First of all (of course) I’d like to begin by congratulating the team on an awesome performance against the other in form premier league team in the league. I’ll single out Arteta, Cazorla, Sagna and Ramsey for special praise for Saturday’s performance. They went about their duties in spectacular fashion. It’s good to see that Sagna is getting back to his best AND has learnt to put in a decent cross. Ozil had a quiet game yesterday but still managed an assist thanks to Rambo’s screamer. That’s the mark of a world class player.
Anyway, my focus isn’t just on yesterday’s game. We have reached the ten game mark of the season and there is plenty to be discussed so I’ll get on with it. Firstly, the premier league table speaks volumes on the leaps and bounds that Arsenal has overcome this season. We look a class above everyone else, especially in the league. Top of the table with a 5 point cushion is very significant in a league where competition is cut throat. Of course we have tougher fixtures coming up against Chelsea and ManCity but so far so good. Also, this season has marked the return of our swagger. We play such beautiful football that I could be stuck in the middle of the ocean and still find a way to watch our games.
We still haven’t hit top gear yet as we still don’t show consistently the dominance we should, considering the talent we have in our ranks. This is a good thing because we will still get better. I also think we don’t score nearly as many goals as we can but like I’ve just said, all in good time. There have been a lot of improvements in our team but the one that has impressed me most (and I attribute it to our form) is our spirit. These days Arsenal is a big team, pure and simple. Our ability to win on off days, hold on to a lead, secure points against the run of play and quickly recover from losses has reassured me that, barring a spectacular injury crisis, we are very much title contenders. The win at palace and the recovery at Liverpool are prime examples.
Again I’d like to remind you all, fans and rivals alike,that we are playing this way yet we still haven’t had a full strength side all season. We still have Theo, Podolski and the Ox who are yet to return to the side. I expect the former two to greatly improve our goal output once they return to full body and match fitness. I also expect to see much more from some of our players such as Theo and the Ox.
Another great positive we have on our side this season is the fact that we no longer are dependent on one player. In previous seasons we’ve had players like Van Persie, Cesc and Thierry Henry, whose performances kept us above the surface. Now we have Giroud, Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey, Walcott, Wilshere, Podolski, who have all shown that they have the ability to win us games. It’s almost like with every game, a new hero steps forward.
Aside from all this though there are concerns that have risen in these first ten games that I feel must be addressed. My biggest concern as per now is the fear of some players suffering burn out. The players in particular are Giroud, Ramsey, Koscielny and less so, Ozil. As Bendtner showed against Chelsea, Giroud has no able deputy, especially with Walcott and Poldi still out. He has played virtually every game for us and an injury to him now would be monumental. Ramsey and Koscielny too have been piled with games because of their influence. Once this tricky run of fixtures is over, Wenger really should give them breathers.
My final concern lies within our football. We have been playing well but I feel the team doesn’t do enough when not in possession. Our pressing has improved, I must say, but still isn’t up to par. When we lose the ball in midfield we let the opposition run at us too easily, especially in Flamini’s absentia. There are players I have to commend for their tireless work rate off the ball and these are Giroud, Ramsey, Rosicky and Flamini. When we lose the ball, they are always the first to dive into challenges in a bid to win the ball back and I really rate them for that.
However, pressing can’t be the job of a few individuals but a team effort. There are players who are a bit lazy when we lose possession. Ozil and Cazorla mainly. Wilshere too is developing this but I suspect it has to do with his injury. These two players will rarely chase down the ball even if it is they who lost it in the first place. I sometimes find myself screaming at the TV when they casually escort our opposition players into our danger area.
This has proven very costly because whenever we’ve met teams that are ready to hustle, we struggle. Against Dortmund, we could only conjure some few minutes of possession in the second half, and for a team whose credentials are being questioned at every turn, this is just not good enough. It is something Arsene has pointed out twice so far so I’m hoping he is working tirelessly to improve.
In conclusion, I have to say that we have every reason to be positive. If we can navigate these two months without too many nasty surprises and in January bring in a Lewandowski or two, then the title will be ours to lose. For now, all we can do is take it a game at a time, keep the focus and showcase our premium brand of football that makes every match day worth the wait.
Come On You Gunners!!!!
Written by: Marcus