Arsenal legend accuses Wenger of building a lightweight team

SoccerBy Sunday World
Wenger under fire after just two games this season
Wenger under fire after just two games this season

Patrick Vieira has accused his old mentor Arsene Wenger of building a fragile team at Arsenal, in comments that will add to the pressure mounting on the veteran Gunners manager.

Vieira was a star turn of Wenger’s thrillingly successful teams in his formative years at Arsenal, yet that early success has been replaced by a regular diet of disappointment in the Premier League over the last 12 years.

Arsenal are already five points behind Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City after claiming just one point from their first two games of the new season, sparking an angry reaction from the club’s supporters.

Now Vieira has added his input into the Arsenal debate, in comments that may not be welcomed by Wenger.

“I have a feeling that they are missing something and this something is the physical presence, the personality,” says New York City head coach Vieira, in comments appearing in the Daily Mirror.

When I watch the Arsenal I will enjoy watching them play, they play some of the best football in the league, but they miss physical players.

“This last five-six years Arsenal went more with this type of mobile, technical players who are completely different.

“Arsenal are always going to be one of the teams who can win the title because of the way they play but at the same time they will be disappointed losing games they should win.

“We had Dennis Bergkamp, who had the flair, and Thierry Henry who could finish and had so much power, but also players who were athletic with the physical aspect like Sol Campbell, some really strong personalities with Jens Lehmann, David Seaman or the back four.

“You had this Arsenal Invincibles which was quite like the French national team when we won the World Cup in 1998, when we had physical players, players with flair, players with pace, it was quite similar of that team.”

“In our generation we had some fantastic players with the ball but the majority of the players were quite physically strong.”

Vieira also hit out at Wenger’s reluctance to embrace the club’s former heroes and give them a chance to make their mark on his coaching staff, after the club’s record signing Thierry Henry was not allowed to remain in his part-time coaching position last summer.

“I find it a little bit disappointing, not having ex-Arsenal players working at Arsenal,” he added. “Players want to do it and not having the opportunity they feel disappointed.

“The reason behind it I don’t know but for me the perfect example is Ajax when you see all the old players who played for the team working for the club, working in the field, in the office, and the door is always open.

“It is good for the young players who could see an Henry, Fredrik Ljungberg, Campbell or a Martin Keown who have been at the club a good few years working in the academy, or working somewhere. I think they can do it a bit more.

“When you are talking about Thierry, Ljungberg, Robert Pires, Keown, they are well respected in the club, they have been professional players and good examples for the kids, all of them doing their badges, so that means they really want to do it.”