As our anxiety is growing bigger and bigger, with only three days left till the transfer window shuts again and, as yet, not a single purchase made, I thought it would be good to look at the areas in which Arsenal have made progress over the last few months.
I have said in previous posts that, whether we like it or not, Arsenal are going through a major period of transition again this season. Transitions take time and are hard to speed up; and they come with pain and disappointment as well as occasional joy and promise of what could lay ahead for us. Liverpool and the Chavs are going through a major transition, and the Spuds are always going through one! 😛
As football supporters, we are always inclined to respond to the here and now; heavily influenced by the performance and result of the last (few) game(s). But, it is also important to look at how things are for Arsenal structurally, and there are strong signs now that our team is getting better in terms of scoring goals and midfield dominance. Our one area of major concern is the defensive side of the team, and I will zoom in on this area in a future post.
Here are five Arsenal positives for the remainder of the season:
1. Scoring goals: RedNose has recently hailed his strike-force as the best ever. Well at £24m per year in salaries for van Judas and Shrek alone, he would certainly hope so. Yet, MU have only scored three more goals in all competitions than Arsenal this season: 76 compared to 73 for us. Our four highest scorers: Walcott (17), Giroud (13), Podolski (11) and Cazorla (8) have scored only one goal less than the Mancs top four goal scorers: Van Judas (22), Hernandez (14), Rooney (10) and Cleverley (4). Walcott and Giroud have scored 30 goals and are closing in fast on the ‘super-duo’ of Van Judas and Shrek, who have only scored two goals more. Our attackers are starting to gel now and are likely to become even more productive in the next few months.
2. The Theo Walcott effect: Since Theo was ‘reinstalled’ in the team again – ten games ago against Southampton away – Arsenal have scored 2.5 goals per game. By contrast, every time Van Judas led the line for us during the last two seasons, we never managed to score more than 1.95 goals per game on average, over a sustained period. There has been a positive psychological impact as a result of Walcott becoming a starter again and subsequently signing a new contract, and he has also added a much needed extra dimension to our attacking play. The partnership of Theo and Ollie is a very promising one, as together they have all the attacking attributes you could dream of.
3. Return to fitness of midfielders: the return to full fitness of Rosicky and Diaby has come at the right time. With Arteta picking up an injury, and Jack and Santi needing to be rested more regularly now that the big, crucial games come thick and fast, it is great to have quality and experienced players like Rosicky and Diaby available again. Add to that the progress being made by Coquelin, and a surprisingly good performance by Ramsey in Arteta’s anchorman role, and there is reason to be hopeful that we are finally starting to get full value out of the quality of players we have available for our midfield positions. We still need a beast of a DM, though! 😉
On top of that, JW10 has finally been played in ‘the hole’ position, and what a difference he has made in those games. We now have at least two options in this pivotal role: Jack and Santi, and we all know that Rosicky can give both of them a break as well.
4. The Gibbs-Podolski partnership: this is getting better and better. I have said before, they look like brothers on the pitch: there is a natural understanding between them, and their style of football and running look very similar. Podolski is quickly growing into this season’s king of assists and he has also scored a good number of goals already: eleven in total of which seven in the PL. Gibbs excellent runs and wing-play allow Podolski to move closer to the box, where the German can be most dangerous for us. Podolski has been demonstrating some great crossing skills recently as well, and I am hoping that Gibbs will learn from him fast; as this remains one of Kieran’s main areas of improvement. The longer these two play together the stronger they will become, and I reckon they will play a big part in the remainder of the season for us.
5. Vermaelen is coming good again: The Belgium Rottweiler has found his form again recently and is starting to lead by example once more. I still think the best thing for Wenger to do is hand the armband to either Mertesacker, Arteta, Szczesny or even Jack, and allow Thomas to be himself again and do what he does best: focus on defending and terrorise the opposition.
In Jack, TV5 has found a fellow extrovert leader on the pitch, and I reckon that since Jack’s full return to the first-team, Thomas has started to play a lot better by concentrating on his own game a lot more. We are desperate for at least one of our CB’s to play at their best, and with both Koz and BFG going through a bit of a form-crisis, we need TV5 to keep on going, and improving further.
Clearly, the defence is our biggest worry at the moment, and I am hoping that Wenger and Bould will be getting this area right for us as soon as possible now too. The purchase of a solid, disciplined and experienced DM could also really help in that department. Part of me wants us to buy another, quality CB: somebody in the mould of Sol Campbell. But another part of me remains confident that Koz, TV and BFG can between them sort things out. Let’s hope they do!
Written by: Total Arsenal.