« Spurs' dominance, and the consequences of Arsenal missing out on top four | Main | Kroenke not to blame for Wenger's serial incompetence »

Off-colour City beaten, Guardiola needs time

In the FA Cup semi, Chelsea beat Spurs 4-2 in an exhilarating match, where Tottenham once again showed resilience but made elementary defensive errors that can only be attributed to their inability to handle the pressure of expectation. Although they’ve done magnificently well to close the gap on Chelsea to just four points, you get the feeling that should Chelsea falter again and an opportunity present itself, Spurs will not take advantage.

Whether on the pitch or in the coaching setup, Pochettino needs a couple of old hands that know what it’s like to taste success and can transmit that to the players. Even Leicester had Robert Huth. With such a young squad, there are presently few calming influences able to help push Spurs over a winning line. For Pochettino, it appears the last piece of the jigsaw is more mental than physical or tactical.

Arsenal beat Man City due to a combination of factors, few of them to do with Wenger’s newly-adopted back three. Against City, he threw all his principles out the window and went long ball, which didn’t work because that was not the reason Man City were beaten. After a typically exhausting season, Guardiola’s players lacked energy and struggled to sustain any sort of collective press. The fact is, too many players are struggling to adapt to Guardiola’s tactics and are incapable of concentrating for 90 minutes.

Having said that, Guardiola’s side did have a perfectly good goal disallowed and didn’t have much luck, hitting the woodwork twice. David Silva was knobbled by a bad tackle early in the game, as was Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho who barely made it into extra time. Not that Guardiola looked for any excuses. Arsenal showed fighting spirit, which once again demonstrates how Wenger is unable to motivate his players; they turn up when they feel like it.

Most people haven’t got a clue what Guardiola is trying to do at City and how difficult it will be for him to accomplish his objectives. His side are clearly not comfortable playing the ball out from the back and he has players like Bravo, Clichy, Otamendi and Navas who make stupid defensive errors in almost every game. Yaya Toure can still create a chance or produce a moment of magic, but he couldn’t press a lemon and his overall contribution is pitiful. China beckons.

Personally, I don’t think Guardiola’s side will even begin to come into its own until the season after next. At the moment, Man City is nothing like a Guardiola team, where the players dominate possession with purpose, use fluid movement to open up space for each other and hunt in packs to win the ball back. His tactics are complex and go well beyond Tika Taka - a terminology Guardiola dislikes and relates to having possession for the sake of it.

Yes, he has some supremely talented technical players like Silva and De Bruyne, but he doesn’t have deep-lying intellects like Xabi Alonso spraying pinpoint passes like he did at Bayern or technique freaks like Xavi and Iniesta to control the midfield.

At Barca, Guardiola created a collective of players so comfortable and intelligent in possession, and so well-drilled out of it, that traditional positions almost became meaningless. That was his genius. However, at Man City it’s obvious that a disproportionate amount of players do not have the technique, temperament or intelligence to adapt to Guardiola’s tactical instructions, and at the moment it all looks completely  dysfunctional.

It’s much more difficult to recreate Guardiola’s brand of football in the Premier League than, for example, Klopp, whose tactics are more often predicated on sheer blood and guts and motivationally driven. Guardiola will need two or three years to get things right, but he will – given time.


In the PL, Man Utd brushed Burnley aside with goals from Martial and Rooney. Mourinho is slowly weaving durability into his squad, building the club up from the back as we knew he would. They are now in a position to leapfrog Liverpool and claim a place in the Champions League, but Ibrahimovic and Rojo are out for the season with ACL ligament tears, joining Pogba, Mata, Smalling and Jones on the injury list. Ibrahimovic could have kicked his last competitive ball.

Liverpool have similar problems. They have the weakest squad of the so-called ‘big’ teams and have been hit by key injuries to Mane, Lallana and Henderson. Like Man City, Klopp’s side are only able to play their pressing game intermittently and are vulnerable because of that. Klopp’s well aware of this and has had taken some big gambles recently. He put out a shadow team against Stoke recently but still managed to turn the result by bringing Coutinho and Firmino on in the second half.

Ultimately, however, they don’t have enough in the locker at the moment and are finding it tough going with so many physical demands being placed on a small squad that can’t cope with injuries. But Liverpool only have four games left, and with one weeks’ recovery between each could still find the legs to mount a late charge and take advantage of Utd’s busy schedule.

The fact is City, Man Utd and Liverpool are working their way back to being strong clubs again. They have great managers who are trying to mould the players in their own image. With only one season under their belts, all have made advances (albeit Guardiola’s have been minimal), but all three managers need more time to bed in last summer’s signings, adapt new and existing players into their tactical setups and start bringing in the final pieces of the jigsaw.

Antonio Conte had a head start over all those managers because he inherited a former title-winning team with a deep squad that had a collective understanding and winning mentality. Over the next few years, I predict a bigger gap opening between the current top five and the teams below them. During this transition, City, Utd and Pool regularly drop points against teams they ought not to, but they will become more consistent against lower place sides, meaning the matches against their direct competitors will start to become crucial six pointers.

Note: Arsenal Truth is now on Twitter @TruthArsenal.


Comments should be intelligible and relevant. All others will be binned.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (33)

Did Arsenal deserve to win, probably not. The Ox was excellent whilst Gabriel and Holding had their best games. Wenger got lucky, somehow I knew he would, and whatever others may say, his tactical changes were not his own doing.

Makes no difference as far as I'm concerned. Au Revoir Mr Wenger!

April 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHAMISH McFADDEN

Will Wenger still be around or will his feeble excuses finally get the better of him?

April 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWengeroutasap

Next season will see Everton get even stronger too with Koeman at the helm and the new investment. With Wenger still at Arsenal, expect them to fall further down the table.

All this hubris over new coaching setup will not change how Arsenal perform in the league when Wenger is the manager and still doing (or not doing) the same methods he's been doing for the last 20 years.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRashidinator

Interesting stuff as ever AT.

I always felt Arsenal would have been a better fit for Pep; he'd certainly have been given time to realise his vision at Ashburton.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

Do you reckon Guardiola will be given that amount of time at City AT? Shouldn't a top manager be adaptable and work within the limitations of the squad that he has? Looking at the players they have on their books this season is undoubtedly a failure. I'm not saying he should be sacked, he should definitely be given time, but I don't think the players are entirely to blame.

Good points regarding Spurs, they probably do need a bit more experience, but it's also probably true that they are not quite at Chelsea's level yet and their defence, which has had an easy couple of months against some poor sides, might need some investment.


I'd expect Guardiola to be given at least three years and would imagine he's intelligent enough to adapt if the PL is too quick and physical a league to implement exactly the same brand of football he managed at Barcelona, and Bayern to a lesser extent.

It's his first season, so I think he'll analyse things and be in a better position to strengthen considerably in the summer. The young lad Gabriel Jesus is going to be a star.

I don't think Spurs defence needs much investment, conceding 22 goals in 33 games is superb and they've missed Danny Rose of late, who's a fantastic player.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGunnergettheresomeday

Agreed. Pep wanted Arsenal but knew that Wenger would never let go of the reins.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHAMISH McFADDEN

Culturally and philosphically, London and Arsenal would have suited him more, for me.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

Another Jammy win.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris J

I'm not surprised that the players haven't adapted to Pep's tactics when he chops and changes his side as often as he does. You say the side looks dysfunctional, maybe that's part of the reason why?

If you look at Spurs and Chelsea, they play the same side almost every week, yet Pep makes changes every game. Fair enough if he doesn't feel like he has the personnel to play the way he wants, but at the same time I think it makes the players look worse than they are as they can never settle.


It's his first season, so probably needs to try players in different positions etc. It's not like they were ever going to win anything big, so a good season to experiment - as long as they make top four.

April 27, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8th

"It's his first season, so probably needs to try players in different positions etc. It's not like they were ever going to win anything big, so a good season to experiment - as long as they make top four."

Yeah I can appreciate that but it's been excessive and some of them have been frankly quite bizarre, like playing Navas at right back who by half time was taken off as he'd been given the run around (what did he expect?) or playing Aguero in centre midfield with no one up front other than Sterling who's weakest area is finishing... huh?

I get the impression he's seeking a major overhaul which I'm not sure he'll get so if he can't adapt to what he has then what next? Keep tinkering?


It's not that unusual from a manager that played a midget like Mascherano as a central defender (very successfully). Who knows what he's thinking, we will probably find out after the summer when the squad will start to take shape.

April 28, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterhenry8

Little chance of top four now! Can anyone explain to me the advantages of playing OD ahead of DW? Actually don't bother, our manager knows best!!!!

April 30, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHAMISH McFADDEN

If Wenger stays I can see us being a mid-table club, especially if Alexis leaves.

May 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris J

Are you saying Welbeck should have played? I do not see what value he brings, apart from his "work rate". Useless player who wouldn't improve the current Sunderland side.

I think it's fair to say the current Spurs side look like a team whereas Arsenal look like a group of expensively assembled individuals ranging from the good but wasted (Sanchez, Czech), good but disinterested (Ozil), potentially good but lacking direction (Ox) to the useless (Gabriel, Giroud etc etc).

Not much point repeating Arsenal's obvious failings, but Spurs look highly motivated and will only improve if Poch stays. Their front four are excellent, with two strong holding players and they press the ball high up the pitch. I think this is probably the main reason for their excellent defensive record. Their centre halves aren't bad but I disagree about Rose, he was filth in the Euros. Walker is worse and I reckon their second choice full backs are better.

Hi AT, how do you think Arsenal and Spurs would do if Wenger and Pochettino swapped places?


Take a wild guess.

May 1, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris J

Giroud is a waste of space. Welbeck has pace and work rate. At least would have given Spurs more to think about. Not that I really care anymore!!!!


One problem. Welbeck couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.

May 2, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWengeroutasap

You're probably right but, as I stated, no longer care if Wenger plays Giroud, Welbeck or Mrs Brown!!

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWengeroutasap

AT, now that it's come down to the last month of twatene's contract, how about sharing your prediction on how this is going to play out?


If the board was sane and rational Wenger would have been sacked years ago, and if Wenger was sane and rational he would have signified his intent to resign. So seeing as none of them are sane and rational, I can't give a sane and rational prediction as to their mindset or decision-making.

The one thing I don't believe is the stupid shit espoused by bloggers that pretend to have inside information.

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter"what is important"

Now he says Real Madrid haven't won championship in 5 years and Liverpool in 20, forget Champs league conquests Mr W. He's staying, they'll probably announce another Granit-style placating deal unorthodoxically early in the window again.

May 3, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCj

I reckon it's nailed on he'll stay. The protests have not been large or vocal enough and he thinks anyone who has never managed is an idiot anyway. So criticism from a fan base he doesn't respect is never going to convince him to leave. After the fortuitous semi-final win he probably thinks this flash new three at the back system would have delivered the Prem and CL if he'd adopted it back in August.

We've got two more years of this, I'm certain. Will be delighted if I'm wrong though.

We're shit and we know we are, to be fair.

May 4, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

AT, how about your thoughts on bloggers who are trying to emphasize the Kroenke problem more than the Twatene problem? They seem to avoid acknowledging the fact that, while Kroenke is an unprincipled, unsavory dirtbag who should have all of his ill-gotten wealth taken away from him, and not be allowed to carry on his brand of predatory "capitalism", the fact is Twatene knows exactly what Kroenke is. He is complicit.

Some of these bloggers try to make out that Twatene is somehow "clean". But the fact is he is well aware of Kroenke's dirtiness, and he's happy to get his dirty money from Kroenke. What is it with these people who go on about Twatene being a paragon of virtue? You'd have to have the lowest level of discernment at this point to not see that Twatene is slimy.


Wenger has failed during the entire period Kroenke has owned the club, yet it's only now that certain bloggers are attacking Kroenke. Why are they suddenly unhappy with Kroenke? It's not like he's done anything different.

I suspect it's to do with the fact that bloggers who have previously backed Wenger to the hilt don't want to fully admit that he's made them look like the naive idiots they have proved to be.

Only a couple of days ago I read on Le Grove that the author thinks Wenger is a good guy lol He's not, he's a fucking evil parasite. I also think there's an element of wanting to be protective of the club by refusing to admit there's a rancid dictator running the show.

Arsenal's a big enough laughing stock as it is without letting that cat out the bag.

May 4, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter"what is important"

Maybe the contract is not signed someone said if Wenger had signed and the club had not announced it it would be against insider trading laws (or something like that) not sure if it's true but if it is then it probably just means it hasn't been officially signed.


Of course he doesn't respect the fan base, remember he said we'd know his decision in a few weeks - still nothing.

May 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris J

If he stays, how will true fans react? Can I suggest cancelling your membership/season tickets. Ending your allegiance to the club on a temporary basis, until this deluded man has left the building for good.

Stop investing in the club altogether and ensure that you don't get lulled into a false sense of security should Arsenal win six in a row at the start of next season! Remember your blood runs red and always will, and once Mr Wenger finally calls it a day the club will be handed back to its fans.

May 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTommyboy62

To any fan out there who still believes in this man, remember Mr Wenger has no respect for himself, so why should he have any respect for you!!

May 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHAMISH McFADDEN

Who do you fancy will take the third relegation spot, AT?


Hull I guess.

May 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarinersmullet

Ok, so they won 2-0. Am I the only one who feels absolutely nothing? Had we wo 6-0, lost 6-0, my feelings would have been exactly the same. How has it come to this? Numb to the predictability of it all and craving for change, I pray for the day that the anticipation and passion returns!

May 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTommyboy62

@Tommyboy62, I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments. Wenger has clinically removed our sole (and soul) reason for being football fans: the anticipation and passion. Again I didn't watch nor listen to yesterdays game, however by all accounts it was yet another tepid affair. The bygone days of Arsenal v Man Utd being representative of two clubs with an official loathing for each other, yet unofficial deep rooted respect too, now seem like something to banish into myth and folklore. One is a sleeping giant who will awaken again soon I'm sure, the other is a former big club whose higher echelon representatives are destroying the club from within whilst raking in vast salaries and skulking off back to their gated mansions.

The rhetoric Ivan the knob spews about being a catalyst for change. Oh just fuck off. Does he have no shame into the depths he will go to in an attempt to manipulate the more feeble minded fan into parting with yet more ridiculous sums of hard earned moolah for another season of the same, monotonous, laughter inducing bilge?

I was trying to think the other day of any current Arsenal first teamer who would make it into the Spurs first XI: I came to the conclusion that a firing Sanchez would, and that was it.

I would say it's depressing, but it isn't. To steal a line from Tommyboy62 again, I'm numb to the predictability of it all. In fact it's so fucking predictable we probably will just scrape 4th - again. Finishing outside of the top 4 would be something a bit different and take away from the whole humdrum, shyte, repeat ad infinitum dross currently served up.

Here is to the 2017/2018 season and the misplaced and ridiculously unlikely hope of a new dawn.

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAJL

Just to let you know Mr Wenger, a director of football basically takes the reigns from the manager if he becomes clueless as to how direct the..........um, now lets think, oh yeh.....THE FOOTBALL! You fucking arrogant bastard. Just leave us alone and piss off back to France!!

May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTommyboy62

Please excuse my inappropriate language, but the never ending crap coming out of our manager's mouth deserves such a response.


There's no censorship here, unless it's libellous.

May 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTommyboy62

So, as per AW, Arsenal are financially stable. Not surprising really as, since 2006, the club has systematically screwed the fans, creating an environment that only sees financial gain as the motivational force for success.

Competitive football no longer tops the list of the goals and objectives for our owner, board and manager. When is the AGM?!

May 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNotpogbasagent

AT, on the match broadcast, the Stoke fans could be clearly heard singing: "Arsene Wenger we want you to stay." The commentator John Champion pointed it out, and his co-commentator David Pleat referred to the singing as "moronic". Interesting. Wasn't Pleat a Spurs man at least for a period of time? Your thoughts?


He was indeed. My thoughts are: West Ham 0 Liverpool 4 :)

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWrinkly Voyeur

AT, if one of these reporters who attend Twatene's press conferences, during the question/answer period, took the approach of attempting to bring forth questions to Twatene in a personally concerned manner, you know, kind of like when friends have an "intervention" for someone who needs mental help but refuses to acknowledge the problem., what would happen if one of these reporters was extremely polite and brought it up in a compassionate way, stating everyone's concern for Twatene's mental health. They could say things about how concerned they are that he constantly contradicts himself and isn't consistently coherent, and that they are worried and fear for his overall mental well-being.

I mean, did you hear any of his latest press conference? He's taking his lunacy to a new level. Arsenal would have beaten Munich if you only take into consideration the first half of the matches, don't you know?


What I love most about the press conference is his obvious discomfort when asked a question relating to his credibility. His facial expressions are curious mixture of aggression, threat, fear and insecurity.

The stupid crap that comes out his mouth is almost immaterial.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWrinkly Voyeur

Now Wenger's had some 'curious' press conferences in recent times... and by 'curious' I mean car-crash like in delivery.

But today's... just left me lost for words.

How any self respecting person, with in the slightest amount of pride, professional or otherwise, could allow such words to leave their lips is simply beyond me.

It's worthy of a write up all by itself.

I must admit that I'm more than just a little surprised that you never presented a write-up concerning the NLD.

You have loyal fans eagerly awaiting an update, which I'm sure will be reflected in the amount of traffic to your site, but you've been quiet...

Is everything OK?


Thanks for your concern; everything is OK. I tend to write on impulse and when I have something new to say. Not much point in repeating the past, which I've often been accused of.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMr.J

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>