Arsene must push stars into action

Arsene must push stars into action
Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger.

SINGAPORE - Arsene Wenger may have won a shoving match against arch-nemesis Jose Mourinho on Sunday but the bigger victory lies with the Special One.

Amid a media furore over the behaviour of two of English football's biggest personalities, how many recall the very reason they squared off on the Stamford Bridge touchline in the first place?

And therein lies the brilliance of Mourinho, who not only walked away from Stamford Bridge with a 2-0 win, but also took the attention away from Gary Cahill's poor challenge on Alexis Sanchez - which should have drawn a red card instead of a caution from the referee.

Meanwhile, his Arsenal counterpart looks like a bitter 64-year-old teacher, out of ideas and patience as the wait goes on for a first win over his Portuguese counterpart.

Wenger was supposed to be a cool and calm customer while Mourinho was the carefree and callous sort. Yet, during and after the match, we saw a reversal of roles.

Arsenal's long-time manager is clearly a frustrated man - with himself, his team and, of course, Mourinho.

But to see him rush out of his own technical area and push the Chelsea boss - who was standing in his own box - must have surprised even old foe Alex Ferguson.

The fact that the two benches are so close to one another at the stadium certainly did not help, as did Mourinho's past jibe of Wenger being a "specialist in failure".

Mourinho was inclined to forgive the Frenchman's actions after the final whistle, coming out as the bigger man from the confrontation. Wenger - having realised he played into enemy hands - insisted he did nothing wrong. On the field, he has not done much right too. The gap between the north Londoners and the EPL title favourites was there for all to see.

Diego Costa, a complete striker, versus Danny Welbeck, an unpolished workhorse; the Blues' rock-solid backline against the Gunners' wayward back-four lacking a true defensive rock.

Despite last season's FA Cup triumph, the pressure is building on Wenger to get the best out of his big-money buys like Sanchez and Mesut Oezil.

With every loose pass from Oezil, Wenger's hair turns a shade whiter.

But let's face it: that 30-second bust-up with Mourinho had us all on the edge of our seats.

Passion is what we want to see from football personalities who are often accused of worrying only about their pay cheques.

Even as he has sealed his place as Arsenal's greatest manager, Wenger is clearly not one to rest on his laurels.

Gunners fans must be hoping that under-performing stars like Oezil get a shove or a slap from Wenger in the dressing room.

It is time to wake up or the team will remain sleeping giants.

stsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on October 7, 2014.
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