Does the Premier League Turn Gifted Players Into More Functional Footballers?

July 31, 2010 - 06253345 date 31 07 2010 Copyright imago Arsenal s Andrei Arshavin tussles with Milan s Gennaro Gattuso Emirates Cup Arsenal v AC Milan July 2010 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK London Emirates Cup men Football 2011 try out Action shot Vdig xmk 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd.

Whilst England fans around the globe take the first tentative steps back towards trusting their national team, my eye was caught not by yet more allegations of poor behaviour from within the England squad but by comments from a diminutive Russian.

Andrei Arshavin has said that after a year and a half in the Premier League he is “more effective but less sparkling” as a player.

This slightly strange quote got me thinking. Is the Premier League a place for technical players? Is it a place where beauty is allowed to flourish?

Arshavin seems to believe that it does not. His comments indicate that his time in England has made him move away from the mesmerising type of play that we saw from him at Euro 2008 and towards a more functional style. And this is at Arsenal, the most aesthetically pleasing of all EPL teams.

At this point it would be easy to say that the Premier League is indeed a less than beautiful place and that it’s probably for the best that players like Lionel Messi and Kaka stay away.

But that would be wrong. It would also be ignorant, for beauty can be found in many different forms and in England we have been blessed with one of the most unorthodox forms of football beauty.

The breakneck speed, the end to end flow and the lack of time and space give the game in this country a frenetic, somewhat skittish appearance. But, much like an impressionist painting, the dashes and the quick brushstrokes do all come together to form a work of often unrivalled magnificence.

We are sometimes too quick to believe what we are told. We are often reminded that Arsenal produce the purest football in the Premier League but who defines what is pure in football?

Surely the purest form of football is that which wins the most for that is the aim of the game. If this is the case then Arsenal perhaps play the most impure football, daring to sully the purpose of the game with needless frivolity.

My point is that there is no right answer to the problems above. Football, like all sports is at least partly subjective in its definition of beauty. Surroundings, desires and personal context all influence what we say is attractive and as these are all fluid concepts, there can be no definitive answer to whether a league is beautiful or not, it all depends on who is asking the question. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What do you think? Does the Premier League turn gifted players into functional, more humdrum, players, or not? Share your opinions in the comment section below.

9 thoughts on “Does the Premier League Turn Gifted Players Into More Functional Footballers?”

  1. I think for the most part the Premier League does change gifted players into more functional players. But there are a few exceptions obviously because some gifted players are at a place were they don’t have to change their style of play. Like Ronaldo, Robinho in his first season at City, etc.

  2. When I came to England, I was forced into become a foot soldier and to defend, in Spain and Germany, I can amaze the crowds much more with my dazzling skills, tactics aren’t so rigid, in Germany, I can play as a support striker in a 4-5-1 or a winger in a 4-3-3, in England, I nearly became like Kuyt, just look at my stats, 16 goals last season, 7 goals in spain, 2 in england.

    On a serious note, England has less tactical variety and they turn really talented players (Rosicky-Hleb) from playmakers into wingers, compare Rosicky now to what he was in Euro 2004.

  3. Well, Arshavin might be more “sparkling” when he is telling the home crowd of a vastly overmatched Cyprus team to be quiet after scoring Russia’s fifth goal in a 6-0 drubbing….. But I think it is more beautiful when watching more equal competition and stiffer defenses.

    If you can’t do it against Stoke, much less Inter Milan, then maybe you are not as “gifted” as you thought. Malouda, Walcott, Bale etc. are having no problems “sparkling” these days.

    However, I do think all Premier League matches should be officiated a bit more strongly, to prevent injuries to skillful players, and to open up the game more. After watching so much World Cup, it has been jarring to see tackles (I am thinking of Blackburn two weeks ago, and Bulgaria in the second half on Friday) that would have been easy yellows in the World Cup simply be free kicks.

  4. They come here for the money and the exposure, not for anything else. If Spain or Italy were to offer a way out with similar wages they’ll generally take it.

  5. Arshavin is a better player for having joined a Premier League side. Maybe he’s not as “sparkling,” but that’s because the competition is much better than that in Russia.

    It’s easier to “sparkle” against nonentities; fewer of those exist in the Premier League.

    I might suggest that players who are concerned with their “sparkliness” should be happy to be “functional,” orienting themselves toward winning games for their team rather than being concerned with their aura.

    So, yeah, Arshavin and others sparkle less now they’re in the Premier League. And that’s a good thing.

  6. individual flair is candy to the eyes but football is a team game and these individual skills don’t directly translate to end result

    don’t blame others for using their strengths against your weaknesses, your opponents are just playing smart. no one dictates that everyone has to play like arsenal, size is what stoke has and they played to their strength.

    I’m only 5’6″ and less than 150 pounds, i had to mark one of the forwards who happens to be a forward in rugby too! i was pretty intimidated before the game but i soon realize his weakness and all he could do is raking up fouls all night long

  7. in a way yes. its too do with the physicaiity and high speed of the game. You just dont have the time to do stuff you would get away with in lets say international football. The referees also look after the attacking players much less then they do at other european countries. For instance lets look at c.ron when he hit the scene, massively talented and had amazing flair and football technique. He had to slowly simplify his game to a more vector based and angular game because it is much more effective.

    Dribblers just dont get the same due in epl level, in the wings you have the time for it but put that kind of players in the middle and watch him get tackled into oblivion by the CBs like terry. Even in europe this is changing massively. Already the classic 10s are either being shifted deeper as creative CM’s or if they have the pace as inside forwards or if they are agile as well as inverted wingers. its due to the use of the double DM parlty as well because 2 DM’s can generally mark and intercept so that 10 is effectively sidelined and the wings and direct balls become more important.

    Watching the better teams they all rely heavily on the wings for build up play. Chelsea for instance is very left sided, barcelona very right sided, the other teams are more even but generally every1 uses the centre as a staging ground to organize players and 9 times out of 10 the ball is played wide or a wide player is involved in pulling a man away for a throughball.

    Directness and speed create a hell of a lot more chances and by being so at a fast pace its amazing to watch. Yes ronaldinho and messi will always be great but it allows teams to do amazing things in a actual team dynamic. The ball starts off in the centre from a CB, gets pulled to the left side, passed to an onrushing LB who passes it off to the LW and keeps his run going, the LW passes it back, the LB passes it to the attacking CM who does a lateral pass to the oncoming RB who pulls it back to the RW. It utilises nearly every player in the park either in motion or actual ball play and only requires good tactical skill and teamwork but is a beautiful goal. when a team has amazing first touch, team work and passing they raise the game to new heights. its more functional then beautiful in terms of individual players only contributing a little each but the end result is a master piece of a goal.

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