Editor’s Note: Bergkampesque welcomes a new writer, Pony Eye, and his thoughts on recent events–and those which lie ahead. Enjoy!
The summer window has come and gone. Spending money has become an end in itself instead of a means to an end. It’s heartening to remember that, in the last three years, we have strengthened our first eleven with Cech, Ozil, Alexis, Coquelin, and Bellerin, all top drawer. Less easy to appreciate is the idea that having a settled team has its own unquestionable advantages and that any group of talented players, like a good wine, can only get better with time. It might, therefore, very well turn out to be our luck–or our clever move–not to have invested further (apart from Cech) on new signings, particularly as there was not available, if truth be told, top of the range players that suited our needs.
It is a great shame, however, that a section of the fans have turned against their club–a club whose team is leading the 2015 table with 49 pts in 23 games,(Man City at 48pts, Chelsea 45ptd, Man United 41pts) and are currently the FA cup holders. A flower in bloom.
With so many top teams now in existence, top players have become a scarce commodity. Apart from that, for the very top teams, new recruits are hardly anything more than the recycling of existing players. When Chelsea buys Pedro for Willian’s position, that is hardly anything more than the recycling of Willian. Same, Otamendi for Mangala. Yes, of course such a squad is deepened, but it requires a deep, deep pocket to be able to sit a galactico happily on the bench. True gunners care about a happy dressing room as it will show itself on the field.
We might not have invested with silly money, but we have been patiently investing in our team with that precious commodity called time. Think about it: all the great teams of history have–attached to their story–the element that they had been playing together for a long time. The coaching staff needs time to know and understand the full range of the ability of each player. They need further time to articulate the player combinations best suited for the different formations and yet more time for these player combinations to achieve automatism.
Automatism: Per Mertesacker has enriched our football vocabulary with this word. After the more effective combinations of players and positions have crystallized, the final journey to automatism begins. They begin to relate to each other more and more reflexively. The final process of integrating the parts into a whole has begun and proceeds until a point is reached where they become truly a team, operating at its optimum. This is what Wenger is working at. The ingredients that he needs are skilled, intelligent, dedicated players, and time–plus a conducive environment. The former he has, the latter he will get if we can bear with him. Wenger has articulated all these in one word: cohesion. Wenger managed in Japan and, I think, came to understand the culture and the language of that place. The Japanese have been trying hard to invent the perfect language: SILENCE!!! I must have been Japanese in my last incarnation because I feel I understand Wenger, even without words.
Our rivals know that their muscles are bigger than ours, and they square up to go toe to toe with us. We say nay to them. We will float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Back to business. When the line up for our match against Newcastle was announced, Ozil’s name was absent due to minor injury. Being an Ozil fan I was quite disappointed at the news but, at the same time, a certain part of me was thrilled. This was an opportunity to test out another combination. Remember that it was due to an injury crises that the unimaginable happened: Coquelin and Cazorla emerging as our most effective double pivot combination! Nobody could have seen it coming. Right up to this moment, whenever our team tromps out for yet another match, we still quake with doubts over this pairing, in spite of their excellent performance across more than half a season as of now. Prejudice can be so powerful. That is why, sometimes, it is just better we close our eyes and go with the numbers. 7amkickoff, we desperately need you by our side.
The numbers, as laid out by that fine blog writer, said that Newcastle had only one attempt at our goal. Did that have something to do with Ramsey’s engine at #10, helping to win the ball high up the field? I can’t give you the answer. I no longer trust what I see. I will just keep my eyes on the ball–and the numbers. By the way, my verdict on the Newcastle match is that the boys played very, very professionally. We the fans love high drama, but the seasoned professional is focused on the fact that the highest point of a high drama is victory, the lowest defeat. Our boys were well focused.
Stoke looms, and my hope is to see the Ozil-Walcott combo. Injuries have not allowed this pairing to play together much, but I dare to consider this tantalizing proposition. In terms of an eye for the final pass–as well as the quality of that pass–there is nothing like Ozil. Ozil is like the eye of the storm (look at his eyes), a point of calmness surrounded amid the turbulence. It is that calmness in the chaos that permits the extraordinary vision and the excellence in execution. Ozil needs intelligence around him to play the little triangles. He has that: Cazorla, Ramsey, Alexis, Wilshere and others. But the triangles are just there as the preamble, a prelude to the final pass. The final pass needs runners. Exquisite runners. If there is no runner to see, then there is nothing to execute, and Ozil will frustrate because he is not very switched on to other aspects of the game. He is far from the one to put in a crunching tackle, for example.
Do we have such runners? Theo is top drawer, a world class runner. When he sees space he springs to life. He loves space and opportunity; he loves the final ball in space. I don’t call him a centre forward, I call him a finisher of the final ball in space. Outside of this, Theo is more or less not very convincing, meaning yet another specialist in our hands. Can the team in this era of the universal player afford to carry two specialists? Doesn’t it leave the team lightweight in some areas? On the other hand, this is a combo in which one party catalyses the other into unrivaled excellence. Balance, balance, balance! To be or not to be?–that is the question. For me, unleash the combo, and if you are keen to hear what my prejudice is then, Ozil, roving #10, Walcott, Usain-Bolting the corridors, wide left. That surely starts a chain reaction of alexis@giroud@ramsey@wilshere@ox@welbeck@…@whatadepth…. the end of which only the numbers can tell! Please unleash the combo on Stoke, for starters.