Petr Cech said during an interview following Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at home over Everton that, under Arsene Wenger, the club was more concerned with playing “the Arsenal way” versus getting points in the league, the second player either on the team or recently-departed who’ve alluded to minds and attitudes getting a bit stagnant and comfortable under the legendary manager.
“What we lacked in the past – I would say the ‘Arsenal way’ was more important than getting the points sometimes, and this is not how you win the league,” said Cech, who did so on four occasions at his previous club, Chelsea. “Sometimes you need to make sure you win an ugly game, when you are not playing completely well but you just dig deep, close the back door and win 1-0 no matter how.
“I think this is what we lacked over the last three years, since I arrived [in 2015]. Against Everton, we went through difficult moments in the game but we managed to get the win and with the clean sheet, so this is very positive.”
Many have since made critical comments towards Cech’s viewpoint, but this is a bit different than an ex-Arsenal player assessing the players and atmosphere within the walls of Colney while standing on the outside looking in. Cech, and Santi Cazorla – who said this past weekend that Arsenal “lacked a belief to win” under Wenger – are much more believable in what they say occurred during the last few years of Wenger’s reign. This isn’t Paul Merson leveling unfounded criticism at players whose names he cannot pronounce.
All of this is not to say that Wenger was bad or negative or an ineffective manager. What these comments serve as is a window into a world that we only envision through the grandest of imaginations. When they go against what we believe or feel, the reaction is to reject them out-of-hand. But, hear me out: what if the players themselves, who are in the club every day, say something against what you believe to be true? If your first reaction to immediately dismiss them, that says more about you than what it does about Petr Cech and Santi Cazorla.