AND HE MADE ARSENAL IN HIS OWN IMAGE by Uche
Arsene Wenger is many things and amongst all that he is, he is a good man, a decent man. Ever wonder why Arsenal has so many fans all over the world (more than Chelsea) although we have not won a lot lately? It is partly because of the kind of club that we are. Precisely, it is because of the kind of club that we have become under Arsene Wenger.
Wenger is a man that goes out to win clean. He will never send out his players to win by hook or crook. That is the gift and curse that embodies Arsenal football club today. It is both admirable and frustrating. It is precisely why we lost against Chelsea. Diego Costa, the villain of the moment, is a man who will start a fight in an empty room. Clearly he went into this match with this exact game plan of riling up our players and getting one of them sent off.
Make no mistake about it, what happened in Stamford Bridge yesterday was a well-rehearsed training ground exercise. They rehearsed this thing many many times. Chelsea started the season very badly and has dropped a lot of points. Unlike previous seasons, their opponents no longer fear them. This shows in the fearless way opponents have played and defeated them recently. They know it, they are scared and jobs are on the line. So the tactic they employed yesterday was a desperate move to win a game and keep their jobs. It worked. Of course it was going to work. Arsenal is the perfect team to carry out this tactic against because just like their boss Arsene Wenger, Arsenal tries to play football without the antics and malicious tricks.
They know it. Everybody knows it. Our reputation of having a soft center is one that was built many years ago after Viera left. Our toughness ended with the dismantling of the Invincibles. Our team is littered with academy trained technicians. The street footballer is a dying breed in Arsenal and not the type that Wenger seeks out. With the exception of Sanchez, Gabriel and maybe Coquelin, we have no fighters. We have no players with that street streak in them. On the pitch, we plan for everything except for what to do when the opponent starts employing the dark arts in order to win. If only Koscielny had stayed down like most players after he was fouled by Diego Costa, Chelsea could have been the team playing with ten men. But Koscielny couldn’t. Koscielny wouldn’t because Arsene Wenger has taught them that such antics is beneath us as a club. This quest for the higher ground is our gift and our curse. Going forward, it is hard to see this aspect of our game changing.
Arsene Wenger is a 66 year old gentle man. He is too old to suddenly become cunning and devious. I don’t see him changing especially for a guy who is notoriously stuck in his ways. Our only hope is that the FA Association is able to come to their senses and punish players who try to tarnish the game with such malicious antics. Of course it is hard to see this happening because, for starters, referees don’t like us. What Mike Dean did yesterday was so predictably Mike Dean. His hatred for Arsenal is more than his disgust for Diego Costa’s unsportsmanlike behavior.
And so it is but if there are two good things that came out of this weekend’s game, it is Manchester City dropping points and Diego Costa digging his own grave because now he is a marked man. Other teams are not like Arsenal. They will try to exploit his madness by baiting him and he will fall for it. He always falls for it and that will be his undoing. Chelsea will not win the league. They cannot play all games like this and they are not the same team that blew everyone away last season. We will not win the league either because… well, we have our own problems.
But there is enough uncertainty this season to keep everyone guessing who the eventual winner will be and it may even be a totally unexpected opponent. This weekend was a disaster but the results of other teams has cushioned the blow a bit and given us hope in the process. But can we capitalize on these slip ups? We find ourselves at crossroads at the moment. The identity of our club is up for debate and possibly revision. It is likely that our other opponents will now come at us with Chelsea’s antics in their search for three points. If we are to continue winning games and surging up the table, we may need to review our team ethic and commitment to sporting purity.
Therein lays our biggest dilemma. Do we continue along this path of clean football or is it time to get our hands dirty and fight deviousness with our own cunning antics? Discuss.
Lagos – Nigeria