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What is Wenger saying to us through his team selections?

What is Wenger saying to us?

By Tim Charlesworth

It is always wise to take the words of football managers with a pinch of salt.  When they talk to the press, they know that players and opponents are listening to what they say.  Passing on accurate information may not be their top priority.

I always feel its worth listening to what Arsene says.  He is not particularly Machiavellian, there is usually some truth in what he says, and you can often find some deep wisdom.  However, like lots of managers in the modern squad game, he is reluctant to opine on his ‘first choice’ players.  For this reason, if I want to know what he really thinks of his players (and I value his opinion very highly), it pays to look at his team selections.

Although he doesn’t like to discuss the subject, it is absolutely clear that Wenger does have first choice players.  Ozil is a blatant example of this.  Ozil does not play every game, but the games for which he is dropped are always lesser games where Wenger feels he can win with a weaker team.

The same is true of Koscielny and Sanchez.  These are obviously our strongest players, and you could probably add Bellerin, Monreal, Cech, Cazorla and Coquelin to the list of players who will always play in a big game if available.  However, Wenger is never explicit about this, so if we want to work out Wenger’s ‘first choice’ team, we have to do it by deduction.  His words may deceive you, but his team selections speak a clear truth.  When he chooses a team he is not trying to influence anyone, he is trying to win a match (or maximise season performance in the case of rotation)

In the matches leading up to the interlull, it was particularly difficult to interpret what Wenger was telling us through his selections.  We had a series of four matches in eleven days in three different competitions, and Wenger’s priorities were not clear.  With the benefit now of hindsight, following the Watford game (the PL one), I am reasonably sure I understand what Wenger was doing.  So here it is:

Hull away (FA Cup 6th round replay), 4-0 victory, 8th March

This was basically a rotation team.  Wenger saw this as an easy game in the midst of a tough run of fixtures (the result suggests that he was right).  In the centre of defence were Mertesacker and Gabriel, with Gibbs getting another game after his surprise selection in the NLD.  Was Wenger trying him out, or resting a niggle for Monreal (who was on the bench for both matches, so not badly injured)?  Subsequent events have suggested that Monreal was just getting a rest.

It is also interesting that Bellerin was not rotated for this match.  Is this because Wenger doesn’t trust Chambers at right back, or because he feels Bellerin can physically withstand a heavy match schedule?  If the latter, this is a bit worrying as Bellerin has just turned 21, and we have seen players apparently harmed by playing too much at this age.  Bellerin’s extreme pace makes me wonder if he is particularly vulnerable in this respect (see Michael Owen).

In midfield, Coquelin was suspended, but may have been rotated in favour of Flamini anyway.  Elneny played.  It was already looking like Elneny had replaced Ramsey in the middle at this point, and subsequent events have confirmed this suspicion.

Rotation was particularly evident up front.  The two wide players, Ramsey and Sanchez rotated to the bench, giving Walcott and Campbell a game.  Welbeck, recently returned from injury, was rested altogether, giving Giroud a chance.  Ozil was also rotated to the bench, giving Iwobi a chance at no 10.  Welbeck is the interesting one here, as it seems he had now become the first choice at centre forward.  Giroud’s run out against Hull was a case of rotation.  It was obvious that both Giroud, and particularly Walcott, were falling short of the mark at centre forward, but not obvious that Welbeck had moved ahead of them.

Of course, we don’t see what happens in training.  Hindsight seems to suggest that Welbeck had become first choice at centre forward as far back as the Tottenham match on 5th March (or even the Man U game on 28th Feb).  It was not at all obvious at the time that merit, rather than rotation, was behind his selection.  Welbeck’s promotion is particularly surprising because he seemed to have fallen behind both Giroud and Walcott prior to his injury last season.

Indeed, Welbeck’s priority may not have been 100% clear to Wenger when he selected him for the Man U game.  He may have felt that Welbeck was his best option, but this could have perhaps changed if Welbeck had performed badly in the Man U or Tottenham games.  After all, the Man U game was his first PL start for 10 months.  Nonetheless, Wenger’s selection pattern shows us that by the time of the Hull game, Welbeck had clearly become first choice.

Watford home (FA Cup quarter-final), 2-1 defeat, 13th March

For this game, Chambers and Gibbs played at full back.  This was clearly rotation, although it looked at the time, like Gibbs might be making a play to regain his previous priority at left back.  The centre backs were Gabriel and Mertesacker again, the two senior available centre halves.  Wenger doesn’t usually believe in rotating his centre backs very much, and he knew he had Koscielny to return in the near future.  Coquelin and Elneny looked like first choice midfielders with Ozil at 10.  Sanchez and Campbell played wide with Giroud up front.  With the possible exception of Chambers at right back, this looked like a first choice team.

Hindsight suggests that four players: Chambers, Campbell, Gibbs and Giroud were all in the team due to rotation, with the Barcelona game (4 days later) in mind.  Koscielny was injured, but given that he was available to play a tough game four days later in Barcelona, we must wonder if he could have played this match.

Barcelona away (CL, R16, 2nd Leg), 3-1 defeat (lost 5-1 on aggregate), 16th March

For this game, Monreal and Bellerin came back to full back, Koscielny replaced Mertesacker and Gabriel kept his place.  This looks like the first choice back four that has played all season, with doubt around only the Mertesacker/Gabriel selection.  In midfield, Coquelin dropped to the bench in favour of Flamini with Elneny.

This was clearly rotation, with Coquelin only recently returned (early) from a long injury.  Ozil played 10 and Iwobi and Welbeck joined Sanchez in the ‘front three’.  The Iwobi and Welbeck selections looked like rotations at the time, but in hindsight look like first choice picks.  This is interesting.  Clearly some rotation took place in both the Watford and Barcelona games, but it looks like the Watford game took the brunt of it, not the Barcelona game

Everton away (PL, game 30), 2-0 victory, 19th March

For the Everton game, the same team that played in Barcelona came out again, with the exception that Coquelin started instead of Flamini.  This was starting to look like a first choice team.  The team played well in Barcelona, albeit in a hopeless situation.  The same team played well again against Everton and achieved a very creditable 2-0 win.

Watford (PL, game 31), 4-0 victory, 2nd April

Now Wenger’s choices were beginning to become clearer.  With no game for another seven days, there was no need to rotate this time.   Wenger picked exactly the same team that beat Everton.  This suggests that the teams that played at Everton and Barcelona (Flamini excepted) were first choice teams.  As we enter a period of seven games in six weeks, there will be very little need to rotate, and we can look forward to seeing first choice teams for the rest of the season

So what does it all mean?

If this analysis is correct, it raises some interesting questions about the Watford cup tie.  This game cost us our best remaining chance of silverware.  Four rotated players is nearly half the outfield team.  Did Wenger gamble here and make an error?  He looked very upset after the match.

If he did gamble, was if for the benefit of the Barcelona game?  It can’t have been for the benefit of the Everton game because he played the same players who played in Barcelona again at Everton.  If he was gambling in order to improve performance in the Nou Camp, did he really think he could win?  Was he worried about the effect on morale (and negative fans) of a thrashing in the Nou Camp if he prioritised the Watford game and rotated players in Spain?  Was he worried about damaging the prestige of the club if they were thrashed in Barcelona?  In the end, they put up a reasonable show, but did they sacrifice the Watford cup tie in order to do so, and if so, was it worth it?

The changes to the team pose a few more interesting questions.  :

  1. Can Welbeck maintain his selection as first choice centre forward for the rest of the season?  Both Walcott and Giroud have occupied this position at various times in the season, but neither have been able to sustain performance.  What implications does this have for the question of whether or not we need to buy a new centre forward in the summer?
  2. Can Elneny cement his place in midfield?  He seems to be preferred to Ramsey in this position.  What happens when Wilshere (don’t giggle) and Cazorla return?  Can he hold them off?
  3. Is Iwobi going to keep his place?  At the moment it seems to work with him on the left and Sanchez on the right.  Will this change when Ramsey returns?  Ramsey surely can’t play on the left, and Iwobi looks undroppable on form.  Sanchez looks like he is finally getting back to form playing on the right and surely he can’t be dropped?
  4. Is the repositioning of Sanchez, to the right, permanent or just an experiment to accommodate Iwobi?  Sanchez looks rejuvenated by the change.
  5. Will Gabriel continue to be selected ahead of Mertesacker?  Gabriel looked like he might be ahead of Mertesacker earlier in the season, but then Mertesacker looked to return to first choice after Gabriel’s dismissal against Chelsea.  Gabriel seems to have been preferred since Mertesacker’s dismissal against Chelsea, but has looked unconvincing at times.  He might be the long-term answer in this position, but he still needs to prove the point.
  6. Will Cech get his place back?  I presume he will, but Ospina has done well, and Cech was on the bench for the Watford game, so clearly fit.  I presume that Cech was ‘fit enough for the bench’, but we can’t be sure about this.  Wenger sometimes likes to leave a successful team unchanged, and with only seven games in six weeks for the rest of the season, there is no need to rotate.

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27 comments to What is Wenger saying to us through his team selections?

  • a

    interesting article

    i think wit el neny and coquelin, they will be arsenal’s preferred midfield pairing until wilshere makes a come back

    when we had edu, viera and silva, wenger played two of those three allowing the midfield to protect the back four and to win the ball back to start attacks. With neny and coquelin this provides arsenal to do so. we look solid

    as for ramsey – at the start of the season i was wanting him to start alongside coquelin, but when he got his run of games he lacked defensive disicipline and gave the ball away cheaply.

    did he mean he wanted ozil’s role when he said he wanted a central role?

    as much as i rate ramsey does he offer the same stability as coqelin and el neny ? no so its rather interesting to see what happens here.

    as for these rumours of xakha coming to arsenal – cant see it happening with beilik coming through

  • Goonermikey

    A very interesting analysis which also made enjoyable reading.

    The only question I would ask is whether you have considered the possibility that AW doesn’t have a favoured first eleven but actually changes the team to match the opposition? Perhaps he prefers Giroud’s aerial power against less able headers of the ball; or another players pace against less mobile defenders; likewise might he drop Mertesacker against speedier attackers but bring him in if playing a team that pumps up a lot of high balls.

    I don’t suggest that I have an answer to my own question but I certainly think it’s a possibility which also has the bonus of giving certain players a bit of a rest too. I’d be interested to hear the views of Tim and others

  • Tim Charlesworth


    I think there must be some truth to this idea, but I think not much. Very occasionally Wenger looks like he might be doing this. For example, earlier in this season, it looked like there was a period that he might be choosing between Walcott and Giroud at centre forward, depending upon the opposition. Similarly there was a period when it looked a bit like he was choosing between Mertesacker and Gabriel, depending on opposition. These two choices seem like obvious candidates as they both represent contrasting players: height v speed, strength v agility, more experience v less. However, both cases look like, in hindsight, he was really just trying both out to see which he preferred, as he then settled into a pattern of picking one or the other for the bigger games (in these cases Mertesacker and Walcott seemed to win out – amazing now to think that it was only earlier this season that Walcott was briefly our first choice centre forward!). Some managers definitely do pick ‘horses for courses’, but Wenger has never really showed much evidence of doing this. He is the kind of manager who likes to focus on his own team rather than the opposition, and indeed has been criticised for doing this.

  • colario

    Some interesting points. Supporters like myself who have no contact with the club are usually the last to know what is actually happening in the club.

    All we have to go on is the public personae of the manager.

    To give a simplistic example of this.
    The late Bill Shankly was famous for his ‘public funnies’. Conclusion Bill Shankly was a funny man with a great sense of humour.

    This may have been true but only those who worked with him and his family would know for certain.

    However Arsene has been at the club a long time and arrived with his mode of conduct already in place.

    We know he puts the welfare of the player first. We know he is loyal. We know he is responsible for the training and preparation for games.

    We know that ex players speak highly of him. (With the exception of a view that have opted to become pundits for the English media and toe the media line – ‘Wenger doesn’t know what he is doing’.)

    The question you raise about Bellerin is a good one. What we can be certain is, that Arsene will do what he thinks best for him.

    We have two first class goal keepers in the squad. However shirt no. 1 is
    Wojciech Szczesny on loan to Roma at the moment. It will be interesting to see how the 3 first team goal keepers problem will be resolved.

    Personally I would hate to see Wojciech Szczesny leave the club but as you have said the present two are first class.

    Then there are the other 1st team squad loanees.

    This week has seen the start of summer where I live but in the world of English football it doesn’t begin until the final minute of the 38th game has been played. Not waiting for that moment, the professors of punditry are instructing the ‘Prof’ who to buy, where to pay him and the price to pay for him. As they know!

    We are already in for a long boring summer because their punditry.

    Lets hope that the pain is lessened by rottenham taking their rightful place below us in the league before game 38.

    Rottenham below us is the one regularity of football that is never boring never. 🙂

  • colario

    Correction ‘As if they know’.

  • insideright

    @Goonermickey – there must be an element of truth in what you suggest but only if such changes fit in with current injuries (not all of which we know about) and long term phasing out/phasing in of players.
    Re the two games against Watford perhaps the most interesting stats are that we achieved the same levels of possession and shots in both games but with very different end results. No wonder AW looked angry after the first of the games. It’s also true to say that Elneny broke all sorts of passing and running records in the PL game and seems to be improving (from a high baseline) with every game. A better result in the second game by comparison to the first was not so much of a surprise on that basis.
    Lastly, AW has introduced seven ‘new’ regulars to the team in the last 15 months (some sort of a record in itself?) and not one of them looks anything other than a damn fine player. Not a duffer amongst them! On this evidence he’s becoming a better and better manager – also from a very high baseline!

  • Goonermikey

    Thanks Tim & Insideright for your comments.

    This is definitely an aside but Tim mentioned issues for which AW is criticised one of which is the fact that we are not ahead of Leicester in the league. And insideright also mention stats of which I’m very fond :-). Hence I started thinking…..always a bad thing!

    Anyway, I was pondering the extreme good luck (aside from refereeing) that Leicester have had with five 1-0 wins in the last six games and wondering how that compared to some of Arsenal’s performances. I know this is totally arbitrary but I chose to compare the stats from the five 1-0 wins and our seven defeats. Just a bit of fun……..

    In the LCFC wins they have averaged 11.2 shots per game with 3.6 on target (and they didn’t even manage to hit the woodwork once). AFC on the other hand averaged 12.7 shots with 3.7 on target in their seven defeats and managed to hit the woodwork three times too.

    Now before all the dissenters start clicking the ‘dislike’ button, I’m not saying this proves anything……although it could of course!!! Like I said, just a bit of fun……

  • Tim Charlesworth

    Nice aside Goonermikey. If you ever read Daniel Finkelstein in the Times, he has a very interesting take on football. He reckons that goals are too much of a random statistic to judge team performances on (at least in the short-term). They are too much dependent on luck, and rare events like woodwork strikes, to be reliable. He thinks that you should measure teams on shots taken and shots conceded if you want to see how they are performing. Your stats would suggest that some of the hysteria about how badly we played in our poor run was indeed hysterical. Of course, to be true to the Finkelstein spirit, you should do the same analysis on shots conceded………

  • Philbet

    Interesting article Tim (as usual) but the main message is rather hidden amongst the words, I like you, study what AW says closely and have a fair idea of his thought process and whilst he does rotate and also changes to suit the opposition his strongest hint is in his loyalty,players are rarely dropped/rotated from a winning side,I’m sure he sends them out and says play well and win, then you stay in the team,forced changes are different but a winning fit side will keep taking the field regularly.
    Oh and if you get sent off don’t expect to return immediately he seems to always make them pay a game or two penalty.

  • Rich

    Ospina/Cech is going to be interesting. Think Wenger will find it very difficult to drop Ospina with team and keeper performing well.

    Quite possibly what happens will determine whether or not Ospina seeks a move this summer. To be honest,though, I don’t think Cech will be happy to miss any games if he is now fully fit.

    Could be a similar scenario with others- Mert, Gibbs, Walcott, even Campbell and Ramsey.

    If the team keeps playing as it is, then it’s pretty hard to justify any changes to it.

  • Rich

    Insidersight, Goonermikey

    I’ve always felt there’s something deceptive about shooting stats. The key detail for me is how good a chance is; meaning, I guess, difficulty level/ likelihood of scoring.

    Relatedly, I think a chance on a breakaway is, on average, a much better chance and one you are much more likely to score from than one which takes place against a deep organised defence.

    It’s hard to represent that statistically, as you would need someone (literally the same person, perhaps) to judge each shot and whether it was a good opportunity; or to label chances on counter, other chances,etc.

    Typically, we are very unlikely to score on the counter unless we are already leading a game, at least not on a true counter where the opposition have committed substantial numbers to attack and left the defence short of numbers.

    I’d expect many of our losses to conform to a near identical pattern.

    We go behind, often on a counter attack ( often when we should have been awarded a foul in our favour), and then have to try find a way through a team totally committed to defending ( plus the occasional break with low numbers). We’ll rack up plenty of shots like that, but few of them will be clear cut thanks to the amount of defenders between us and the goal.

    Leicester benefited so much through much of the season from the fact no opposition parked the bus against them. It meant they could get counters and the better chances that tends to mean with the game still level. They exploited that brilliantly, it has to be said.

    This run of 1-0’s is surely a bit different,though.

    Can only remember three of them- a great strike from the edge of the box by Mahrez, the acrobatic overhead kick from Okazaki ( which shouldn’t have stood), and Morgan’s excellent header ( which was slightly more of a foul than Giroud’s disallowed goal at Everton but which I wouldn’t have penalised myself).

    I attribute that to both skill and a kind of luck when creating so few good chances but finishing them so well. All the while, they undoubtedly know by now they are free to use their hands however they want blocking shots and crosses and can push their ‘luck’ in other ways,too.

  • Rich

    Expect many of you will read it in due course, but here’s a link to some interesting talk about Clattenburg, Riley et al and the decision to overturn Kouyate’s red.

  • Menace

    Very interesting analysis of how Wenger appears to select his team from his squad. The addition of shots on goal (on & off target & woodwork) for both attack & defence will bare more evidence to make a credible deduction.

    The basics you use Tim are only an initial step toward a diagnosis of Wenger’s complex decision making. Wenger has always been a very deep thinker & balances several areas in his team selection. He has to consider fitness, capability, morale, cohesion, compatibility etc. of each player for each game. He has an imagination that he constantly updates with his learning process & as an individual rarely makes a calamitous mistake.

    If Arsenal lose it is not because of lack of effort by the whole club including the supporters.

    However, the super intelligent talented Fantasy Football people that Brickfields Gunners has so beautifully parodied do not help Arsenal toward victory in anything.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Tim 4.03

    I shall give it go and post in the next day or so

    @ Rich

    I totally agree about the quality of chance but if one takes this to the extreme it all has to be looked at in the context of the quality of the goalkeepers performance too. I do however think that shots, shots on target both for and against are a pretty reasonable yardstick over a number of games. The more the better.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    An interesting article , Tim . Well thought out and presented. As we are not privy to most things at Arsenal , most of us just hope for the best and support the the manager and the team to do their best .
    That the playing field is not level for us is a given. Against all odds we still get behind them and await for that chink in the armour that will gain us victory .
    Up the Gunners !

  • There is no doubt that changes will be made for next season. Some have forced themselves into the mix with their consistently good performances. It remains to be seen whether we will cash in on the likes of Jack, Ramsey and Wally who have been either poor or injured. Whatever the merits of Danny and I am a fan of his energy and work-rate, the reality is you cant seriously aspire to win anything unless you have a really top striker. If we had a Vardy or a Kane in the ranks we would have walked away with the PL this season. Having said that they are either hard to find or massively expensive.

  • Jambug


    Rather than having anything to do with there attacking prowess I think Leicester’s success is more to do with there amazing run of clean sheets, and I think I’ve got to the bottom of what’s behind that.


    The PGMOL cheating snide referees are allowing them to play with a ‘Rush Goalie’ !

    Now anyone of a certain age, and I am definitely one, will remember ‘Rush Goalie’ from there school days. Jumpers for goalposts and all that.

    RUSH GOALIE (or last man back) is thus defined by Wiki pedia:

    “A variation to Rush goalie is known as Last Man Back, or ‘spider goalie’. In Last Man Back no player is chosen as the goalkeeper for a team, and all players participate in outfield play………..However, when the other team is on the attack, the closest player to the net or the Last Man Back is allowed to handle the ball, taking on the role of goalkeeper.”

    Now going by what I’ve witnessed these last few weeks that’s your answer right there.

    Leicester City could be the first team in history to win the title playing with a ‘Rush Goalie’.

    If only we where all allowed to do it.

  • Josif

    Excellent article, Tim.

    Remember our run-in 2012-13? I think that was our most important run of games in the decade. We won eight, draw two, lost none to pip Spuds for CL place.

    The position of Gervinho was interesting. He had made a breakthrough to the team and made a huge contribution during run-in. His goal against Swansea sealed our victory, his cross for Rosicky gave us the lead against WBA away and there was a MoTM performance against Reading at home.

    However, Gervinho had a terrible game against Norwich at home. In fact, he opened a counter-attack after which Norwich took the lead. He was substituted, we won 3:1 and that was the end for Gervinho.

    I have a feeling either or even both Walcott and Giroud could be on the exit door next summer. Giroud is going to be 30 but adds a physical dimension that none of our players can match. Plus, he is reliable in terms of injuries. Walcott is just 27 and a HG-player.

    Giroud seems to have a special connection with Ozil, especially at set-pieces. On the other hand, Alexis doesn’t score in the league this season when Giroud starts – Alexis has scored eight league goals in matches in which either Theo or Danny lead our attack.

    Elneny’s emergence could spell the end for Ramsey though. The Egyptian is a better passer than Rambo and has a better shooting technique.

  • Rich

    You quoted me the other day as an example of the current negativity surrounding Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, adding that you couldn’t understand how people can be so upset about the club’s history.
    When I started supporting Arsenal, Bertie Mee was manager, and I used to get a weekly football comic called ‘Score’? which featured strips like ‘Billy’s Boots’, ‘Lags Eleven’ a story-line concerning two brothers – ‘Jack of United, Jimmy of City’, etc.
    More importantly, and more relevant to Arsenal, at the end of the comic they used to have a historical-based feature on memorable events, accompanied by very good drawings.
    It was through this that I learned of Herbert Chapman’s Arsenal dominating the 1930’s.
    As a young boy, I was hungry for knowledge, and took it upon myself to learn about Arsenal, our rivals, and anyone who had acquired legendary staus or had a substantial impact in the game. Too many to list here, but you get the gist.
    First impressions count, so after gorging myself with football, and in particular, my bias for Arsenal, so to me Arsenal were the institution built by Chapman. I had never heard of Henry Norris at this point, or any other owner/Board member, these were the days of Busby, Best, Don Revie, Shankly etc. And all around me, peers, other school-kids supported either United, Liverpool and even Leeds. But at this time, Chapman’s Arsenal was still a big deal, and it gave me a great sense of pride that I supported The Arsenal.
    I guess that filled me with the attitude that Arsenal were the best, and as far as I was concerned should do everything possible to maintain that status.
    From my starting point, we won the Fairs Cup and quickly followed that up the following season by winning a historic ‘double’. Sadly, Bertie was no Chapman, he dismantled the ‘double-winning side far too quickly, and he showed developed an annoying trait of selling big players to rivals – Ray Kennedy to Liverpool, and North Bank idol Charlie George to Derby. He had also sold George Graham to United. So after quite a rapid decline and a couple of near relegation battles, Old Etonian Bertie was moved on and…the exciting revolution passed us by. One FA Cup in the middle of three losing finals (2 FA Cup and CWC – wow 1980 was depressing!), and nowhere near the League title.
    History is important for context and perception. History determines identity and character, but it can often mislead, as has often been the case with Arsenal.
    One manager who did respect history was Alex Ferguson, and his was the battle-cry that should apply to any football club who harbour ambitions of success. What were his ambitions for Manchester United when he took over in November, 1986? ‘To knock Liverpool off their f****** perch…’ It didn’t matter to him the time-frame in which Liverpool had won their 18 titles, when United won the PL title in 2011, a big number 19 went up at Old Trafford to show Liverpool and every other club watching that they were the best. They were beating their chests and welcoming the challenge to their supremacy. A clear message: ‘Look what we’ve done, come try and take our record from us.’
    For 26 years Manchester United languished, desperate to win the title, and as soon as they won the first, twelve more followed.
    Have you ever seen that desperation at Arsenal? Have you ever heard a battle-cry of Fergie proportions from Arsenal, or any Arsenal manager? A direct assault of defiance aimed at Chelsea?
    Is it because we’re entrenched in the Establishment and far too conservative that we don’t display these attitudes?
    Under Ferguson, Manchester United became one of the most feared clubs in the world, just as Arsenal were under Chapman. But it’s been a long, long time, too long since we were in that company.
    Arsenal are a massive football club and a major world player, they always have been.
    Arsene Wenger may be respected in Europe for his principles, but he and his Arsenal aren’t feared. We have become one of the clubs that every Group winner wants to face in the CL Round of 16.
    If the powers that be ever decide to create a European ‘Super-League’, if it were based solely on football achievements, we wouldn’t qualify.
    History is crucial in discovering the identity of your club.

  • PS Apologies for the typo’s, it was a little rushed.

  • Josif

    @Herb’s Army

    Wasn’t there that “shift of power”-statement by Arsene in 2002?

  • Josif

    Indeed there was, after Sylvain Wiltord scored the only goal at OT to win the title.
    Happy days!
    But it wasn’t really a ‘shift of power’, was it? A shift of power would mean Arsenal and Wenger completely usurping United, and finishing Ferguson off.
    In the end, Ferguson’s United owned Wenger’s Arsenal.

  • Jambug

    Herb’s Army

    “In the end, Ferguson’s United owned Wenger’s Arsenal”.

    But why was that?

    Until the oil money arrived the head to head between Fergie and Wenger was pretty close, even though Fergie had much much more cash to play with than Wenger.

    That’s why we committed to building the Em’s in the first place. To try and get on to some sort of financial parity with them.

    Then Abramovic arrived and Chelsea started spending an average £50 Million net per season, and then 5 years later City started doing the same, and some.

    At the same time, having committed to building the Em’s, Wenger’s hands where severely tied.

    This in turn left us open to asset stripping, as well as making us less attractive to join.

    But I posted all this in detail the other day and you just brush it off as completely irrelevant, and then come out with totally ridiculous sound bites like ‘Fergie owned Wenger’. By the way, Are you sure your not spotty teenager because that’s the sort of phrase the guys that worked for me used to come out with?

    Totally out of order, and completely ignoring the reality of the situation.

    If Wenger had 10 times the budget of Chelsea and City, and 3 to 5 times that of Fergie I’m sure he would of done to them what they did to him, wouldn’t you?

    Thinking about it I suppose you wouldn’t, as your hatred of Wenger seems to be so entrenched as to of completely detached you from reality.

  • Jambug

    I don’t hate Wenger, I just think for the salary he’s rewarded, Arsenal could and should do a lot better.
    You and I will never know how much disposable resource Arsenal have or haven’t had, and as I said the other day, Abramovich arrived at Chelsea a full two years before Arsenal moved stadium.
    I’m not brushing what you said off as irrelevant, but you’re excusing an awful lot of very basic mistakes that are repeated over and over again – which has nothing to do with money – as well as some very poor purchases.
    Arsenal have two billionaires as major shareholders, one who owns 30% who through our inverted snobbery isn’t allowed on the BoD.
    Again, the difference between those other clubs is that they have owners who want success – and please take note, because you don’t want to acknowledge this – which means they put their hands in their pockets to give their managers the best chance of achieving this. You talk as if that isn’t an option for Arsenal. Kroenke could easily compete with City, United, Chelsea, Bayern, Barcelona etc, he CHOOSES not to. There is a complete disconnect between the fans ambitions and Kroenke’s, and part of the reason Wenger is criticised is because he is seen as being complicit, taking a huge salary for a club treading water.
    A club earns far more revenue through real success than annually ‘winning’ the ‘fourth-place’ trophy.
    No other major club/owner in the world behave like Arsenal and operate with such measured caution, it just isn’t natural in a competitive sporting environment. Have you ever heard fans from any other club constantly excusing their club for years of failing? We act like a club who aren’t even that bothered about winning the PL, but if it were to happen accidently we’ll take it. 2014 was a perfect example of this. Only at Arsenal.
    Unless there is a radical overhaul of the whole strategic philosophy at Arsenal, the club are finished as a genuine force.

  • John

    Well done herb again for 2 good posts.Doubt many on here will know what you are talking about or seen any of the older years of the club .The only way most watch the games, praise our manager, and rubbish our referees is from afar on the internet .

  • Polo

    @ Herb, my understanding is that Arsenal is owned by Arsenal Holdings Plc with Kroenke its major shareholder while Chelsea is 100% owned by Roman, so it’s a big difference. Name a major shareholder that put his/her own money into a company for free? The only time they put their money is usually to buy more shares when available. Since Roman owns Chelsea outright, it’s in his interest to make sure Chelsea does well especially after putting in over £1 Billion. Would Roman invest over £1 Billion in Chelsea if he’s not the outright owner? I highly doubt it.

  • John

    We all know Kronke is the boss and can do whatever he wants .Its his company after all.For him to take money out of the club though is scandalous and it shows what sort of owner we have.for some to defend him on here i think is mind boggling..And Usmanov has invested 300m in arsenal and isnt the outright owner.He cant even get a seat on the board.