After we lost to the vile Villains, who would have thought Arsenal fans would feel so upbeat just one month later? Don’t worry though; I am not getting carried away, YET.
I know for sure that I am not the only Gooner who was getting worn out by consecutive seasons of transition. At one point, it started to feel we would never come out of transition, as Arsenal appeared to be unable to hold on to its best players season after season.
But this season appears to be different: all key players stayed, even Vermaelen and Sagna! And instead of losing quality players, we have been able to add, but without overdoing it. The latter might be key: too many new (quality) players mean time and effort is required to fit them into our first team, and that would have meant another transitional year. We only have to look at the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and ManCity, and indeed ourselves, in recent years to know that buying loads of players in one go does not lead to instant success.
Looking back at our recent hard-fought wins against Spuds, Sunderland and Olympique Marseille, there is something about this Arsenal team that our competitors are missing; and long may it continue!
Arsenal have resilience and cohesion: we battle as a team and look like we are in February rather than in September, if you know what I mean.
The media have not picked up on this yet, but it will come sooner or later. I expected ManCity to be in transition, and to some extent, Manchester United, but definitely not Chelsea. My wife always tells me not to repeat a good experience by going there, or doing something, again (holiday resorts, restaurants, climb the same mountain etc), and it usually turns out she was right.
Could the same go for the Chavs: is the reunion with the ‘happy one’ destined to fail? I certainly hope so, but let’s not get lulled into a false sense of security, yet. It is too early to say whether Maureen can get his team firing on all cylinders again and a period of adversity might just be the thing he needs to get this team focussed again.
For me, they remain our main competitors for winning the league and the more we can create a gap between us and them now, the better. The Chavs play Fulham at home (derbies are never easy) and then Spuds away, and let’s see how they get through these two games.
In the meantime, we just need to focus on our own games: one game at a time (OGAAT). Although I believe we are ahead of our competition right now in terms of team cohesion and competitiveness on the pitch, I will not get carried away as yet.
There are a few areas that need attention:
- We concede goals too often, and too many in total;
- We defend too deep, with our midfield often unable/willing to push the opposition back;
- The lack of back up for Giroud and our increasing reliance on him.
The first point is just an observation right now; let’s wait and see how our defence/team defending will fare over the next five games. We could really do with a couple of clean sheet to get the ‘back five’ properly settled.
The second point seems more of a theme right now. In recent games Arsenal have been pushed back by the opposition during periods of the game, with our midfielders opting to play close to the defence and not allow any space between the lines. This allowed the opposition to get too close to our box and we have been left exposed at times. We got away with it until now, but I hope that Flamini and Ramsey, Ramsey and Jack, Jack and Flamini, or whichever players are positioned in the double DM pivot, will be able to readdress the balance.
There is a theory (Gerry?) that Arsenal sit back deep on purpose – similar to what Chelsea and Manchester United like/liked to do: absorb pressure, and as soon as the ball is won back, counter attack with speed and direct, incisive passing – and this could well be true. But I reckon, we need to work hard on keeping the opposition ten to fifteen yards further away from the box, as it is likely to cost us against the better teams. It will be interesting to see whether we will be able to push the opposition a bit more away from our box if and when Areta returns to the first team.
We have spoken about our over-dependence on Giroud in previous posts. This is not only about his goal and assist contributions which simply have been fantastic until now; it is also about his ability to be our central hub – our ‘holding’ striker – in attack. Let’s hope he’ll last the whole season somehow and that we get reinforcement in January’s transfer window.
But there are quite a few positives for us Gooners at the moment: Giroud’s and Ramsey’s fine all-round form and ability to find the net; the ease with which both Flamini and Ozil have slotted into the team whilst giving us additional robustness, spirit and creativity; the imminent return of the Verminator and Zorro; and the general focus and battle-readiness of the team.
All of the above will be needed but most importantly we need to take it OGAAT! Arsenal are a team in the groove and the next cup-final is on Sunday.
Written by: TotalArsenal.
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