As an Arsenal supporter, reading Martin Keown’s recent article on Tottenham Hotspur and their new manager, Ange Postecoglou, is like looking into a distorted mirror of the past.

Keown heaps praise on Postecoglou, even comparing him to Arsène Wenger in his initial days at Arsenal. But does this analogy stand up to scrutiny?

I’m worried... Spurs are reminding me of Wenger’s Arsenal! Daily Mail30 Sep 2023MARTIN KEOWN REX FEATURES Hitting the target: Maddison has made a super start at Spurs ToTTenham’s transformation under ange Postecoglou feels familiar. It’s transporting me back to 1996, when arsene Wenger walked through the door at arsenal. almost overnight, he instilled belief in us. Under George Graham, I had been told my job was to win the ball and give it to someone who could play. But Wenger told me, and others, that he trusted us and we should all play with the freedom to express ourselves. suddenly, I felt like a footballer, totally fulfilled, and the rest, as they say, is history. as worrying as it is for me to admit as an arsenal fan, I see that same belief being passed on to Tottenham’s players by Postecoglou. even after selling harry Kane, they look a better team and totally unified. They have a manager who believes in them in a way that antonio Conte didn’t, and Postecoglou’s style of play is striking. starting with summer signing Guglielmo Vicario in goal, he is solid, secure and good with his feet. more than 66 per cent of his passes have been short — one of the highest in the Premier League — as Postecoglou demands his side build attacks from the back. Centre backs Cristian Romero and micky van de Ven are forming a strong partnership. They never shy from accepting the ball from Vicario and are aggressive, mobile and quick — vital attributes when you play attacking football because of the large gaps inevitably left at the back. Full backs Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie are flexible. They will get down the wings but also regularly tuck in next to Yves Bissouma — the defensive enforcer who crashes into challenges in midfield — which allows Pape matar sarr to push up the pitch along with James maddison. sarr and maddison fly forward to join a front three led by son heung-min, the new club captain who is back to his best. This creates a 2-3-5 when Tottenham are in full-blooded attack-mode. maddison is the star, their creative conductor. as the chart (left) shows, he ranks first for Tottenham in all attacking categories aside from goals. maddison has freedom to roam. sometimes he drops so deep that he can receive the ball from the keeper, albeit he escaped embarrassment last weekend when he lost possession to arsenal’s high press. Yet maddison was not fazed. he went straight back to demanding the ball and continued to boss the play. It is early days but, like Wenger in ’96, Postecoglou is making his presence felt. now spurs will hope he can transform them into trophy-winners.
Martin Keown in the Daily Mail 30 September 2023

Martin Keown’s recent article in the Daily Mail on Tottenham Hotspur’s transformation under new manager Ange Postecoglou does more than raise eyebrows for Arsenal supporters—it reignites memories.

Keown likens Postecoglou’s initial impact to that of Arsène Wenger‘s transformative entry into Arsenal in 1996. While the comparison may flatter Spurs fans, the perspective feels overly optimistic, especially considering Postecoglou’s relatively brief stint in charge.

Seven games into his tenure, the heralded transformation appears premature.

Spurs were knocked out of the League Cup by Fulham and have managed only a draw against Brentford, a team Arsenal beat with their B team.

Although they managed to secure a very late win against Sheffield United, it’s hardly a scalp to put on the mantelpiece. Against Liverpool’s nine men, they needed a Liverpool goal incorrectly ruled out and a last-minute own goal before celebrating like they’d won the league.

Some players even brought their kids on to the pitch.

Yes, they also beat Manchester United, but given United’s current dismal form, that’s hardly an achievement worth lauding. They’ve lost four of their opening seven league games, including another defeat at home, this weekend to Crystal Palace.

Much like the bulk of the media, Keown’s piece glosses over these teething problems, choosing instead to focus on Postecoglou’s tactical nuances and player management.

While it’s true that players like James Maddison are showing good form, let’s not forget that Tottenham played out of their skins at the Emirates when Arsenal had a bad day and still couldn’t take all three points.

The article talks about Tottenham’s players looking “totally unified,” but Wenger’s Arsenal also had a sense of unity, along with consistency and the ability to compete at the top.

The piece mentions Cristian Romero and Micky van de Ven forming a strong partnership at the back, but they haven’t truly been tested by a top-quality attack for a full 90 minutes. The absence of such critical perspective makes the piece feel slightly lopsided.

Keown, as an Arsenal fan, admits that the Tottenham transformation worries him. Yet for many Arsenal fans, the worry would come from a long-standing, consistent threat, not from a team that has had an arguably flimsy start under a new manager just because they smile a lot now and he says ‘mate’ every five minutes.

It is too early to say if Postecoglou will go on to transform Tottenham into a football powerhouse.

But for Arsenal fans, the current scenario is hardly reminiscent of the Wenger years—years filled with tactical brilliance, a highly competitive squad, and, most importantly, silverware.

If anything, the early signs from Spurs under Postecoglou should evoke more relief than concern.

After all, there is more to football than a few games of good form, something Wenger’s Arsenal knew all too well.