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Wenger: We Have No Plans To Change Our Playing Style

arsene-wenger-pressA defiant Arsene Wenger says that the success of Leicester and Atletico Madrid will not change his emphasis on possession-based football.

Once again Arsenal lead the league in time of possession with 57%, but with Champions Leicester only 18th in the same table with 44.7%, the criticism is mounting that Arsenal are just keeping possession for the sake of it. That they are not incisive enough in attack.

But despite the success of Leicester and Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, also played defensively to see off Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinals to reach their second final in three years, Wenger says he doesn’t see a major shift happening in the game.

“I don’t think so. I go to the European managers [meetings] for 20 years, and we always have the same debate. When Barcelona, who always have the most possession in the Champions League, go out everybody says maybe it’s the end of possession football,” Wenger said.

Arsenal repeatedly struggled to turn their dominance into goals this season, which is a large reason for why their match at Manchester City on Sunday is now a fight for third place rather than for the title. Leicester and Atletico both represent a style that focuses more on counterattacking and taking a more direct approach with the ball when the team actually has it.

“It raises questions about efficiency and football based only on efficiency. Because it shows that if it’s done well, it can be very successful,” Wenger said. “I think over a longer period, possession will still dominate. But when you’re not successful it’s questioned, and I can understand that.”

Arsenal have shown on occasion that they can master the counter-punching style of football, like in last year’s trip to Man City when they dropped deep and focused on defending but won 2-0. But Wenger said there is no way he is about to change his approach permanently.

“No, because we have the [wrong] type of players as well,” he said. “If I say tomorrow we only defend, with [Mesut] Ozil in the team it will become difficult.”

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • chris May 7, 2016, 4:02 am

    Of course you won’t change, Arsene. You are too set in your ways and determined to prove everyone else wrong. Well, your playing style has held us back for 8 – 9 years already …. so why not another 3 -4 ? Every other team knows how to play us at The Emirates. That is the reason we do relatively better away. Plus the fact that your playing style is what quietens our home crowd. But then … that’s right … you won’t change.

  • Qomar May 7, 2016, 3:00 am

    Firstly I do not know well about football but I watched all Arsenal since Ozil landed to the team. I do not buy 100% Wenger saying that Ozil will have difficulty to change from possession to defending football as Germany beat Italy 4-1 on friendly match with more defensive approach of 3-2-5 where Ozil acted as in deeper role along side with Kroos. I think most importantly that every single team needs to adapt for every single game and my opinion that Arsenal does not well adapt tactically. Sorry to say it but it is just blind personal opinion anyway.

    • Qomar May 7, 2016, 3:01 am

      Sorry it should say 5-2-3 position where 5 players defended well vs. Italy.

  • Okey Onwuagha May 7, 2016, 2:29 am

    Wenger I ask you of what use or benefit is possession if it doesn’t produce goals? This is probably why in the last 12 years you have equated 4th place to a trophy which is not good enough. Football is dynamic and those that manage it must also be dynamic because to be static is to be left behind. If in different competitions your style of play has been proven to be flawed, insisting on not changing is tantamount to absolute arrogance. Furthermore, you seem to have forgotten that doing the same thing and expecting different result is the first sign of stupid madness.

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