Time to applaud Wenger's vision

I can understand why some people think Arsène Wenger has sour grapes when it comes to defeats.

His complaints after the event can be misconstrued and it might be better for him not to say anything.

It doesn’t sit well with those who pigeon-hole Wenger as a highly intelligent, urbane and sometimes emotionless football manager to hear him show his passionate side.

As the table below shows, Wenger has a point when it comes to fair play.

The fact that he can be detached, chooses players on talent rather than nationality (and there are plenty of jingoists who resent him looking to France rather than over-priced England for top quality players) and that his early Arsenal sides were guilty of regular dismissals have the critics rubbing their hands with glee.

"You can look at the fair play table... Who is top? Arsenal Football Club. We have no lessons to learn from anyone on that front. Look at the team that makes less fouls - it is Arsenal Football Club.

"Who gets the more yellow cards after four or five fouls? Arsenal Football Club. Some teams get their first yellow card after 15 fouls. I cannot read the (rule) book or something is wrong.

"I'm responsible for the behaviour of Arsenal and we are top. I do not make that table. Instead of having a go at us, people should look somewhere else."

He’s right, of course. In the last couple of years, Eduardo, Abou Diaby and Tomas Rosicky have all been taken out and missed huge chunks of a season due to the inept and potentially-calculated actions of opponents.

As one of my Gooner friends said last night after the game, something isn’t right at Arsenal at present. There is a strange vibe.

Perhaps we need a couple of dominant leaders, great and passionate on-field personalities to pull the squad together. Maybe they are already at the club but not yet displaying their leadership skills.

Recent results have been poor, the wallpaper over cracks we could see against Everton, Fenerbahce away and West Ham finally breaking through.

Arsenal have got problems and Arsène Wenger surely knows that.

I’d love to see us stick the boot in a bit, battle-harden and show we can compete in the way the likes of Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Patrick Vieira displayed on a weekly basis.

But I’m proud of being a Gooner and while a bit more steel would go a long way, Wenger’s aspiration to play football in the spirit of fair play and deceny is something we should all be proud of.

Premier League 2008/09

Fouls Conceded

Yellow Cards

Fouls per yellow

Arsenal

109

20

5.45

West Brom

151

24

6.29

Manchester United

135

21

6.43

Stoke City

154

22

7.00

Blackburn Rovers

175

24

7.29

Sunderland

128

17

7.53

Bolton Wanderers

157

20

7.85

Tottenham Hotspur

158

20

7.90

Aston Villa

136

17

8.00

Liverpool

138

17

8.12

West Ham

163

20

8.15

Middlesbrough

142

17

8.35

Everton

163

19

8.58

Wigan Athletic

146

16

9.12

Hull City

154

16

9.62

Portsmouth

135

13

10.38

Newcastle United

148

14

10.57

Chelsea

139

13

10.69

Manchester City

164

14

11.71

Fulham

130

8

16.25