Arsene Wenger has praised the commitment and physical nature of the English game, saying it makes players better.
There were erroneous press reports about the Arsenal manager’s reaction to Tuesday night’s game against Everton. For example, the Guardian ran with this story:
Yet what Wenger said was, “It’s a part of the game, and we had to deal with it … I don’t blame Everton.”
Obviously that’s not a headline that draws as many clicks, or a response from Leighton Baines, but when pressed on the issue at his press conference yesterday, the Frenchman said, “I don’t think it holds players back. In fact, the opposite, the foreign players who come to England improve and you get that aspect of the game as well.
“I have seen so many French players complain about the physicality when they arrived in England. I tell them it will take some time, but the intensity of the game will make them better players.
“It was worse 15 years ago than it is now, back then no-one would have spoken about the Carroll challenge, now everything is analysed on television.
“Some players complained and then, after they moved away, they missed the English game. When you look at some players, you cannot say the physicality of the game stops them from displaying their talent.
“When I brought Pires here, he was not an especially physical player, but no-one could stop him from playing his game – Overmars, Bergkamp, nobody could stop them.
“You cannot say it is physical or it is kicking, it is just that the commitment is high and that is what you want.”
But while mostly positive about the ‘art’ of tackling, Wenger admitted frustration at some of the injuries picked up by his players and admitted it’s difficult to gauge the intention of the opponent.
“What I regret is when it goes overboard and we lost some players like Eduardo and Diaby, who paid a high price for that aspect. It is a fine line, that is why I say it is the intention that counts.
“If you go a little bit over the ball, how can you tell if the guy did it on purpose or not? It is very difficult.”