Arsene Wenger has played down suggestions his team aren’t as tough as previous Arsenal sides, saying it’s more about being efficient on the pitch than anything else.
Comments from former Gunner Lee Dixon were put to the manager at his press conference on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s North London in which he said this current side didn’t have the toughness of his vintage.
Dixon recalled being picked by the throat by the likes of Tony Adams and told that you simply do not lose to Sp*rs.
However, times have changed, and Wenger believes it’s more about what his players can produce on the pitch than anything else.
“That’s the kind of remarks I get for twenty years,” he said.
“I remember many people questioning me around 2002, 2003 whether Robert Pires will be tough enough to play in the derby.
“He’s the guy who scored more goals than anybody else in the North London derby. At the end of the day, it’s down to the quality of the game.”
Pressed on whether he thought the 2001 side were tougher than the 2017 iteration, he continued, “We have to agree what is tough and not tough. I believe that a football player has to be efficient and that counts the most.
“Efficiency if you’re a defender is not to make any mistakes and to win the ball and when you’re a striker it’s to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Is that tough or not tough? it doesn’t matter too much, it’s how efficient you are in your game.”
Many years ago, Haddaway asked ‘What is tough?’, and we’re still seeking the answer. Perhaps one day.