Frenchman Patrick Viera, who is currently Football Development Executive at Manchester City overseeing youth development and club’s social responsibility, was part of the Arsenal ‘invincible’ team along with the likes of Fredrik Ljungberg and Dennis Bergkamp.
Viera spent his time in Arsenal from 1996 to 2005 winning three Premier League titles, in which one was unbeaten, and four FA Cups. Later he went on to become the club’s captain. The defensive midfielder was arguably one of the best players the club has ever seen. Now the defensive midfield position is held by Cameroon international Alex Song and Ghanaian Emmanuel Frimpong who, by far, have not matched the qualities of the Frenchman. Now the question arises if Arsenal really needs someone like Viera.
The Frenchman himself believes that the Gunners now lack the previous physical bite that their EPL rivals Manchester United and Chelsea possess.
Since I left Arsenal, there are new players, a new generation and maybe a new philosophy because Arsenal play better football than we used to do in my time, Viera told Metro UK.
The Gunners, since Viera’s departure in 2005, have remained unsuccessful to win a single silverware as the team has failed to capitalize on its previous defensive glory.
“But our team was more physical and responded better to the English game. We had everything, and maybe now Arsenal lacks the physical aspect of the game,” he added.
Viera also believes that the goalkeepers at that time, Englishman David Seaman and German Jens Lehmann, had a personality and presence that is lacking at goal mouth at the moment. The present crop of keepers like Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski have a long way to go to achieve that stature in English club football.
“In defence you had players like (Tony) Adams, (Steve) Bould and (Martin) Keown and then myself and Emmanuel Petit in the midfield - it was a big, physical, intimidating team,” the Frenchman told Metro UK.
Viera left Arsenal in 2005 for Italian football giant Juventus and later shifted to Internazionale and Manchester City where he ended his long career which started in 1993 with Ligue 1 side Cannes. The Frenchman has a strong belief that experienced players in the team, at the moment, have not been replaced properly and has taken time to settle down which is the biggest problem Wenger is facing.