Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Perfect Imperfection: Have Arsenal Started To Win Ugly?

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Prasoon Sur
Prasoon is a law student who lives in the North East of India. Wildly innovative, football is more than a passion for him.

Arsenal weren’t branded with the adjective of ‘grinding results’ until last season. When one generally tries to elaborate the image of the North London outfit plying their trade under the tutelage of Arsène Wenger, a fully-fledged implementation of attacking football, trying to over complicate things with too many passing moves, often gets portrayed. Apparently, not many sides have bagged silverwares and honours without unveiling the ugly side of their tactical nous.

Lately, a perception has started to creep that Arsenal have learned how to fork out results at the testing circumstances without faltering or succumbing to the opponents. In all fairness, this Arsenal side seems to know and also utilise the art of winning inappropriately to keep themselves glued to the top of the league table. Have the Gunners set forth in the right direction, including embracing the not-so-beautiful aspect of the beautiful game?

On their day, the famous ‘Wengerball’ could rattle any side, the most recent endeavour being a worth remembering 3-0 win over their fellow London rivals Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. Prospectively, they accumulated a 1-0 win over Burnley away at Turf Moor where they vehemently embraced a wanting result despite putting on a rather unattractive style in the process of bagging all three points.

Sean Dyche’s troops were thoroughly resilient and compact, as a result of which Wenger’s men looked clueless and were underperformers for almost the entire game, but went all guns blazing in the extra time, as a consequence of which they could grind out a morale-boosting result via Laurent Koscielny’s controversial goal (Wenger didn’t see Koscielny handballing for the goal of course). Such results do uplift the stature of confidence of the team to an unimaginable extent.

On Saturday, Swansea were hosted at the Emirates Stadium when another glimpse of the aforesaid newly developed manner of winning was seen from the Gunners. A hard earned 3-2 win for Arsenal with a man down showed that they do have the mentality to win silverware. The red card brandished to Granit Xhaka due to his outrageous tackle (read: tackle out of frustration or the alike) on Modou Barrow lessened down Arsenal to ten men, leaving them in a pretty awkward scene.

Despite the late resurgence to go all-out attack on the home side’s defence by the Swans, Arsenal held on to their slender lead, stuck in, showed resilience and once again ground out a very important win to mount pressure on Manchester City in the race to the top of the league table. The recent history until the start of the season is a proof that Wenger’s side haven’t been adaptable when it comes to taking due diligence, and considering the league trophy drought, the recent cultivation of a winner like mentality is a welcome culture at the club.

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