Arsene Wenger’s New Offside Law Explained: End of Attacking High Line or Boon for Defensive Sides?

Published 11/19/2023, 5:38 AM EST

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Every game abides by the rules, and soccer is no exception. Over the years, rule makers of the beautiful game have been bringing constant tweaks to the guidelines in order to change its dynamics. It seems we are in for another transformation as the apex soccer authorities are looking to implement a change in their ever-controversial offside rule, which is the brainchild of none other than the legendary manager Arsene Wenger.

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There’s no denying that the offside rule has often been a very debatable law of soccer. Likewise, it has also been responsible for deciding many crucial games in history. Yet, the legislators have again decided to take a radical decision. So what is ‘the Arsene Wenger offside law’? Also, who benefits from this? Will it mark the end of an attacking high line, or will it rather be a blessing for defensive sides?

What is Arsene Wenger’s offside rule?

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Normally, the current offside rule states that if any part of a player’s body is ahead of the second-last opponent at the time of receiving the ball, they are deemed offside. Additionally, the introduction of VAR made the rule even more intense, with even a matter of millimeters being ruled offside.

But it seems it is set to change by the International Football Association Board or IFAB. The lawmaking body is reportedly looking to replace it with the new offside rule proposed by Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger in 2021. The Frenchman, who is currently serving as FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, offered his advice to make the rule much simpler.

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According to Wenger’s hypothesis, if the attacker’s full body totally overtakes the final defender, it’s offside. However, it won’t be deemed offside if the attacker’s body has a minor portion that is offside. In fact, if approved, the new offside rule can be introduced in the 2024–25 season. Earlier, this rule was tried in the lower Chinese league divisions.

But now it is set to be scheduled for testing in the Netherlands, Sweden, and Italy. While the rule has surfaced in its initial stages, which part of the game will it favor the most—attack or defense?

Who will benefit—the attackers or the defenders?

Well, to break the ice, Wenger proposed this in order to uplift the goal-scoring side of the game. Hence, it’s clear the attackers are at an advantage under this rule. The forward line is in for a treat, as they will have a better opportunity to disrupt the backline. They will have the chance to move freely near the defenders and also break the momentum of man-marking.

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On the other hand, it can be considered a haunting news for the defenders. Being the last wall of any team, it can be easily broken by the attackers by the inception of this rule. Subsequently, the traditional offside trap might be abandoned by teams altogether. Furthermore, the back-line will face increased challenges. In case they get exposed, then they would need to match the pace of the strikers, else, it’s a game over.

Notably, the referee’s whistle used to go even on the slightest of the offside possibilities. However, now there would hardly be any moment an offside decision is taken by the match officials. Each game might end in goals and galore, leaving the last line of the team in a vulnerable position. Another fear is that the use of VAR after this rule may create more chaos.

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All in all, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether it gets fully approved or not. If a green flag is given, then it remains to be seen how the coaches and the players make or break out of this new rule.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by:

Abhishek Mishra

1,658Articles

One take at a time

I first kicked a soccer ball when I was 12. My early exposure to playing the sport earned me many accolades at the zonal and district levels. I still remember my first goal, where I scored a 90+5 minute header like Sergio Ramos did in the 2014 Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.
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Edited by:

Sreeda U M

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