Are we really good this season or is this a false dawn? Time to
look into crystal ball and see how things may pan out for us this
Cast your mind back to this time last season. We were in a proper rut. The loss to Blackburn meant we languishing in 17th place and the doubters all began saying
that this could be that season where Arsenal would finish outside of the Champions League places. Some misguided fools even believed we would be relegated. How times have changed.
currently third in the Premeir League and but for a howler by Szczesny, we could have been the
first team since 1903 to have kept a clean sheet for the first four games.
Is this for real or are we jumping the gun a little bit soon?
Arsenal have a "team" now. A set of players who want
to play for one another with no focal point (Santi is still the
cynosure). With due respect to the ones who played before, this team
is actually better off without looking for that one particular player all
the time. There was a huge hue and cry when the King left, but I was
convinced that it was the right decision because the team just wanted to
play everything to his feet rather than expressing themselves and the results
were there for everyone to see.
The same thing applies to subsequent
seasons when the focal point players changed, yes yes the one with the
sudden realisation of his DNA and then then the other who didn't have the feet
to stand for so many seasons, suddenly after finding his feet though
the club didn't have direction.
My point is we started having this
disturbing trend of having a focal point which at times caused us more
harm than expected. Typically it meant whenever we lost our focal player,
for whatever reason, the club struggled to recover and hence we were
always playing catch up. I may be wrong and we may still have
players leaving us but I feel the manager and the club have made
a conscious decision to either put up or get out. The classic example so
far being Theo, who has been shown his place.
All this ruthlessness may come to nothing if Arsenal
don't win anything or at least come close. Do we have the
team for it? The answer is we have a first team for it, but we don't have a
full second team. The first team on its day can beat anyone,
anywhere. The fact though is there is hardly a back up for the first
team who can literally come in and perform to that level. Imagine if we
lose an Arteta or Cazorla or a Podolski? We may have ample backup, but do
we have an effective backup? Why was Szczesny literally handed the gloves
the moment he came back? He is complacent and that is probably because
he feels he will play irrespective of his mistakes.
My point is simple, we need to have an
effective second team which literally should be making the first team
look over their shoulder every time anyone has a bad game. I know it's not
easy to have as good an alternative for every player but what an effective
player will do is whenever he gets a chance, he grabs it and puts in the
kind of performance that is assuring.
God forbid an injury to anyone
shouldn't mean the momentum is lost. In terms of that our midfield is
fine. We have a fantastic backup and for every Arteta we have a Wilshere
and for every Diaby we have Ramsey and maybe even for Santi we have
a Rozza, but our defence and strikers are the worry. The false striker
is all fine against mid and lower table teams but against the real
contenders, we may come short.
The defence looks great with Mertesacker, Vermaelen and Koscielny
as the back up, but remember we are competing in four tournaments, so we
need everyone to stand up and be counted.
The Gunners will create chances against whoever they
play. The real test is when the physical teams, who can match
skill with strength, come up.The Etihad, Old Trafford etc are places where we need
to stand up and be counted. If that happens we will know that this team
can mix up skill with substance as well.
The league may not be won by
results against the big teams but it surely helps beating them.
real test begins now for the Gunners. The time to stand up and be
counted is now and if the indications are anything to go by the season
defining moments may be coming up sooner or later. Can we do it? Of
course we can! Will we do it? Time will tell.
Final Sojourn - September 16 1996 a certain Arsene
Wenger was appointed manager of the greatest club in this world, 16
years on he is still here doing what he does best - managing the club with
the same intensity, passion and commitment.
Results may have not
matched the efforts, but we can never question the efforts. Players came,
players went, but he has remained. Give respect where it is due
irrespective of your feelings towards him, Arsene Wenger has been our
biggest asset in the past 16 years.
Article by Vinay McLaren
Calling all Arsenal fans: Do you agree with Vinay? Do you think Arsenal still need suitable replacements in defence and attack? Can Arsenal continue to be hard to beat and score for fun like they did against Southampton? After seven seasons without a trophy, are you confident that this could be the campaign where a trophy ends up at the Emirates? Whatever your view, we'd love to hear from you.
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