Wenger Beaten On Penalties, Özil & Mind Games

stbIt sounds so simple but the reality is more difficult than a bland statement from the Arsenal manager. At his pre-match press conference, Arsène announced that he had contacted Uefa to end the Away Goals rule. Wenger observed,

Sometimes I think there is a counter-effect as teams play at home not to concede goals. At home the first thing managers say is let’s not concede goals.

He is on the right line but sadly, it looked from his comments as if he was trying to make more of a virtue at having won 2 – 0 in Munich than Bayern’s 3 – 1 win in the first leg. Arsène’s instinct is surely to be more inclined toward rewarding any team whose adventure shows three goals in an away match? Perhaps it was the surprise at not conceding in a big match which provoked the pride in his reaction, albeit damning his own side in the process,

It was as difficult, if not more so, to win 2-0 at Bayern without conceding a goal as it was for them to score once here.

Uefa has tried a number of solutions, trying to find the most equitable. Tossing the coin put more to luck than any judgement whilst replays are impractical in a fixture list which is already deemed to be overcrowded. That would be feasible if the tournaments were purely knock-out and may generate more revenue in the longer run if sufficient in number but with the clubs and authorities enamoured with the sponsors euro, such a radical overhaul of any of the tournaments is unlikely.

Personally, I think it should not kick in until after extra time as opposed to at the final whistle of the second leg. That does seem an anomaly, level scores not settled without a further thirty minutes to produce a clear advantage to one team. If Arsène believes that going straight to penalties is likely to release any mental or tactical brakes, I think he is severely underestimating his peers in the coaching fraternity. There are any number who have played for such an outcome along their managerial careers. Indeed, Wenger has done so, most obviously in Rome when trailing by a single goal in the second leg, his charges played not to concede again by forsaking attacking thoughts and winning on penalties.

It is not necessarily the rule which needs to change but steps should be taken to remove – or at least lessen – the fear of losing. With the introduction of clearly defined transfer windows, perhaps the greatest tool for fixing a situation has been curtailed. We can see more of the coaching craft evident in this scenario but if a manager can lose his job at any time, he ought to have the opportunity to solve any problems as he sees fit. If players cannot move freely throughout the season, surely the same windows must exist for managers? Arguably, with the erratic behaviour of the new breed of owners, currently on show in all its resplendent glory at Cardiff City, there is a necessity, a duty on the ruling bodies to introduce a window for managerial change also?

Perhaps the greatest exponent of negative tactics – or astute tactics, depending on your viewpoint – provides the opposition for Arsenal tomorrow night. I am not enamoured with Mourinho’s style of play but tactically, he is astute in certain situations and I think his mentality toward winning lends itself naturally in stifling his opponent. It is a short-term view on winning as he has found out, not just at Chelsea but elsewhere. There comes a point when you have to win in style. I am not sure that he is capable of producing such a team on a sustained basis as his tenure at Real proved.

He does know how to obtain results against Arsenal though. That is an underlying reason for Wenger not wanting to get involved in any exchanges with his opposite number. Such words would be cannon-fodder for the media in the event of an Arsenal defeat, eager to portray this as the Portugeezer once more ‘besting’ his more urbane rival. Indeed, Mourinho has been quite pleasant in the build-up to this fixture possibly more distracted by his own issues than worrying about an opponent he has already beaten this season. The latest charm offensive concerned Mesut Özil’s arrival and the positive impact he will bring to Arsenal. We have seen that already but tomorrow may be the last for a few games with Arsène offering the view that the German will be rested soon,

In Germany and most of Europe they have Christmas off and at some stage I will have to give him a break. But Monday night? No.

It is a valid point that the German needs a rest, he has played constantly since arriving at The Emirates. On the basis that he is not used to playing so much football or more to the point, he is used to having Christmas off? English football has always worked the players like dogs but with the squad system, the manager should be able to rotate without disrupting the side too much, allowing himself the time to accommodate players who are in need of respite from the schedule. Jack Wilshere’s suspension will have clouded that issue this week but would Wenger find more benefit by giving the players a proper rest not just relegating them to the bench? The use of statistics over tiredness has been contentious at the club with the manager admitting he played Wilshere before his injury, when the advice was to rest the player. Lessons have surely been learned from that? We shall see.

’til Tomorrow.

35 thoughts on “Wenger Beaten On Penalties, Özil & Mind Games

  1. You`d be hard pushed to get anywhere near a change to something like the away goals rule in European competition. It`s set in stone. Like Yogi , I also prefer the extra time option which (I think) is used in the League Cup semi-finals.

    I`m not into the managerial window at all though. Mid season sackings & trauma at Spurs delayed until June ? No thanks.

    I`m not surprised Arsene says Ozil needs a break. What I am surprised about is the amount of 90 minute games he`s given him. Better to rest him around now than have it taken out of our hands later in the season. He certainly looks tired , but I`m not sure if he`s one of those players who will always look like that. There have been plenty of that ilk over the years , but they always seem to look OK when they`re given the ball.

  2. Ozil has just had a week off, so he should be ok for the chavs. I do wonder why he played in Napoli. Santi should be playing instead of ozil from time to time.

    I think Napoli is arsenes biggest mistake this season. The set up and team selection were wrong in my opinion.

    I fancy arsenal the team to beat chelsea the team – no worries. But arsenal v an jose chelsea like you said already has proved difficult in the past.

  3. As far as I’m concerned other teams should sack their managers as often as they like. Great stuff.

    Another thoughtful piece, YW. Excellent.

  4. I cannot see any real significance in the oft-quoted statistic that Arsene has failed to win games against Mourinho (Irritant of the Year in my book).
    How his “mentality towards winning” can have ANY effect on an opposing manager is quite beyond me but as usual I am open to conversion.

  5. True Nicky. All that Mourinho vs Wenger shit, all showbiz.

    I think Yogi was just alluding to the fact that Maureen’s win at all cost mentality usually came up trumps against Arsenal sides (in the past). The former may give lip service about playing a more aesthetically pleasing brand of football in his current tenure, but if the way to win against Arsenal is the tried and trusted way, then that’s what he’ll do. The preening little pillock. It’s a different Arsenal though, greater quality and spirit, and some of that naivety is gone as well (I put the City mistakes down to them being cream crackered).

    I’m feeling (quietly) confident about tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

  6. the sooner people understand Wenger is an idiot the better off the club will be. Sadly, we will get belted tomorrow, by a team we can beat.

    And look at the GS of Man City. We need big wins and clean sheete to get in front. GD is important

  7. Sometimes I (almost) miss the bad old days, but after all I’ve said said about the need for respect, tolerance and diversity of opinion that would make me one almighty hypocrite.

    Happy Christmas Alan.

  8. Now bloody Graham Swann has retired.

    Ducking the fight? Windy? A distinct lack of moral fibre?

    What a shambles.

  9. @Alan B’stard,
    Nothing like appearing on an Arsenal site, full of confidence in our lads. Well done.
    Trott was mental and could be excused. Swann is a disgrace for opting out in the middle of a series.

  10. Another interesting but thoughful piece there Yogi.

    I am in agreeance that the away goal rule shouldn’t be used until after extra time has been played should it come to it. Let the play on the pitch decide then should it be unable to then decide with away goals but as we all know UEFA isn’t always the best at changing their set in stone rules so the fight will go on.

    Its interesting that even last season we saw players like Podolski and Santi have a dip in form around this time last year as both were accustomed to have a Christmas break. We will see Ozil rested and Santi played centrally especially with the return to fitness of Podolski.

  11. Interesting that Adebayor gets his 2nd consecutive start now that AVB has been sacked.

    I’ve never been a fan of sacking managers in the middle of the campaign but I guess that’s why I’m not a club owner.

  12. I think when Arsene rests Ozil and with Kos out, we could very well see and I wouldn’t mind seeing a lineup:


  13. Damn Adebayor. I wonder how AVB feels being sacked because his side couldn’t score goals especially during the tun of play yet the striker who he banished to the train with the you side scores in his 1st 2 starts.

  14. Southampton with a own goal and look 2nd best against Spuds. They look a shell of the team that took the EPL by storm early on.

  15. Southampton’s back 4 has been poor all match and aren’t helping their backup GK today. Adebayor scoring again, 3-2.

    Would AVB still have a job would he have chosen Adebayor more often lol.

  16. Another great post yogi.

    I don’t really like the away goal rule but replays are not practical. I like the idea of extra time in the 2nd leg as the first tie breaker and then going to away goals if it’s still tied after extra time. Taking away the away goal rule would mean penalty kicks would be used a lot more often which I hate most of all.

    I have no clue what will happen tomorrow. 9 conceded in the last 3 does bring confidence especially with the Kos out. However, we are certainly capable of keeping a clean sheet and how we defend will be the deciding factor.

  17. Shambles. Embarrassment. Disgrace.

    All of those. As a friend has just emailed me:

    “Whatever happened to the days when any true Englishman in the side would have ripped of his helmet, cast his box aside and declared ‘Now do your worst, and damn your eyes!’.”

  18. Tricky fixture and one I didn’t want after the loss to Man City, but these things are there to be conquered I guess. Both teams should be up for the game and I hope Arsenal find their flow early. I think January will be an important time for Arsenal, make an important signing (striker) and the momentum should help the team going forward.

  19. Windies have improved but NZ have always been fighters and usually find a sprinkling of excellent players with tryers to fill the team.

    Always liked the Kiwis.

  20. They can never be questioned when you think of effort, but they have almost always struggled to develop classy pace bowlers. I miss the days of Hadlee and Chatfield.

  21. Btw, talking about predictions. John Terry claimed they would be first at Christmas if they win against Arsenal. Wrong of course.

    But they will be fifth if they lose.

    Can we spoil their Christmas dinner?

    I doubt Arsene has it in him.

    May be some of the players will want to prove a point.

  22. @Bob

    To true mate. I miss watching cricket, though my American wife thinks any game played over (potentially) 5 days is just nuts.

  23. Wonderful interview with Thierry on Sky. I wish he is around the current team more often and instil in them the ‘winning mentality’ he talks about in the interview. What a wonderful man; his dream is to come back to Arsenal! Dedication, Loyalty and Gratitude- thy name is Thierry Henry! Are you listening Van Purse strings?

  24. I remember some American being interviewed years ago, MA, who said that he couldn’t take any game that lasted 5 days seriously. An Englishman replied that he couldn’t take any game seriously that didn’t take a summer to decide.

    As Churchill said about Brits and Yanks, ” One people separated by a common language”.

  25. Podolski………………Giroud…………………….Walcott

    Ramsey for Rosicky later. Podolski push forward with Giroud off and Santi in at LW as an option should Chelsea come out of the shell.

    Chelsea will set up to negate our space in the middle taking a page from recent game we had with City.

    Thereby we should stay compact in the midfield triangle between Ozil, Rosicky and Flamini to ensure protection for Per and vermaelen

    but the key to our offense may be the flanks with both Podolski and Walcott pairing up with GIbbs and Sagna going forward respectively. Get behind their fullbacks and ensure Ozil supports Giroud in the box with Walcott and Poldy cutting in if need be. Flood their box.

    There is a good opportunity we can win this if we play as if it was our last game (where we have been calculative at best over the last 2-3 games)


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