A dozen or so games remain in the season and the fairy tale is being lived through the back pages. Even Arsène chimed in,
It is very romantic and I understand the whole country [being behind them]. That is human. I think as well that [the story] is good for football, and it goes against the usual practice in our game, which is spend and buy big stars.
It is important to know that with quality work, quality scouting and quality management you can have great results.
Let’s be honest, Leicester winning the Premier League title won’t be good for Arsène with his methods and inability to invest sufficiently in the squad despite the riches on offer. As much as he may play mind games with Ranieiri and his squad about pressure when the title run-in begins, the same applies to Arsenal with the additional pressure of Tottenham being in the hunt. God forbid that they are crowned champions…
That’s some time off yet. It seems to me that for tomorrow there is more pressure on Arsenal. Victory will leave a two-point gap to the top whilst defeat reduces aspirations to mathematical possibilities. With more clubs involved in the title race, reliance upon others flaws is a poor tactic even if a mind-boggling season such as this one.
Arsène chose to focus on the threat posed by Leicester’s counter-attack and it’s safe to say that Per Mertesacker won’t be returning to the side for this match. That’s not without problems either. Koscielny and Gabriel have issues to deal with not least in terms of language. The Brazilian “doesn’t master [the language] well enough, and as well I don’t think he’s a natural extrovert central defender”.
That is a concern with Arsène seemingly unhappy with the way that Gabriel has chosen to adapt to English life. Wenger, like Ranieiri, has moved around during his career so has experience of moving to new countries. The problem is that not everybody adapts as readily. Even so, is this why the Brazilian hasn’t yet nailed down a more regular starting line-up place?
Koscielny on other hand is the “silent leader”. Is it vital that the captain shouts? If it were, give the armband to Mathieu Flamini; he’s really good at the pointy-shouty aspect of the game. A new contract please, on that basis. But there’s more to it than that, thankfully. On both counts.
I don’t have any issue with leading through example, quite often that’s the best way but in the heat of the battle, is it enough particularly for a squad of ‘nice guys’ as Arsenal are frequently labelled. Who gives them the rocket when it’s needed? And, more to the point, do they listen?
Arsène is conscious that whilst the scoreline was emphatic, the performance at the King Power earlier this season wasn’t. Leicester could – should – have scored at least one more before Arsenal started running away with the game and that’s something Wenger is wary of, hence the deliberations over the spine of the team.
In the absence of any comment beyond the barely concealed contemptuous snarl in the Barcelona fiasco, it was inevitable that Arsène was questioned over ticket prices. To me that underlines a problem at the club. Whilst I understand that the manager is the public face of Arsenal, his purview is the pitch and ensuring that the XI is properly prepared for each match.
This issue is something that Ivan or one of the Kroenke’s – there are two on the board after all – should have spoken about on Thursday to take the sting out of the situation. They didn’t and that underlines that the board are happy to herald the commercial deals but unpalatable truths are left to Wenger in the hope that he will trade some goodwill to defuse the situation. Instead Arsène becomes the lightning rod.
Even so, his defence of the club was the party line which is hardly surprising given he is a senior executive of the club. A company man, even if he recognised the nature of supporting a football club. Somewhere inside the PR spin of business, football slipped through,
I see fans as supporters. Somewhere, I think they feel like [when] you are at home and use electricity, you have no choice. They go to the club, they have no choice. It’s a little bit like their faith.
The directors don’t view supporters similarly hence the proposed protest on Sunday. There is no right or wrong answer whether or not you join in, it’s a matter of personal conscience. Some people can’t bear the thought of missing a minute of the action whilst others have the strength to overcome that. If you can, send a small message to broadcasters.
Arsène contradicted himself on that point, arguing that whilst the sight of empty seats might have an impact on the players, the XI are quickly immersed in the action and don’t always take notice of the stands. He couldn’t always tell you if it rained during a match such is his own involvement at the time.
More importantly, he stressed that the protest couldn’t be used as an excuse for failing to win. To be fair, he has a fine array of them in his armoury already…
Finally, this week’s playlist, Science, eh?, can be found in the right sidebar on Dad’s Jukebox or here in your browser.