The Reuters global sports blog
Arsenal finally tackling their problems
Perhaps stung by criticism from the likes of Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit, Arsenal’s stunning 5-2 win over Tottenham Hotspur was built not just on pretty passing but on solid tackling too.
Viera and Petit provided the steel in midfield for Wenger’s first great Arsenal side, and both have recently been critical of their slide towards mid-table mediocrity.
Suddenly the likes of Tomas Rosicky and Mikael Arteta – more known for silky skills than tough tackling – were flying into challenges against Spurs, winning the ball and providing a platform on which to build.
With the labouring Andrei Arshavin shipped back to Russia, Arsenal seemed to have a new sense of purpose, and even when they went two goals behind there was still a sense that they could salvage something from the game.
Arsenal upped the tempo, Bacary Sagna’s header header bringing them back into the game before Robin Van Persie curled the ball into the top corner beyond Friedel.
Not for a second did Arsenal look like settling for a draw either, and Rosicky’s lung-bursting runs were rewarded when he netted his first goal in 50 Premier League matches.
Theo Walcott added a brace and all of a sudden the talk was no longer of how Arsene Wenger had lost the plot – or the dressing room.
It was a poor performance by Tottenham; unable to maintain possession, they lost Scott Parker to a late red card and any chance they had of winning the league is now surely gone.
Much has been said of Wenger’s need for a new challenge, with the England job being mentioned as a possible alternative if Tottenham’s Harry Redknapp doesn’t fit.
But perhaps the biggest challenge of all for the French tactician would be to mastermind the building of another great Arsenal side. To do so, he’ll have to ensure that they continue to show the same bite in the tackle as Petit and Viera did during their time in his midfield.