What happened to Arsenal’s ‘sexy football’ identity?

Over the years, Arsenal have been known as a team that plays in a certain way, a free flowing attacking football of which many football lovers and Arsenal fans got mesmerized and obsessed with, to the extent that many even called it ‘Wengerball’ or ‘Sexy football’…

Wenger was often credited with this new identity, and rightly so, especially as it delivered trophies and got more fans for the club across the globe…

In those early years, we had Pires, Bergkamp, Lunjberg, Henry and Vieira, to name a few who shone in the ‘Wengerball’. Some years later, transition from the legends saw players like Nasri, Cesc, Hleb, Rosicky and Diaby, carry on this identity although they maintained the brand they failed to deliver much success in terms of titles…

In the Fabregas and Nasri years, the football was so sexy, that even if we lost you would still be proud of our display as we were so attacking and we score a lot of goals…

However, the current Arsenal team in my opinion do not really have this identity, our brand of football is only seen once in a blue moon, we just pass the ball around for passings sake most times, that even Giroud admitted…”Sometimes we pass the ball too much”

The Wengerball is rapidly declining, we are not very direct in our attacks any more. We are not as sexy as we used to be…in fact in my own opinion, we saw that only once last season against Chelsea and do I also remember the Napoli game at home in the CL… Benitez said after the game..”Arsenal were devastating”

Then I begin to wonder what could be the cause of this? Is it the manager or the players? But can we say it is the manager, seeing as he was the one that brought this to us, but if you say its the players then one can say, “But he decided to buy the player”

I would say Wenger has over time gotten the wrong players for this system to work…
I mean if you take a look at our team now, only Cazorla had that special technicality to operate in that brand of football, but I think Iwobi is not far off…players like Le Coq, Elneny and co do not have the playmaking and technical abilities of Hleb, Rosicky and Cesc…

I still believe we can play good football and win trophies just like Barcelona but maybe we aren’t getting the right players…

What do you think?



  1. ZA_Gunner says:

    The “sexy football” per se was lost once we tried to emulate Barcelona because we didn’t have the type of player nor the history or culture to play that style of football. Then we tried to experiment things in between, reverting to a target man in Giroud and now ultimately trying to mixture of both. Problem for us is we have never been decisive on anything and we never had a system to back it either.

  2. ThirdManJW says:

    The players cannot be blamed in the slightest for HOW we play, because they are not responsible for the tactics. Like any manager at their respective club, it’s Wenger’s job to devise the formation, and tactics, along with his coaching team, but it’s Wenger that will have the final say.

    It is true that from an entertainment perspective, it has been poor for years. I always feel that Wenger never really recovered from losing RVP, Song, Cesc, and Nasri, all in the space of just one year. That was a lot of creativity to lose in such a short space of time, and since then we’ve seen too much sideways passing, possession for possession’s sake, or ‘Wengerball’ as the writer puts it.

    I do agree about Wenger signing players that do not fit his system. Whether it be Ramsey who hasn’t the technical ability to pull off one/two touch football in tight spots, or Giroud who doesn’t offer any pace/movement, or Walcott who doesn’t seem to even have a footballing brain. Problems like these will have an affect on the entertainment.

    But overall I am not too bothered about entertaining football anymore, because I just want to see winning football. Of course we can win, and play great (just look at the two previous league champions), but I don’t think we can anymore under Wenger. In the FA Cup we can, but certainly not in the league, or in Europe.

  3. Arsenal1Again says:

    It’s obviously the new formation and the tactics used.

    Wenger has always been poor at tactics, he’s a one trick pony and don’t get me started on the pathetic substitutions he makes, nearly always in the last 20 mins when it’s too late, substitutions for players who should have started. I am utterly disappointed Wenger is still at the club. He could have done the right thing. Another manager could be buying the new players, buying Morata instead of Lacazette, already having Lemar while Sanchez is still at the club, deadwood on it’s way out and injury prone players not being on the shopping list.

  4. ivvy says:

    we are now a passing team..we pass left right center and back to def..we never penetrate their defense..and the best part is..our center back keep passing the ball between them to slow the game which is already slow. i call it snail football..no counter attack..no slick passing..no through ball no nothing..they just pass it to the left to the right to the center and to the back..like i said before..we can buy cristiano messi and bale and still finish out of top four..because u kno what..the tactic is rubbish..opponent always caught us out of shape every time..because they attack with pace..unlike us..we always slow the game down..our def keep passing between them to let the opponent back to their shape..n then we try to penetrate with left right center backward pass without any penetration. our game 30 passess the ball is still with kos n per..chelsea game 3 passes the ball is already in our net..that shows how rubbish our game is. we have a super fast players in our rank and yet our tactic is snail football..left right center backwards no brainer.

  5. kev says:

    Deny it all you want but since Fabregas left Arsenal our frre flowing football has really declined.It feels like am the only one who thinks we lack real penetration and ideas in the final third of opponents.Also in 14/15 sesson I lost count of our misplaced passes and poor gameplay overall.We’ve been very very poor in our passing game for some seasons now.For a game like this to work you need players whonhold the ball very well and are possession efficient.Look at the Arsenal starting lineup and compare it to that of years back and you’ll know what I mean.We have very few possession efficient players which is causing this problem.We don’t have many players who can actually hold the ball and play the ball.That’s what differentiates us from the top passing teams.

    1. kev says:

      Of all the players who left Arsenal how I wish he stayed.The hole he left will take a long time to fill.The impact he had for us on the pitch was massive and he played the ball like a captain.What a player he was.It’s a shame denied himself legendary status.He was the architect of our game.

      1. Jim A says:

        I agree Cesc had so many great qualities.

      2. Rkw says:

        Absolutely right … But he wanted to win stuff and understood that would not happen under wenger …

  6. Ronnyə says:

    There’s not enough players of that quality required in the current sqaud.
    Saying that remember Jack Wilshire goal against Norwich, that was sexy football!
    Rosicky and cazorla have been missed and who did we get in for rosicky? He kind of got phased out so we’d quietly forget how good he was and not notice him exiting.
    I watch Napoli and cry now! Arsenal in Italy.
    Oh for just 1 or 2 of their players:
    Mertens, insigne, calleon or hamsik yes please!

  7. Ronnyə says:

    Exactly level…!

    From deep midfield there is now forward penetration.
    See fabregas today looking up and pinging the ball around.
    We need s player like him, a Kroos sometime who can control the midfield and effortlessly switch play. I think xhaka has a bit of this but then he’s expected to be the dm as well. Also xhaka doesn’t have the quality around him.
    All this chasing lemar when what we really need is an isco or an other.

  8. TongaBull says:

    Why did i become an Arsenal supporter…. Its all pain….. Painful 14yrs. Pli God i nid some joy aswell

    1. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

      Your a jinx mate, go and support All our rivals and come back after we win the title, you can celebrate with us and then repeat & Rinse the above, Okay? ??

  9. Fatboy Gooney, Too Fat to track back. says:

    What happened to our Sexy Football? ?? It got old and saggy, that’s what! ?? I think I’m going to puke.

  10. Adam Criniti says:

    Pretty simple answer, especially after watching Barcas first half performance against the old Lady.


    All quality players but Arsenal will never win an EPL title or come close to competing in Europe with this group playing meaningful minutes. Pretty confident PSG won’t turn to Ramsey, Theo or Welbeck if Arsenal refuses to sell Sanchez.

    1. Guneal says:

      You don’t need to be sexy to give an e*ection. Get me trophies you.

  11. Sean says:

    We have to win the midfield defensively to allow others to play and we haven,t done that for years – since Veira. Arsenals defensive midfield fragility is the issue. We have lacked this player for too long and Kante is the best in Europe at the moment. He DOMINATED us last night and made Xhaka, Ramsey and Coquelin look 2nd tier. Coquelin has the athleticism but is far too reckless and lacks he creativity with the ball. Why did Wenger not buy Kante if he had the chance?? Although I am a Wenger fan, not solving the openness and vulnerability of this defensive midfield area has been his major failing in recent years. We have been linked with so many DMs but Xhaka, great player though he will be, is not the answer.

  12. Viera Lyn says:

    Choices, choices, choices, that’s what happened to our once free-flowing, beautiful on the eyes brand of football…the move from Highbury was a friggin hoax played on all Gunner fans…North London football is now for the fat cats and wannabes, not for those of us who rather watch from home because we love the game and we would rather not pay a weeks wage to get a seat a 1/4 mile from the field of play…much like a high-end business that once cared deeply for the artisans who toiled to create something quite brilliant, they have become an assembly-line factory trying to get the most for the least while still raising the prices of their product..they want everyone else to sacrifice for the club, but they aren’t willing to do likewise…they established a system where they can never lose the only thing they truly care about, the almighty dollar…they need to take chances, they need to feel the squeeze, they need to show they are willing to risk something to succeed and they need to stop relying on yes-men and freeloaders when it comes time to make the tough decisions…any idiot can see that there is something clearly wrong with this club and it’s been festering for many years…like I said before, Wenger is truly afraid about what we will find when they pry his hands from this club and the rotting underbelly is exposed to the light

  13. Sid Pereira says:

    My views on this topic are so widely varied it may seem incoherent when you read them. So i will put some points that come to mind in bulletin form.
    * we did lose important players that were never replaced
    * football has changed from the early 2000s. Teams set up to play counter attacking game.
    * arsenal’s style of play was found out by many managers in the PL and Europe. Either through copying other teams success against Gunners or through tactics of managing game in small intervals and breaking up play illegally when our smooth passing game was on point.
    * we no longer could compete with other teams when it came to recruitment and salaries.
    * defensively we were very weak. We’ve had center back problems all through those barren years. Thankfully though, our options now are as good as we have had since invicibles.
    * “wengerball” requires technical superiority of the players. Arsenal were no longer technically superior and could easily be undone by the exceptional individual play of a single opposing player.
    * teams that were not as technically gifted could “park the bus” and use our lack of organization for set plays to our detriment.
    * our teams lacked leaders as well as individual quality. With the exception of Sanchez, the current team has little in the way of players able to individually create a goal through a moment of brilliance. This is an asset of any great team. Without it you do not win the big games consistently.
    * we have suffered too many injuries. Title winning teams don’t change their lineups often. Players need to flow and understand their teammates strenghts and weaknesses.

    We’ve been through this trophyless period as arsenal fans where we saw our team play the best football constantly against opposition only to lose or draw a game. In the context of a season it is clear that we could not maintain any title challenge. Teams that are successful in this “total football” style are the teams with outstanding individuals eg FCB or FCBM.
    So what’s my point? Wengerball was lovely and as a result i would not watch any club team play other than Arsenal but however, we never really had the complete team to be successful with that style. For us to win the title with that style of play Wenger would have to be a checkbook manager with an Usmanov type Club president. Sadly we know that is not our reality.

  14. Marty says:

    Do fans want sexy football or winning football. I remember going to the games during the 70/71 double year and we hardly played sexy football but I was happy and delighted because we won. At the time I was happy with a 1-0 win however we played. Can you play sexy football and win the league?

  15. ade says:

    Arsenal first era beautiful football delivered trophies, but fabrigas era was trophiless. Ozil n Sanchez era give us Some trophies. My answer, we don’t av right player , secondly, most club in EPL have studied our style. Anyway, I prefer rugby with trophy than pretty girl without children

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