The Gunners went nine years without silverware, but have won the FA Cup for the past two seasons, and their early form in the league suggests they will challenge for the title this term. “In Spain it is difficult to ever think of a manager managing for 20 years,” said Flores. “We live in another philosophy. We think in another philosophy. Sometimes in Spain we don’t wait until the end of the season to change.” Indeed, the former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafael Benitez is the 18th different manager at Real Madrid since Wenger took over at Arsenal. Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge at Manchester United for 27 years before he retired in 2013. “What Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger did is very difficult to match in other countries, it is impossible,” Flores added. “In other countries it is completely different. Times changes but it is very difficult for other managers. “This is the first time I’ve faced Arsene Wenger. I respect him, the English league is like the Spanish league, we have high respect for this type of manager. He has experience and we have respect.” Watford have taken a healthy 10 points from their opening eight fixtures on their return to England’s top flight, and key to their early-season stability has been the goalscoring form of Odion Ighalo. The 26-year-old Nigeria international has scored five times this term which has taken his tally for the calendar year to 21. No other player in England has scored more times in 2015. Flores will go head-to-head with Wenger for the first time in his career on Saturday evening as Watford play host to Arsenal in the Barclays Premier League. Wenger, whose side are second in the table ahead of the clash, is set to celebrate his 20th anniversary at the club next year. In that period, Arsenal have won the title on three occasions, the last coming back in 2004. Press Association Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores believes Arsene Wenger’s 19-year managerial tenure at Arsenal would be impossible to replicate in his native Spain. Ighalo, who has been nominated for September’s Player of the Month prize, turned down a big-money move to China over the summer, and signed a five-year deal to remain at Vicarage Road earlier this season. But that is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm of any potential suitors he may have in the January transfer window, particularly if he keeps finding the back of the net. Flores, however, is not concerned. He said: “I’m not scared about Ighalo. I’m happy with him and not thinking about what might happen in the winter market. He had the chance to go out in the summer but decided to stay here and that was an amazing decision. “When a player plays well the value changes to buy him. But we now think Ighalo is our most important player, he is very happy and can play in different positions.”
It’s that time of year. Pools are being created. Championship games are being played, and the tournament is nearly underway. So while you may be needing some advice in the coming weeks on how to fill out your winning ticket, your bracket that will pay off 200 large on a $5 fee, I’m taking my bracketology to the next level. You see, in order to get to the Final Four or even Sweet 16, you need a team with the right mix. Sure, you need the superstar player — the go-to guy — who will carry you through to live another day. But more than that, you need a great team. Individuals may get you to the tournament, but the role players, the no-namers, along with intangibles, will take you to the top. At Wisconsin, the superstar is the men’s basketball team. Football plays that role in the fall. They get the most publicity, draw the most fans and rake in the dough, rightfully so. The gridiron Badgers rose to the occasion last fall, completing one of their most successful seasons ever, and finished No. 7 in the country. On the hardwood, Wisconsin is in the thick of nabbing a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and is currently ranked No. 4. However, the real reason the university is a champion, of course, is the other programs behind these two stars.Defensive StopperNobody grips its opponents quite like the wrestling team. Never has Wisconsin won the Big Ten Championships, and while it didn’t happen this year, capturing the penultimate position behind No. 1 Minnesota, the cardinal and white grapplers are still having their best season in 15 years — the last time they finished second in the Big Ten. Redshirt freshman Kyle Ruschell upset No. 1 Manuel Rivera at 141 lbs. and earned a second-place finish. Of the 10 Wisconsin starters, nine made it to day two of the championships, and eight qualified for the NCAA’s March 15. For the season, the No. 8 Badgers have outscored their opponents 648-220 in 22 duals. To put that in perspective — three points are earned for a decision — UW wrestlers ceded just three matches per dual meet in the most competitive conference in the nation. This team’s tenacity and ability to stop the point of attack will almost certainly keep the oppositions’ star in check. Winning attitudeThe women’s hockey team is good. Real good. Capturing the WCHA Championship for the second straight season with a 3-1 win over Minnesota, the No. 1 Badgers are riding high. Led by head coach Mark Johnson who scored two goals in the Miracle on Ice, UW hockey has the winning mentality necessary to spark a deep tournament run. Including this weekend, Wisconsin has now gone 51-1-4 (.946) in its past 56 games.Spark off the benchBehind the genius of head coach Ed Nuttycombe and the mix of talent young and old, the men’s track team is No. 2 in the country heading into the national indoor championships next weekend. Instant offense by Big Ten Athlete of the Year Demi Omole, who holds the Big Ten indoor record in the 60 meter, blurs the transition between starters and bench players, keeping the offense moving and the team clicking. Do-it-all scrappy vet Joe Detmer (decathlete and heptathlete) comes in and takes on any challenge, big or small, preventing the opposition from exposing a matchup problem. And freshman of the year Craig Miller and Mr. Consistent himself, the seasoned Chris Solinsky, can run with the best of them, assuring Wisconsin that it won’t tire down the stretch.Coming up clutchAlthough not on the national radar, the softball team all season long has come up big when the pressure is on, something needed in the single-elimination tournament. To start the season, Wisconsin went 3-0 against NCAA Tournament teams — Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and No. 17 Florida. UW scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to upset CSU 4-2, and it came back from extra-inning deficits a couple of times to defeat UF 4-3. This past weekend, Wisconsin trailed Georgia State 3-1 entering the top half of the seventh. With two outs and the bases loaded, 1B Alexis Garcia slapped one back up the middle to tie the game. In the eighth, the cardinal and white scored twice more en route to victory. Junior Katie Hnatyk is a major reason why the team has had so much success. Excluding Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Winthrop, she has seven homers in seven games to go with a .613 average (19-for-31) and 19 RBI. Overall, five of Wisconsin’s 10 wins this season have been of the come-from-behind variety. And the Badgers are a combined 5-2 in one and two-run games.Mental ToughnessStaring down history in the making with the biggest distraction of the year looming large, the men’s tennis team still served up an ace. Playing in Miami the day after Super Bowl XLI, the Badgers upended the No. 10 Hurricanes 4-3 in what head coach Greg Van Emburgh called “one of the biggest wins in program history.” Knotted at three apiece entering the final matchup of the day, No. 2 singles, the outcome of the fray was in junior Nolan Polley’s court. Staving off match point and 21 mph winds, Polley was able to come back from a set down to win in a tiebreaker — 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 — propelling the Badgers to the W. More recently, the team defeated No. 56 Western Michigan and No. 51 Penn State. Losses to No. 11 Notre Dame and No. 45 Northwestern don’t negate the fact that Polley and company have what it takes to win against any odds. In fact, this is the best men’s tennis team in 30 years, indicated by its No. 35 ranking. Without the contributions of these other sports, the University of Wisconsin just wouldn’t be the same. These aren’t the only teams that are playing well either. Representing this school and being a Badger has never felt this good. Nearly every sport is having a career-year or historic season, and the prospects are only getting better. So as you prepare to fill out your bracket next week, know that even if the men’s basketball team doesn’t win it all, the school you’re attending is still a champion. Kevin is a junior majoring in journalism and economics. Share your sentiments on what it means for you to be a Badger by contacting him at firstname.lastname@example.org.