Today, Arsene Wenger received backing and support from a legendary figure. That figure was and still is a devoted man of football and plays the game with a certain grace that is unmatched in the history of the game. He was part of the Invincibles who swept all before them in the league. He was the master of exquisite goals that captured imaginations. He is Dennis Bergkamp.
In an interview, Bergkamp defended the philosophy of his former mentor and manager. In the events of the the draw at Birmingham which made it almost impossible for Arsenal to win the league this season, Wenger has once again been chastised by the media for his insistence of playing beautiful football and not buying enough grafters in his team which is stopping Arsenal from winning any sort of title.
Wenger’s idea is not only to play good football. It’s to play good football to win. In my day, we knew that with our style we could hurt teams and win trophies too. But we did it our way, with the positional game, passing, movement. I’ve been watching Arsenal this season and the football is fantastic. They can cut through defences no problem, so I can’t agree with people who say ‘this is not the way to win”.
It is hard to compare any team, let alone both managed by the same manager within the same club. Bergkamp’s team and Fabregas’ team (if you like) are of different generation. Both plays quick passing game with movement all over the pitch involving almost all of the 10 outfielders. Whereas the previous squad had strong physical players who can mix skill with strong tackling, the current squad are imbued with more technical players who plays at a much faster pace but could sometimes be found wanting on the physical side. And yet the solution offered by the master of ridiculous eye of a needle passes, is simple.
Arsenal (today) always have more possession of the ball than the opponent. You don’t see often a bad pass in the midfield. But in the final third, often it’s a bad decision. That’s so strange. They just need to be able to finish it off. You have to shoot, to want to score goals no matter how. Just score that goal! You can’t be afraid to miss.
Over the years, there’s more and more tendency to try to score the perfect goal. I really do not like to condemn the players for trying to do so because when it pulls off, it is a magnificent feeling to have. However, that should not get in the way of getting scoring a goal in the game. If any of our existing players found themselves with space either just outside or inside the penalty box, they are likely to look for a colleague in a more favourable position than to go for goal themselves. Andrey Arshavin may be the only current player that is an exception in this respect. Fabregas scored a lot of goals at the start of the season from range, however as the season goes by, that has become less and less. The same goes for the others.
When I played in Holland, I always tried to lob the goalkeeper. People used to say, ‘Oh, you’re always only trying to make a nice goal’. But I said, ‘listen, if the goalie is a little bit off his line, how much space do you have on his left or right? It’s not a lot. And how much space do you have above him? There is more. It’s a question of mathematics. “It’s fantastic. If you get the lob right, you can’t miss. You can say it’s not effective. But I say it is. I scored many goals like that.
Bergkamp also goes on to explain why he sometimes choose to lob the opposition keeper instead of shooting. His reasoning is just special, which is why he was a special player. He sees things that is different from the others and that made him stood out. His last game for Arsenal was the Champions League final but due to circumstances he did not get any playing time in that match. It would have been a fitting end to a very loyal and respected servant of the club had he got on and score the winning goal and lift the trophy. Perhaps this could be used as a motivation for the players before the game against Barcelona tomorrow.
Match preview tomorrow. Fingers crossed, there is good news about Fabregas today.