Tag Archives: Arsene Wenger

Henry endorses Arteta amid comparisons to Ferguson and Wenger…

There was a time not so long ago when many Gooners were pining for Thierry Henry to return to the Arsenal a third time, this time as coach. Thankfully, that never came to pass. There’s something about being transcendent that can make it hard to transmit to lesser players. Anyway, in his time as a pundit, Henry hasn’t minced his words regarding Arteta. Recently, however, he sat down with another legend, David Seaman, to give Arteta his seal of approval. If a player as legendary as Henry speaks, surely, even Arteta’s critics will have to pause for a moment to consider listening? We shall see…

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Ding, Dong, Mike Dean is—okay, not dead. Retired. Finally.

There are few conspiracies as baked in as the infamous anti-Arsenal bias of Mike Dean. With news of his retirement, I thought it would be well worth revisiting whether or not this Dean was as ever as bad as we assumed. It all started, apparently, on one august day in August at Old Trafford. Blame a water bottle. Blame Lee Probert. Maybe, just maybe, don’t blame Mike Dean. Hear me out.

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Just what is happening to Arsenal? What happened to the club we all knew?

Pull up a chair, you young whipper-snappers, and listen as I tell you a tale. Time was that the Arsenal never, ever spent more than, say, £60m for a player. Özil? £41m. Alexis? £36m. Aubameyang? £55m. Lacazette? £45m. It wasn’t until we broke the bank for Nicolas Pépé at about £69m that we started to shed the reputation that Arsène so carefully created, that of a self-sustaining club (aka a selling club with no ambition).

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There’s only one Arsène Wenger…in the Hall of Fame!

A man who is so synonymous with the club that many assumed the club was named after him has achieved yet one more accoldate to an-already illustrious careeer: Arsène Wenger has joined the Premier League Hall of Fame along with long-time rival and friend Alex Ferguson. Their rivalry defined the late 90s and early 2000s as each vied for the title, trading blows like two heavyweights. Arsenal won the Prem in Arsène’s first year; four times, Man U won it with Arsenal finishing second. THis is not about the rivalry, though. It’s about just how much Arsène transcended the sport itself.

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Arteta? He's merely Arsène with (legitimate) backing….

Having passed the midpoint of the season, it’s remarkable to think that this current squad have claimed more points than the Invincibles had done, even if they’d lost at Old Trafford (a loss that may have been averted had Tierney or VAR done their jobs on Martinelli’s wrongly disallowed goal). Even after the shock-loss to Everton, we’re currently on a pace to take 95 points, five points ahead of the pace set by that legendary 2003-04 side—a side that featured bona fide, well-established superstars such as Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, and Patrick Vieira, all of them voted among the club’s greatest players of all time. After that scintillating run, of course, we were forced to endure a law of diminishing returns, some of it by necessity and some of it on principle. 

Arsène was infamously averse to overspending on transfers. Some of that was philosophical; one of his more-famous aphorisms was “we don’t buy superstars. We make them”. The idea of a self-sustaining club was still realistic at that point. Regrettably, a larger part of that was practical; once we embarked on the Emirates Stadium project, we committed ourselves to that self-sustaining model. It was only after we made that commitment that Abramovich and then Mansour came along to throw the transfer-market and wage-packets completely out of line. Recent developments make that situation seem almost quaint by comparison, but I digress. 
Arsène’s vision was, well, visionary. Take away the post hoc accusation that he should have seen how Abramovich and Mansour would pull the rug out, and you’d have to admit that Arsène had put this club on a path towards almost-permanent competitiveness if not dominance for years to come. We saw hints of what was possible in his latter years as the club splashed cash on the likes of Alexis, Özil, Xhaka, Mustafi, Lacazette, and Aubemayang. Each of them inspired or frustrated by varying degrees but represented a departure from Arsène’s previous parsimony. Each of them was, more or less, a known quantity. Arsène was finally reaping the rewards of his purist vision but, at the same time, was seeing the squad falter.
Enter Arteta. Although there have been a few blips, his transfer-business has been the embodiment of Arsène’s vision. Aside from Partey, each of our key players has either come through the Academy or been plucked up out of relative obscurity. Only Ødegaard and Jesus might stand apart and away from Saliba, Ramsdale, Magalhães, White, Tomiyasu, Zinchenko, or Vieira as a highly-touted prospect. To that group you can add Saka, Smith-Rowe, and Nketiah as Academy products. There is also of course the genius-signing of Martinelli. That…that’s pretty much our XI plus a few extras. We regularly field one of the youngest if not the youngest squads in the Prem.
This has been made possible by significantly larger investment in the transfer-market, the kind of investment that Arsène either refused to indulge or couldn’t access. Arteta and Edu have picked up the best pieces of Arsène’s philosophy and have built a squad chock-a-block with young, budding superstars while avoiding (we hope) the kind of chicanry that Man City have been accused of and that Chelsea have to be wary of. These are superstars in the making. For as good as Ødegaard and Jesus and Saka and Saliba and White and others have been to this point, they’re only going to get better. 
That’s right. Although we’re five points clear of Man City with a game in hand, we’re still only just now plumbing the depths of what we’re capable of. The same can be said of Arteta as a manager. For as much as the players can improve, so too can—and indeed should—Arteta. Our recent setback against Everton proved as much on both fronts.
None of this is to say that we’ll win the Prem or Europa League. If anything, what I’m suggesting is that we’re only scratching the surface of what this process is pointing toward. What will happen between now and the end of May? Who knows? We’re starting to see the fruits of Arsène’s prescient vision, and it’s already starting to feel, well, fruitful.
If you’re still here, I hope you’re intrigued to learn of the launch of March Merch. Duringt the month of March, I’ll be tallying up who comments most often and entering those accounts into a raffle for some Arsenal merch. You can set up a Disqus account with any email or with a Google, Twitter, or Facebook account. In any case, I hope to hear from more of you in the comments below.