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Monday, October 29, 2007

Wenger-football is a class above Benitez-football

At the start of the season Liverpool were touted in the media as the team most likely to threaten the duopoly of Chelsea and Man Utd while Arsenal were almost written off with a lot of media-talk that big-spending Spurs were going to dislodge their neighbours from the top four.

Shows what the media football analysts know.

Last season Arsenal finished level on points with Liverpool with a young team that discerned football watchers knew were only heading one way: upwards. Yesterday they visited Anfield and put on a performance of total football and fighting spirit to earn a 1-1 draw which was the very least their footballing display earned. In pre-season I wrote about Wenger's Masterplan that has been three years in the making and for me was just about ready to explode. It is happening now and this is just the start.

Wenger is proven as a manager who can build a Premier League winning team. What's more he achieved it- like the most successful manager in Premier League history, Alex Ferguson - by having a philosophy of moulding his teams to play a brand of thrilling attacking football. His third generation team are showing they have got what it takes to emulate their predecessors: and I have no doubts they are here to stay and compete for the next few seasons to come.

On the other hand I'm yet to be convinced by Rafa Benitez. In my view his predominant philospohy of pragmatic defensive football with physically-strong but relatively immobile players combined with a hyper-rotation policy that obviously unsettles his players and disrupts team rhythm is not conducive for winning English Premier League titles.

Further, does he have the coaching vision and skill to maximise the development of talented young footballers? The progression of Ryan Babel will be interesting to watch in this context. Babel thinks he can be the next Thierry Henry and personally I like his pace and attacking drive. But Henry had Wenger developing him and a team almost custom-built to complement his fantastic attacking skill. Will Babel be able to progress into a player comparable to Henry while having Benitez as head coach and playing in a team that favours a pragmatic style of football?

There is no doubt that Benitez is a strong tactician. But for me his vision of football is relatively limited and he complicates things too much. The fact that it is almost impossible to predict a Liverpool XI for any match makes this point. On the other hand Wenger has a supreme vision of how football should be played and it showed yesterday by the way Arsenal passed and flowed their way across Anfield.

For me Wenger-football is a class above Benitez-football and the way Arsene shook hands with Rafa after the match I could tell he was satisfied that this is the case. On the other hand I think it is time Benitez started to revise his strategy if he wants to truly compete for the Premier League title.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knee Jerk. :)

10/29/2007 12:45 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another expert who probebly stacks shelves in TESCO

10/29/2007 12:48 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smug.

10/29/2007 12:51 pm

 
Anonymous Johnny B said...

T, I am LFC fan & I would go some way in agreeing to what you are saying. Fabulous football Arsenal play, we have not seen the game played like that for a long tme, reminds me of Brazil in times gone by. But you must remember that Arsenal have not won anything yet. Remember the have drawn against a Liverpool team that are short on confidence, poor form and injuries to two highly important players to say the least. If Alonso was on, would he have left Fabregas go? I genuinely think Arsenal are a great team this season & looking at it yesterday, there looked like on one team that was capable of winning the league. But for all that, LFC are only 6 points behind and in terrible run of form and it's still October. Arsene has had a long time also to stamp his authority over the club whereas Rafa had to dismantle the whole club and start rebuilding. He is at a club that is watched in my opinion than any other club in England. First there was zonal marking, remember we gave away two goals from corners and criticism. I think you have to agree that we probably have the best defence in England at teh moment. Then it was Steven Gerrard on the right. We did not have players of quality good enough to play out there, so Rafa put the best man out there. He was brillaint out there and now he is back in the middle(returning to his oldself) playing well. And now this season it's rotation. What will it be next. I really hope Arsenal win something, I dont know what because I am a bit biased!! but I hope a team of that quality gets remembered for winning, not just for beautiful football. As for Liverpool, for all the flack we've took, we are only six points behind and playing terrible. The question is do you see that continuing?

10/29/2007 12:53 pm

 
Blogger Skipper said...

What a great article T. You raise some very interesting points, albeit a little diplomatically at times. Both Ferguson and Wenger have proven in the premiership that they play the most dazzling football. I don’t agree that dazzling football is the recipe for a success. Jose, proved that you can win the championship without the flowing football that Arsenal are renowned for.

I would personally love to see Liverpool play attacking football, but Rafa does not have the players to play attractive football.

I really admire the way Wenger has adopted his philosophy of playing the beautiful game in the beautiful way. As for Benitez, I think he will need to rotate less in order to maximise what he has at Liverpool.

10/29/2007 1:01 pm

 
Blogger dangerousme47 said...

"As for Liverpool, for all the flack we've took, we are only six points behind and playing terrible. The question is do you see that continuing?"

Oh yes I do see it continuing. The only reason y u r 6 points behind is because of the quality of players u have ... and the money u spent on them .... oh yes i see it i see it ... u r not going to be just 6 points behind .... as u said its just october there are still more than 2/3rd matches remaining and there is still a very large possibility of u slipping further away ... to avoid that, play better, I like ur team, it just needs a better manager .... and u need to stop that stupid rotation policy and acc: to the main article , yesss , "Benitez's vision is very limited and makes it very complicated " !!!

10/29/2007 1:10 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha you must be a proper WUM with your arse-al rubbish. Anyone seen how many pieces of rubbish this guy has written about Arse-al down the right hand side? Wenger this, Fabregas that, Gilberto this. You know who Arse-al have face with resistence? Blackburn and Liverpool, Fulham, West Ham and Man City where you guys barely scraped a win. you have had luck here and thereabouts but you dont speak about that. The media hype you lot up and you swallow it because its your team. Liverpool should have beaten you lot, they had the chances before the crackshots off the post you keep harping on about and if you're so magnificent why didnt you lot finish the chances with open goal? Masterplan? Who are you on about, Spectre? Wenger due to take over the Premiership? Been waiting for it for some while now and nothing. Start nicely and you lot think you are the dog's bollocks, play in another league, yet when the shit gets tough you lot are cowering and moaning.

Bolton were your bogey side but Allardyce messed that up and when the weather hits you you start screaming. And when you start rubbing in about Spurs, you started it mate. Cocky shite. We had King in defence with Dawson or Kaboul we would have handled you lot, we scored first and we could have got a second from Berbatov while you guys huffed and puffed. You hit 7 past shite Czech team and come to Liverpool thinking you were gonna roll them but got surprised and you only talk about 'fancy football'. Looks nice but does it get you anywhere? Not much. Enjoy the ride, pride comes before a fall mate and looking at Adebay-ooooohhhh its a big height.

"Masterplan" - absolute shite.

10/29/2007 1:27 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohhhh, it hurts doesn't it. Poor Spurs. Don't worry, the way your team are playing they'll definitely make top four next season...LOL

Liverpool took a big gamble playing Alonzo and Torres and now they're going to have to pay through their prolonged absense. I don't think they'll make top 4 this season nevermind winning the damn thing, and Benitez will resign or be sack at the end of the season.

That's all

10/29/2007 2:00 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The above comment does sound like it's coming from a wounded liverpool fan. Come on guys, wenger built a team without spenind the huge amounts of money that the other big 3 did. can benitez do that seriously? can jose? can ferguson? i really cannot see that happening at other clubs. wenger is amazing. and i am not even an arsenal fan. let common sense prevail! well, and stop being a sore loser yah? :) anything team that wins 7-0, albeit against lesser teams have something special about them.

10/29/2007 2:03 pm

 
Blogger Tom said...

Aside from the moron Spud comments here an interesting and balanced discussion on the merits of both sides and their respective managers. I think Liverpool should be worried by the game yesterday as it's abundantly clear that Arsenal played Liverpool off the park at times and that must be hard to take from Liverpool's point of view. To go to Anfield and perform like that is a huge task for any team and Arsenal should be proud of their young squad for performing with such confidence, style and commitment. Clearly Arsenal will be in the top three at the end of the season and there's not much between ManU and Arsenal at the moment. While Liverpool look very strong having bought some great players in to add to an already capable and experienced squad questions remain about Benitez. He's spend a lot of money buying attacking payers - Torres, Veronin, Kuyt, Benayoun and Babel but ... there does appear to be a lack of creativity in the team still. Constant rotation is bad for the balance of the side and undermines the collective team spirit. Something is not quite right at Liverpool and the league position is slightly mis-leading as they have been lucky in recent games, particularly against Everton when they should have lost - Kuyt should have seen a red card and probably Carragher as well ... twice he dragged Lescott to the floor and both incidents were penalties. He was at it again on Sunday against Arsenal and could easily have gifted them with a penalty, so I would say that Liverpool's league standing flatters them somewhat. When you look at their poor CL form this season you get a clearer picture of where they really stand - shaky form indeed! Arsenal are still a work in progress but they already look like they're in a different league to Liverpool.

As for Sp*rs - what a pathetic bunch of losers!

10/29/2007 2:23 pm

 
Blogger SKG said...

some interesting comments.

arsenal kept and passed the ball far better than liverpool and made liverpool look very ordinary at times. liverpool to their credit however played some decent stuff. if you look at the stats, both teams had virtually the same number of attempts at goals as the other. a draw was therefore a fair result.

everyone loves thrilling attacking football but that doesn't guarantee trophies. arsenal and man utd look awesome at the moment but liverpool and chelsea are both quite capable of finishing ahead of them.

we're in for a cracker of a season. i think, for the first time, the big 4 will really all have a chance at the title. ferguson and wenger however have the experience of knowing how to win the league. i think after 38 games the table will finish:

Man Utd
Arsenal
Liverpool
Chelsea

10/29/2007 7:41 pm

 
Blogger SKG said...

some interesting comments.

arsenal kept and passed the ball far better than liverpool and made liverpool look very ordinary at times. liverpool to their credit however played some decent stuff. if you look at the stats, both teams had virtually the same number of attempts at goals as the other. a draw was therefore a fair result.

everyone loves thrilling attacking football but that doesn't guarantee trophies. arsenal and man utd look awesome at the moment but liverpool and chelsea are both quite capable of finishing ahead of them.

we're in for a cracker of a season. i think, for the first time, the big 4 will really all have a chance at the title. ferguson and wenger however have the experience of knowing how to win the league. i think after 38 games the table will finish:

Man Utd
Arsenal
Liverpool
Chelsea

10/29/2007 7:41 pm

 
Blogger Abdul said...

T - very interesting article indeed.

I think a draw suited both teams - it was too important a game to lose.

I would support T's view that - so far - Wenger's brand of football in the Premier League is superior to Benitez's brand both in achieving success and entertainment.

The question is whether Benitez sees his pragmatic approach as being part of a football evolution he is implementing - so that it is a means to an end eventually leading to Liverpool winning trophies by playing attractive footbal - or whether the pragmatic approach is simply the be all and end all to his football philosophy. Only time will tell but I hope it is the former rather than the latter.

10/30/2007 9:44 am

 
Anonymous Edward said...

Hi guys,

First time writing to this site and I can see how there is some argument for and against both sides. Arsenal are a good side at the moment where they use the youths' eagerness and metabolism to move around rapidly and they are mentally aware of spaces to put passes into as well as hone their shooting skills more than their heading. They have a good central defence of Gallas and Toure who get into tackles hard and read danger to clear the ball. Their weakness is their contingency where they do not have a counter to being broken down as they feel they are too fluid in their passing and build-up to be caught out. Also as with other teams when they are pressed they cannot move as rapidly as they wish. They miss two good chances of scoring hitting the post but I think Bendtner did not have as open a goal as some people believe.

Liverpool were okay at the start with the rotation policy and no one mentioned about it when they made the Champions League final twice and the F.A. Cup and finishing third in successive seasons. No one mentioned about the rotation when Liverpool were on a winning run. I believe certain players are following others and feeling disgruntlement at not playing often enough if merited. Liverpool can pass and move as good as the other top team, including Arsenal, but they use a slower rhythm in their build-up. They do not have enough rapid pace in them to beat teams clearly so they have to work hard at it and that pressures them into scoring, why they do not finish so much when in position. Liverpool have a defensive unit in their system that whatever happens, it is a fallback to keep out teams.

Arsenal are firing right now but I would reserve judgement until further into the season as the League and F.A. Cup has not begun. They have been susceptible but teams have not exploited it through concentrating on defending in numbers and deep to stifle the midfield. Liverpool have shown that they do not pick up true pace until later into the season around Xmas or after and if they maintain their position and distance between the leaders we could see a different side.

I thought that Arsenal would beat Liverpool because Liverpool are lacking in confidence and can ebb and flow during the game whereas Arsenal start to build into their game and keep it at a level before they move up. However, as much as I hear many people say Arsenal were the better side with fluid passing, which they were, it counted for little other than statistics until when Fabregas scored near to the end of the match. Had Reina stuck out a leg it could have been Liverpool winning whereas Almunia and the Arsenal wall stood no chance against Gerrard's freekick.

Liverpool could have been stronger if they had Torres and Alonso for the whole game and Mascherano not feeling injury and they did have the chances before Arsenal had theirs. In fairness, this was not reflected in the piece above. While Arsenal had good possession and passing, it was not their game as much as the piece written above seems to portray, and I think a draw was right for they are both still yet to lose.

10/30/2007 11:40 am

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing I can assure all those dreaming..Wenger's football won't win a Champions League this year either :)

10/30/2007 1:33 pm

 
Blogger T said...

Thanks for some really good comments and analysis!

10/30/2007 9:44 pm

 
Blogger RedsMan said...

Intersting comments, some look based on mass hysteria, others are more or less opinionated. Who was the happiest with a point, Liverpool or Arsenal? I think it's hard to tell, Arsenal made the better chances though we held them for 80 mins, Liverpool started well early and should have added to it to put more pressure on Arsenal.

I don't think Arsenal have been under such pressure since Fulham in coming back from a goal down and were their football to deserve the win then it would have developed into one. The same could be said for Liverpool with their chances early in the second half. I think that having endured some sticky football recently LFC has still held strong at home importantly, which could bode well for us when Besiktas and Porto play at Anfield. Having certain players fit soon would be very crucial.

As for the game, it was enthralling enough, ended in a goal apiece and now its for Liverpool to move onwards to the next game. Not even bothering to comment on some of the 'predictions' thus far!


RedsMan.

10/31/2007 11:31 pm

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice writeup smacks of boasting and showing off because your team is unbeaten and winning against inferior teams played all the fancy sexy football you want but nothing from it when fAbregas scored so what are you gooners on about? Not much. hmmm lets see....question Rafa's tactics because we can we're arsenal...ok...two euro cup finals in first three years, fa cup beaten ac milan barcelona...ermmm did you? no. did you win the cup final? no had your chance and blew it with barca we didnt we have same manager same tactics didnt question it then and think you can now hahahahahaha won at anfield last season god no wonder your sits shite all these gooners about wanking goons

11/02/2007 10:52 am

 

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