Tuesday, March 15, 2011

PSG and Arsenal a tale of two cities...

After this weekend it dawned on me why I root for PSG and Arsenal...okay aside from the fact I am from Paris and Arsenal has become a French club in the EPL since Wenger has arrived...it is the fact both teams have recently done their best to tease and then disappoint. Maybe more so with the London outfit than with PSG, let's face it, PSG have not been in real contention for the league title in forever and have not been a fringe European power since the late 1990s.

The latest set back from both clubs - Arsenal losing the Carling Cup finals, getting squashed by Barcelona in the Champions League and humiliated by Manchester United in the FA Cup 1/4 finals for PSG it is slowly sliding back down the table after mounting a legitimate challenge for Ligue 1 and at least a spot in the Champions League...oh yeah they also lost 2-1 to Benefica in the Europa League. We are not yet to St Patricks day and both clubs are once again on the outside looking in when it comes to legitimate trophies. So what to think about this?

In reality both clubs are very different. Arsenal, not only compete in the highest profile league in the world, they share their city with an array of other clubs (Chelsea, Tottenham, West Ham and Fulham just in the EPL in London - add to this the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace and Milwall). The Gunners have been able to find and attract some of the world's top footballing talent - Cesc, Vieira, Henry to name a few. In addition they are always in the conversation when it comes to top notch players - Essien, Hazard, Sakho to name a few from the past and current side. Now whether or not Arsenal actually make real efforts to secure these players is another story. On the other side of the channel you have PSG, they own Paris. Can you name me the next club in Paris? There is still RCF Paris and Paris FC, but if you can name me any of their players or have seen them play than kudos. PSG is not only the top dog in Paris but they are always seen as a potential top dog in Ligue 1. PSG have had some success in finding some top notch talent, most often early before that talent moves on to the bigger leagues - Ronaldino and Leonardo to name two. Recently that has not been the case, they have developed some of their home grown talent (again when you are the only team in a city like Paris you have a treasure chest of talent at your doorstep), with the likes of Sakho, Chantome and Makonda. In recent seasons PSG have been more successful in bringing in some veteran talent - Hourau, Giuly, Erding, Makelele and Nene to name a few. Clearly enough talent and youth to be competitive in Ligue 1. Yet both PSG and Arsenal seem to fall short every year from achieving their goals. Why? Neither team has the appropriate player strategy.


What do I mean? Wenger is the master of finding up and coming talent, raiding clubs' youth set ups - see PSG and Anelka or Barcelona and Cesc - he then nurtures and develops that talent. In past seasons he was able to add the proper mix of veterans to partner with that up and coming youth but he has recently avoided making the big name signings - rather than bring in a Wiltord or Pires to add that extra level of talent he rather sign a bunch of 18 year olds. So what he has is a talented team, but one that lacks that all important element of depth and veteran steel necessary to compete on the levels Arsenal aspire to. PSG on the other hand is schizophrenic when it comes to their player strategy - they have a good youth set up, but seem to grab whatever player is the flavor of the day to round out that roster. Sessegnon, sign him to run the team, oops Nene now is that player so the Benin player is out. Erdinc he will score, but wait let us get Hourau. Giuly, Coupet and Makelele, on the retirement heap so let's give them one more kick at the can....granted the revolving door that is the management seat does not help. Players such as Remy, Gignac, Gourcuff are available...we will pass.

Both clubs need to revise their player strategy, otherwise they will continue to fall short of their aspiration. Arsenal need to open the purse strings, take a chance on some big name veterans. Keep developing that youth, but do not rely on always uncovering gems. PSG needs to target the best talent in Ligue 1- they need to be aggressive for players such as Sow, Hazard, Matuidi, Payet, Martin and Sissoko to name a few and look to bolster that with one or two veterans from other European Leagues. Maybe then, both clubs will be able to get the silverware both are so desperate to gain.

5 comments:

Philip said...

I'm a big fan of Arsenal and France. But if anyone goes to Arsenal they always seem to get injured ALOT and have longterm injuries. So I get a little nervous when Arsenal sign a new player because they probably will miss important international games.

I think this injury curse is also playing a key role in the arsenal trophy drought.

josemanes said...

I think that you touched upon a good point when you mentioned Arsenal and the lack of veteran players. A veteran player can bring a lot to the table: experience, stability, and leadership. I think that Arsenal has definitely lacked that. As much as I am not a Manchester U fan, I have to give them credit for keeping veteran guys like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. They compliment the young talent on that team. Arsenal's young players such as Nasri and Fabregas would benefit from having veteran players on their team.

GFC said...

I agree that injuries have been an issue, but to @josemanes point - if there were some veteran depth you could overcome some of those injuries.

As much as I cannot stand Scholes and Giggs, they have been the constants with Manchester United. Something to be said about having that in your club.

jeremy said...

Curious the way that in France, the trend seems to be 1 city= 1 team. Seemingly no one knows any other clubs in marseille, lyon, bordeaux, paris, and so on. Whereas in England, london alone has I believe a total of 14 fairly well known teams, and even smaller cities like Birmingham manage to have 2 in the EPL. Funny how that works.

GFC said...

Paris is the one major European capital that only has 1 club! London has a large number of clubs as you point out...plus Tottenham and Arsenal are a stones throw away from one another! Madrid - Real and Atletico. Moscow - CSKA, Spartak, Dinamo to name a few. Rome - Roma and Lazio. Even Athens and Istanbul both have a number of high profile clubs! It is a strange phenomena in France...the closest you have is Lyon and St Etienne who are abutting cities...

There is a fantastic book called "The Ball is Round" that delves into that topic and shows how the evolution of the game in France has made this the case...

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