Blue really is the colour for Wenger, but is football the game?

by Keith O'Connell

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

A sad and familiar pattern seems to have taken hold on all things Arsenal related.  I’m not talking about Arsene Wenger and his moaning, myopia and lack of magnanimity in defeat.  These are of course wonderful traits, and where would any of us be without them?

No, I’m talking about Arsenal’s David vs. Goliath complex.  North west London’s premier anti-artisans, the carriers of the torch, making West Ham and Spurs supporters sick to the stomach as they are no longer the recognised purveyors of this noble art, essentially “don’t like it up ‘em, Mr Mainwaring!”.

And so another game passes, illuminated by Arsenal’s pretty passes and triangles but punctuated and ultimately decided by the oppositions greater strength, experience, cynicism and effectiveness.

Now I quite enjoyed the game on Sunday, though this is mostly because I got to the pub late, missed Chelsea’s devastating opening salvo and only bore witness to the eternal struggle which followed.

For me, the game and this argument as a whole was crystallised by a late incident involving Fabregas and Malouda (I hazily recall… lovely, lovely beer, you do so dull my senses and recollective abilities…).  As Arsenal wafted forward, looking as potentially dangerous as only they can, Fabregas was quite unsubtly halted in his tracks by a deft clip on the ankles from Malouda (a man who manages to combine grace, technique, power, occasional tactical brutishness and one hell of a soul-glo hair do!  Oh, how we could use him…) and what little promise the move contained was extinguished in a flash.

This, is what I was brought up on.  Did I feign horror in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s as we turned out defences and midfields who practically wrote and copyrighted the blueprint for this style of play?

No, I adored it.  As wave after insidious wave crashed upon the very foundations that our continual success was built upon, the tremendous bulk of Adams, Bould, Keown, et al, I listened to the squeals of pain and indignation with delight.  Wright, Smudge, Merse and Limpar did the business at the other end, with the likes of Rocky, Michael Thomas and John Jenson bouncing between the two providing the continuity.  It makes me sad and nostalgic to even think of it.

Happier times… but what are we left with?

Now nothing would please me more than to see Arsene’s philosophy bear silver lined fruit, but the writing on the wall is there for all to see.  As much as it pains me to finally admit this, it is not going to happen.  Coming from a dyed in the wool Gooner, this is a hard and sad admission to make.

Until we inject some steel, cynicism and basic oafishness into our play, we can expect to keep on singing the same old sad song, and as we all know, they hurt so much.

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  • stevie

    I remember those days, under George Graham were simply just to good, boring to watch (unless Limpar was taking on half the opposition)! We knew how to close a game out, 1-0, 2-0 up, shut up shop, game over.

    All we need to do is combine the old steal of Graham’s sides with the beauty of Wenger’s, we actually had it in 2004, so what has happened?

    How has Wenger become so stubborn?

  • MistaKen

    How has Wenger become so stubborn. Anyone given total power over a club is bound to believe he can never be wrong.

  • dexylongshot

    I think he’s doing alright, i’m gonna have a tenner on Arsenal winning the title. I think the sgnings will come, he’ll probably go on spree when it becomes apparent that Liverpool and the mans are skintos.

    PS: Since Zola came to Upton Park, he has used the Wenger toolkit and said he hoped to have he Hammers playing pretty triangles within 2 seasons, we are much prettier side for it but struggling. A sort of Arsenal B.

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