have beaten Arsenal in the past have used the very tactic that Arsene Wenger and his young charges hate: physicality. Sam Allardyce used this tactic continuously at Bolton because he knew it would work. He knew Arsenal would continue to play the same way no matter what and as long as his side didn’t concede, they would not only be able to bully Arsenal out of the game but also thwart Wengers tactics. Good managers are able to copy Allardyces’ tactic succesfully because Arsenal still continue to play the same way no matter what may happen.
This predictability and alarming lack of leadership is what is holding Arsenal back from winning any silverware. When the chips are down in the game and the going gets tough, Chelsea have Terry, Cech, Drogba, Ballack among others to call upon, United have Ferdinand, Scholes, Giggs and Rooney, Liverpool have Gerrard, Carragher and Torres and whom do Arsenal have? William Gallas? A man whos ego is the size France and whos personality is that of a 5 year olds.