On every occasion that Arsene Wenger has won the league with Arsenal, the team has shown great technical ability, but also a strength and toughness to their game. Arsenal have been aggressive, strong in the challenge and haven’t laid down for anyone. Pundits from the journalism world, as well as former Referee Howard Webb, have previously stated that Arsenal have lost their aggression under Wenger in recent years, but perhaps now things are slowly changing back to the ways they were in the old days.
A former Gunners manager George Graham, had a side prior to Wenger which was also full of players with both a strong physical and mental ability. Footballs were tough, aggressive and not afraid of fighting very much to the death. Of course football in general has changed a lot since then and it’s not only at Arsenal that footballers have lost their aggression and fight. But perhaps one of the changes that we’ve seen in North London largely behind Arsenal’s recent improvement, is the Gunners increase in physical strength.
Graham told the media in a report by ESPN: “It’s not a secret, is it, that they’ve needed more toughness, more mentally strong players?
“[The invincible era] had it all — power, strength, beautiful football. [Afterwards] they kept buying small players, very technical players, and they didn’t get the balance right. In possession? Up there with the best. Out of possession? Hmm, not so sure.
“Hopefully, with the buys Arsene has made, they’ve got that toughness now and they can have a real go — not just in the Premier League but in Europe because what I would love, more than anything, is to see Arsenal win the Champions League.”
The Arsenal squad that was often fielded in the era between 2007-2013, very much the years of struggle, was a smaller, weaker and less talented crop of players compared to the invincible team we had witnessed just years earlier. In present day however, we see big physical players in Koscielny, Coquelin and Xhaka, as well as players with a big name presence, such as Cech and Alexis. These are players who are not afraid to show aggression and fight for the win, both physically and verbally, rather than focus on the fancy trickery that has largely taken over football in general.
If Arsenal want to win the title this season, then of course it’s important we stick to our A game, the varied passing style of play that has seen us dramatically improve so far this season. But we also need to show dominance on the field and not roll over in fear of the other team. Our downfall in previous years has been our approach towards playing other big teams and competitors in England. However as Leicester showed last season, the strength, fight and passion given by every single player helped to keep their title charge running all the way until the end and that’s exactly what the Gunners need to show this season, if we want to come out on top in a very competitive Premier League.