Vital Football

Latest Arsenal FC News

Following in Graham's footsteps

Following in Graham's footsteps

Reading former manager George Graham`s comments about the Arsenal players that have impressed him most this season prompted me to look up a comment I had read elsewhere in an old members magazine. By which I mean an old edition rather than a publication purely for more senior members - should there be any doubt.

The comment came from Alan Smith, hero of Graham`s league title and ECWC sides. Smudger was talking about the triumph in Copenhagen in 1994 when his goal, and a stoically sterling defensive display, won us the Cup Winners Cup. Two important defensive players, Keown and Jensen missed the game along with Ian Wright. Given the way the game panned out you might have imagined that we put out a fairly defensive side but Smith describes something different.

"I had Kevin Campbell and Paul Merson either side of me in the 4-3-3 that George Graham liked to play" said the former front man.

It seems odd to think, with the dour defensive reputation that Graham had, him being responsible for deploying three forwards in a side that defended so well.

In speaking of the current side Graham talks of his surprise at how well van Persie has done as a front striker and how impressed he has been with Bendtner`s performances on the right.

"The surprising thing in the games I`ve seen was playing Bendtner wide right and pushing van Persie right up the middle to be the top striker. Everybody`s always admired van Persie`s talent but, for me, he`s not played enough games since he joined the club.

"Van Persie`s surprised me - he`s done better than expected, but it remains to be seen whether he can continue that sort of form and play up front for the rest of the season" said Graham, adding "Bendtner`s done very well on the right side of the pitch, especially with injuries to Walcott and Rosicky, so there are players who have improved a lot more than the fans expected."

It`s a system that keeps the opposition full backs busy and allows a more forward defensive line. The players that Wenger uses in the current version of 4-3-3 are perhaps a little more artful and the choice more flexible than Graham`s players. Not that Merson in particular was without ability. Bendtner on the right has proved more effective than most would have been willing to accept but as Graham proved 15 years ago you don`t need traditional wingers in order to occupy defenders and attack can indeed be the best form of defence.

Restricting players to their 'natural` positions can sometimes rob the team of an opportunity to play with less predictability - and that can often be a very potent weapon - whether defending or attacking.

Join Vital Arsenal

Want to comment on this article? It's easy to register , simply click the link and enjoy getting involved (you can even win prizes!)

Message Board To visit the message board, click here. Get involved

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Friday October 23 2009
Time: 8:00AM


That's correct, Graham also converted Merson from a striker into a winger and played him on the left, despite the fact that Merse was the most comically one footed player ever (see his celebration at Selhurst Park in 96 when he scored with his left). I also recall from that night in Copenhagen that GG eschewed Paul Davis and instead started the untried, inexperienced Ian Selley in central midfield. Graham wasn't always as cautious as people's memories have allowed them to believe.
Little Dutch
23/10/2009 08:27:00
Page 1/1
  1. 1

Login to post a comment

Recent Arsenal Articles

Vital Pre-Match - Premier League, 29th-31st Oct

The 2016-17 season continues with the latest round of matches this weekend, which will see us among those having a match in this upcoming schedule with three-points the aim of course.

Jenkinson Ready To Battle Bellerin

After his first Arsenal appearance since May 2014 against Reading, of course during this time he had loans with West Ham and a long-term injury, Jenkinson's hoping for more chances.

Aguero In From Manchester City?

Manchester City are unlikely to sell Aguero but if they do, with it said his relationship with Guardiola is 'strained', Arsenal, Chelsea & Tottenham are all ready to step in?

Iwobi Impresses Wenger But Still Has Work To Do

Alex Iwobi, who has managed 33 first-team outings for Arsenal since breaking into the first-team having apparently chosen the Gunners over West Ham, has netted just twice though.

Archived Vital Arsenal Articles

Vital Arsenal articles from

Site Journalists

Editor email
no email
no email

Current Poll (see more polls)

Sunderland v Arsenal
Suggested By:
Arsenal win100%
Sunderland win0%
ScoopDragon Premier League Network Sites

League Table

# Team P W D L Pts. GD
1 Man City 9 6 2 1 20 11
2 Arsenal 9 6 2 1 20 10
3 Liverpool 9 6 2 1 20 9
4 Chelsea 9 6 1 2 19 10
5 Spurs 9 5 4 0 19 9
6 Everton 9 4 3 2 15 5
7 Man Utd 9 4 2 3 14 1
8 Southampton 9 3 4 2 13 3
9 Watford 9 3 3 3 12 0
10 AFC Bournemouth 9 3 3 3 12 0
11 Crystal Palace 9 3 2 4 11 0
12 Leicester City 9 3 2 4 11 -4
13 WBA 9 2 4 3 10 0
14 Burnley 9 3 1 5 10 -5
15 West Ham 9 3 1 5 10 -7
16 Stoke 9 2 3 4 9 -7
17 Middlesbrough 9 1 4 4 7 -4
18 Hull City 9 2 1 6 7 -14
19 Swansea 9 1 2 6 5 -7
20 Sunderland 9 0 2 7 2 -10
Vital Football Comment
Latest F1 News
Latest Vital Boxing News
Write for Vital Football

Recent Arsenal Results (view all)

Arsenal Fixtures (view all)

Oct 29 2016 12:30PM : Sunderland (a)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 6 2016 12:00PM : Tottenham Hotspur (H)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 19 2016 12:30PM : Manchester United (a)
Barclays Premier League
Nov 27 2016 2:15PM : AFC Bournemouth (H)
Barclays Premier League
Dec 3 2016 3:00PM : West Ham United (a)
Barclays Premier League
Dec 10 2016 3:00PM : Stoke City (H)
Barclays Premier League

Vital Members League Table

2.Galway Gooner5
5.mar 121
The Vital Football Members League