By Walter Broeckx
One of the people who commented for the first time (I think) said: “The question is why did it take Wenger 29 games to change tactics?” Conte changed the system after they had been beaten by us at the Emirates early in the season. Now I have seen these kind of words before the recent weeks. As it shows what a lunatic Wenger is and how great Conte is. So I thought let us have a reality check.
Now when we look at the start of the season Chelsea had a good start winning the first 3 matches. Then they had (their only) a bad spell in the season with a draw against Swansea and losing to Liverpool and Arsenal. And then after 7 matches Conte changed the system.
If we look at Arsenal we see that after a bad opening match we went on a good run. And after 15 matches we had 1 (one) defeat only. We had 4 draws and won 10 matches. That gave us 34 points. And if I’m not mistake we were close to the top.
We then lost the next two tough away matches. Much referee controversy surrounded those defeats against Man City and Everton. Offside goals, not given red cards for a last man foul from Jagielka, a wrong corner leading to the winning goal….
But after those 2 defeats we had another good run of 4 wins and 1 draw.
And then we had the low part of the season with 8 matches of which we lost 5 and won 2 and had 1 draw. And after that bad run of 8 matches the system was changed. But at that moment we had been playing 22 matches up to that bad patch. Now I think even the most anti-Wenger fan can agree that you don’t change a system because you lose two matches.
In fact Wenger changed the system after a bad run of some 8 matches. But between some defeats we still won matches. 2-0 against Hull and 3-0 against West Ham United. Yes it probably was the worst run under Wenger. But before that we were doing rather well.
After 14 matches we were second. After 19 matches we were still in third place. In front of Tottenham in fact. So no real reason to change the whole format at that time. After 24 matches we had slipped to fourth, only 3 points behind second placed Tottenham. So we didn’t really feel the need to change the whole system around.
But after 30 matches we had slipped to sixth place. And then Wenger changed the system.
Now I would like to remind you that even in the new system we still lost a match. Actually I’d rather not remind you in fact. But to think that “changing the system” will result in no more lost matches is fooling yourself. Whatever the system the players on the field still have to produce.
So maybe there was no real cause to change the system before Wenger did it. Maybe a good manager doesn’t change the system if you lose 2 matches in a row. Some might but there is no reason why it should be successful all the time. So the fact that Wenger didn’t change the system earlier was maybe because we weren’t doing too bad before.
People make it sound as if it was pure misery from the first day of the season till match 29. Well it wasn’t in fact. Yes we had a very bad period coming together with the CL elimination. That hit and hurt the players more than we thought it did at the time. But circumstances were a bit strange in those matches against Bayern. So there was no need to get rid of the system because we lost to one of the best teams in the world after losing our best defender undeservedly with a red card.
Yes I admit we then had a bad period. But we had a bad period of 8 matches (2 won, 5 lost, 1 draw) and then Wenger changed the system.
So people saying why did it take Wenger 29 games are wrong. It took him 8 games to change tactics.
Maybe too long but that is the easy part of being a hindsight keyboard manager and commenting on things when the dust has settled. Now it is easy to say he should have changed sooner. Hindsight is a beautiful and easy thing.
Talking about saying something before….. I was the one saying he should play Per more. So if I am critical of Wenger it is because I thought he should have brought Per sooner during our bad run. I called for Per to be played (not on this blog to be honest as I was short in time in those days) but was ridiculed for saying that we should play Per.
And looking at how many Arsenal fans gave up after it looked clear that Per would play in the cup final…. I was somehow confident our BFG would shut them all up.