Wenger - We must encourage initiative

Barcelona. Real Madrid. Bayern Munich.

Traditionally success in football comes to those teams around Europe who dominate possession.

While there has been a recent trend that has seen the likes Leicester and Borussia Dortmund prosper on the counter-attack, Arsene Wenger does not feel it suggests a shift across the game.

“I don’t know if it is a long-term trend,” the Arsenal manager said. “In Europe, when we analyse it in Geneva, we always analyse the Champions League and I must say some seasons, the team who had low possession won the competition.

“Over a longer period it is still the teams who have the most possession that win the Champions League. Having said that, it was Barcelona who were above everyone else and Bayern Munich who won it and they had a big part of possession.

“I still think a sport has to encourage initiative and if it rewards too much the teams who don’t take initiative, then we have to rethink the whole process because people will not, forever, come to watch teams who do not want to take the initiative.

“Football is a balance. The right balance between possession and progressing. Sometimes we had some games this season when we had 70 per cent possession like West Brom and we lost 3-0 and like Crystal Palace where we had 70 per cent possession and we lost 3-0. So that means on the day, our balance was not right.

“We had possession but that had to be combined with being incisive and overall, you have to be efficient defensively on set-pieces. At West Brom, we got punished on set-pieces.

“I am convinced you still need to have the ball to create goal chances and that overall you cannot encourage, as well, youth teams to say we do not want the ball. You cannot buy big players and say we do not want the ball. Big players want the ball.”


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