The Invincibles Mark 2? No; more likely The Untouchables.


by Don McMahon


There has been a great deal of speculation, hypothesizing and ruminating about Wenger’s intent in buying so many top class players in such a short time and many of these posts maintain that he wants to recreate the Invincibles of yesteryear.

However I am convinced that anyone thinking Wenger wants to recreate the Invincibles’ style, player setup or overall team is missing the point. Yes, they were a great team and very special for their time BUT that was before the oilers and mancs began to pollute the EPL with their get-rich and win at any cost philosophy.

IMHO, it is best to think of a more modern and EPL-appropriate approach that Wenger appears to be taking, while preserving some of the exciting and pacey Football he has created in the past. What that means in a concrete sense based on what I have seen so far and what is soon to come,  is as follows:

1) His youth and experience project is now in full swing. Far from being abandoned, he has modified it very successfully. Over the last few seasons he has bought a mix of young and experienced players, all of whom have excellent potential OR proven success  Players like Ospina, Sanchez, Chambers, Sanogo, Campbell, etc.

2) He is starting to emphasize a faster, more one-touch style of attack…which we saw some signs of in the Red Bulls game. There was one play where Wilshere and his mates almost recreated the goal of the season in 2013 with a give and go that rivalled it in intricacy and pace.

3) He is determined to build a cohesive back four and defensive midfield where many of his players can interchange or play in different defensive roles (Chambers can play 3-4 positions, Debuchy has played as a CB, Gibbs can play like a traditional winger, Kos is an attacking CB, etc.),

4) He is ready to switch formations during a game (as we saw last year) when the tactical advantage is evident. With the versatile players he now has, he can switch from a 4-3-2-1 to a 4-4-2 as needed and very smoothly indeed.

5) He is starting to find sufficient backup and substitute talent for every position. We now have 2 first class right backs,  the 3 best CB’s in the EPL, a panoply of midfielders that ANY Club would give their eyeteeth to call on, 5 first class attacking players who can rotate from striker to winger to so-called false 9’s in a heartbeat,

6) He is clearly not convinced that a traditional central striker is the only way to go but prefers Giroud, who can hold up the ball for his faster attacking midfielders and wingers to run onto. We saw what he did when Walcott, the Ox, Ramsey, Ozil and Podolski were available.

7) He firmly believes that intense competition for almost every spot is best for the players AND for the team in general. Almost every position has at least 2 top class players vying to be in the starting 11 and he could field another EPL team from the bench.

8) He is lining up youth players to replace the veterans who now occupy about 5 spots in the team (Arteta, Rosicky, Vermaelen, Flamini, and Monreal) and as always he is thinking 4-5 years ahead in his manpower planning. My guess is that he’ll send out Akpon, Zelalem, Gnabry, Jenkinson and Coquelin on short-term loans again, depending, of course on the 25 man rules and seasonal needs/injuries.

9) He knows full well that the EPL officials will do their best to continue to gleefully ignore felonious assaults on Arsenal players and to punish any AFC success with subsequent injustices or abuses, so he is planning on some serious injuries sidelining his best players each season. However this season he is being proactive by bringing in specialists to head off this threat.

10) Finally, he is well aware that his time at the Arsenal is slowly winding down and he is committed to leaving a solid and beautiful team legacy for his future replacement to copy. It definitely looks like he is going to experiment like he did when he first came to AFC and we shouldn’t be too surprised to see some fascinating lineups depending on which opponent the Arsenal face.

All in all Wenger and his assistants seem to have everything under control, which makes our upcoming season potentially the best since 2003. However, don’t expect to see a replay of the Invincibles, rather more expect a new version ….. like perhaps the Untouchables! This team has the pace and skill to become unstoppable.

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16 Replies to “The Invincibles Mark 2? No; more likely The Untouchables.”

  1. Interesting article. Our team is nowhere near the invincible’s though. We still have no holding midfielder and with TV5 all but leaving we still need a back up CB- not a make shift CB. We do have the right blend of youth (hunger) and experience.

    That being said, i am dead against bringing in a new team a la Spuds last season. I think Arsene has made astute signings and has exceeded all of our expectations. He has brought in enough players to strengthen our team without replacing too many players to disrupt us.

    Hopefully in Jan/Next season we can address the final needs in our team and slowly blend them in.

    Keeping a fit team and rotating is key to the way we play. A hard pressing team like ours is bound to get injuries if we dont give them adequate rests. His signings can all play in different positions minus Ospina :/ which gives us versatility.

    Invincible’s would be a dream, untouchables- unlikely. Premier league champions?? why the he11 not?

    We’ve got a great team and with a bit of luck we could have one of our best ever seasons. Cant wait to see the new signings up close on Sunday 🙂

  2. @shaz, Rome wasnt built in a day. And so the invincibles. It didnot happen in a summer. It took 2 seasons (or more we could say). And lets not forget the buildup season when Mr Wenger told it was possible.

    We do have players to repeat that feat. Detailing needed.

  3. @shaz, not forgetting that when Mr Wenger talked about going the season undefeated, he was mocked by practically every opponent in the League then! Whatever it is, the coming season promises to be a fantastic one! Hopefully by the end of May 2015, we are crowned the Champion of EPL!

  4. You mean we are building an unstoppable and an untouchable team instead of an invincible team? well, that’s not bad. COYG.

  5. While i think we have a good team now, i dont know if we’ll ever have the perfect balance that we had then. At that point we had 4 world class defenders- Lauren, Campbell, Cole, Toure.

    In midfield we had again 4 world class midfielder along with 2 world class strikers. The difference was in our subs- We could bring on Kanu, Reyes, Wiltord, Edu, Parlour.

    There was a reason we were undefeated- Our first XI was one of the best in the world front to back, along with having the perfect mix of youth and experience, defensive and offensive, Leaders and grinders.

    As much as i love this team, i dont think we can truly compare them. Dont get me wrong, i do think we’re on the right track but i doubt a single player bar Ozil or Ramsey would get into our Invincible’s.

  6. OK not Invincibles II, they will deserve their own name, i tell you this team is an Arsenal team now and will do great things as past ones did..

    Rumours that AW is looking at Carvalho who has now become available.

    Still think that we are going to get one or even two more players, if the right ones become available.

  7. People forget how few injuries we had that season. The stars must align for that to be repeated. Given how much thuggery is tolerated against AFC, it would be unlikely were we to escape at least a few contact injuries.

  8. I may sound like the voice of doom and will get called an embarrassment again by buttf**k but the squad is unbalanced,the middle is still soft and a very good 19yr old prospect is too young to start the season next to Kos.We are like Real in the mid noughties buying wonderful flare players but not dealing with the real problems. I have no optimism whatsoever about facing Shitty/Chavs/Manure. How difficult is it to seal the deal for a Defender Jong/Carvalho Christ getting so desperate for him to buy someone that stops us being bullied that I’d take Tiote. Obi Mikel must be surplus to requirements at the chavs. He has no flare but knows what to do to stop the other team. He is actually remarkably good at it.We haven’t won the league without one so why won’t he buy one. Even his wet dream team Barcawhores have one in Busquets, Ffs so why won’t he buy one.

  9. @Tony, can you look back into the buildup to the invincible season and wrote an article in how the media and the fans talked about the prospects and what they thought about players we had.

    Just curious cause, every ARSENAL team since then has been measured with the yardstick called the invincibles.

  10. Pelail,

    I don’t believe the purchases, loans and outright sales by Arsenal are done. 2 or 3 more players still come in and 3 to 4 current players may still be sold or loaned out.

    The point, for me, is that Wenger has radically upgraded his team setup strategy to match the new realities of, not only ManCity, ManU and Chelsea but also of a rich EPL that now hands £50million+ to all 20teams in the league (more money than the best funded teams spend on setting up their teams annually a 6-8 years ago).
    In addition to this, the EPL may have become the league where the best coaches in the world ply their trade such that apart from the top 4, any team that looks down on Everton, Stoke, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Tottenham or Newcastle does so at great risk to its ambitions. There are simply fewer pushovers in the EPL these days, more so 2014/15 may prove to be.

    Against these, on Arsenal’s side, we are seeing the preliminary stages of a new future that Wenger had a long time to think about and plan towards: improving our medicals with new, cutting edge facilities and personnel, planning for a larger squad, letting youth players go earlier, recruiting more proven 18-20year olds in their place and loaning out more players for the final phase of their development and qualification for the first team squad. Surely too, the Arsenal match day play book must have been radically revised. I am, indeed, looking forward to the commencement of the new season

  11. Let us NOT forget that the EPL was a very different place when the Invincibles were kings. There were no oiler or boytoy clubs and the major opponents were United….that’s all. The Arsenal were so far ahead most of their EPL opponents that they were in another universe. However they didn’t do well in Europe despite having a very strong team.

    Shaz: You are right, it is all about balance ANd team chemistry. We had the team to win it all last season BUT for injuries and some players dropping in form. This season we seem to have enough quality backup to make a much more successful run. We are quite similar to that 2003 team but it will require everyone to have a stellar season if we are to succeed like they did.

    Pelail: I get your point but honestly, that old argument about steel in the DM position and so on and the need for an enforcer is dated and actually inaccurate. Flamini gave as good as he got last season and yet we couldn’t defeat the referees, who permitted everyone to take a swipe at our players with impunity. It wasn’t a lack of ¨someone that stops us being bullied¨ that made the difference, it was losing 7 first team players to injury because the refs weren’t applying the rules and protecting the players properly, among other rerasons.

  12. I still think the team don’t need an enforcer in midfield. The ‘Invincibles’ were more direct and powerful because of the rich intelligence and creativity of Bergkamp. It’s never gonna be replacing them but creating similar balance that they had. People always forget that the team is still very young and can improve more. Every player will improve each year and really looking forward for such improvements this coming season. Oh la la!

  13. So during all these years of total failure in medical know how, building more squad depth and having successful youth program he has actually been planning a master plan? That must be a hell of a plan as it has been taken almost a decade to be ready to execute.Let’s not get carried away even if we’ve had SLIGHTLY better transfer window this far.

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