There are many variables during every football game, and one of the most important among them is the quality of the pitch. A bad pitch can make the game unplayable, and several times it has come to pass that uneven ground or holes have caused serious injuries among players.
And not just quality, a seemingly minor detail such as the length of the grass on the pitch can heavily influence the result of a game. A pitch with short grass allows the ball to move more easily, encouraging a free flowing passing game while making it easier for the players to move around. A ground with long grass however will not only slow down the ball to the point that passes are extremely tough to make, but also reduce the mobility of players.
When speaking about the subject in today’s press conference, Arsene Wenger made his stance clear. He wants all Premier League pitches regulated so the English game can maintain its entertainment value. League rules state that match delegates must measure pitches before every game to ensure the grass is no longer than 30mm. Arsenal have a proud reputation of providing one of the best surfaces in the country and Wenger says supporters deserve to see football played on quality pitches at every top-flight ground.
Arsenal in particular prefer to play a quick game based on short one touch passing. This needs good quality turf to pull off successfully, and we have seen instances in the past where teams with similar styles of play were purposefully hampered by the opposition growing the grass to the maximum permissible limit.
It can look a ridiculous subject but it is a very important one because the speed of the game is linked with the length of the grass.
I know perfectly and you know perfectly as well that some managers give orders to their groundsman sometimes to not cut the grass because they play against a team who passes the ball well.
We have to be above that and it’s quite sad that we have to regulate it. I think we all have to serve people who come and watch good football.
It remains to be seen whether any good will come of Wenger speaking out, but I personally feel that it is unlikely. The rules allow for flexibility simply to allow the smaller teams to keep up with the bigger teams, and small things like the length of the grass might spell the difference between staying in the league and being relegated for the lower teams. As such, Wenger would do well to resign himself to playing in unfavourable conditions in the foreseeable future.