Monday, 2 July 2012



Amid claims that Spain’s success is based on a passing game reliant on ball retention rather than actually trying to score, Arsene Wenger believes that Spain’s approach, while acknowledging the quality of the players, is a negative one.

I will qualify this by taking the direct quotes as written and assume there has been no jiggery-pokery in their publication/translation.

"These guys are more than outstanding footballers; they are really intelligent and they are winners," Wenger wrote on Eurosport "I want to give them credit for that.

"However, they have betrayed their philosophy and turned it into something more negative.

"Originally they wanted possession in order to attack and win the game; now it seems to be first and foremost a way not to lose.

"They have become more conservative, and they don't want to give the ball up because they don't want to give you a chance to score.

"That's the impression you get from Euro 2012.

"Yes, it can be hard to break down defensive opponents, but this is a challenge that confronts every successful team.

"They are still absolutely outstanding, but they have less penetration than before."

Now, I find these views alarming as it appears to show that Wenger’s viewpoint on penetration is at odds with a defensive obligation. Given that Wenger has spent the last six years trying to create exactly the style of play the Spanish have executed so effectively is he now saying that he is still going to stick to a doctrine that places defence on a lower footing? When he says Spain have less penetration than before is he wilfully ignoring the fact that Spain have just won the Euro’s by beating Italy 4-0?

Does he imply that you should not ‘betray’ your philosophy even if it means victory? I fear that he does.

The myth of players leaving Arsenal and not doing well was well and truly debunked (I think it has been for years) by Fabregas' success and it has been well deserved by a young man who, despite any controversy,can play the game in the right way and win stuff.

The Premier league and its merits have been put into sharp focus, as has the quality of English players. Some clubs have benefitted; Chelsea now appear to have a confident striker ready for the new season in Torres. Maybe Man City now have a Balotelli who is as good as he thinks he is. Liverpool have also seen Carroll and Gerrard show some qualities. Manchester United’s Cleverly did okay for England also.

For Arsenal I guess the high point was Walcott’s goal and assist.

When looking at how far England are away from Spain, Italy and Germany three names spring to mind for the future of England; Wilshire. Oxlade-Chamberlaine & Walcott. I wonder if their progress will be best served under Wenger who it appears will not betray his philosophy; a philosophy that has left the trophy cabinet bare for over half a decade.

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