• Premier League

Wenger defends Van Gaal tactics

ESPN staff
February 15, 2015
Wenger: Arsenal can challenge on three fronts

Arsene Wenger suggests Louis van Gaal was misguided to rise to Sam Allardyce's jibe that Manchester United play long-ball football.

Van Gaal took the unusual step of handing a dossier of statistics to reporters as he attempted to banish the West Ham manager's claim that United played it direct in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Upton Park.

Sam Allardyce said Louis van Gaal's side played long-ball football at Upton Park © Getty Images

But Wenger says he would not have risen to the taunts of a manager who he has had a long and often unfriendly relationship with.

"There was no reason for Van Gaal to defend himself," argued the Arsenal boss. "Players have an intelligence. A team plays naturally to its strong point and an intelligent team knows how to exploit the strong points.

"I don't think Van Gaal said to them go longer. When they see [Marouane] Fellaini on the pitch, the guy at the back says, 'Ah, I can kick it to Fellaini.' Then [Robin] Van Persie or [Wayne] Rooney can score the goal. This is normal.

"When we have [Olivier] Giroud in the team, the players understand quickly when they can play a bit longer, cross the ball more. If we win the ball in the air, you can go for the second ball.

"I play the game that is most suited to our players. A big club has a reason to try and win with style, but first they have to try and win. If you are chasing the game in the last five minutes you do not always want the short ball. Man United went a bit longer at West Ham to try and get an equaliser. It was completely logical."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
ESPN staff Close