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June 2021

Why did it take Wenger 29 games to change? Another made up story….

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.

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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.

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20 comments to Why did it take Wenger 29 games to change? Another made up story….

  • See Walter
    There you go again giving us facts which disprove all the nonsense printed, written and spoken!
    You really are a spoil sport!
    You`ll be telling us there aint no fairies at the bottom of the garden next

    Just think how much newspaper print has been wasted on the silly stories regarding Arsenal
    How much electronic time wasted on computer blogs
    Whilst i don`t read stories about other teams, it seems to me, no matter what Arsenal do there will be negative stories
    This doesn`t seem to apply to other teams
    I get the feeling if we were to win the league, win the European Champs Cup(not next season), win the F.A. cup et al. there would still be a bunch of pratts who would criticise.
    Things like, “well you only won by four goals, you should have won by more!”

    I remember Arsenal winning the league in 1953, waiting another 18 years to do the double in 1971 and then waiting another 18 years to win the league again in 1989
    I remember thinking in 1989, “Oh shite we don`t have to wait another 18 years do we ?”
    In all that time, no other team came close to Arsenal for me
    Ok, so I`m a nutter

    Thanks again Walter for bringing some perspective to our game

  • Laos gooner

    Keyboard hindsight manager? Gary Neville is a shorter more common spelling I believe. Good to read through how our form went and a lot of sense in what is said

  • Lohit

    @walter, I noticed that for 7 or 8 games we get unfair treatment from referes, and next match they apply rules correctly and media makes big fuss about it.What does your stats say?

  • blacksheep

    great article Walter, agree with all of – and the bit about the BFG. I was delighted to see him play on Saturday and misty eyed at the way he seemingly effortlessly positioned himself to repel much quicker strikers. If Rob Holding gets to play with him some more it can only help. Even if Per is getting on a bit he has much to offer us. In that he’s a bit like Tony 🙂

  • bushido

    wonder what the blame it all on AW brigade n know it all about football management would say about this totally make sense article. not to mention last season the team had to endured a toxic atmosphere creating by some fans who put their own agenda above anything else including supporting their own club. when u got some so call fans who hopes for their team to losing a match, u knew where their loyalty stand n why u heard story about fighting among each other in the stand. if u decide to put your loyalty n support on the team no matter what the situation is, there will be no attacking on another

  • Knobby

    352, was Conte’s preferred formation for Juve and Italy so as soon has he got the first chance.. our win 3-0 he reverted back to what he knew.
    To Arsene this was a completely new to him and the players so it may have taken a bit longer.

  • Al

    Excellent analysis Walter. It was just after a handful of games, including those with obvious reasons why we couldn’t win them as you highlighted, for Wenger to think ok let me try something else. Makes you wonder those that think it took a whopping 29 games what league they were watching. Guess that’s what happens when people listen to the Owens and Nevilles of this world.

  • goonersince72

    Hey Knobby –
    Not positive but I think AW used a back 3 early in his Arsenal tenure. Perhaps someone (ahem, Tony) could check on this?

  • ob1977

    Thank you for this article, I noticed two people comment on these lines on previously articles but didn’t want to give them any credence…
    As you have commented, our season was far from doom and gloom for the most part.

    As someone above has stated and I thought, Conte was partial to a back 3 so no stretch for him to resort back to type.

    Also for me Chelsea themselves have played regularly in a back 3 over previous season’s so again no stretch there.

    But Arsenal are a back 4, the players have always played in a back 4, our style of play with the more gifted ball players the better demands we play less “lesser” players (CB’s), and we have never been on a a bad run like it to warrant a dramatic change in formation and possibly style.

    But with complete as absolute credit to our manager and team we pulled it off, the defender’s settled in with the added protection of an extra player alongside them, our midfield played with the freedom and ability we know they are capable of with the knowledge there was an extra CB behind them, our FB’s could enjoy the space in front of them with the protection behind them, and we got the best out of Sanchez, and Ozil…

    I think Arsene would have been hesitant to change to a back 3 as giving up a more “Arsene” type player could/would probably mean less ball, less pressure up the pitch.

    But again all credit to the manager, coaches, and players for showing another way forward, it is not THE answer, but is an answer to a possible problem.

    Great coaching eh Tone…

  • Gord

    False news – Daily Mail Sports Staff all on Sick Leave

    Daily Mail ownership is worried that they are going to lose too much money in the coming quarters, as their sports staff have all gone on sick leave and it is not known when they will be back. It could be five years from now. It could be 10 years from now. It could be tomorrow.

    False News – Juventus Join Race to Sign Arsenal Star Wojciech Szczesny

    There are stories about some amount like 17.5 million, they are wrong. The price is 92.654 million (this price starts in the 5th decimal place of Pi).

    False News – Monaco Lead in Race to Sign Arsenal Star Yaya Sanogo

    Apparently Monaco phoned Arsene Wenger at 8:32am on May 31, and offered 19.717 million for Yaya. (This price starts in the 37th decimal place of Pi.)

    False News – The Sun Admits That it May Not be a Newspaper

    When questioned in court over some lawsuit, lawyers for The Sun replied that nobody in the organization knew the definition of the word “admit”. A bailiff was heard to mutter, “They aren’t even a newspaper”.

  • colario

    Gord. your reference to the Sun reminds me of the time I was chatting to my friend at a newspaper shop. someone came in and bought a copy of the Sun. I said to my friend.

    ‘I don’t know why people buy the Sun there isn’t any news n it!’

    The man stuttered and said ‘Oh I don’t buy it for the news I buy it for the jokes!’

    Got it in one.

  • para

    Arsenal once had all their eggs in the one basket, but the players we had were another class and just played football with that fearless determined attitude.

    Today, there is an element of fear in Arsenal and the players lose it(concentration) at various times.

    Anyway, a team without more options is a team that cannot change “in game” and is stuck when the opposition negates the system it is playing.

    We should be able to play as many systems as required to get the job done.

    AND, to please practice more shooting practice. (dual practice there, verb+noun methinks 🙂 )

  • gouresh

    We all know that it was a mind blowing display at the finale by everyone, including BFG. NOW remember it was 1 match, so lets not get carried away with BFG, I know that he is a great defender. But. As for the article, nice one.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I thought our BFG was rather good against Everton also when he came on. And I was in Lens when he got his injury and I must say that I said to Carine who was with me at that match that he was in excellent pre-season form. Little did I know that he injured himself to the end of that match (and played till the end!)

  • para

    Mer was brilliantly awsome 🙂 , and shows that older players can be a good backup for the injury plagues(damm the player limits).

    Would be good for the next upcoming youth to train with the 1st team during the season.

    Maybe the ones performing should be given that chance to train with the 1st team more often than at present.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Whats weird this season is, first half of the season we were excellent. After ManCity Everton match, everything changed. What happened during that? How come a strong confident team just lose it all in a flash.

  • MickHazel

    ARSENAL 13
    If my memory serves me correctly we were stitched up by the refs in both those games so maybe the team sort of came to the conclusion of ‘what’s the point, they are not going to let us win so why bother’.

  • ARSENAL 13


    exactly my thoughts. Refereeing performance handing ManCity a win had big impact on how our season panned out. Confidence is at the core of how ARSENAL play.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    FAKE NEWS. – AW to head chair of Advanced Tactical Football Management And Coaching .

    All are welcome to apply . No experience needed. Just an interest to learn football the right

    Football commentators , pundits , journos and disloyal ex-players will be excluded . Who would want people with negative IQs , anyway?

    Having FIFA coaching badges may count against you . You’ll have to unflush out that gibberish before starting anew.

    No BIGMOB applicants will be entertained. Even His Greatness can tolerate so much ! But if you are from the south of the country , try your luck!

    Courses are all free , as knowledge is power , and your ticket to enlightenment .

    Send your applications to Dean
    Dr. Brickfields Gunners ,MBBS
    C/O Untold Arsenal .
    Our campus will be ready in two years . Thanks , Stan !

  • Pat

    Confidence, yes – and one of the reasons Arsene Wenger gave for changing the system was to give the players more confidence.

    He said with hindsight maybe he could have changed it sooner. But it was a big step to take and not guaranteed to work so who can blame him? And as Walter points out, even our bad run was not always bad so it probably was not absolutely clear that a change would do the trick.

    Thinking about confidence as well, surely the fans’ behaviour is totally responsible for Bellerin’s loss of form. This is the most obvious case but there may be others.

    Have Untold done an analysis of what exactly happened in those two strange Bayern matches? As Arsene Wenger keeps saying in each case we were ahead at half time yet lost by a margin that must have felt humiliating to our star players. Arsene Wenger has specifically said that Ozil was badly affected.

    The theme of refereeing runs through all this as people have said.