It has been a roller coaster of a season for Arsenal characterized by inconsistency. We began the season on a high note, at some point even being the team with the best defensive statistics in the league. It was all bliss and celebration but before long, the team began to crumble. Losses against Chelsea, Schalke, Swansea and Man United, coupled with consecutive draws against Schalke (again) and Fulham, then Aston villa and Everton, saw Arsenal’s season engage in a downward spiral.
Gervinho, Mertesacker and Vermaelen had lost their early season form, Giroud was still finding his feet in the league, Wilshere and Sagna were fresh from injury, Rosicky and Diaby were still out and Walcott was still in the middle of his contract debacle. This meant that our best players were either injured, adapting, out of from or distracted. We lost ground on the leading pack and ultimately dropped out of the title race. The situation got so bad that at it began to look like we wouldn’t even finish fourth for the first time in a very long time.
Some fans began calling for Arsene Wenger’s head, but he retained his usual obstinate faith in his team and insisted that they would come good. Lately, however, it looks like Arsene may indeed be vindicated for his faith. Three wins and a draw in the last four games shows that the team may be beginning to put together a run that will see us get back in the champions league slots. We are five points adrift third spot, with a much more forgiving fixture list than those above us. We are beginning to display the kind of football that the world has become accustomed to seeing from the boys in red and white.
There are five particular players I would like to credit for this turn around: Wilshere, Walcott, Podolski, Giroud and Gibbs.
Wilshere has become the heartbeat and engine of the team, giving his absolute best even when the team is against the ropes (like in the first half against Chelsea). He defends, runs at players creates space for his team mates, and rips apart opposition defences with his incisive passing, constantly. Everyone is touting him as the next Arsenal and England captain, some even believing that this should be so immediately.
Walcott has become our most potent attacking threat and has become impossible to handle with his pace, first touch, combination play, movement and incredible finishing. He truly has matured.
Podolski continues to be our Mr. reliable with his goals, assists and defensive work on the left hand side of attack.
Giroud has really found his footing and is constantly finding the back of the net. His work rate, combination play, physical presence and predatory finishing have become too much for some to handle, and he still is getting better.
Gibbs (lately) has become our best defender. Both his defensive and attacking displays have really driven Arsenal to the form we all desire. He and Podolski have formed an incredible understanding on the left hand side.
Arsenal have began playing the kind of one touch football that makes me depressed every time there is an international break and I have to wait two weeks to watch them play. It began in that devastating 12 minute spell against West Ham where we absolutely destroyed them, scoring five goals in the process. That form has continued against Brighton, Liverpool and Stoke.
Our defence, however, was absolutely wanting against Brighton and Liverpool. Against Stoke, on the other hand, it was solid (granted we dominated the game in its entirety and Stoke aren’t known for their attacking prowess). I was particularly impressed with our new boy, Monreal’s defensive contribution. He is a remarkably astute defender, plus he has the ball skills of a winger. Not a bad buy, I must say. Mertesacker must also get some praise as he was our best center back. He dealt with crouch the whole game and this was key in keeping a clean sheet.
If you consider that players such as Rosicky and Diaby are fresh from injury, and will get better as games go by, and Gervinho’s displays at the AFCON are carrying the Ivory Coast, you realize that the prospect of finishing third is very real. Whether Arsenal can maintain this form is yet to be seen, but the initial signs are good.
We are out of the title race for sure, but we have a chance to go for the FA cup and with the belief, we could be the surprise the Champions league, like Chelsea did last year.
COME ON YOU GUNNERS!!!
Written by: Marcus