After Arsenal’s 0-0 draw with Sunderland at The Emirates on Saturday, I sympathise with them. They were very unlucky. They deserved a penalty for the rugby tackle by Titus Bramble and they had a legitimate goal disallowed. Both decisions led to Arsenal not getting 3 points, which on another day they could so easily have won. However, Arsene Wenger’s comments at the end of the match could prove to be detrimental for Arsenal, particularly with the impending match against Barcelona.
His first comment on the refereeing was “I’m too disgusted to speak about it frankly”. He continued, “these kind of decisions have too big an impact on the Premiership”. Wenger had clearly lost his cool and was feeling hard-done-by. And his bitterness over Arsenal’s continued lack of silverware came through when he said “It’s not the first time”.
The implication seems to be that ‘the whole world is against’. Furthermore, it shows that Wenger felt these 2 points could cost them the Premier League. These comments will only bring previous failures and injustices to the surface.
Obviously, this might not have been the worst thing Wenger could have possibly said, but I think these comments will have done nothing to help his team.
I was much more impressed with Wilshere’s attitude. He saw the game as a “good point” and added that there was a “long way to go in this title race”. This showed a side of maturity to Wilshere that I had not previously realised.
And Wilshere is right, Arsenal can still win the Premiership, they just need to keep their cool and play to their strengths. They still have to play against Manchester United in the Premier League. At the time of the interview, Manchester United still had to play against Liverpool on Sunday.
Now, United’s loss will no doubt have calmed Wenger down, but if they had won, Arsenal’s morale would have taken a huge dent. Those opinions of Wenger could have damaged more than just their Premier League hopes.
Admittedly Alex Ferguson has overreacted in recent weeks too, but I would not criticise his style of management to the same degree. He is a master of mind-games and has seen so much success at Manchester United.
In Giggs, Scholes, Van Der Sar and Ferdinand (the list goes on) they have experienced winners. Most importantly, Manchester United are not playing a hugely high-billed Champions League game on Tuesday.
Furthermore, they don’t have a recent record of giving away leads, or collapsing. The results against Newcastle and Birmingham will be lurking in Wenger’s mind as he goes to the Nou Camp, and after his comments it could well be in the player’s minds too.
Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that managers are human beings. As a spectator I welcome their passionate overspills. But Wenger’s timing could not be worse. If I were an Arsenal fan I would want a bit more composure from my manager. Wenger’s comments only highlight the fact that he is getting desperate.
To be honest, that is exactly what Arsenal are. They are desperate to win a trophy. But Arsenal’s future success will not be won through over-reaction, they will come from self-control. We have seen just how good they are going forward, but they need to match this with a sense of discipline in defence. The defenders need to match the calm of Wilshere not the desperation of Wenger.
They bounced back well from the Newcastle slip up to beat Barcelona 2-1 at home. This time, the challenge is a lot harder. They need to put a lot behind them; the Birmingham defeat and the injustice of the Sunderland game, and I hope they do, as in Europe I support all English teams.
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