Wenger not Arsenal who has all Premier League bragging rights
Matt Haynes | October 25, 2015
Wenger saving face and then some
While Arsenal are currently top dogs in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger must feel like the cat that got the cream. Following the Gunners’ 2-1 victory over Everton at the Emirates, the Frenchman can look back at the criticism he received in the summer with a smug sense of satisfaction.
A staunch refusal to sign anyone barring Petr Cech in the summer was met with mixed, nevertheless negative responses. Disgruntlement, anxiety, even downright disbelief at the apparent lack of desire to bolster their attack or, even more pressing, reinforce a lightweight midfield. Defeat to West Ham at home on the first game of the campaign compounded prior criticism.
However, looking at recent history, if there is one thing that Wenger almost seems to relish, it is proving people wrong. Time and again, critics have said he wouldn’t get Arsenal into the Champions League, during a period where the Frenchman instigated arguably the toughest transition the club has seen in years.
Consistency in transition
A time where best players had to be sold to keep the books balanced and the club simply had to compete in the Champions League for sustainability’s sake. Having sanctioned the construction of a super stadium, every spare penny went into bricks and mortar, laying the foundations on which to build a dynasty.
For Wenger, he doesn’t recognise criticism. He operates with a higher sense of awareness than most, clearly confident in his ability; enriched with a perspicacity foreign to other football managers.
Think Arsenal and what do you picture? A name synonymous with the Gunners for nearly 20 years. It was the same with Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson and arguably, still is.
Two great managers who possess steadfast and unwavering belief in themselves; Jose Mourinho would do well to observe. While his self-belief derives from an attitude bordering on cocky, the former two, Wenger’s especially comes from within. A refined poise and inward confidence, almost like Andy Dufresne out of Shawshank Redemption.
It is this coolness and presence of mind, which enabled Wenger to escape the prison he found himself in at the start of the season, which was only made worse by two Champions League defeats. Four consecutive Premier League wins and Arsenal, (15/8 with Coral to win it) now sit at the summit of England’s top flight.
While their latest home game against Everton pointed to a potential Toffees thrashing, in reality it was never going to be that easy. Smarting from a 3-0 Goodison Park defeat to Manchester United last time out, Roberto Martinez’ men had a point to prove.
Some also will have underestimated the potential for any mental fatigue which would have crept into the players midway through the match, following a tough 2-0 win over Bayern Munich last time out.
Psychologically taxing as well as physically, the highs that would have come from the victory would have started to subside by kick-off Saturday evening and it was testament to the virtues of Wenger for being able to motivate his team for another tough task.
Handily, the form of Mesut Ozil has been evident for all to see in recent games, while Gabriel Paulista has thrown off any early season silliness, growing into an Arsenal defender, a term which should perhaps have been trademarked by Tony Adams, Martin Keown et al at the turn of the new Millennium.
This situation is certainly unique for Wenger and his critics. No doubt in days to come, there will be the inevitable, ‘they still need to strengthen’, ‘can they keep it up?’ lines throughout the media. For the Arsenal manager though, his saucer is well and truly half-full.
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