Wenger caught lying on supplement use?

Arsene Wenger’s interview in L’Equipe appears to have caught him lying about players’ use of performance enhancing supplements under his watch.

“In 30 years of my coaching career, I never got one of my players injected to be more efficient. I never gave them a product that can improve performance. It is about pride. I’ve played against a lot of teams that were not in this state of mind,” stated Wenger.

However, it’s has been widely reported that when Wenger first came to Arsenal he encouraged the use of creatine as a performance-enhancing supplement.

A natural substance found in the body, creatine levels can be increased by eating red meat, although not as easily and effectively as supplement intake can provide.

The effect of saturating the body with creatine is to provide it with energy for muscular contraction by increasing the efficiency of ATP (Adenosine Triphosophate) synthesis. To cut a long story short, the supply of muscle-boosting ATP only lasts 3 seconds, but creatine supplementation can replete depleted ATP stores to maximise muscular energy, leading to enhanced power and performance during intense exercise, including speed endurance and recovery.

Soviet sports scientists began providing vials of creatine phosphate to athletes in the mid-‘60s and it was introduced to the sports supplement market in 1985.

Creatine is an amino acid by-product that has an osmotic effect, meaning water is drawn into the gut. If not taken with enough fluid, creatine can lead to stomach cramping. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Arsenal players complained about gastric problems due to Wenger’s introduction of creatine, hence the club stopped using it. Micronized creatine usually bypasses that problem, but players were likely taking supplements in liquid form at the time.

In 2011, ex-Arsenal forward Paul Merson claimed he regularly took creatine-boosting juices in training and high-powered caffeine supplements in the form of a dark tablet prior to games. Wenger hit back: “I give them personally nothing. If they don’t want to take anything, they take nothing.”

Note the use of the word “personally”, in order to squirm out of his responsibility for having his staff administer the supplements. Besides, it's absurd to  suggest that Wenger's staff would give players supplements without his express permission or guidance.

Although neither creatine nor caffeine are illegal substances, their excessive usage in sports has caused controversy. Meanwhile, for Wenger to state he never gave [or at least instructed] his players to use performance-enhancing supplements, appears to be yet another fabrication of the truth.


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Spurs lack killer instinct

Honours even at the Emirates, but this was no ordinary London derby. Spurs dominated – almost from start to finish, despite having 24 hours less recovery time due to their European exploits.

Mauricio Pochettino is doing a great job at Arsenal’s North London rivals. With such little rest, I didn’t think Spurs would be able to fully utilise their pressing game, but they found the energy and the Argentine got his tactics spot on.

Their only fault was a lack of killer instinct after playing all the football for at least 60 minutes – if not the entire match. Harry Kane put the visitors one up after Koscielny’s positional error allowed him a free run on goal from a Danny Rose pass; he coolly placed his shot past the stranded Petr Cech.

Arsenal didn’t seem to have any threat from open play, and all their recurring fallibilities were on show: frequently discarding possession from deep midfield, lack of defensive leadership and wide players failing to provide adequate defensive cover. But Kyle Walker switched off on 77 and allowed Kieran Gibbs of all people to latch on to Mesut Ozil’s precision cross and bundle it past Hugo Lloris for an undeserved equaliser.

If Spurs did have a weakness it was set pieces, they looked vulnerable on several occasions and Olivier Giroud should have scored but made a hash of a point blank header. In general, Tottenham showed a lot of steel and are coping with the demands of European football better than at any point in the recent past.

Arsenal grafted, but it was embarrassing how often they threw long balls onto the head of Giroud, which didn’t work. After so many years trying to develop his own brand of pass and move, the overarching conclusion has to be that Wenger is a mediocre coach that will never be considered a great manager by anyone other than Arsenal supporters.

He’s a domestic manager, who had extraordinary success due to a special set of circumstances. Wenger may project himself as a world great in his own deluded mind, but deep down he unwittingly gives the game away by spouting philosophical garbage about how it’s not the winning that counts but the taking part. No other manager talks such excrement, because no other manager is that self-absorbed or feels the need to insulate their own reputation with preposterous self-endorsements in L’Equipe.

A psychiatrist could write a book about Wenger’s acquired personality disorder, then another book about why so many people are completely blind to his fraudulent malevolence. Never before has a club had a board so curiously abnormal, and fans so defiled by their own ignorance and insecurities.

Watching that North London derby, it struck me just how much Wenger’s training ground methods and philosophies are bankrupt. What on earth does he do on the training ground every day of the week that’s different from the weeks, months and years before? All that pass and move, yet his teams cannot keep possession of the ball for more than two minutes unless they’re playing against garbage – and even then they’re vulnerable.

But nobody must question Arsene. That’s why his teams have no leaders, just cowards like Mertesacker. It’s all completely self-defeating, but Arsene’s reputation must come first, and remember – a turd can always rise to the top! Some are stubborn to flush.

But I still can’t see the turd that is Wenger’s Arsenal rising to the top, unless all Arsenal's rivals continue to plummet and Man City lose Aguero, Silva and Kompany for much longer spells this season.


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Arsenal humiliation has become normal

What’s the definition of shock? “A sudden upsetting or surprising event or experience.”

When upsetting or surprising events cease to be sudden, they’re no longer a shock, and for many, Arsenal’s annual Champions League humiliation – this year at the hands of Bayern Munich, was not a shock or even mildly surprising.

The fact that supporters, the media and the club treated last night’s battering with complete and utter indifference – as if it’s something to be expected and tolerated, shows just how low Arsenal have sunk as a European threat.

It also shows how feeble and out of his depth Arsene Wenger is as a modern European coach. This is a man that has been given carte blanche to express his footballing philosophies on the training pitch completely unfettered for 20 years – a man supposedly famed for youth development and fluid, possession football, with a wage bill and budget that surpasses the majority of teams his club faces, both domestically and in Europe (including Bayern), yet the Germans had an outrageous 73% possession at the Emirates two weeks ago, nearly 70% last night, and hammered Arsenal in second gear.

One suspects that Bayern’s statistics would have been even higher had they not sat on their lead for 15 minutes and the scoreline a lot worse had Cech not saved the majority of the 13 shots on target. One also suspects Arsenal would be out of the competition by now had Bayern shown more ambition at The Emirates – or not lost to a ball punched in the net by Olivier Giroud.

Like I said after the game, the result that night was an anomaly, the gulf in class is clear. Lose, fair enough, get torn to shreds playing like a pub team, shameful.

However, last night’s mauling was simply the tip of the iceberg as far as Arsenal are concerned. Wenger’s CL results in the last 5 years alone read like a crime sheet, shipping 5 at Bayern, 4 at AC Milan, 4 at Barcelona, and another 3 against Barcelona, Olympiakos (twice) Bayern, Anderlecht, and Monaco.

Arsenal’s recent record in the competition is barely better than Russian minnows Zenit Saint Petersburg. In the last 3 years that ZSP have qualified for the Champions League, the Russians have played 22 games and Arsenal 24 – yet ZSP only lost one more game than Arsenal during that period and let in only three goals less (29 to Arsenal’s 26).

On the topic of injuries and other lame excuses, it doesn’t take a genius to realise it wouldn’t have made any difference and most of Arsenal’s are self-inflicted. Just like Wenger’s Champion’s League record is a pattern of failure, his club’s injury record is indicative of similar outmoded ideas, lack of attention to detail and outright incompetence.

The fact is, despite almost 20 attempts, Wenger is further away from his Champions League dream than ever. His stale tactics and passive inability to think on his feet demonstrate that he’s learnt absolutely nothing, and it now looks likely that Arsenal will fail to progress further than the last 16 for the sixth year running, which is absolutely farcical.

Another Arsenal fan defence mechanism is “we’re focusing on the Premier League”, as if the club doesn’t have the resources to compete in both competitions simultaneously. However, it’s a ludicrous assertion, as if Arsenal fail to get out of the group stage, they will end up in the Europa League, which has more games than the CL and is probably more draining considering players are likely to be flown further afield, the prime cause of fatigue.

Nobody seems to care about Arsenal any more, few take the club seriously. The manager only cares about his ego and wallet, the CEO his job, the owner his dividend. Those slavishly besotted with Wenger don’t care about Arsenal; they only care about being proved right about Wenger. The more he gets humiliated, the more they dig their heels in clinging to salvation. Ex-players and pundits dribble incoherently, stuck between telling the bloody obvious and showing loyalty. Those that can’t stand the sight of Wenger ran out of caring years ago; only to hold a flickering candle for a club riding into the distance, overrun by a bunch of corporate clowns and a repugnant dictator.

Yet one thing I’ve learned about football managers is that every dog has his day. No matter how obstinate and clueless Wenger is, one day he’ll get a lucky cup run – and he did, and maybe one day all of his competitors in the PL will sink so low, the turd will rise to the top. If that perversely ends Wenger’s career at Arsenal, I hope it happens.


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Mourinho’s job not hanging by a thread

In the absence of decent football, three things are making the PL interesting this season.

1)      Chelsea (perversely)

2)      Klopp

3)      Tottenham

At the moment, Man City and Arsenal are the beneficiaries of the drivel that’s dished up most weeks.

It’s been a poor league since 2012/13, when Alex Ferguson won it at a canter despite having an average squad, which promptly collapsed upon his departure.

This shows the quality that a world-class manager brings and is also one of the reasons why Jose Mourinho won the title last season, because Chelsea were bang average for six months yet still won the PL comfortably.

However, Mourinho was unaware of the perfect storm brewing at Stamford Bridge. Maybe he took his eye off the ball or believed in himself a little too much. A thin squad, demotivated having just won the title, was no longer able to respond to a couple of key injuries or Mourinho’s perpetual crises mentality.

The only way I can see Mourinho getting sacked is if he loses the dressing room or the supporters, and I don’t see either happening. Chelsea fans will stand by their manager for now – and so they should. Neither do I believe Mourinho is stupid enough to bring about his own downfall by alienating his players.

At the moment, Mourinho is fighting the media. The Special One likes to invent a crisis in order to motivate his squad, and that’s what we’re seeing now - except this crisis is real. By rounding on everyone other than his players, he is saying: you are the victims of circumstance and the results are out of your control. Of course, he’s not stupid - that’s not what he REALLY thinks. Given the chance, he’ll ruthlessly rip apart this squad in the summer.

Despite some early draws, Klopp is unbeaten as Liverpool manager and it’s great to have him in the Premier League. Unless Chelsea stage a remarkable comeback, Klopp can fight with Mauricio Pochettino for that vacant Champions League spot, because Leicester will never last the course.

Despite being a Gooner, I have to admit that the team that has most impressed me this season is Spurs. They’ve only lost one game since the start of the season and have probably had as tough a run of fixtures as any club. Spurs are the only PL side showing genuine consistency and, whisper it, are winning games without relying on Harry Kane.

Pochettino has quietly assembled a formidable yet humble squad. He has thrown out those players that don’t know the meaning of hard work and created a pressing side that balances high work rate with technique. In Christian Eriksen, Tottenham have the best set piece taker in the Premier League, Toby Alderweireld has forged an instant partnership with Jan Vertonghen and Spurs have one of the best goalkeepers (Hugo Lloris) in the PL.

Moussa Dembele is finally starting to play. 6’2” midfielder Dele Alli was an inspired signing for £5m, but the joker in the pack is recovering from injury. His name is Son Heung-Min and this kid is an absolute animal with a ferocious work rate. Wenger’s scouts begged him to sign Heung-Min, who is better than The Ox will ever be.

November 7 is in my diary; will Spurs shrink like they usually do at the Emirates, or has Pochettino got them back to Harry Redknapp’s level, where nobody knew who would win the North London derby before kick off?

I wrote in a previous blog that Tim Sherwood’s departure was imminent and so it came to pass. His replacement is French coach and ex-Gunner Remi Garde. I really don’t understand that appointment at all. If they sack Garde in 12 months’ time then the entire Villa board should be run out of town in a hail of rotten vegetables.


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Giroud punches Arsenal to victory against blunt Bayern

Arsenal salvaged a level of pride last night following a 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich at the Emirates. Yes, I watched the game, although it was a bit dull, with Bayern having extraordinary levels of possession yet lacking the ambition to really take advantage of it.

Was Wenger’s remit to really allow Bayern the ball and hit them on the break, or were Arsenal simply unable to win possession or hold into it when they did? A combination of the two perhaps, but it seemed somewhat suicidal to allow playmaker Xabi Alonso the complete freedom of the park, and completely unnecessary considering his age.

However, it worked, largely because Pep Guardiola refrained from allowing full backs Philipp Lahm or David Alaba to move into attacking zones at any point in the game. The result was 70% possession, but nobody overlapping down the wings and few late runs from midfield to support the isolated Robert Lewandowski.

Shorn of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Bayern lacked ideas and sharpness in the final third – only Douglas Costa seemed capable of creating anything. Having said that, both teams had a couple of decent chances to score but were denied by top-class saves from goalkeepers Peter Cech and Manuel Neuer.

As the game entered its latter stages, there only looked like being one winner, and it wasn't the home side, but Bayern’s slow build-up play and inability to conjure up a final pass of any precision meant that they were relatively easy to stifle - although it should be pointed out that Arsenal did defend very well, with lapses of concentration unusually infrequent.

Ultimately, Bayern didn’t need the win, and were probably right not to leave themselves vulnerable to the counter attack, but you still felt that this was a team that could have done more to steal a goal before playing Arsenal at their own game.

In the end, the Germans paid the price for Guardiola’s lack of adventure, albeit due to a single lapse of concentration and a goal that should never have been allowed. Santi Cazorla’s free-kick in the 77th minute was inexplicably missed by Neuer, and in the resulting melee Olivier Giroud stumbled into space and punched the ball in the back of the net.

Arsenal then sealed the win in the final minute through Ozil, as Bayern finally left themselves exposed trying to salvage a draw.

Did Arsenal deserve to win? No, they didn’t do enough to deserve to win. Did Arsenal deserve to lose? No, they defended above themselves and played well enough to earn a draw; although with Olympiakos beating Zagreb a draw would not have been much use.

It was interesting that as the game entered the final 10-15 minutes, Wenger made no effort to change tactics despite Bayern’s enormous levels of possession. He wasn’t to know Arsenal would fluke a goal and they never really looked like scoring, so what was the plan? As we know, there is and was none - he just sat there like a shop dummy.

What does this tell us about Arsenal? It tells us that, on the rare occasion Arsenal manage to beat a top team, the result is down to an anomaly, not the masterful tactics or sparkling team play that a better manager might provide.


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