Arsene Wenger’s Coaching Methods


Arsene Wenger has become arguably the most influential manager in the English Premier League and has provided a similar impact in the wider football world. Clubs such as Lyon to Newcastle look to follow Arsene’s and the clubs methods which includes financialy to youth policies. Arsenal Column looks at the great manager’s coaching methods and footballing philosophies.

If you want to see a taster of Arsene’s coaching, here’s a video promoting Nike Five.

First of all if one wants to understand why Wenger implements such a coaching style we must understand his thoughts and philosophies on football. Arsene usually plays a 4-4-2 but this formation can be easily reverted to a 4-5-1 if required. (One thing to note Arsene constantly looks to refine his system in some way, big or small). This is because he prefers to play one behind the main striker (Van Persie behind Adebayor, or Diaby behind) and on the flanks two wingers who are creative too. The following quote from Wenger can maybe go some way in understanding Cesc Fabregas’ lack of influence this season and the lack of impact of the wingers this season especially against defensive teams.

“I like to have one behind the striker, and one or two on the flanks who come inside. I always feel that if you have players who can deliver the decisive ball in all areas of the pitch, you have many more chances of being creative. If it’s only focused on one central part, where it’s usually more concentrated, you have more space on the flanks to create.”

” You always build a team to adapt the position that suit players best. For example I don’t see Kaka, who has a tall frame, operating on the flank. When you have a creative player who is shorter, then I’m more ready to move him out wide. Because usually they are quick on the turn. Somebody like Dennis Bergkamp or Kaka though, they have to be central.”

The team is required to press high up the pitch hence at times you can see and hear Pat Rice shouting at Adebayor and co. to pressure during matches. The defence must be able to pass the ball and look to build from the back, keeping the ball one way of denying pressure on the Arsenal backline. He stresses quick short passing and rates movement from his players. When they get close to the goal, players are encouraged to take risks and go for the goal with confidence and determination. If this is not a viable option, keeping the ball to a better opportunity arrives is recommended. Players must take advantage of of the whole pitch, almost practicing walking the ball in during training with quick, short passes, cut back and score with all members demanding the ball in what can be described as triangles. This tactic is meant to be very explosive and can destroy teams when implemented to the maximum.

Communication has always been emphasised on and off the pitch, giving encouragement, being aware of the danger around and helping provide options etc.

When Mr. Wenger first arrived at Arsenal he didn’t believe players would be able to perform at optimum level at 30 but was convinced by Arsenal’s old guard. This stubborness still is evident these days to some extent but when one believes in a philosophy it is hard to fully change their mind.

Adams, who was pushing 30, recalls: “He would say things like, ‘Physically a professional footballer is finished when they are over 30. It is not possible to play at that age.’ He believed that players over 30 were dead. Steve Bould, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn proved him wrong. They proved that with desire, commitment, and by looking after themselves, they could play well into their 30s at the top level. He acknowledged that and let them do it instead of getting rid of them. If you are in a beautiful house you don’t go moving to a terrace. That’s what he realised.”

Diet consists of pasta, boiled chicken, steamed fish, raw vegetables and water.

Read more to find out Wenger’s methods on the training ground. Coaching and Training

For training sessions, Wenger was the first to arrive and the last to leave preferring to run things by the stopwatch. The first day after a match is a day off allowing the players to recover and socialise with friends and families and to recoup mentally. Sessions start at 11:00am and start with warm up and then moves on to the main session which lasts 45 minutes or so. Players are to arrive a hour or so to training to prepare and at eleven they start with warms up which are usually indoor actvities, speed, balance, fitness and strength tests (also done throughout the season).

One area where timing was applied even more strenuously was in a form of muscle-strengthening exercises known as plyometrics. Isometric exercises are a form of muscle-strengthening exercises that don’t put any strain on the joints. Plyometrics involve much more strain but produce vastly more dramatic results. Long used by sprinters, hurdlers and jumpers to build up power levels, the exercises were new enough to English football that Wenger had to demonstrate them himself. They involved sudden ballistic movements in the form of bounding exercises – hopping, skipping and jumping. Wenger used them to top up the conditioning of super-fit players in the midst of an endless blur of matches.

The main session can vary due to inaccuracies and observations from the previous game, but also to concentrate on next oppostion tactics. They follow these concepts:

  • Coordination training and technique combined with speed round out the program.
  • positional play without opponents
  • group and team defence tactics
  • coordination training
  • games in tight spaces
  • games on one goal

The main session starts with small games focusing on attack tactics: short pass combinations, moving up from the backfield, and 1 v. 1 situations on the goal. Alternatively, this part of the session may also focus on technique, coordination or speed.
Players then move on to practice positional play and finishing, as well as individual and group tactics such as the back four, defensive play for midfielders and attackers, offsides situations and defending in 1 v. 1 situations.
The session concludes with endurance training: primarily practice games, occasionally running without the ball.
According to Wenger’s training concept, these methods are essential for successful tactical play (compact defence, forward passes, short pass combinations).

Other methods of improving an individual’s or team’s skill and tactical levels are also implemented:

· Players practice the flat four with 4 v. 4 or 5 v. 5 games on one goal.
· 8 v. 8 exercises on one goal focus on cooperation between the back four and the midfield.
· 9 v. 0 positional games on one goal (without opponents) help players reinforce and solidify passing and running patterns.
· 8 v. 8 exercises on two goals (in a half or two-thirds of a field, always extending across the entire width of the field) let players practice moving the attack forward.

Most of these activities last around no more than 3-4 minutes, while matches will be around 10 minutes.

To the annoyance of the players, games were timed to the second – no more than 10 minutes each way – and if they ended in a draw there was no golden goal, but penalties. When the goalkeeping coach Bob Wilson prepared Seaman and the reserve keepers, he would know his time was up when Wenger called over and said, “Bob, you’ve got two minutes.” Which meant 120 seconds. According to Martin Keown, “We don’t overtrain by a minute. It’s all timed scientifically.” A typical session would last no more than 45 minutes.

There are also other training activities but these are some of the examples.

Wenger lets the coaching staff do a lot of the work but likes to analyse players, give tips and encouragement. The reserves follow a similar concept to the senior players but the youth staff have flexibility in deciding how to implement this. Reserve and youth players have the chance to train with the senior players and which is discussed by the staff on who should do so before such a training session.

Two days before a match, practice lasts only 60 minutes and typically focuses on set plays and short-term exertions (like sprints and shooting) that require lots of takeoff power.


16 thoughts on “Arsene Wenger’s Coaching Methods

  1. What is the reason for the 3-4 mins for each drill? Is it to keep to the overall training time of 45 mins? Is it so the player don’t every excert themselves? Is 3-4 mins scientifically a better training time or is it the 45mins?

    1. the idea of 3-4 minute training is so that the players are kept fresh and energized so they do not burn out with techniqual information. if a player has one activity for 45 minutes they may get fed up however if a player has 3-4 activities and swaps every 3-4 mins there intrest in the activity wil still be there is that makes any sense

  2. Why boiled chicken? Is this better than oven baked chicken or stir fry chicken? Similiary why steamed fish rather than oven-baked fish?

    1. Boiled Chicken breast has nearly 0 grams of fat, assuming that is skinned, and if you simply boil it you are looking at getting the least amount of calories with the highest possible protein level. Meaning, no matter what you do with the chicken it is always going to have the same amount of protein, but calories change depending on the way you cook it.

      So some people who want to gain mass and in the same time lose some of the fat, they can use that as an advantage. And if you compare boiled chicken to eating tuna right out of the can, it is much better in taste. Boiled or simply cooked food gives as lowest calories as possible.

      Steamed I assume has similar benefits. Hope that helped. Now you know what method to your food, you can try it. Though the taste may not be better.

      1. Thanks the brain – quite inciteful. Think I’ll try boiling next I’m making Chicken. Don’t mind Tuna straight from the can although a bit of mayo usually helps – meaning you lose the benefit.

        Do you know of any other techniqies Wenger employs – the only other one I’ve heard is that he doesn’t allow his players to eat pizza. Read this in an article featuring Freddie Ljundberg. Ljundberg says that when he joined Arsenal he felt hungry under Wenger to begin with because he strict with diet and in doing so he ordered a pizza on room service. Of course Wenger found out that he had ordered a pizza and told him if he ever done it agin he would never play for the club again! At Rangers, the club I support, I support it is apparently common practice for them to have Pizza right after the game which says a lot about the management the club. They also seem to indulge in a fair bit of drinking as well – just look at our goalkeepre club captain recently! Paul Le Guen tried to change our ways but they soon rebelled against it so we’re still in the George Graeme type era as a result whereas at least your side has moved on.

        Also, heard that when Benitez was manager at Valencia the first thing he done was ban the players from eating Paella.

  3. I am Ethiopian who support arsenal but i am not happy to you because had not got any cup now i advice one thing next year you must buy at least three player who have good quality as you heard many Ethiopian adults are died due to arsenal beaten by other club i read through media you prepared 40 million to buy players this is good idea please confirm it next year we will belief arsenal will champions please please don’t forget to buy players thank you

  4. You copied this from this from another site, I know you did as I am the person who published it before you.

  5. Hi Arsene, its good to hear that you will soon be digging into the market for a central defender, or is it several players?? If its true then bravo to you! We need to solidify the defence, we have come this far with what other people thought was not good enough staff worth to chase the title for. But alas! we are just two points behind Man U. Lets shame the devil, my instincts tell me this is certainly our title. I have not seen an Arsenal team as galant and determined as this one, so thirsty and considering the high temple in the Premiership this time around only God knows. This will go to the wire, i can assure you.The boys have the muscle ,the intelligence and skill, perhaps whats lacking is the self belief that they are among the best, or should i say “first among equals”???

  6. well done Mr Wenger for the trade mark exciting passing game. It’s always nice to watch arsenal play,but please try a little sacrificeonce in every 5years at least to boost ypour squad and to win silverware for the sake of all the arsenal fans around the world. Also try to keep top players and profiteer from average players that are not easy to replace. Now we miss RVP,Cesc Fabregas,and Alex Song.If the three were still in camp,we would be a power house able to win the league and the CL.

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