Wenger has much in common with Mandela ahead of Everton clash

By Avenell Dave

The news is dominated by the death of Nelson Mandela this morning.

A giant of world history, a giant who had a huge passion for sport, Mandela will be sorely missed.

He made a difference because he stood up for what he believed in and refused to be unbowed by the weight of opposition or constraints put upon him.

He remained honourable and loyal to those who supported him, humble to those who opposed him and he had a vision that eventually was realized.

We could argue that the South Africa of today is in some ways no better off than in previous generations because of in-fighting and the ensuing corruption, but there is only so much one man, particularly in his older years, can control.

I grew up close to activists who sought equality for all and who always taught me that when times are tough, that is when you must remain strong and stick to your ideals.

That made me think about Arsene Wenger this morning.

I am not saying for one moment that the achievements of Mandela and Wenger are in any way on the same level but even so, in a small way, Wenger has followed edicts that Mandela continued to preach until his dying day.

Wenger had a vision to transform a club from a culture of drinking and route one football into a team admired around the world, who played the right way and who stuck by the values of the beautiful game.

He did it on a budget and at times, stood loyal to his paymasters at the expense of his own reputation and the respect of even some of his so-called dearest allies.

Finally, he is in a position to compete and that Arsenal are four points clear at the top of the table speaks volumes for the progress he has made and the qualities he has that he can do so even after years of mediocrity that he sought to rise above.

We can all learn something from Mandela for his humble and single minded focus on the vision he had and the same goes for Wenger.

We may not stay at the top for the rest of the season but we should be thankful that we are in this position - whatever some may think, it is not easy to have even remained in the top four as he has done over the years, let alone find ourselves top as  we are now.

Everton come to The Arsenal on Sunday on the back of a dogged win at Old Trafford.

If there was any reason not to underestimate them, that is it.

In Romelu Lukaku, they have a striker in form and with the pace, power and scoring abilities to wreak havoc on any defence.

But let's remember that we have build our recent fine run on clean sheets and if we can stop his supply line - namely Ross Barkley with Leigton Baines out until the New Year, we have a good chance of retaining our lead at the top of the table.

It's going to be tough -Everton always is.

But let's celebrate where we are and what we have - sticking to his vision when others doubted his aptitude are what have ensured Wenger leads us out on Sunday as Premier League leaders and we are lucky to have him.

Addict XI


Jenkinson Mertesacker Koscielny Gibbs

Ramsey Arteta Wilshere

Ozil Giroud Cazorla