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Is Arsene Wenger NOT Speaking English?
I just don’t understand the constant misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Arsene Wenger’s comments by the media. Earlier in the season, there was a campaign by the media to make him look daft by misrepresenting his statements regarding the removal of throw-ins from the game. That statement was made by Wenger during a holiday call-in show done for ArsenalTV where he was asked, “If you could change one rule in football, what would it be?” The Junior Gunners Christmas party had been canceled and Arsene agreed to come in to the studio and do a free webchat for ArsenalTV Online. Once the media got a hold of the statements, they ran with it portraying Arsene’s comments out-of-context as a serious suggestion for a rule change.
The row with Martin O’Neill over some post-match comments was a similar affair. Arsene praised Villa for an efficient and organized performance but O’Neill immediately took that as an insult and the media line became, “Arsene calls Villa a long-ball team,” even though he never said those exact words.
Now, fast forward to this past weekend. Understandably upset after the match, Arsene called THE TACKLE “horrendous” and “unacceptable.” It was. Shawcross, despite kicking with his laces, came far enough over the ball the break Ramsey’s leg in two places. If that’s not intentional, one wonders how a player who could so badly miskick a ball as that could be in the England side. But, that aside, the media turned that statement into one that was not about the tackle but about the player.
This was followed by criticism of Wenger for stigmatizing Shawcross as a player. But he did nothing of the sort. The BBC’s commentator, in his post-match interview with Tony Pulis, willfully misrepresented Arsene’s statement in this way to the Stoke manager who then heatedly defended his player, claiming he has “no history” of tackles like that. That statement is just false but you don’t see the media taking Pulis to task.
The only thing Wenger did say about Shawcross himself was to ask the reporters to spare him the “he’s-a-nice-guy” stories, which would inevitably follow. And they did. Conveniently forgetting Shawcross’s previous tackles on Francis Jeffers and Adebayor. The pundits were also quick to defend Stoke as “not that kind of team,” but anyone who remembers our league trip there last year would think differently. In that match, Adebayor, Gallas, and Walcott were all forced to leave the match and injured for multiple weeks by Stoke players’ tackles.
You just can’t help but wonder why the media consistently misrepresents Wenger’s words in the worst light possible. A foreigner challenging traditional notions of English football is not going to win many friends in a footballing nation that is a bit xenophobic and a bit stubbornly insular in its thinking about the game. It is still no excuse. I can’t imagine Wenger’s words could be more misrepresented if the journalists were forced to translate them from French themselves.
This Arsenal side will be there until the end. This is a different team than the 2007/08 side that gave away a possible 8-point lead in February after the Eduardo incident. And we saw that at the Brittania Stadium. Patrick Barclay was right when he said Arsenal were the strongest-minded team in the league. And the situation of the title race has turned from Arsenal needing to win every one of their remaining matches last week, to now Chelsea possibly needing to win all of their remaining matches.
It’s easy to dismiss what Arsenal have done so far by saying they are only in the title race because Chelsea and United haven’t been great, but that is just another attempt at minimizing Arsenal. The league is more even this season all-around and that is why Arsenal are still in the title race. Despite all the losses to United and Chelsea, Arsenal are still in the race because they get results against the sides they are supposed to and that is something Chelsea and United have failed to do on a number of occasions.