It’s an argument that is starting to preoccupy Arsenal fans across the Country. If winning means playing without style and flair, is it a price worth paying?. Arsenal’s faithful have enjoyed glorious moments under manager Arsene Wenger and the club have embraced a style that has become part its identity and DNA, making them a global brand in the process.
Saturday’s loss against Manchester United was tough to accept in many ways. Arsenal looked the better team for the majority of the game, they had more possession (75%) with more attempts on goal(33).
United’s shot-stopper, David De Gae was, without question, their best player, making 14 saves in a single match which equals the previous record. All impressive stats but the loss to United by a flattering 3-1 margin was down to self-inflicted wounds at the back. Koscielny, Mustafi and Xhaka were instrumental in putting a smile on the face of Mourinho and handing him all 3 points.
It was a display of incompetence normally associated with weaker opposition from a much lower league and Koscielny in particular, struggled all day long. What Xhaka was thinking during the third goal is a mystery, he virtually left Lingard in acres of space to apply a simple tap in to widen the gap.
Ignore the errors, the misfortune and the result for a minute and we are left to contemplate a loss that saw us play our best football of the season and end up with nothing to show for it. Which begs the question, what do we want as fans? And who would you rather run the club?
Wenger or Mourinho, poles apart in attitude and style. We all know that Mourinho’s philosophy, it’s not how you win, as long as you win and a number of teams he has managed have failed to inspire or fly the flag for the beautiful game. Dull is probably the word most used word for the teams the Portuguese has led to an endless succession of trophies but given the choice would the majority of Arsenal fans swap style for success?
Until recently, Wenger had fashioned teams that could challenge for every trophy and were exciting to watch, even Roy Keane said that they were one of the few teams he would pay to watch. Well, that was a while back and after the struggles to pay off the stadium and remain in the top six with a less experienced squad, fans now realise that those times may be hard to find in the most competitive league in the World.
Yes, Arsenal still display the attacking virtues and treat impartial fans to exhilarating and vibrant football. The kind associated with the top six clubs in the World, including Barcelona and Real Madrid. But it has become more of a hindrance and a burden at times, costing them countless points and any chance of meaningful silverware.
Would I swap Arsenal’s style for Mourinho’s blueprint of ‘riding your luck and parking the bus’? No, Absolutely not. Even Mourinho must be thinking that United ‘got lucky’ and that he had sucker punched Wenger with his unique brand of opportunist football.
You can be mugged in the street and still appreciate the speed and guile of your attacker, even if you don’t agree with his actions of methods. When I used to watch ‘Chelski ‘ under his guidance, they used to bore me senseless as they went about their business grinding out results.
It was football by numbers and although successful, it left me cold but it does work. Look at United, it now has a crop of exciting players, their best for some time, yet on occasion, it’s like watching your Nan knit a sweater. It’s practical, useful and necessary but it itches the skin.
United were resolute in their defending on Saturday, they absorbed wave after wave of attacking football and Arsenal struggled to make a breakthrough against the Worlds best goalkeeper. Fans winced as Arsenal gifted United 3 goals by being disorganized and committing numbers to individual players, when they should have spread across the pitch to snuff out the threat.
Yes, Arsenal should have had a penalty late on for a challenge on Danny Welbeck but it doesn’t change a thing. If if’s and buts were cherries and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas but as it is, Arsenal fans are chewing on nettles, watching yet another match were we should have won 5-3.
So before we all get too despondent, before you start parading the placards and banners, screaming for change and crying ‘Wenger out ‘, be careful what you wish for. I’ve been a Wenger fan and more recently not. Despite his team’s obvious shortcomings, despite suffering countless seasons of disappointment, I’d rather see Arsenal play a brand of football that people want to pay hard cash to see and one that promotes the sport.
If Wenger leaves and Mourinho becomes available, I’d rather he went elsewhere to ply his trade than dampen the spirit of the club I love. Of course, I want to win, I get worse as I get older but I want to win with style, not just fluke a game or batter a team into submission by employing 11 defenders.
If I’m brutally honest, I don’t care how many trophies Mourinho’s teams win, they are generally unpleasant on the eye and make me want to watch tennis.
And I HATE TENNIS!
Saturday’s result has put them just 5 points behind City but they are miles apart in terms of style and consistency.
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