September 17, 2012 by
Are we really good this season or is this a false dawn? Time to look into the crystal ball and see how things may pan out for us this season.
Cast your eyes back 1 season, back around this time and we were in the rut. The loss to Blackburn meant we were 17th in the league and the imminent doubters all started saying this could be that season where Arsenal may be mid table or some even went on to say relegation here we come. How times have changed. We are 3rd in the league and but for a howler by Woj, we could have been the first team since 1903 who had kept a clean sheet for the first 4 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 actually is well off without looking for that one particular player all the time. There was a huge hue and cry when the King left us 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 realization of his DNA and then then the other who didn’t have feet to stand for so many seasons, suddenly after finding his feet thought 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 something or, at least, if they don’t 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 for it. The first team, on it’s 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 effective backup?
Why was Woj literally handed over the gloves the moment he came back? He is complacent and that is probably because he feels he will play irrespective of his mistakes. He should have been made to play in the Montpellier game, seeing his performance only should he have been starting on sunday. 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 its not easy to have as good a backup 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/Coq and maybe even for Santi we have a Rozza, but our defense and forwards are the worry. The false striker is all fine against mid and lower table teams but against the real contenders, we may come up short. Defense looks great with Per/tv5 and Kos as the back up but remember we are competing in 4 tournaments, so we need everyone to be counted.
The Gunners will create chances against whoever they play against, the real test is when the physical teams who can match skill with strength come up. Etihad, OT 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. So the 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 16th 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 left 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 last 16 years.