Early Doors

Anti-football for Arsenal?

Early Doors

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The weekend heralded the start of the pre-season proper, with heavyweights Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all in action. And that can only mean one thing: the new season is mere weeks away. Huzzah.

It's an enjoyable time of the football calendar, a time of amicable warm-up games played out in the sunshine, as recent additions take their bows and nice new kits (and Everton's latest away strip) are aired for the first time. Anticipation for what lies ahead abounds and hope is everywhere.

It also gives teams the opportunity to address any deficiencies left over from last season, try something new and look at ways they can improve during the new campaign.

Yet, while improvement is undoubtedly on the mind of every manager before the new season starts, there are those who are more reluctant to accept a change in tactics and style than others.

Take Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, for example.

The Gunners have long been criticised for not possessing the toughness required to win another Premier League crown and for their insistence on advocating style over substance.

Arsenal are, if you like, the old Netherlands of the Premier League.

But whereas the Dutch were all too willing to sacrifice the beautiful game for the rough and ready tactics they believed would bring them World Cup glory, Wenger is unlikely to follow in Bert van Marwijk's footsteps at Arsenal.

Wenger is a stubborn man, one who over the years has shown an unwillingness to alter his approach to the game.

So far this summer he has brought in a ball-playing centre-back and a striker who looks like Cristiano Ronaldo. Hardly the kind of players who are likely to bring about a seismic shift towards a new, grittier and more effective style.

Against Barnet on Saturday, all the Gunners' flair attacking play was once again in evidence, as Andrei Arshavin, Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott all thrilled in fits and starts, but the fear is that Arsenal will be facing the same old problems once the season kicks off in a month's time.

Robin van Persie, who was not involved at Underhill, voiced his concern over the weekend.

The striker said: "I know how difficult it can be to play wonderful football and not get the result you want. I see it at Arsenal more than I want to.

"When we play the likes of Bolton and Blackburn we dominate the game, we play attacking football and they score from a lousy throw-in or an odd corner kick.
"The criticism Holland got in the World Cup I recognise from what we get at Arsenal. It was a final. You don't give up without a fight, do you?"

Whether that was a non-too subtle hint aimed at Wenger to take a leaf out of the Dutch books and adopt a rather less artistic approach to the game or just a sign of frustration is not clear, but the manager would do well to listen to his striker.

ED isn't advocating kung-fu kicks - or Mark van Bommel for that matter - but Arsenal need to begin, as Van Persie says, to put up a fight if they are improve on last season.

Wenger's love for playing the beautiful game is undeniably admirable, but such is the difficulty in finding a balance between style and getting results, perhaps it is time for him to consider the new Dutch anti-football approach to the game.

- - -

Look at any World Cup A-Z and you'll see under 'V' the word vuvuzela.

But the horns that have become synonymous with the tournament in South Africa are unlikely to make it over here, despite the best efforts of some ambitious importers.

'Original Vuvuzelaman' is selling the devil's trumpets for £9.95 on Amazon and it doesn't take a maths boffin to work out that a couple of thousand of them at each ground up and down the country every weekend will make him a very rich man.

Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for anyone with vaguely sensitive eardrums, they are not likely to see the light of day en masse over here, as ever more clubs issue banning orders on the instruments.

Oldham were the latest to say no to the vuvuzela over the weekend, joining a wealth of lower league clubs - and rugby clubs and music festivals - in doing so.

Interestingly, Premier League clubs are yet to be too vocal on the subject, leading ED to wonder why.

Would it be too cynical to suggest that they're merely waiting to see if there's any money to be made from the venture - surely a Manchester United branded trumpet is only around the corner (£24.95 RRP) - before they close the door on that particular avenue of income?

- - -

FOREIGN VIEW: Could things get any worse for France coach Raymond Domenech? In a word, yes. The much-maligned boss's contract is due to expire at the end of the month, with Laurent Blanc ready to step into the breach, but word from Paris is that he might not even make it that far and will be sacked before he walks for 'tarnishing the image of the French Football Federation'.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "During (Milan's) USA tour, we met a few people. And David Beckham is pushing to get Dinho at LA Galaxy. Should an agreement not be reached for a renewal at Milan, this could be an option for next summer." One of the most prolific agent/brothers in the game, Robert De Assis, touts Ronaldinho to link up with Milan pal Dave Becks in LA.

COMING UP: Paul Parker will be filing later on in the day and there are a couple of early evening Russian Premier League games to follow. But otherwise, there is little football to enjoy today. So why not turn your attention to the Tour de France, which continues with the peloton setting off from Pamiers on the road to Bagneres-de-Luchon - follow all the action live from 11:20 UK time.

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