Arsene Wenger: The Heston Blumenthal of Football

‘Chef Fantastique’

The English heart, the German lungs and legs, combined with the powerful brain of the Spanish make for a ‘body’ that can be considered as perfection. The passion and pride of the English heart, the grit and aggression of the Germans, intertwined with the mind-boggling intelligence and creativity of the Spanish makes for a recipe for success.

Well call Arsene Wenger the ‘Heston Blumenthal of football.’

I will in time, present you with all three courses – the ‘starter’, the ‘main course’ and the ‘dessert’. This article will be focused on what I call the ‘main course’ focusing on the players we have representing the club at present and divulging in detail exactly what I mean by this five star dining experience. The starter will be about the stars to look out for that currently play for the reserves/U21 squads. The dessert will be filled with treats that I feel Arsenal should buy in order to progress in the same mould.

Chef Arsene

Chef Arsene

Please tuck in…

Upon arrival to the English league, many cast a watchful eye over his progress and a questionable stance over his credibility to manage a club at the highest level. What Wenger did was revolutionary to the English game and I don’t think any can doubt that. One half of London (the red half) will say that Arsene Wenger is arguably the best manager the premier league has been graced with, but of course the ‘other half’ of London (erm… Well, the red half as well) would say Alex Ferguson. (Note: Manchester ‘London’ United fans).

As the eagle eyed viewer I am, once again sat high up on this fence (I’m too lazy to pick a side) – I respect the view that Alex Ferguson is indisputably the most successful in regards to trophies, but what Wenger did in a minute way, had a huge reverberating effect throughout the world of football. Stricter training regimes, diets, special plans, cutting out regular consumption of alcohol to name but a few I’m sure angered the likes of Tony Adams etc.! But what it managed to do was get the best out of them. This was one of Arsene’s ‘wacky’ ideas that beared fruit.

One that didn’t is the ‘youth project’ built around the model of the Spanish national team. What an ill-fated error of judgment on his part. The one aspect he didn’t consider was the loyalty of those who he brought through the ranks, or reigned in from other clubs to help formulate this plan and execute it to perfection. Not one season has gone by where he has managed to keep players and recruit more to help aide the progression. Instead, it was an erroneous decision to keep replacing ingredients to taste and in the end realising it had been ‘over-seasoned’ with mediocrity. When something lacks flavour, we add seasoning. We went from salt (Henry), to pepper (Van Persie), to a stray inconspicuous looking condiment called Gervinho.

Gervin-oh dear

‘Gervin- oh dear’

Well time to take that mess off the menu and introduce the world to the new recipe. One that will tantalise your taste buds and even make Heston Blumenthal himself, jealous!

First we start with a loving amount of English pride and passion, add a dash of the German drive and aggression, then sprinkle with quality and excellence of the Spanish and watch as it simmers into a mouth-watering marvel.

The English spine to the team that has been discussed heavily in recent weeks is a testimony to this new mentality of Arsene Wenger. For years I have yearned for an English player that truly understands what it’s like to wear the cannon on their chest. Yes there are many ex Arsenal legends that have done, but notably during the last eight barren years, we haven’t had a stalwart Englishman in the team (except Theo Walcott intermittently.)

Tying down Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey to long-term contracts will certainly ignite the fire to the flames of Theo Walcott and tempt him to stick around as well in my opinion. More importantly it shows there is a backbone, which is strong enough to sustain and resist the temptations of a very fragile football world. Money has become an integral part of any young players life that leads to decisions that they regret afterwards. Namely Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini who were once considered amongst the best in their position at the time, but now lead a life of obscurity at clubs which I’m not even tempted or bothered to google to let you know about.

Great Brits

‘Great Brits’

Gibbs has endured a battle with injuries but is a player I am content with in his position. He isn’t like Leighton Baines who gets goals regularly with his excellent free kick abilities, nor is he apparently able to do something exceptional from what I have seen so far. But what he is – is excellent at what he does. He gets the job done expected of him, to the highest degree in a high percentage of games, yet prone to the odd mistake – similar to Gael Clichy.

I loved Carl Jenkinson even before he become ‘great’ this season. His sheer passion and love for the club epitomises who I am as an individual and my love for the club. I supported him even when most turned – Similar to many other ‘flops’. Why? – Because they are one of us. We all want the chance to put on an Arsenal shirt and play our hearts out, but only a handful of ‘real fans’ get the chance. His marble stone dedicated to his granddad, to this day, brings a tear to my eye.

Many have spoken highly of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wilshere (rightly) so I will refrain, and my feelings on Ramsey are undecided as of yet, but many know my views on him from the article prior to this.

The ‘English’ are the key ingredient to this recipe, the focal point – the meat. We understand the passion of fellow fans that all yearn for their club to be successful in the premier league. We constantly need to have the bragging rights over our co-workers and friends. This can be achieved by having people who have had a similar upbringing and are playing just for the sheer love of the club. In the dying minutes of a match, it’s these players in particular you can count on to dive in. Just look at Carl Jenkinson’s goal in the dying minutes of stoppage time to force extra time against Reading in the Carling Cup.

German Warriors

German Warriors

In Podolski we have a player who offers a hell of a lot more than some Arsenal fans give him credit for. Not only does he chip in with the odd goal in games, his desire to track back and defend is second to none. He has a fire in his stomach and some of his bone crunching tackles and sheer persistence to chase down every ball shows why he is a key component. Per Mertesacker is a stalwart in the Arsenal team now. We have conceded the least amount of goals when partnered alongside captain fantastic Thomas Vermaelen. Although he is slow he makes up for it with his intelligent marking and phenomenal last-ditch tackles. Together, they seem to gel with their varying abilities. That German fire is evidently burning in both of these players as highlighted in their celebrations against our North London rival, Tottenham Hotspurs. No matter how ‘English’ the core of your club is, without the inclusion of the ‘veg’ – you can’t create a balanced diet, or in this case a balanced team!

The ‘Spanish’ is of a caviar quality and without, doesn’t emphasise upon the surrounding ingredients. The ‘meat’ of the English and the ‘veg’ of the ‘Germans’ is all good and well, but you can’t have it without gravy! That’s exactly what the Spanish lads bring – a texture and flavour that invigorates the flavour of the dish.

With the purchase of Santi Cazorla came a renewed optimism, which has been exemplified by him. In Santi Cazorla and Arteta we have a ‘Xavi/Iniesta’ style partnership, which oozes the class that the Spanish national team consistently succeed with. Intertwined with this is the determined yet stylish Wilshere who has moulded his game to play with the technique required to participate and combine in a mesmerising trio. Knowing that the heart of our midfield has a Spanish international that has had 50 caps and another that was unfortunate enough to be part of a generation of exceptional Spanish midfielders and a fearsome Englishman who has the magical feet of a Spaniard certainly fills me with confidence for the next few years!

'Cazorl-Arteta

‘Cazorl-Arteta

I see that there is a new hunger in the Arsenal team at present, and it certainly shows on the pitch at the moment. Four wins in a row in the league (at the time of writing this article) must mean we’re doing something good, but we still need to do something to shore up that defence!

I hope I have set your taste buds tingling with excitement and your mouth watering with anticipation as to when it will finally be ready so that we can all divulge in this triumphant dish.  The ingredients are readily available and the recipe sure as hell is looking good… But when it’s time to serve up on a plate and deliver… Will it live up to its expectations?

The egg timer is ticking…

Only time will tell.

Chef Arsene

Monsieur Wenger

Have a fantastic New Year and best wishes for the year ahead!

Harry @HK_Arsenal

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