Arsenal Commentary: Arsene Wenger Is Playing Subtle Mind Games Ahead Of Significant North London Derby

on March 02 2013 10:06 AM
Arsenal Commentary: Arsene Wenger Is Playing Subtle Mind Games Ahead Of Significant North London Derby

 

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is playing subtle mind games ahead of a hugely significant North London Derby. Yet unlike Manchester United honcho Sir Alex Ferguson, Wenger's psychological ploys aren't intended to rile the opposition, or pressure a referee.

Instead Wenger's mind games are aimed entirely at his own players. It started with the Gunners manager stating he is not making any 'special plans' for Tottenham Hotspur ace Gareth Bale.

Bale has been on a rampage in 2013. It seems like every Spurs game since the turn of the year, has featured the fleet-footed star netting two goals. However, Arsenal's first focus has to be on their own game and Wenger is giving his team a timely reminder of the fact.

Stating that he won't have a gameplan tailored to stopping Bale, is seen as proof of Wenger's supposed tactical naivety. Yet Wenger is right put the attention on his own team's efforts.

By publically acting unfazed by the most dangerous player in the country, Wenger is challenging his own stars. Many of those stars have been infuriatingly inconsistent this term. So Wenger is right to place the burden for winning a massive game on the likes of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott.

Wenger is re-affirming his faith and confidence in the ability of the likes of Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla. However, he is also reminding them of their responsibility as his squad's potential match-winners.

Too many times this season Arsenal's key players have failed to produce in big games. Podolski has been superb at times, chipping in with a vital clutch of goals and assists. At other times the Germany international has been anonymous.

Cazorla has been magnificent in dazzling and confounding English Premier League opponents. Yet he couldn't muster that same magic in the Capital One Cup, or the UEFA Champions League.

Similarly, Giroud and Walcott have combined for 32 goals and show signs of becoming a devilish tandem. However, they have also scored in clutches, rather than consistently and neither has found the net since the end of January.

Despite this Wenger has gone to great lengths this week to stress the quality of his attacking quartet. It is a smart ploy for a group of players whose collective confidence has been fragile throughout this campaign.

Of course there are those who would also argue that Wenger's praise lets his players off the hook too often. The critics would suggest that Wenger's soft approach often excuses poor performances and allows his players to feel too comfortable.

While there is certainly some truth to that, Wenger's motivational ploy shouldn't be viewed as purely soft soap. By bullishly singing the praises of his main goal-getters, Wenger has challenged them to match his own confidence and deliver.

It is a sly show of bravado that places the onus firmly on the players. Considering the pressure he has faced this season, that is certainly a bold risk from the cerebral Frenchman.

Wenger's is gambling that his encouraging, yet challenging words, will prompt Arsenal's inconsistent stars to produce in the most important game of their season.