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Vieira insists struggling Arsenal are BETTER than the Invincibles – but are missing warriors who want to win

Date Posted,August 28, 2017

The accusation is that Arsenal have not had a leader on the pitch since Patrick Vieira left.

But the man himself insists it is not about leaders – just they do not have any warriors who know how to win at all costs.

Never more was that highlighted than in Arsenal’s sorry surrender at Liverpool on Sunday which has put Arsene Wenger’s future under the spotlight again.

Ex-Gunners hardman Vieira was Wenger’s lieutenant who led the club to incredible success – including three titles – in the Arsenal manager’s first nine years in charge.

But since his departure in 2005, Arsenal have not won the Premier League again and they now look a rudderless ship drifting towards mid-table mediocrity.

Arsenal were left humiliated by Liverpool on Sunday (Image: Getty Images Europe)
Vieira says Arsenal have quality but are missing character on the field (Image: Getty Images Europe)

However, Vieira insists the current squad are BETTER footballers even than the Invincibles – but just do not have as much heart or will to win.

Vieira, now a manager himself at New York City, said: “The current Arsenal team, of course they want to win games. You don’t go onto the field not wanting to win. It’s just that the characteristic of the players is different now than it used to be before.

“I’m not one to say our generation was better than this generation. It doesn’t make sense to compare the two generations because we are in a different period. The quality of the players are completely different.

“The team in our generation were more physical but this generation are better football players – there’s no doubt about that. So the balance is what Arsenal need to find.

Patrick Vieira
Vieira was one of the most fierce midfielders in the Premier League (Image: Getty)
Patrick Vieira kicks out at Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Vieira says that Arsenal need warriors in their midfield (Image: Getty Images)
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“If you look at Arsenal today I really enjoy watching them play, they play some really good football – but that is not enough to win football matches or to win competitions. But in our time we were winning and we had the strength to not play well but somehow manage to win the game 1-0.

“But you’re not going to tell me Ozil is not a leader? You’re not going to tell me Sanchez is not a leader? You’re not going to tell me Petr Cech is not a leader. There’s leaders in the team to challenge and they have the experience to win matches.

“But I think it’s just the balance between players are different. If you look at our time, we managed to win games but sometimes we didn’t play well. But we had this physicality to deal with certain situations.

“Now they are playing well, playing some really good football but they don’t win. So that means the balance between physicality and technical creativity maybe needs to be looked at.”

Vieira says that Ozil is among the players that can be leaders for Arsenal (Image: Getty Images Europe)
The trip to Liverpool was frustrating for Wenger (Image: Action Images via Reuters)

The Vieira and Emmanuel Petit midfield axis won Arsenal the title in 1998 and his partnership with Gilberto Silva was the rock of the Invincibles season.

But now the midfield duo of Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka is just one of a number of question marks hanging over the current team. Wenger’s tactical awareness and whether the team – particularly defensively – is drilled and coached enough.

The vulnerable defence, £52m record signing Alexandre Lacazette started on the bench and Wenger appears to have lost his magic touch. The uncertainty hanging over players as the transfer window closes.

Lacazette (left) started on the bench against Liverpool (Image: Stuart MacFarlane)
Vieira insists that there are problems at Arsenal (Image: LightRocket)

The problems are mounting and Wenger looks a broken man. After winning the FA Cup in May, this was supposed to be a fresh start and a new era. But it just seems like a sorry case of deja vu with the club going backwards.

Vieira insists that he does still have respect for Wenger and takes aspects of his management into his career, along with other bosses. But Vieira admits that teams also need the sort of tactical awareness that Jose Mourinho (his old boss at Inter Milan) brings.

Vieira added: “Arsene always gives freedom to his players. To have that freedom is good but if you can give them the freedom and respect the tactical aspect of the game it will be even better.

Wenger gives his players freedom to express themselves (Image: AFP)
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“They all had something I loved and something I’ll take with me. When you talk about Jose that I had in Inter, he was always focused on the details; giving players information that allows them to go on the field and respecting the tactical game.

“Then you have Arsene who is always positive and always giving confidence to the players no matter what. His approach and relationship with players I find really interesting.

“I would like to be the balance of both. I would like my teams to have the discipline that Jose has but also allow players to express themselves into that discipline like Arsene.”

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