If ever we needed proof that Arsene Wenger really can influence a game through his half time talks we only have to look at last night’s game against Liverpool when he persuaded the Arsenal players that they had the ability to get back into the game – after looking dead and buried in the first half.
The boss rarely talks about the half-time dressing room talks as he usually says that should stay private, but last night he revealed: “I told the players the good thing is we are only 1-0 down, we had a great opportunity to create a different phase. What we did was not good enough, we had nothing to lose, we wanted to go for it but at half-time we were only 1-0 down, it could have been game over. We showed quality and character in the second half. We played inhibited in the first half.”
Even the young Spaniard Hector Bellerin spoke about Wenger’s influence in giving the players back their belief before taking the field for the second half. He told Arsenal.com: “We didn’t start well, they got in front but [at half-time] the boss put us in our place,” he said.
“He told us what we had to do and the team got a great reaction. We scored three quick goals and you could see the belief in the team. But we needed to defend better to keep the score. We couldn’t do it so it’s a bit bittersweet, with being in front but then drawing the game.
“But there are positives, like the belief the team had and how we turned it around.
“There was a great talk at half-time, there was a lot of belief from the boss and we knew we had it in ourselves,” added Bellerin. “We showed we could turn it around but then we made a mistake at a corner and paid for it. It’s a draw that could be fair for both teams but, with being in front [at 3-2], it’s a bit bittersweet.”
Jurgen Klopp was on his feet for the whole game, cajoling his players and giving instructions, while Arsenal fans often complain that Wenger just sits there playing with his zipper and throwing water bottles, but this is positive proof that Wenger really can make a massive difference to what goes on out in the field.
Credit where is’s due?