Arsenal Are Reaping the Rewards of Wenger's Philosophy and Deserve a Trophy

Janusz Michallik@@JanuszESPNFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014


I am not an Arsenal supporter, but I like almost everything that the club stands for. When you have the right philosophy, a good foundation, talent, good management and people within the club who care, success will come eventually.

But with the loss to Aston Villa on opening day, it looked as if the Gunners were headed for another another trophy-less season under Arsene Wenger. Even after Mesut Ozil was bought, there was still a way to go at Arsenal

What has happened since is frankly inexplicable. You can’t tell me that there is a soul out there who could possibly have foreseen this. Ozil has helped, but I only see him as the catalyst of a rebirth that was going to happen anyway.

Arsenal's drive to the top of the table has happened because of Wenger's structure and his refusal to stray away from his footballing principles. The belief that Wenger has in his players is real and is paying dividends.

It's not that their central defensive pair of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker got better overnight—and I could still find plenty of weaknesses in them individually—but they were given time and responded together as a unit.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 13:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal at Villa Park on January 13, 2014 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Last season, between the set pieces, individual mistakes, rash challenges and red cards, we could justifiably have asked questions of the pair—wondering if they were good enough for Arsenal.

There are still times we can ask those questions, but the stats tell me that huge credit has to be given for their performance together this campaign. The bottom line is Koscielny and Mertesacker were given time to grow.

Bacary Sagna is another prime example. He struggled with injuries last season and most Arsenal supporters wanted him out or at least felt that his time may have come. Wenger gave him time and he's been impressive as the Gunners' right-back this season.

Aaron Ramsey could have been forgotten, but Wenger believed. Wojciech Szczesny was too young, said some, and not ready. Both have proved themselves.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 02: Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker of Arsenal celebrate defeating Stoke City after the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on February 2, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Mi
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Olivier Giroud may not be in the same class as Manchester City's Alvaro Negredo, but Giroud scores goals and works tirelessly for the team at both ends of the field. Many have doubted him; Wenger was not one of them.

Players at Arsenal are benefiting from a incredible atmosphere at the club—that gives them everything to be successful. There will have been periods of doubt amongst the players—especially with the sales of Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie—but Wenger got his squad through them.

To see Arsenal at the top of the Premier League table, having turned their fortunes around in dramatic fashion, tells you that proper foundation, with positive and strong leadership, results in success.

There are big tests ahead—Bayern Munich in the Champions League and a gruelling Premier League run-in to negotiate. Getting results against the best teams in Europe will serve well to quieten the cynics further.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:  Santi Cazorla of Arsenal (L) celebrates with Olivier Giroud (R) as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Fulham at Emirates Stadium on January 18, 2014 in London, England.  (
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal would not want it any other way. They have been tested through injuries and already won some games they may have lost last season. They've won pretty and they've won ugly. They have shown spine and ridden their luck.

You might argue they've improved despite having less true talent than in some of the campaigns gone by.

In the last couple of years the philosophy at Arsenal has been questioned time and time again. So far, no trophies have been won to provide the answer, but the Gunners could barely deserve one more.


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