Have Arsenal proved that their ‘philosophy’ is better than that of Chelsea and Manchester City?
Robin van Persie definitely thinks so, and with Arsenal as the only serious challengers to Manchester United for the Premier League title race, he’s happy to stick the boot in.
“I still strongly believe in my club’s philosophy. A club like Manchester City change their philosophy every year and Chelsea spent about €80m this season … two clubs who had a big mouth before the season, thinking that Arsenal wouldn’t play a role in the title race but we are still ahead of them. And just by playing our own game, through our own philosophy.”
There are mitigating circumstances – Man City have improved a whole lot since their takeover, and the desire to improve results in a short period of time has necessitated the expense, although few would disagree that the money could have been better spent and that City would have been better served focusing on team spirit and playing philosophy from the start.
Still, their results, not to mention their chance for qualifying for the Champions League next season, means City fans will be satisfied with their current season. Not so much with Chelsea fans (unless they win the Champions League or manage to haul in United for a most improbable of title defenses.
Yet van Persie isn’t done with the ‘big mouths’ just yet. Speaking of the second leg versus Barcelona:
“What frustrated me very much, was that the Barcelona players were trying to influence the referee from the first minute. They were talking and complaining all the time, without being punished. I don’t like that kind of acting. It has nothing to do with fair play. The referee was clearly influenced by that. He lost the plot completely.
Of course, every team tries to take some advantage by talking to the referee at crucial moments in the game … you have to be smart in some way. But not all the time, over and over again. In England, Chelsea have the same kind of behaviour towards the referee. They talk and they talk. Over and over. On every decision. It’s getting annoying sometimes.”
He’s got a fair point – referees are only human and intense pressure would naturally affect their decisions, even if it’s the most marginal of changes. However it’s funny how RVP acknowledges that ‘you have to be smart in some way’ but follows that up by saying ‘not all the time, over and over again’. I agree with the basic point, that players shouldn’t be badgering the referee, but Van Persie is talking more about the degree of referee harassment / manipulation (how much is too much?) and not that it shouldn’t happen at all.
In other words, Chelsea push the referee all the time (true), but Arsenal don’t do it all the time, so Arsenal’s philosophy / playing style is better? Because they manipulate less? It’s a bit like a golfer complaining about another player’s handicap, or a League Two player complaining that Premier League players are faster, every single time, and it’s ‘annoying’.
More Van Persie, this time on near-misses this season and the Premier League title:
“Winning trophies is a big thing for me. It is very frustrating but it’s not in my head all the time. It might influence other players but, for me, it’s not an obsession. I did win prizes in my career, I know how to do it. It’s about keeping focus, about just playing your game. If you keep playing your game, you’ll get rewarded some time.
The Carling Cup final [defeat to Birmingham City] was really frustrating and it did influence our game in the weeks after. The game was bizarre … it really showed that every game has its own story. But I still strongly believe in our title chances. We have a great team, with great focus. Everyone within the club is really positive about our chances.”
As long as they survive the international break, that is.