I started to read Art of War. Like the business version of The Game (the teenage boy version of the bible). A tough read, because in the back of your mind, you’re imagining all the hopeless business execs writing down passages of inspiration that’ll help them deal with their office politik insecurities…
‘To prove Dave wrong on his deck template opinion, one must move Dave and not be moved by him’
What is interesting about it is you know Jose Mourinho has definitely read a copy of it. If you use it for business, you’re a bit of a wanker. For football, you can kind of see how the different managers use war like approaches. Mourinho and Alex Ferguson are psychological warfare merchants. Beating opponents before they’d kicked a ball. Ferguson used this technique to allow him to rotate his squad… if a team is beaten before you play them, you can use weaker soldiers (rotation) to finish the job.
Mourinho takes it one step futher… his mind games border on nasty. He tries to destroy the confidence of opponents at any cost. Crazy thing about Jose is that he’s lost his knack of keeping his soldiers onboard. He used to protect his players at any cost, bordering on insane. Now, we’re 5 games into the season, and he’s launching psychological warfare on his own players, which has led to leaks of unhappiness and a drop in performance. What’s great about this, is that his undoing at Chelsea was this exact behaviour. Dropping players, critiquing in public, sacking staff and being a total shit bag… cannot believe he’s letting his ego takeover again.
Arsene Wenger and Pep G in this book equation are very different. Wenger believes in attack and the power of his soldiers. If you have the most powerful and skilled, they will always overcome evil.
Pep G is a bit different, he believes in having the most powerful soldiers, but also the most disciplined and most informed. His biggest strength is that of unpredictability… having skilled players who can play a dazzling array of systems that can change at a drop of a pin. Ultimate flexibility combined with skill and discipline.
But Arsene is getting better. He’s headed into this season with a stronger army. The squad is looking pretty thickset with players. Big question is whether they’re organized well enough to compete for a whole season. One step further… whether they have the quality.
We play Chelsea at the weekend. They’ve looked menacing at times under Conte, but they’re still a bit inconsistent for my liking. As a manager, he’s all about systems and grit. He’ll have a plan for us, but you wonder if it’ll be too early to impact hard? Our midfield has been pretty open this year, it’s ripe for exploitation imo… but we’ll see.
Also, the big question for many Arsenal fans is how Wenger will deal with his starting 11. Having Coquelin sitting at the base of your midfield is a strategic opportunity for Chelsea. He’s not great on the ball and he’s working a high press. But that, versus Cazorla, who is incredible on the ball, but can’t cover the ground is a conundrum. Both playing at the same time feels like a massive risk for me. But against a fast Chelsea midfield, I think I’d sacrifice Cazorla for Xhaka. Coquelin’s engine and grit is perfect for upsetting their tempo, big worry is around his discipline… but to be fair, are Xhaka and Elneny better for that? Is our system built on discipline? Or should I say the right sort of discipline
I guess Xhaka would be. He’s played in a stricter system for a while under tactical managers and he’s not used to roaming forward. I think it would be a mistake not to have him play at the weekend. For me, Elneny and Xhaka would both be starters, based on our issues we’ve had with Chelsea in the past. A solid base that can distribute at pace… then I’d have Cazorla to come on as an impact sub late in the game when he’s taking on tired legs.
Just my opinion, of course.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!
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