Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Jonathan Wilson: Inconsistent Arsenal still lacks 'moral courage' despite changes

Some things never change. All season the question has been whether Arsenal had, at last, found the defensive resolve to make it a genuine threat for honors. A 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Saturday provided the answer; the same old flaws, the same old weaknesses persist. It can seem, at the highest level, as though soccer is primarily about control of midfield: dominate there, and the chances will come. But that is assuming all else is equal, and for Arsenal it rarely is. Beyond all tactics, beyond all technical ability, beyond motivation and passion, there is a quality of being able to win, of gamecraft. It's hard to define: a toughness, a ruthlessness, a canniness; Brian Clough called it "moral courage." It's a quality that means you take chances when they matter most, that means you don't concede soft goals, that means you stand strong in the face of pressure, that you kill games when you need to. It's the thing that makes you win even games, or games in which the opponent has the edge. Arsenal doesn't have it, and they probably haven't had it since Patrick Vieira left the club in 2005.

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