Dennis Bergkamp believes Arsenal became focused on “too much midfield play” shortly after their most recent Premier League title win.
Arsenal won the Premier League title in 2004 but have only finished in the top two twice since: to Chelsea in the subsequent campaign and as distant runners-up to Leicester in 2016.
Bergkamp, a vital part of that Invincibles side, believes Arsene Wenger advocated “too much midfield play” at a time when Cesc Fabregas was breaking through and establishing himself in the side.
Portrait of an icon: Dennis Bergkamp
That, the Dutchman says, left “only one striker who was lonely” and in turn contributed to their downfall as they started to fall out of regular title contention.
“Arsene started experimenting,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Arsenal after 2006, there was too much midfield play. There were no players going into attack, and only one striker who was lonely.”
Martin Keown, interviewing his former teammate, concurred.
“With five in midfield, instead of having you there, he had Cesc Fabregas. You would start high then drift into midfield.
“Then Wenger reversed it. Then the player started deep and went high, as Fabregas did. Many years later, I spoke with a big-name winger at Arsenal. I asked him: ‘Why do you always stay wide?’ Play with freedom. Be instinctive. That’s what the boss wants.”
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