Arsene Wenger: We went big and it paid off against Anderlecht


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was staring down third place in UEFA Champions League Group D at the midpoint. Andy Najar had just given Anderlecht a 1-0 home lead and there were less than 20 minutes to play.

So Wenger went big, throwing on loads of offensive power and pace. Off went Mathieu Flamini, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshere. In came Costa Rican World Cup hero Joel Campbell, England international Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and German striker Lukas Podolski.

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By the time the dust settled, Podolski scored the winner as Arsenal turned the tide with two goals in the final three minutes to win 2-1, jumping to second in the group.

From the BBC:

“It’s a gambling situation in these games and it worked,” said Wenger.

“In the last five minutes in the Champions League the nerves play a part and we had to get into these five minutes without conceding a second goal

“I had hope, it maybe didn’t look like it, but it happened.

“The crucial point was when we were 1-0 down and they couldn’t take advantage with the chance for the second goal.”

The Gunners controlled possession for most of the match but were indeed lucky to not concede in bunches between the 70th and 80th minutes, as Najar and company prodded forward. The comeback complete, it’s easy to say the risk worked on the road.

But what if they just rolled out the offense to start?