Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this weekend provided a fascinating insight into the change from the Gunners’ physically dominant sides of the 90s and early 2000s, to the more diminutive and technically astute performers of recent years.
French tactician Wenger’s 22-year spell at the Emirates was of course brought to an end in 2018.
The now-71-year-old left behind a legacy untouched by any to have come before him in north London, having guided Arsenal to a trio of Premier League titles, a record-breaking 7 FA Cups, and the Champions League final in 2006.
Despite his lengthy list of accolades, however, what many will in fact remember most fondly when it comes to Wenger’s time with the Gunners was the brand of football he implemented.
The former Monaco boss’ sides, particularly during stretches between 2005 and 2013, were renowned for their sleek, tiki taka-esque stylings, combining technical skill with football intelligence.
This came during the era of the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Alexander Hleb and Samir Nasri in the English capital.
One criticism of such outfits, however, was a lack of silverware to show for their efforts.
Arsenal are of course without a Premier League title since 2004, with many of the opinion that Wenger’s most talented sides were simply too lightweight to cut it over the gruelling length of a 38-game season in the English top-flight.
Fab vs Vieira
On the flip side of the coin, the Arsenal sides which preceded this era added to the club’s trophy cabinet with regularity.
Such outfits combined talents on the ball with the ability to physically dominate opposing teams, through players such as Martin Keown, Tony Adams, Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Vieira.
And it is the latter of these stars who, as outlined above, took centre stage in a fascinating insight on the part of Arsene Wenger into the shift from physical priorities to more technical ones in north London, during his Arsenal stint.
Speaking on beIN Sports this weekend, the ex-tactician was drawn on the subject of his favoured type of player, with Wenger having gone on to explain:
‘Having smaller players, I went for football that was more based on mobility and less on impact. More on getting out of challenges than going into the challenges.’
‘And of course, I think we had technicality that was exceptional.’
When pressed on the debate between Patrick Vieira and Cesc Fabregas, meanwhile, the Frenchman opted for the former, albeit just:
‘They were both of my former players so that is very difficult.’
‘I always say, and I said that in my book, the guy that gave me time and credit at Arsenal was Patrick Vieira, because he was the first player I bought.’
‘And Fabregas was an exceptional football player. And still is, because he is still playing.’
Check out the segment in question in full below:
Wenger on moving from more physical players (Vieira) to more technical players (Fabregas). Asked to choose between both of them in their prime ‘goes Vieira just’ pic.twitter.com/ety7MlXx3g
— Osman 🎗 (@OsmanZtheGooner) February 20, 2021
Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this weekend provided a fascinating insight into the change from the Gunners’ physically dominant sides of the 90s and early 2000s, to the more diminutive and technically astute performers of recent years.Arsene’s reignFrench tactician Wenger’s 22-year spell at the Emirates was of course brought to an end in 2018.The now-71-year-oldFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed