Arsenal aren’t looking good for playing Champions League football next season, following the departure of several key players without replacements being drafted in. It didn’t take a genius to work out you couldn’t sell the likes of Flamini, Hleb and Gilberto without buying someone to fill their boots. Unfortunately, Wenger thought his kids would be up to the trick. They’re not. Not yet, at least. But then they’re a team in transition right? Five years of transition though? That excuse is wearing a bit thin, with the Gunners getting worse with every passing season, currently occupying a spot in the table they last finished in back in 1996.
Regardless, Wenger reckons Arsenal are better at dominating their position than United are, despite winning seven games less than United and losing three more.
“I have watched Man United get an opening here and there and they are a great side. But I don’t feel they dominate the games like we do,” said Wenger. “The trophies flow in for them at the moment so it’s all natural for them. Winning everything is not realistic because it has not been done yet. But for them it is still possible, so you have to consider that they could be the first team to do it. But I still believe it is a bit early to say that.”
Well, there was our game at the Emirates, where we had more possession, more shots on target, more shots off target, more blocked shots, greater passing completion and tackling success. Is that what Wenger means by dominating? Winning games even when you’re bossed off the park on your own turf?
That doesn’t make a lot of sense, so let’s have a look at what Wenger is getting in when we look at their other games.
They drew 0-0 with Fulham at the weekend. Did they dominate? Well, they saw less of the ball than their opponents, despite the game being played at the Emirates. They had three shots more on target than Fulham though. Is that domination? Let’s not forget, only Stoke and West Brom have a worse record away from home this season.
Ok, so that didn’t prove Wenger’s point. What about Arsenal’s last away game then, another 0-0, this time at Spurs. They had just 44% possession of the ball, they had just 2 shots on target to Spurs’ 5, 4 shots off target to Spurs’ 11, as well as fewer corners and a worse passing success. Domination?
Another draw, this time 1-1, against Everton a month ago. Arsenal score an injury time winner, one of two shots on target in 90 minutes, whilst having fewer shots off target and less possession.
Even looking at games where Arsenal win, like their 1-0 home win over Wigan a couple of months ago, they still only had the same number of shots on and off target as their opposition.
You’d be hard pushed to find any United game this season where we saw less of the ball than our opposition, and certainly a game where we created fewer chances, probably only away to Liverpool. United are yet to play consistently at their best, despite claiming three points on a regular basis and lifting two trophies already this season, but given the style of attacking football we successfully employ, it is ludicrous to claim we don’t dominate matches as well as a side who are currently fighting off Everton for fifth place!
So what exactly is Wenger talking about?