Tuesday 20 March 2018

Arsene Wenger v Sam Allardyce: How the managers compared

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, right, came out on top in his battle with Crystal Palace's Sam Allardyce.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, right, came out on top in his battle with Crystal Palace's Sam Allardyce.

In Sam Allardyce's second fixture as Crystal Palace manager, his team visited Arsenal and the rival he has most frequently demonstrated his abilities against - Arsene Wenger.

Pursuing his first win at the club against another hoping to revive their hopes of winning the Premier League title, Allardyce instead oversaw his first defeat.

Here, Press Association Sport's Declan Warrington analyses Palace's display.


The squad Allardyce inherited from predecessor Alan Pardew already possessed many of the attributes of which the manager is fond: there are numerous players who are both physical and tall.

It was therefore tempting to suspect the more robust XI Wenger selected - in the absence of Mesut Ozil - owed much to the presence of Allardyce in the visitors' dugout.

While manager of Bolton, Allardyce's teams often overcame lighter-weight line-ups selected by Wenger, so the fact the Frenchman started Olivier Giroud, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Alex Iwobi - with Aaron Ramsey and Francis Coquelin on the bench - did not make a repeat look likely.

The Arsenal boss was rewarded with one of the goals of the season from Giroud and an encouraging performance featuring much of the panache produced by more familiar selections.

It is far too early to judge Allardyce at Palace, but they were as poor at The Emirates as they were at any stage under Pardew. If he retains the ability to out-think Wenger, his team did not demonstrate it on Sunday.


Again, Allardyce's impact appeared minimal. Towards the end of the one-sided opening half, his team appeared desperate for half-time to come, both for some respite and perhaps for instructions from their manager. Regardless, they were no better throughout the second, which might be explained by a lack of confidence.

Unlike Allardyce, Wenger had substitutes capable of having a significant impact on the game, even if Arsenal were never in need of help. Arsenal's fluid performance likely owed much to the Frenchman's willingness to trust his players and give them freedom, and here they justified his faith. The three changes made did little to disrupt their dominance, and will contribute much to their conditioning at a demanding stage of the season.


After two matches with Allardyce as manager, Palace's under-performing players remain demoralised and in need of significant improvement. Victories away to title contenders are rarely where the seasons of those involved in relegation battles are made or broken, but the fact 17th-placed Palace offered so little attacking threat is a cause for concern, and was not an issue under Pardew. Again, it remains too early to fairly judge Allardyce, but there is little to gain from him improving their poor defence - as he is expected to - if they stop scoring at the other end.

Wenger's team are well-placed and in reasonable form heading into the second half of the season. The manager will also know, based on the defeat of Palace, that they have strength in depth. At a time when Chelsea have won 13 league games in succession and Liverpool are performing above all expectations, third in the league is perhaps the best Arsenal can hope for and should be commended when it is Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham they remain in front of.

Press Association

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport