Football

Arsenal must add nastiness and bite to their timid game

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Another Arsenal match; another furore, aimed this time at Diego Costa and the Blues, despite two of Arsene Wenger's men being sent off.

If you didn't know anything about the current Gunners side you would think that having two players dismissed from the field of play would hint at a nasty streak or hardness about the team.

But no, it was for two fairly innocuous and soft incidents that, nonetheless, Mike Dean made the right call on - although not according to the FA, after they overturned Gabriel's red card for his tangles with Costa. 

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The Spanish international does go over the top at times and doesn't need to be 'the boy who cried wolf' every time a defender comes near him, but his style of competitiveness in having the last word and not being 'bullied' is one that Wenger's side could do with.

Whether it's on or off the pitch, Arsenal players seem too nice. Interviews with Theo Walcott almost give the impression that he's a children's television presenter, and the constant selfies featuring the happy, teeth-bearing faces of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and co. only heighten that impression.

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Now, whilst Jack Wilshire is not shy of a selfie or four, even if he doesn't look the happiest of souls in them - and who can blame him after his injury hell - he carries with him a degree of menace and nastiness.

Take Arsenal's victory parade after their FA Cup win over Aston Villa last May. If it weren't for him and his barracking of local rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, then it would have been a nice, pleasant affair with no sign of controversy.

Sometimes that's what we football fans want - a 'ticking time bomb', for want of a better metaphor, unafraid to cause some mischief.

If you're in a match-up against a hard, nasty side then you want someone alongside you who will give it back, providing something of a siege mentality rather than everyone being nice boys.

As mentioned, Costa does go over the top, but with him in the team it gives the 'nice' ones a lift, like a meek kid being picked on by the bully and being stuck up for by the 'hard' one in his team.

Roy Keane's confrontation with Arsenal's 'hard man' Patrick Viera springs to mind - the Frenchman seemingly tried to intimidate Manchester United's Gary Neville before a game between the two clubs in 2005.

Every team needs it - United had Keane, Eric Cantona, Mark Hughes and Paul Ince, while Arsenal had the likes of Viera, Martin Keown, Tony Adams and even Thierry Henry, who wasn't shy of expressing his feelings.

Wilshire may well be an unsavoury character - only those who have spent a good deal of time with him will know - but up against similar personalities, team-mates feel the better for it.

Top footballers may seem like they are robots, programmed to show no emotion and say 'we're just happy to get the three points' after a win, but they are actually humans who can be affected by the work of opposing players.

Not all will be intimidated by nastiness, but there will be those - on every team - who are. Anyone coming up against Arsenal at the moment, however, will not have to worry on that front. In more ways than one, the sooner the Gunners get Wilshire back the better.

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Topics:
Premier League
Arsenal
Football

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