x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Premier League Best and Worst: Arsene Wenger's the life and sole

Arsenal manager needs to splash out, and Saturday was a real turn off, writes Paul Radley.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts as he watches his team play against Tottenham Hotspur. Sang Tan / AP Photo
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger reacts as he watches his team play against Tottenham Hotspur. Sang Tan / AP Photo
Worst skinflint - Wenger
With 10 minutes to go in Sunday's North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, Arsene Wenger looked down at his shoes, wiped some dust off the sole, and looked at them balefully.
"These look like they need resoling," he appeared to be thinking. "That will cost. Still, better than forking out for a new pair."
They are probably a pair of hand-me-down Clarks school shoes, rather than the patent-leather Guccis that most of his rivals wear these days.
His public at Arsenal must despair of his excessive thriftiness sometimes.
Still, an oldie can sometimes be a goody. With nil money spent so far in this transfer window, his well-worn squad at least have a victory over their closest rivals to show for their efforts.
Maybe on Monday they will get a new centre-back, a new striker, and a new set of shoes for the manager.
Worst advert - Saturday
It always jars when, after West Bromwich Albion draw 5-5 with Manchester United, for instance, commentators say: "What a great advert for the Premier League that was."
No it was not. It was a game of football, not commerce. And, happily, English top-flight football generally does not need to advertise itself.
The hype makes it all-encompassing anyway, and more than that, it has ties that have bound it to the communities it serves for over 100 years.
That said, Saturday afternoon was a real turn-off. While goals were going in left, right and centre in the German Bundesliga and the Spanish Primera Liga, all four 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League were 0-0 at half time.
Still, it was not necessarily the worst advert of the day. The repetition of that Pepsi commercial must be testing the patience of Al Jazeera's subscribers by now - and the season is only three weeks old.
Best drive - Sturridge
Depending on your point of view, Daniel Sturridge has always been fiercely driven towards either self-improvement, reaching the top, or the next big payday.
No matter his motivating force, few could argue against the fact the England striker is a uniquely driven individual.
His determination manifested itself in physical terms on Sunday after his deft header opened Liverpool's account against Manchester United at Anfield.
The former Manchester City and Chelsea forward made a beeline for the bench. He had a legion of ecstatic players holding him back.
Martin Sktrel, the orc-like centre-back had an arm around his throat and still he ploughed on - eventually reaching his chosen destination: his manager, Brendan Rodgers.
The ensuing love-in showed what high regard this developing Liverpool side have for their manager.
pradley@thenational.ae
twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE