Arsenal Are Lightweight. And It Will Cost Points.

Arsène Wenger was recently questioned about the size of Arsenal’s squad – that’s the size of each individual in it rather than the total number of players – with the news that on the first day of the season the team was the shortest and lightest on average in the Premier League. The average Arsenal player that day was just 5ft 9in (175cm) and 11 stone (70kg). Cazorla is 5ft 6in, Wilshere and Sanchez are both 5ft 7in. If Mertesacker had played the average would have risen an inch though. Look though, our boys are an average 1 stone 4 lbs lighter than Chelsea (that’s 16 lbs or 7kg). And that’s after they’ve got rid of Lampard! (I jest – you are fatter than Lampard, believe me.) Anyway, joking aside, it is true that Arsenal as a squad seem to have been losing weight for some years.size stats for PL week 1 2014-15

Arsène’s reply on the subject was, “When we buy a player we do not look at how heavy he is but how good he is. You always want to improve technically and sometimes you go for skill.
“At the time when Vieira left we had Fabregas who was 17 years old. You cannot say you are not heavy enough so you cannot play. He had the quality to play.

“So it is a coincidence that we are a bit lightweight. Maybe because we use more technical players in the middle of the park, especially Arteta. It depends on who I play. If I play Cazorla or Podolski the weight is a bit different. But it’s true we are a bit more lightweight than before, when we had Petit, Vieira, Parlour. On Fridays when we checked the weight it was quite something then.”

Well okay, that’s all fair enough. Obviously you don’t turn down Cesc for only being 11 stone, but that’s partly because he was well on the way to being World Class. And there’s no deliberate policy to buy small players, I accept that. But what Arsène is not facing up to is that it’s a disadvantage to have too many small players in the same team. Surely he must know this. Surely he must see it allows some teams to bully us off the ball far too easily. You need variety in a team, but if there’s a lack of it then I’d rather err on the side of too many big players than too many small ones. And I don’t mean Jan Molby/Mickey Quinn-big, I mean Patrick Vieira/Thierry Henry-big: 6 foot 3 or 4, 13 stone of muscle. No pushing off the ball there.

Now hold on, you may say, who am I to tell Arsène what sort of player to buy? How many days never mind years have I worked in football management at any level? And of course this is a perfectly legitimate question that often comes up when anyone dares to question what Arsène is doing. So let me make this clear: I don’t think I can manage Arsenal better than Arsène Wenger does. No really, I don’t. There is a lot more to football management than just spending money and shouting. I’m sure there are many, many aspects of the role that, while I or most other intelligent people could do them to a certain level, Arsène can do better. But – and this is a big but – that doesn’t mean I can’t see ways for him to improve things. Actually doing the things is harder, but then he has still got £50m+ that he could have spent in an attempt to solve the problem, assuming of course that he sees it as a problem. (If he doesn’t see it as a problem then the issue is different: we will get bullied every time we play Chelsea, and he won’t be able to see why.)

All managers have coaches working for them, and though the title Assistant Manager seems to be out of fashion these days, managers still have people to take advice from. Do you think they say to these people, “How dare you make a suggestion? How long have you worked as a Premier League manager?” Of course not. Well, not usually. But Arsène does it with any criticism or even what he thinks are leading questions from outside the camp. He regularly has a go at reporters who put the sort of questions to him that 99.9 per cent of fans can see need to be asked, eg: “As you have £50m+ to spend, why not buy another defender or defensive midfielder while you can?” The other 0.1 per cent of fans are so blinded by Arsène’s genius that they believe those of us asking or even thinking such questions simply aren’t clever enough to understand the methods of the great man. They pity our ignorance.

Well, that seems to have turned from a quick discussion on the average height of Arsenal players to me once again inviting the 0.1 per cent to tell me I’m an idiot. Which I’m sure they will.

Twitter: @AngryOfN5


49 thoughts on “Arsenal Are Lightweight. And It Will Cost Points.

  1. Your actually making a valid point for once.
    Also to go with 6 senior defenders is complete negligence.
    We should have paid what needed to be paid for Schniderlin.
    In all fairness I think adding Welbeck and Sanchez adds a bit of Muscle, and I think Wilshere and Ramsey will add more power to their game naturally over the next yr-18 months.
    But there’s no balance in our squad, we need to cull a few playmakers and add some steel.

  2. That’s a very worthy article and an interesting topic. I personally reckon a good big ‘un will always be better than a good little ‘un but there isn’t a great deal to support the case that it’s a significant disadvantage. The most successful European team of recent years has been Barca and their team frequently turned out at around 5’ 9″ or less. Lionel Messi is only 1/4 inch taller than Cazorla but you wouldn’t leave him out because he’s a light weight. On the other hand Stoke were the tallest team in the league while Pulis was in control. It all comes down to how good the team is not really how tall or heavy it is. These figures were based on the opening game of the season when we played without Mertesacker, or even Ozil who’s a tad over 6 foot but substitute Ozil for Cazorla and Mertesacker for Chambers and the average height increases by a touch over an inch. It’s worth noting that the opening game of the season was against Crystal Palace who are listed among the tall and heavy brigades but I don’t think we were physically lacking in that game. It’s an interesting observation though.

    • If Barcelona played against premiership opponents and with premiership refs, they would not have dominated.

      I agree with Phil re: the height, but not the size necessarily. When you need to cover 10-11 kilometers a game AND including high intensity sprinting to press, weight is a detriment. Also Phil should have mentioned speed. When a Arsenal had the likes of Vieira, Campbell, Bergkamp, Gilberto, they were not just six foootersbut damn fast ones.

      Last but not least, the role of refs not mentioned. Opponents get to foul Arsenal beat up pull etc and no cards in fact sometimes no whistle even. Meanwhile our guys routinely receive cards for their fret foul of the game! So even if we have bigger guys not sure it would matter. Remember when Song was here he was victimized by refs for having the temerity to actually use his size and strength. So many times he would get yellow cards for innocuous fouls often his first one. And never allowed to give like for like when tackling.

  3. You re trying to be logical about wenger, which is impossible. Until he recognises that virtually every team that has won a title, including his own earlier ones, did that with a strong spine , he won’t win anything. Fabregas is world class, but he won virtually nothing at arsenal, because there was no vieira . The likes of cazorla, Walcott, ox, Sanchez, won’t win us the title without a central spine of physical winners and leaders, something that s been missing for better part of 10 years.

  4. I agree, rich. Schneiderlin was potentially the most important buy for us, but spurs will now sneak in . He is maybe best DM in prem , and has advantage of being premier proven and ready, which Carvalho isn’t . Wenger is a specialist in failure, because he just doesn’t do the deals that matter, and a quality DM and CD were deals that mattered . If he hadn’t been in Rome on deadline day, we would have been reliant on sanogo till January . While welbeck might prove a decent buy, we do not have the world class quality up front that chelsea, city and Man U have, and that s why we ll come at least behind them, and probably struggle for 4th .. Again

  5. After the length of time that Wenger has ruled Arsenal autocratically it must surely be clear for all to see that he is a pig headed individual… thinks he knows it all… We ALL knew our defensive shortcomings going into the market,
    also Wenger knew this – yet he chose to sign more midfielders – nothing wrong – great players! However – we were more than bloody lucky to get our new CF – it was pure luck – he dilly dallied all tfr time and came up with nothing, was already looking ijn the French bargain basement for someone!!!- he did not have the same luck with a DMF – so no titles or more silverware, and not even the WENGER trophy… 4th place in the league.
    No team can play without defensive players – Mert is too slow and often left for dead by opposing attacking players – thank the heavens for Kosc who often bails him out!
    Arsenal fans must by now know that an 8 figure surplus bank account is more important than winning is to Wenger

    • Thought I was alone regarding Mert, and Kos having to compromise his own game to keep bailing him out.. Mert’s performance against Man C was woeful.He is the worst CB in the premier league. Wenger has bought a few pups before but he is awful. As for Flamini and Arteta they are both slow and light. Chambers would be my choice to replace Mert, but we don’t have a , suitable DM,unless he can play there as well, oh and at RB too

  6. Phil, you don’t need to be on £8m a year to see something wenger has been incapable of seeing for close to a decade. I can’t believe he doesn’t watch videos of his own earlier teams , not to mention recent title winners at chelsea and city, to see the obvious. He s too stubborn to acknowledge it . He s past his sell by date.

  7. If Arsene Wenger had spent more time,sorting his team out ,during the three months transfer window,instead of wasting his time,on French T.V. and refereeing friendly football matches,we would be a lot better off,at this moment in time,i carn’t see a great deal of improvement from last season.I would love to know why he wasted £42,000,000,on a player like Ozil,who is a play maker that we didn’t need,because we have plenty of playmakers,what Arsenal wanted was a striker,and two good strong defensive players, “WHY IS IT. I KNOW IT AND 60,000,ARSENAL SUPPORTERS KNOW IT,WHY DOESN’T WENGER.”

    • You can’t speak for 60,000 Arsenal supporters Steve, only for yourself or a handful of those close to you. I happen to think we did need Ozil or a player very like him. Many will see things quite differently from you or Wenger or anyone of us for that matter. Few, if any at all, will be able to earn a living as a football manager.

      • Agreed on Ozil – he was bought because Cazorla and WIlshere were not elite level playmakers. Cazorla is just below but not quite capable of what Ozil at his best does. Still Wenger needs to play Ozil in the middle – and yes, needs more athleticism to hold the fort behind him, as well as on the wings. For me, we still needed one more big fast winger and Cazorla be made backup to Ozil.

        Wenger needs to either play Podolski as that big fast winger – or he should have sold him this summer. May the 110K per week Podolski is earning makes him unmarketable – at least given Arsenal’s reluctance to pay off severance to players who dont work out as planned.

  8. Arsenal have a squard to get job done, dispite not have enough deffencive. But wenger with his actitude of playing powerless and none speeding player out of their natural wing, arsenal will strongle to make top 4 this season, monreal contribut nothing to our back four, wenger still have temerity to play player like ozil infront of him, when we have three good winger on the benc. The like of chambln, podoski, cambel can atleast cover with more power an as well push attark. Wenger does nothing other than provoke us every summer and every matches.

  9. You make a very good point regarding the physical attributes of Arsenal. I think it has to do with us not having any midfielders who depend on their physicality to play the game, unlike most teams, who have at least two such players even if one is back up to the other. Also, the fact that we have only 2 central defenders means that the average leans towards lower weights and heights since central defenders are usually tall and strong.

    I don’t agree with you that Arsene always uses the “I know better because I am a premier league manager” card though. I remember him in a recent press conference stating that everyone is entitled to an opinion, it’s just that you can’t force him to change his opinion, which is fair I guess. I think it is very hard to find a manager who would not improve by changing a certain aspect of his approach but they are usually very stubborn. It’s a take it or leave it thing I guess, and we can only judge Arsene on his overall game.

  10. We didn’t lose to Chelsea, City or Liverpool last season because of a lack of size, we lost because we kept giving the ball away and leaving ourselves ridiculously exposed. We were pressed high and couldn’t cope with it. Possibly we were too gung-ho, too attacking and naive. However, I don’t see that bigger players would’ve made any difference to those games. Sure, it would be nice to have a different type of player, more of a destroyer, but i’m not sure it would have changed things for us in recent season.

    The quantity of central defenders is an issue, of course. I think Wenger has essentially said that this is down to a lack of a quality player who’d be happy to play as understudy. That certainly seemed to be the issue with Manolas and Sokratis. I don’t criticise Wenger for not paying to break up Mertesacker-Koscielny so the question for me is whether fellow Gooners would have preferred Wenger to sign a Silvestre, Squillaci type or gone with youth like he has.

    Personally I really rate Hayden and it’s telling for me that Wenger hasn’t loaned him out at all. Whilst he’s still raw and would benefit from regular football elsewhere, he looks to have everything needed. He’ll now likely be involved in the squad a lot more and he’ll get his chance to impress against Soton next week.

    • “.. I don’t criticise Wenger for not paying to break up Mertesacker-Koscielny so the question for me is whether fellow Gooners would have preferred Wenger to sign a Silvestre, Squillaci type or gone with youth like he has….”

      Getting another central defender is not purely a matter of “breaking up” that partnership. Why:
      1) Last season, Wenger rode them them till they were obviously knacked in key games
      2) Both are 29 and approaching the age where wear and tear sets in
      3) World cup this summer means they didnt get a proper break for body to recover
      4) Most importnant: tirst read this about Koscielny:

      No way Wenger will get the same amount of minutes from these two guys as he did last time around. At least not without blowing Kos’s achilles probably and thats not only a season ender but probably a career full stop for a guy who depends on speed.

      Wenger desperately needed to add one more defender basically on the same level as these two i.e on a level that he would actually be willing to trust him. Problem is …..those are not so easy to find. How much did Mangala cost and he is still on Man City’s bench. Zouma loaned back because promising but not ready, etc. I will say still surprised Wenger let Benatia go to Bayern so easily – should have bought him way before that.

      Chambers is the real deal but frankly Arsenal needs to have four real option in that position. I like Hayden but then why wasnt he given a taste in pre-season?

      Wenger is quite a gambler, let’s put it that way. And probably really unnecessarily so.

      • I don’t disagree that we needed someone, the question I ask is ‘who?’ I’m not convinced that there are a great deal of centre-halves already at the level of Koscielny and Mertesacker who are a) available and b) willing to start out playing second fiddle. If there were, why have Man Utd found it so difficult? The fact that they wanted Vermaelen as a first choice goes to show the dearth of available quality.

        Benatia has serious attitude problems and isn’t as good as people make him out to be, certainly not at Koscielny or Mertesacker’s levels. Also; perhaps Wenger didn’t sign him because he didn’t rate him as much as you do.

      • As I said myself, yes it’s not that easy to find good defenders, but if Wenger is not willing to pay for anyone, what is baffling is why then he has not blooded Hayden. You cannot refuse to sign any cover AND also wait for a crisis before the guy gets to play. That makes no sense at all.

        Wenger is a curious fellow, but he has good qualities too and you have to take the good with the bad.

      • Ha, no doubt that he’s a curious and stubborn man at times.

        I agree, it was odd that Hayden only played the one game for the first team in pre-season. My impression is that Plan A was always to sign another centre-back (in addition to Chambers) and that Hayden would go out on loan once that occurred. Plan B was likely Hayden as 5th choice behind Monreal, as has occurred. Even so, you’d still expect him to ensure that Hayden was best prepared in the event of Plan B being required. Of course I may be proved totally wrong when Wenger sends Hayden out on loan next week!

        I don’t think it comes down to Wenger not being prepared to spend money though, I think the signings he’s made this summer demonstrate that he’s willing to pay to get players he wants. You only have to look at the salaries sat on our bench to see that he’s also prepared to spend to have strength in depth. I personally think the issue is simply that he has a very small list of players that he genuinely wants and he’s too inflexible when none of the players on that list comes to fruition. He either gets the player he wants or no one – whether that’s foolish or long-term management at its finest depends on your viewpoint. Stubborn certainly. I also think (based on what he’s said a few times in the past) that he considers centre-half the least desirable and necessary position for rotation/rest and that, if there’s any position he can get away without much back-up, it’s that one.

        Yes, he’s the worst gambler in the world – if the bookies placed odds on injuries i’d have raced to place money on us getting injuries galore to our defenders the day after the window closed. But it’s these opportunities that give youngsters the chance, you only have to ask players like Ashley Cole about how doors can open. Bellerin and Hayden now have the chance to grasp a place at the finest club in the world and make everyone forget what we were all worried about!

      • “…I personally think the issue is simply that he has a very small list of players that he genuinely wants and he’s too inflexible when none of the players on that list comes to fruition. He either gets the player he wants or no one – whether that’s foolish or long-term management at its finest depends on your viewpoint….”

        True but if he has a very short list, then he needs to be willing to pay up the price for whomever is on the list.

        Also going back to the point of this article, it seems to me that the whole zonal marking thing actually puts the onus on Wenger to get players who are not only smart and technical but also superior athletes – so that they are not victimized when opponents manage to isolate them. Again, if that’s the spec, then pay up for these guys and stop mucking around.

      • “True but if he has a very short list, then he needs to be willing to pay up the price for whomever is on the list.”

        How do you know he wasn’t? How do you know that there weren’t other reasons why he didn’t get any of the players on the list? I’m not saying that it wasn’t the case that he refused to pay the asking price, but you need to be careful not to reach conclusions based on assumptions. We’ll never know the full story, you’re only speculating like the rest of us.

    • Re: salaries – am not convinced that is a sign that Wenger is willing to pay for bench depth:
      – Podolski is on the bench because he didnt work out – he was not bought to be a sub. And then Wenger has had to spend 35 million on Sanchez to get what Podolski didnt give him.
      – Cazorla was good but not good enough to be main playmaker – so Wenger has spent 42 million on Ozil
      – I dont think Monreal is making all that much – he was not on big money at Villareal
      – Flamini reportedly on 40K per week

      I dont think Wenger would be willing to pay the salary required to get top level bench depth at centre back. What would also concern me is Wenger has had some real top athletes in Djouurou and Vermalen and Jenksinon and FAILED to hone them into quality depth as defenders or defensive midfielders. I think that’s a waste, especially while we have this midget problem.

      • You could alternatively say that, as Wenger signed every one of those players, he absolutely is prepared to pay for strength in depth because a) he paid the money and b) he has strength in depth (in most positions!!!). Surely if, as you say, Wenger isn’t willing to pay salaries for depth then he’d have sold Cazorla or Podolski as soon as he bought Ozil and Sanchez?

      • Like Arshavin, these players are not sellable at the salaries they make. And Arsenal is allergic to cutting the cord cord and paying off big money busts. Will all know that…

      • You’re telling me that nobody would pay to take Cazorla and Podolski?! Nonsense, there are enough teams that would take them both off our hands as quick as a shot if we gave them the chance.

      • I think Podolski would have been off if there had been a good enough offer, as he was certainly available. There wasn’t a suitable offer, but how much that is down to his wages is unknown.

      • My reading of it was that he was absolutely off until the injury to Giroud, that was why he’d gone so far as even removing ‘Arsenal’ from his twitter account. That suggested to me that at least one acceptable bid had been made, but we’ll never know for sure. Bendtner last summer struck me as a very similar situation – we were ready to sell but then the circumstances changed.

  11. Are you sure ONLY 0.1 percent of fans are blinded by Arsene’s genius?

    genuinely Think you need to follow more on twitter.

    You are blinded if you think only 0.1 percent blinded ….

    • Obviously far more than that support him almost unconditionally, but many of those are saying he should have got some defensive cover in. There aren’t many left who are saying he’s got that right. Surely?

      • Even Wenger has said he was open to bring defensive cover in but the issue was with quality not quantity. We have cover in terms of numbers, much the same as Chelsea in fact but given that Squillaci who has done a reasonable job at a top half of the table side in France, Djourou playing regularly in the Bundesliga and Senderos as a first team regular in the PL aren’t good enough to be 3rd or 4th choices then it’s fair to assume that quality CB, even just as back up, is not readily available. Unless you’re a supporter of course in which case better players are always available in every position simply on demand and always on sensible terms. 🙂

    • I agree with this, Amos. Of course, what we don’t know is whether there really were players available on sensible terms. Maybe Sokratis’ demands were actually reasonable but Wenger refused to pay them? Or maybe Sokratis didn’t want to play second fiddle and wanted assurances of being first choice that we could never give? We can only speculate but the talk is that it’s more like the latter (if you believe the talk that is).

      I agree with Phil that we should’ve got some cover in if it were possible but I also think that it’s easy just to say that without backing it up with credible names. Had we signed Silvestre Junior for £20m it would no doubt have kept certain fans quiet for a few weeks, but they’d soon be experts again and criticising Wenger if the player turned out not to be good enough. Everyone’s an expert but, in reality, very few of us actually are.

  12. Pingback: The indefensible. Arsenal were always asking for trouble with their lack of defenders. | Talking out their Arsenal

    • Amazing Paul. You choose to attack me by pointing out that after his comments at the start of the season Arsene’s now changed his mind and agrees with me! Shame he didn’t think of it while the window was still open, because 99.9% of us could see what was coming.

      • “Attack?” Having a thin – skinned day, were we, Phil? Arsene has clearly been looking for 2 summers for a physical DM. Only the willfully blind could pretend otherwise. But he’s very picky about who. No riff raff.
        You could make a much better argument that his scouting must suck. But to pretend he’s only just realized a physical DM would be a good idea would be to close one’s eyes.
        And yes Arsene frustrates me that he’s still falling around looking for “the right” DM. 2 summers ffs.

  13. Chris why does a new Ch have to 3rd or 4th choice? It’s about time Mertesacker was replaced,he is far too slow and immobile for a team with supposed title ambitions, its no coincidence that he was dropped by Germany in the World Cup . Kos will have a little
    ,longer but we needy be thinking of the future. The lack of attention Wenger pays to the defence both in terms of investment and hours on the training pitch is an utter disgrace.I don’t see the point in signing top quality like Alexis if you have a piss poor defence with either bloody Arteta or Flamini in front of it. If things aren’t sorted out Alexis will be at Arsenal for no more than 2 seasons before he is pinched by United or City. Wengers poor planning in building a squad has led to a defensive crisis after 4 pl matches and before we have even started in the CL.But hey as Phil says,the Wenger apologists don’t think anyone is entitled to an opinion and those who criticise Wenger are idiots,and they have an excuse for every bad result and poor signing.Yes,positives,I’m talking about you. Let me ask a question, if we don’t finish in the top 4 will Wenger resign bearing in mind he spent over 80 mill on the summer? We know he won’t get the tin tac,but will the fan unrest which will be pretty vocal bruise his ego?

    • That’s your opinion. I happen to think that we have a very good first choice centre-back pairing and that Mertesacker is excellent. However, my view is that we needed more back-up and that it was a mistake for Wenger not to get it. We’re all entitled to our opinions though, that’s surely the point of these forums? I have no time for petty pigeon-holing of fans, people should be grown-up enough to cope with conflicting opinions and to appreciate that life isn’t black and white.

      You asked me (not sure why, but there you go) whether I think Wenger will resign if we finish outside of top 4 this season. No, I don’t think he will and I don’t think the club will want him to. Should he? Maybe, if the negatives of keeping him outweigh the positives and if there’s a better option available in May. Is there really any point in debating that in September? No.

  14. Well poznan you had better tell your pals because they all swear blind that we don’t play ,or need to play ,with a physical presence in midfield and that no legs ,pass it sideways,red card waiting to happen Arteta is amazing despite pushing 40.

    • Arteta is a red card waiting to happen? I think you’ve got yourself confused, mate.
      Also, “my pals” are largely in agreement that finding a Petit or Vieira would be a great addition to midfield. They’re just a bit more picky than you on what lumbering oaf they want plodding around their team’s midfield.

  15. The headline is spot on. Blame nobody but Wenger.
    He thinks he can do no wrong . You just look at his appalling record against the big clubs.
    So don’t be surprised this season will be another one slogging for 4th.

  16. I agree with ljb about Wenger’s indifference to the defence.Clichy said the gunners don’t do defence drills.
    So it must be true. How naïve. That is why the fm regularly lost to the red face and Chelsea.That is why the gunners were the favourite team for Ronaldo/Rooney/Drogba ,etc because they knew they would be given time and space to score.
    When the gunners buzz around the goal,they like to indulge in pass here,pass there and pass everywhere except shoot.That is why if AV goes into the lead,expect them ainclose shop and hit on the break and score again.
    Then Wenger gets animated and agitated.He shd look at the mirror and asks why he is so predictable.
    Don’t be surprised any new manager will get the gunners going and shoot on sight and improve the defence significantly.

    • Ha! Because Gael Clichy is the fountain of all knowledge about how Arsenal currently do things?! Give me a break, even if we did drills during his time at the club every hour of every day he’d likely not notice given his inability to concentrate. If you think that Steve Bould and Neil Banfield don’t do drills then it’s up to you, maybe the massive improvement in our defensive record in the past two seasons was just by luck eh?

  17. Not only midgets but Wenger’s insistence on scoring the perfect goal. It’s pass after pass.
    When you watch how WH and Hull scored the goals,you wonder why the gunner s must keep on passing instead of shooting.
    If this season ends in another scrap for cl qualification,I believe it’s time for the fm to go and play his tiki taka elsewhere.

  18. This is something I noted during last nights “match”. Arteta and Wilshere were bullied all night, Ozil is easily knocked off the ball, Gibbs had moments of the same and it reminded me of the Invincibles side.

    In that team we had players like Lauren, Kolo, Sol, Gilberto and Vieira – all were big, strong players but they were all strong AND skillful with the ball. They weren’t just strong in a tackle, they could pass and make bursting runs, all quick across the ground. Henry was a phenomenal athlete, muscular, tall and graced with superb talent. Bergkamp, although never the quickest, could have a burst of speed but he had an eye for key passes and, as many forget, was tough – he wasn’t afraid to hold players off, push them aside etc. Even the “lightweight” players in that side (Ljungberg/Pires/Cashley) were quick, nimble but physically strong enough to hold off opponents when called upon. That side were brutally fast on the break and other teams feared them.

    Can the same be said of players like Ozil, Arteta, Cazorla, Gibbs, Walcott, and even Ramsey and Wilshere? How often have we seen them get bullied off the ball by stronger players. Yes, they are all technically gifted, but they lack the strength of that formidable Invincibles side.

    This is where I feel AW has gone wrong. He replaced strong technical players with nimble technical players – hence we get bullied by opponents.

    • Good points, 5thDiabetic, but on this one I disagree: “…Bergkamp, although never the quickest, could have a burst of speed but he had an eye for key passes and, as many forget, was tough – he wasn’t afraid to hold players off, push them aside etc…”

      In fact Bergkamp was quite fast in his youth. Fast enough that even when he already about 30 years old and briefly lost the playmaker role to Kanu for about a year or so, Bergkamp was fast enough that Wenger had him sharing the wide right position with Wiltord. He was no slow poke.

      That in itself is the measure of the invisibles: we are talking about a player who was 6’1”, fairly fast for an old guy and sparky enough to protect himself on the field – and he was a relative “lightweight” on that team.

      Gilberto for example had every bit of technique and metronomic passing efficiency that Arteta had – but he was 6’3” AND no one could bully him AND fleet of foot enough that he was used in emergencies as a wide right midfielder in a 4-4-2 on at least a couple of occasions that I remember off the top of my head.

      Wenger needs to stop with the excuses. Technique is vital but his best teams were every bit as technical as these guys today – except the old version could mix it, in order to allow the technique count for something.

      Also speaking of that era, it was a masterstroke by Wenger to bring in Gilberto to provide added technique behind the slowly fading Vieira, so that he could still keep Pat’s leadership skills and passing vision. I would have thought that the analogue in today’s team would have been to bring in a bigger DM, move Arteta beside him, and then let Ramsey and Ozil roam around in front of those two.

      Wenger is just so stuck in his ways now. He was actually much more creative and progressive in his solutions before…

      • Glad to hear you agree. I suppose my point on Bergkamp was that he wasn’t the quickest compared to the other guys. I don’t believe Vieira was “quick” in a traditional sense, but he had that huge stride with which he could just launch away from an opponent – Bergkamp, for me, was quick in mind more than anything. If a ball came to him, time stopped. He could see a pass or someone’s run before anyone else noticed it – simply, he is my football idol. The greatest player I ever witnessed.

    • I don’t think we were ‘bullied’ last night. Dortmund pressed us and we didn’t play well enough to overcome it. It wasn’t helped by the formation we set up (and stuck) with. There’s a difference between playing and pressing as a team/unit and bullying opponents. You don’t need physical size to press and close teams down and indeed Dortmund aren’t a big side. Neither were Barcelona at their finest and yet they still hassled and harried the ball off of teams.

      • Fair point. Perhaps bullied was the wrong word to use, however, I noticed at times how easily Arteta and Rambo were knocked off the ball by an opponent of similar size. There was a video doing the rounds following the City game of Wilshere absolutely smashing Nasri to the ground in a 50/50 battle, but then Nasri is a lightweight – I can’t imagine someone like Yaya Toure going to ground so easily.

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