Sabtu, 19 November 2011

What Wenger have done to transform Arsenal so far...

Keep calm and carry on

"Arsene Wenger must have been hurting like hell when Arsenal were pummeled 8-2 by Manchester United and then beaten 4-3 in a comedy of errors at Blackburn but you have to be impressed with his reaction because he remained calm and now everyone is seeing the benefits.

"There was no big song and dance after the Old Trafford game. He took it on the chin and accepted the defeat with good grace and never publicly tore into the players although he would have had harsh things to say privately.

"People ended up wondering if he would quit but anyone that knows him will have known that he would stick at it and gradually pull things through and that is the sign of a good manager.

"It is easy to be a manager when you are successful but the real test comes when things are not going well and the way things are developing that shows what a great manager he is because they were facing a crisis. They knuckled down, kept a cool head and worked things out."

Well set for set-pieces

"Everyone likes to see fast-flowing football that results in a spectacular finish but the harsh reality is that the majority of games are won and lost at set-pieces and the way Arsenal were defending the corners and free kicks left a lot to be desired.

"They were all over the place when they were up at Blackburn but now they seem to have turned around that situation because they are now defending them like a group and they are making sure that every player does his bit and that everyone is assigned to picking up an opponent.

"It helps that Wojciech Szczesny seems comfortable at set-plays and he likes to command his box and it will do his confidence the power of good that his team-mates have got their act together and as a whole they will be feel better equipped to repel their opponents in dead-ball situations because they have gone back to basics."

A defensive shield

"That game at Old Trafford and the one at Blackburn really were a jolt to the system that would have had lesser clubs buckle but you have to look at the wingers and central midfielders to see that they have learned their lessons.

"The midfielders now have extra defensive duties and you will see Mikel Arteta and Aaron Ramsey sitting more deeply to give their back four a bit of a shield, while the wingers are under orders to make sure their opposite numbers do not cause too much trouble.

"From a defensive perspective, the midfielders are a lot better in terms of their positional play so they are making sure that no-one can take pot-shots from around the ‘D’, and the way the wingers graft will stop their opponents getting the chance to race forward and fire in those low crosses across the six-yard line that defenders detest."

It takes two

"When people talk about top-class Arsenal centre-halves they never talk about them in the singular because they can only perform when they are in harness, but that was not happening earlier this season and it really told.

"Back in my day as a coach under Bertie Mee, Bob McNab and Frank McLintock were the centre-halves as we won the double, and moving on a few years there was the likes of Tony Adams and Steve Bould or Tony Adams and Martin Keown and then there was Martin and Sol Campbell and then Sol and Kolo Toure.

"Their secret is that they always operated in tandem, but earlier this season the centre-halves were doing their own thing. That was down to the fact that Thomas Vermaelen was injured and Per Mertesacker was new and Laurent Koscielny looked lost.

"Things were bound to improve as everything settled down but they have worked on things on the training ground to accelerate things and make sure the centre-backs are on the same wavelength so that they work as a pair and are confident enough to call the shots when they are under pressure."

The Pat Rice factor

"When they were hammered up at Blackburn there was a clamour from people calling for one of the Arsenal old boys to come to the rescue as a defensive coach, but that over-looked the fact Arsene had Pat Rice as his right-hand man.

"Pat has been around the block more times than he would care to remember but he was the right-back in that Arsenal double-winning side of the 1970-71 season and he will have forgotten more about the art of defending than a lot of younger coaches.

"Arsene might have inherited a team of good defenders when he took over 15 years ago but remember, together Arsene and Pat put together the team that everyone came to call the ‘Invincibles’ when a solid defence was the cornerstone of their success.

"Pat knows his stuff and he will have been able to call upon his vast experience to help Arsene get through the toughest spell of his time at the Arsenal."


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