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Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?


Director of the Defence

By Eduardo
January 6 2011

Was the George Graham teams’ defense really that much better than the Wenger teams’ defense of the last five seasons. We all remember the GG well drilled defense, the Famous Back Five as so many call them, the bedrock of the team.

 How we wish we had them for the last few years, then surely we would have won everything going, but are we correct in this view, or is our memories playing tricks on us?

Is it all down to one or two outstanding league season from them - 1990/91 when they let in only 18 goals in 38 games and 1993/94 when they let in 28, or was that just an exception? Really if you take those two seasons out of it, then their record is not any better than Wenger's awful defensive record of the last five seasons.

 Yes I can hear the cries now, but you can't take out those two seasons, but the point I'm making is that in the 9 seasons under GG the much vaunted defense we all (myself included) claim to be our best ever, probably best ever in England, had seven out of the 9 seasons when they were not that special at all, and in fact in only three out of those seven seasons did they let in less than a goal a game.

 The Wenger defense of the last six seasons has had five seasons where they let in less than a goal a game. So in fact in the last six seasons when we are said to have a woeful defense the team has matched the GG record out of his 9 seasons, 5 seasons of less than a goal a game let in.

 Graham’s Record

I will say it again, apart from 91(18) and 94(28) Graham's defense let in lots of goals, 87(35), 88(39), 89(36), 90(38), 92(47), 93(38), 95(49)

 Wenger’s Record

Meanwhile Wenger's defense for the last six seasons since the invincibles, 05(36), 06(31), 07(35), 08(31), 09(37), 10(41)

 Couple of things too that should be taken into consideration when judging the team's defense of the two periods, back in the Graham era the tackle from behind was allowed and the offside rule bore little resemblance to what it is now, no second phase for them to deal with, either you were offside or you were not.

Goal Scoring Records

Also we must take into consideration that we did not score as near as many goals in the Graham era as we do now, Graham teams’ scoring record was 87(58), 88(58), 89(73), 90(54), 91(74), 92(81), 93(40), 94(53), 95(52), the team was usually built around not conceding.

 However, Wenger's teams of latter years is built around attacking at every opportunity and his teams’ record is 05(87), 06(68), 07(63), 08(74), 09(68) and 10(83). Graham’s team in his 9 seasons scored over 60 goals in only 3 seasons while in the last 6 seasons Wenger’s team has scored over 60 in all of them, actually only one is the low 60’s.

Pre 2004

By the way Wenger’s record from 97 to 2004 is as follows, goals conceded 32, 33, 17, 43, 38, 36, 42 and 26.  Goals scored 62, 68, 59, 73, 63, 79, 85 and 73. You will note that the 17 conceded in 98/99 is better than any GG team, and overall in all seasons here(14) Wenger’s teams have only on three occasions let in more than a goal a game in a season.

 His goal scored record overall in the 14 seasons is that the team has never scored less than 60 a season, in fact only 3 times has it been in the low 60’s.  I think people should stop the bull that Wenger knows nothing about defense as the stats say otherwise.

 So has that made you look at our defense since the Invincibles a little differently, or the GG defense differently, I'm sure someone out there will say the old refrain, "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics". 

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Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Arsenal Times (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 18:30
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:01:09:13:09:51 by Padre Pio.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
06/01/2011 18:45
Ive gotta admit I got lost halfway through that.but would it be right to say that the amount of posession this has should mean we should be conceding less?

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 18:49
interesting point

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 18:55
It can be hard to follow the figures, but its the first set that count. Isnt the point that Graham let in more than a goal a game more often than Wenger?

I must say I forgot that his (GG) famous defence let in 49 goals in a season!!!

That doesnt quite fit the myth



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 19:07
The main point for me is that Graham's teams let in more than one goal a game for so many seasons, while Wenger's - even in the last six years, when so many say we are hopeless at defense, have in five of those six years let in less than one goal a game


Most people claim (probably rightly) that the GG defense was more secure under the high ball and were tougher than AW defenses of last six years,and outstanding at playing the offside trap, so looking at the stats, we can conclude that AW defenses have to be better at lots of other aspects of defense than GG teams.

I think there is an awful lot of people influenced by media sound bites, sky say we can't defend ergo we can't defend, sky say GG defense far superior to this one, ergo its true, even when the stats say otherwise.

Must add too that for a few years Graham even packed the midfield with defensive minded players too, yet still let in lots of goals.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
gogo_l (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 19:24
I am sorry to prove you wrong but your conclusion "that Graham's teams let in more than one goal a game for so many seasons" is not accurate. You forget that prior to 95/96 season there were 22 teams and 42 games per season. Taking this into account, only on 2 occasions Graham's teams let more than 1 goal per game.

Cheers!

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
celine dion (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 19:34
the point about Wengers teams is the significant disparity in quality between our back line and the rest of the team. Not that we let in a significant amount of goals but that we concede them unnecssarily under only small amounts of pressure - just look at the value of the actual players invovled, RVP Cesc Nasri Walcott Arshavin Song Chamakh Wilshere Bendnter - all would be in the 15 to 20 million pound plus bracket. Do we have the same array of talent in our back line that would cost the same if a club came in for them - perhaps Sagna or Vermaelen apart? I would say no. Yet, your Vidic's and your Ferdinands, they are worth just as much almost, or have been at various times. They are big time players in their own right as are Terry Ashley Cole etc.

Your stats on GGs defence are interesting but the succesful seasons where we didnt let in any goals, if you watched the games, were largely becuase Mickey Thomas Davis Kevin Richardson etc. ran a tidy show in front of Adams etc. and kept the ball pinging forward much the same as Song Cesc do now.

Then when they were replaced by inferior players like Jensen Hillier etc the defence spent much of its time with opposition teams bearing down on it. There were several home games like this in say 1994 or 1995.

Lee Dixon gave an interview in 1998 where he said how incredible Petit and Vieira had been - immense I think were the words he used - I think this was very telling at the time given the nonsense he and the other 4 had put up with in the preceding 4 years.

Therefore your stats are not hugely telling without posession stats.

I think overall, Grahams defence functioned well when the rest of the team did, and Grahams teams, for various reasons, did not always function well (stupid midfield choices, drunkeness, drub scandals, and so on). Not only that but it only cost us 8 pound to get in Eduardo, so who could complain if things went a bit wrong.

The reason people are annoyed about Wengers defence is because we know it could be better, in comparison with the rest of the team which really functions rather well, like last night for example.

but a good bit of work nonetheless Eduardo.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 19:39
sorry to correct you but not all season prior to then was 42 games, it kept changing - remember the play offs etc, they just could not decide on how many teams they wanted

87 42 games 35 goals
88 38 games 39 goals
89 38 games 36 goals
90 38 games 38 goals
91 38 games 18 goals
92 42 games 47 goals
93 42 games 38 goals
94 42 games 28 goals
95 42 games 49 goals

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 19:47
Celine I agree almost totally with you, but your point on the work of the midfield backs a point I've made many times in recent season, a number of times this season, its up to more than just the goalie and four defenders to help defend, when they do, like v Chelsea and Brum we look a hell of a lot stronger in defense than when our attacking players think its enough to just attack.
Your point also sort of backs my theme that GG defense as good as they where had many poor seasons too,

It really is not as black and white as so many paint it to be, yes our defense has its faults, but it also must have strenghts too as the stats show

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:04
Are you sure about number of games eduardo? Didnt pren go to 20 clubs thus 38 games, only teams in play off would have played more. So what were exact number of games Arsenal played each season?



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:08
Fantastic post Eduardo,the mists of time clouding my memory.
I think it is true that most fans feel the defence is secondary to AW,and as Celine says investment has maybe not matched other areas.
Comparisons of eras are frought with anomalies,Best better than Henry,Ronaldo better than Ginola etc,GG sides ended a drought and drab as the football was we were winning trophies,any one remember the two finals against Sheff Wed and the late goals,the games were poor but who cared.
I was loving it just as I marvel at the football we play now,my main gripe is the end product and a perceived lack of real ambition in the transfer market.



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
celine dion (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:08
i think what Eduardo means is that the play offs were originally used to determine whether a team from the lower division was good enough to join the upper tier (and I will give anyone who can name the first two years results where this was done a 'virtual pat on the back') but after that they used to use it as a filter to add a team to the top division ie there was no 4th relegated team to drop into the lower league just a new one to come up, hence increasing the numbers in the top league in certain years.

Its about 20 years ago so i could be wrong on this.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:01:06:20:09:32 by celine dion.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:19
the league was reduced using the playoff, there was couple of seasons where it was something like three relegated two promoted and 4th bottom played 3rd in the promotion fight, winner to play in the top division,

Padre I listed the number of games in a post above, taken mostly from wiki, surely padre you recall 89 at anfield was the 38th game, also at that time division two, three and four as they were then had 24 teams(46 games)

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:21
Yes Eduardo is right the no of games switched between 38 and 42 every few years. A cursory glance seems to show that it finally settled on 38 games by the third year of Prem.
Before that it also went backwards and forwards, so some of Graham's season were indeed 38 in league



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:31
celine wasn't middlesborough involved in the first one, maybe chelsea in one of them too

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 20:43
Middlesbro beat Chelsae in the 87-88 play off



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Gunners R Us (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 21:17
you guys analyse football more times than i analyse literature for my english degree, haha

not a bad thing though

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 21:23
GRU we know what is important in life and what is not(Sm100)

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
celine dion (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 21:35
Quote:
eduardo
celine wasn't middlesborough involved in the first one, maybe chelsea in one of them too

no the first one was Leeds v Charlton (Leeds from the lower league and Charlton from the 1st Divison) this was in 1987 the same year that leeds had got as far as the FA cup semi with Coventry. Now I cant tell you that many of their players I seem to remember they had Brendan Ormsby in defence, a player called Ian Edwards up front, Ian Rennie if you know he is, I really cant tell you the rest of their team, I vaguely remember that they also had the son of an ex leeds manager but I am f*cked if I can remember who. Maybe one of the visiting leeds posters could help out. I seem to recall that the game went to a third game and if I am not mistaken Mark Aizlewood the Welsh international of the time scored the winning goal for Charlton in a 2-1 victory in a 3RD game that was played at Villa park on a Friday night and even went into extra time.

anyway yes the second game was Middlesboro Chelsea the lower league team Middlesboro won the first leg 2-0 I seem to recall Bernie Slaven scoring one of the goals, then the Chelse could only win the 2nd leg 1-0 so they went down. Their fans livened up the afternoon by storming the away end and prowling round behind the goal lobbing advertising hoardings into the away end.

After that they stopped involving the upper league teams and it went to just a straight play off for teams from 3rd to 7th place or 2nd to 6th I think. Which was a shame because the original idea of the play off was just that, to see who was actually better between sides from the two leagues.

these reminiscenes are off the top of my head, I havent looked them up.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 21:44
think the leeds player who was son of former manager was one of the Grays, probably eddie's son, was wayne clarke in that leeds side, brother of alan clarke

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
celine dion (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 21:49
Quote:
eduardo
think the leeds player who was son of former manager was one of the Grays, probably eddie's son, was wayne clarke in that leeds side, brother of alan clarke

I think it was Gray. Was wayne clarke not signed by Everton at xmas 1986/87 and helped them push on to the league title. And also I thought he came from Birmingham not leeds. He was certainly at Everton by the 1987 charity shield because he scored the winning goal v Coventry in a 1-0 victory.

this is proper trainspotter stuff, if we are honest. no wonder my wife hates me.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 22:32
Clarke started at Wolves,Bham,Everton,Stoke,Leicester,Man City,Wallsall.Shrewsbury



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 23:39
A better statistic is to compare:

1 - How many clean sheets.

2 - how many 1-0 victory.

3 - how many 0-0 draw.

4 - how many games we conceded only 1 goal.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
06/01/2011 23:43
be my guest merl, way you go and look up the stats for that,

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 00:28
Not moi as you all got a point to prove.

My contention is that Wenger got lucky and inherited a ready-make solid Back-4 and Seaman for him to build the team with french players.

And that include our Chelsea Rent-Boy still in Arsenal nursery.

he got lucky with Sol on a Bosman...and thereafter he is still rebuilding his Back-4.

GG policy is not to lose.
Wenger Policy is to outscore opponents.

It is like comparing apple to orange, different era and different football style.

But nobody has yet to comapre "opportunity costs".

That is, when the title is an open race, how times had GG and AW flopped?

e.g. 2007/08 and 2009/10 were winnable season...plsu this season is the most open race.....and Wenger managed to lose to the likes of WBA, Newcastle and S*CUMS after leading 2-0 in 1st half.

Plus, drawing at Sunderland during 95th minute.....and Wigan during 89th minute?

And flopping against CITEH?

If Wenger Philosophy is based on attack, then he is a flop as his team for the past 5 seasons (after Bergy retired and Henry left) are rather toothless and like this season as well.

If we had scored one goal in every game we played:

Then...
Arsenal 1 Newcastle 1
ManLeeds 1 Arsenal 1
Arsenal 1 CITEH 0

That is 5 points lost....and ManLeeds will have 2 points less.

GG built a defensive minded team and we will never know how much he can achieved if not for that bung case.

Wenger?
he is a flop and got lucky with french players durign French Football Golden Era, plsu hsi intimated knowledge of European Football and African Football before rest of football managers caught up with him in the early-2000s...and outbidded him for all his coveted players.

Wenger is just a snake-oil salesman with all his so-called "astute buys" when we are blind to him with all that foolishness of building a team from cheap buys where even small team liek S*CUMS are willing to spend to strengthen the team with astute buys..and taking a risk on them.

Wenger just conveniently used the same old excuse of inhibiting "development of his youngsters" should he buy experienced players.

GG got it right by building around Seaman and Fab-4.

AW flopped by trying to build a title-winning team from yougnsters playing Attacking Football....and still need another 5 years - 2010 to 2014 - to prove it all over again.

But then, rest of premiership teams are not standing still, and they all are improving and knew how to counter Wenegr Attacking Football, which is highly predictable nowaday without guile and blindside running like the French Spine.

If GG won titles with an inferior goal difference - scoring less and conceding more - then he is successful as he had achieved hsi aim with a defensive side.

If AW won titles with the ebst goal difference (scoring lots and conceding lots of goals) then he is successful in Attacking Football.

But for the past 5 seasons with likes of Chelski and ManLeeds outscoring us and with better goal difference, how can we said AW Attacking Football is superior to GG Defensive Football?

DO you know that Arsenal always started the seaosn with a bang, outscoring opponents and a far superior goal difference against ManLeeds and Chelski by December...only to be overhauled by them coem May where trophies and titles are won?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2011:01:07:01:16:39 by Merlion96.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 00:43
the defence Wenger inherited had let in 49 goals the season before. they were useless in europe and we went out early on several occassions. They cost us the cup against Liverpool.

Then Wenger worked out that Vieira and Petit should shield them, that prolonged their careers. Unfortunately he hung on to Seaman for at least a season too long.

The Invincibles had none of Graham's defenders in the back five. Your hatred of Wenger is undermining your ability to rationally analyse what has happend in the past.



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 00:56
Quote:
Padre Pio
the defence Wenger inherited had let in 49 goals the season before. they were useless in europe and we went out early on several occassions. They cost us the cup against Liverpool.
Then Wenger worked out that Vieira and Petit should shield them, that prolonged their careers. Unfortunately he hung on to Seaman for at least a season too long.

The Invincibles had none of Graham's defenders in the back five. Your hatred of Wenger is undermining your ability to rationally analyse what has happend in the past.

That was Rioch; and the Fab-4 was at the tail-end of their career.

And Wenger got lucky with Vieira-Petit as cover for Back-4....like today 4-2-3-1 formation.

The key point to the success of Wenegr Attacking Football - winning by outscoring opponents - is:


How many seasons - 1997/98 to 2009/10 - had Arsenal scored the most goals and/or the best goal difference....and also the most number of victories.

That are the true indicators of Attacking Football.

Should ManLeeds win this season as the New Invincibles, it is an indicator of Pragmatic Football if they achieve it with less vcitories than Arsenal, CITEH and Chelski.

Mancini CITEH eptimoses current trend of Pragmatic Football...not the beautiful game.

Oh well, every season, we can always console ourselves by having watched the best "one Touch One Pass Breathe-taking Football" from our team.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 09:24
It was under graham they let in forty nine goals, rioch then played with a sweeper to try and stop the leaky defense, also merl its nonsence about wenger just being lucky, every successful manager gets lucky one way or another, sir alex got lucky with the only great group of youths in decades at utd coming through together at just right time, mourinho got lucky that the tinker man had spent wisely and left him a great squad and he could waste loads of money and take all credit for the wins, pep lucky he got barca job just when their youth project was maturing,

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
AJ The Gunner (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 10:11
i am very careful to match past records with present...1st the rules have modified, the ball has improved...never the less wenger's team have conceded the same kind of goal from set piece that shows he has no clue about defending... why not balance his attacking total passing-and-moving with a defense coach that will sort out our defense and we will be an awesome team..

thats the difference between barca and us..



http://i400.photobucket.com/albums/pp87/ajplatinum/2017-09-26_12.35.41.jpg

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 10:13
Well, Wenger had 5 years to build up current team as successor to the French Spine.
Is he lucky then or unlucky with disloyal players?

Similarly, he is on his next 5-Year Plan to build a title-winning team from current crop of talented youngsters.

By 2014, we should know whether luck or his planned Youth Policy that will transform Arsenal into a marquee club that can compete with the likes of Barca, Real, ManLeeds, CHelski and CITEH.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 10:43
We4nger is our best manager in my time prob ever no argument,he is just one stubborn mother.



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
hacomon (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 11:41
i would say graham had a solid back four i remember this side but wasant you labled boreing arsenal to

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 19:42
One nil to the Arsenal



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 20:34
Yes players like Merson, Limpars, Wright, Smith and Rocastle were very boring to watch Hacomon



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 20:41
Anders was a superb player



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
celine dion (IP Logged)
07/01/2011 20:51
video: [url]

[/url]

correct Bergmars. I am in the north bank crowd by the way.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Merlion96 (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 00:14
Most of 'em forgotten GG "Four Aces":

Davis, Rocastle, Thomas, Wright.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Padre Pio (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 00:47
Another boring 4-0 win



- until Wenger moves on, they'll always be the also-rans in the major competitions. A club in elite purgatory. Always good enough to make it to the big race, never fast or smart enough to push over the finish line in first place. That's all about the manager. Until he changes, Arsenal fans will continue to celebrate glorious failure.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 09:32
Merl you will find that Michael Thomas only played a handful of games in the same Arsenal team as Ian Wright - Thomas was sold in Dec 91 and Wright had arrived in Sept 91, also Rocky was only in the same team as Wright for one season 91/92

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 12:31
Paul Davis is still atAFC in some role I think.



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
eduardo (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 12:35
not sure about that Bergmars, he walked out on coaching role when he did not get u16 managers job I think

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
Bergmars (IP Logged)
08/01/2011 18:07
Your right he left in 2003,worked with Gazza at Kettering.



DB10,the best.

 
Re: Was Graham really better at defence than Wenger?
essex gooner (IP Logged)
09/01/2011 20:55
Also don't forget although 1 nil to the arsenal was the way the press reported, we at Highbury also used to like the term 1 nil down 2 one up like the fanzine. I think it was the never say die attitude of that era we sometimes/often lack today.
Don't remember the league going back up to more teams, thought it went down and stayed down.
The Leeds player in question was Frank Gray.

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