The Cech Factor, Mesmerising Mesut, Spanish Bull Backs, Rambo Dynamo: 10 PL positives until now.

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12 games played in the premier league and now joined top with Citeh: who would have thought this after our first six games? We had a measly ten points and trailed the Northern Oilers by five points, and we had big games against Manchester United (H), Leicester (A), Swansea (A), Everton (H), Spuds (H) and Watford (A) ahead of us. Six games, and sixteen points, later and we caught up with the early season high flyers, and are now an amazing 15 points ahead of the self-adoring one and his spoiled Chavs, who were, let’s not forget, the absolute favourites to win the title again this season, in August. We are also the London PL table leaders with five points more than the Spuds and the Hammers. So far so very, very good; and we should be very proud of our boys.

There is of course still a very, very long way to go and the principle of OGAAT – one game at a time – remains an absolute necessity if we are to win anything this year. Looking ahead to our next six PL games, we have a good chance to stay top and even take a bit of distance from Citeh and other competitors. But this can only be achieved by focussing on each and every game like it is a cup final.

Next up is West Brom away, never easy, especially after an international break; then it is Norwich away, Sunderland at home and Villa away: all teams that need points and will fight us with all they have got; then we play Citeh at home, followed by Southampton away, which are both very tricky fixtures. In the middle of these we have to play two CL fixtures, and especially the away game against Olympiakos – in between Sunderland at home and Villa away – could require a hell of a lot from our team (but only if Bayern manage to beat the Greeks before then in the first place).

So OGAAT it is and let’s see where we are after our Boxing Day fixture against the Saints. Key is to get our team back to strength as injuries have once again depleted our squad in the last few weeks. There is, however, reason for optimism based on our first twelve games in the PL:

  1. We are so much more solid at the back, especially when we play at least four out of Cech, Bellerin, Mertesacker, Koz and Nacho. Only MU conceded less goals (8) and we are equal with Citeh (9 goals conceded each), and we have already achieved six clean PL sheets this season. There is still room for improvement and especially the CB pairing could be subject to improvement in the next few months.
  2. Cech, after a rough start against WH, has improved the squad considerably. Perhaps less exciting to many, but his impact on the team is on a par with the previous arrivals of Santi, Ozil and Sanchez. Petr is the sort of goalkeeper we needed for a long time to make real progress in the league.
  3. Santi – Ozil – Sanchez give us the creative magic virtually all our competitors are missing right now. It is very hard for competitors to eliminate our creative force: if they focus on shadowing Ozil then Santi or Alexis will find the gaps instead; if they press hard on Santi, Alexis and Ozil will help him and together they find the space and the passes to hurt the opposition in a flash. We are now a team that at any moment and from almost any place on the pitch can produce a through-ball that will hurt the opposition instantly.
  4. Coquelin is now even better than last season. Some predicted that he would have a disappointing ‘second season’ as our deepest DM, but Francis has fully established himself in the team. He always gives his all and has found the right balance between aggression and control; and quietly he is developing in one of our key leaders.
  5. Goals are being spread between the team, with OG and Alexis having each scored as many PL goals as Aguero (6) and Theo showing a lot of promise too (2 PL goals currently). I love the variety we have in attack and that Wenger is using our attackers flexibly. Just as with our creative play, we have an extra dimension to our attack. However, getting Theo back as soon as possible is much needed to avoid burnout of Giroud, and especially, Alexis.
  6. Ozil is currently totally in the zone: 10 assists in 11 PL games is quite something and he is making our play now more than ever. He benefits a lot from Santi’s and Alexis’ presence and loves to work with the likes of Giroud, Alexis and Theo to produce his mesmerizing magic.
  7. Our Spanish full backs – or Bull Backs – are our power boosters and add sooo much to the team right now, both defensively and in attack. Nacho and Hector Vector are the complete package and play with great energy and passion. Wenger has turned these two into fabulous players and we are reaping the benefits now!
  8. Ramsey the connector, the gap filler, our dynamo: for me Rambo is the ideal box to box player next to Coquelin, but Wenger is a genius for making him play on the right, in a free role. He is great at almost all aspects of midfield play and so important for allowing others to shine. And he will shine himself now and again as well. The goals are still missing this season, but let this not take away from how pivotal his overall midfield performances are for the team.
  9. Our ability to go for the kill when it is on offer has been great. How many times did we score a second goal very soon after we scored the first goal in a PL game? The team now seem to pounce on weaknesses much better and this reminds me a lot of our Bergkamp/Henry/Pires Arsenal days.
  10. Resilience: we are much better in seeing games out now and not expose ourselves unnecessarily (the CL games, bar the Bayern home game, are the exception though). I loved our second half against MU as much as the first one: never gave them a chance to come back; I also loved the way we clawed back a draw against the Spuds, and even fought for a later winner, yesterday.

With almost a third of this season’s PL campaign behind us, we can be very positive of where we are and what makes this team special. There is no doubt that the many injuries can hurt us but until now the impact has been minimal, and with a couple of weeks’ rest, and hopefully no further injuries, we should be able to push on till after Christmas, when I will do another term review.

By TotalArsenal.

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21 Responses to The Cech Factor, Mesmerising Mesut, Spanish Bull Backs, Rambo Dynamo: 10 PL positives until now.

  1. Very nice, TA…and good that you could stretch all the way to the traditional 10 positives… 🙂 Shame that nobody else wants to comment… 😦

    The team is a good–and very tight–group at the moment and slowly bringing the support around into a state of belief…Maybe?… Things are OGAAT, as always, but the nerves don’t feel quite so frayed… It might have been a very different story, of course, had we failed to equalize yesterday… This Int’l break is coming at a very good time…We were more or less running on fumes since the injuries up there in Sheffield…

    We’ve got to keep it going (including sneaking into the CL elims…) but we shouldn’t be too ashamed of what we’ve done–in spite of the (almost predictable) injury crisis that accompanied the decision to not push out the boat for lesser talents (at crazy prices) in the transfer window…The Cech signing, pound for pound, has to be the best of the summer… You’ve identified a lot of the key players who are carrying the load for us, but the bench guys (some of whom like Campbell and Debuchy who had to play 4 matches in 12 days…) have done their jobs too. Getting a few old heads like Arteta (and hopefully Rosicky) back will be a boon as well as the guys who were in good form when muscle problems took them down (Ramsey and Theo). In January we can play with ‘all that money’ or recalling some boys on loan if guys like Welbeck and Wilshere aren’t ready or (dennis-forbid, and touching my wood…) anybody else gets hurt…

    That said, it’s a wacky league this season and it’s still quite early. Pundits who gave the title to Chelsea before it began–and then to City at the transfer deadline–need to look in the mirror and laugh at themselves… The table is well compressed with lots of opportunity for forward looking teams.. The Chavs situation means CL opportunities for a bunch of clubs and there are some proud clubs down at the bottom who will pour some resources into staying up… Additionally, more and more English clubs are happy to play aggressively in attack and go for wins and almost all have enough quality to frustrate the bigger clubs now and again. (I would expect lower than usual points totals to secure the title, top 4 and safety from relegation…) All the more reason that no match can be considered a given until the points are secured.

    So, well done with the positives and well done by the Arsenal… Plenty yet to play for… Which is probably all you can ask for as the darker days set in…

  2. allezkev says:

    Great post Total.
    I was a bit worried about yesterday’s game, it was fixture, with our resources so stretched, that we could have easily lost.
    I listened to the game on the radio and then watched the highlights, but my son, who was at the game and detests Tottenham, so he wouldn’t usually give them any credit however they played, told me that we’d got out of jail.
    So I was satisfied with a point….

    Fatigue and maybe a slight Munich hangover seemed to take its toll…
    Frankly, at this stage of the season, I’m delighted to be sharing top spot with Man City.
    We certainly didn’t see that scenario a couple of months ago…

    If, as an Arsenal fan, that fact fails to rock your boat, then it’s quite worrying.
    Personally I’m optimistic about this season, injuries being the only black spot.

  3. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers 17ht, I’ll get back to you tomorrow. 😀

  4. TotalArsenal says:

    Cheers Allezkev, I will get back to you tomorrow as well. 😁

  5. njk84sg says:

    Good term review for the lads this season.

    We need to be a little more prolific in attack, though it is better than previous seasons where we passed and passed and passed but could not score.

    This season we have seen a more direct play and total football compared to passing endlessly, which is what we are used to seeing during the treble winning days.

    Keep this momentum and play and we will be reaping rewards! 🙂

    Cheers,
    JK

  6. njk84sg says:

    Guys,

    Let me rephrase the sentence in the third paragraph:

    This season we have seen a more direct play and total football, which we are used to seeing during the treble winning days, as compared to passing endlessly, which was what we see in the recent years.

    We are starting to have a shortage of players, which we need the guys currently out injured to be back soon to mount a title challenge. Without the injured players we cannot last the mile, let alone last the season.

    Cheers,
    JK

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Afternoon FFGs 🙂

    Yes 17ht, the bench players deserve a mention, even though they were not all convincing.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Allezkev, the first half was their and the first part of the second half was pretty even, but once we scored we were the better team and could have won it. Altogether, a draw was a fair result, I reckon.

  9. TotalArsenal says:

    84, getting players back from injury is important but a number of key players starting again with fresh legs goes a long way too. The Chavs had no big injury issues and have still been poo. A small squad that wants to fight for every point goes a long way imo.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    17HT, did you get my email with photos?

  11. Yes, TA, I got the e-mail with photos… Thanks…

    Not a lot of action here on the BK, but so it goes… We made our way to the break–just barely–and maybe we all need it…

    Not all segments of the ‘support’ are taking a break, however… I knew I shouldn’t, but this morning I took a look at Le Grove, where there was a post (and plenty of comments…) damning Wenger for that French interview he gave. Kind of shocking (and depressing…), I thought, esp. given that he was manager of the month and that we’ve taken 16 of the last 18 league points on offer…

    I’m with TA that a small squad with a big heart can do good things. Hopefully, however, these past couple of weeks were as bad as it gets and we look fresher and fresher–while keeping the good spirit–as the season progresses…

  12. TotalArsenal says:

    It doesn’t tell a nice story about human nature, SeventeenHo. It is best not to visit Le Groan, it’s dark and damp over there! 🙂

  13. Admir says:

    Excellent post, TA. 🙂 I agree with pretty much all of your points. I would like to expand a bit that part about importance of spreading goals across the team that might sound a bit like a “non sequitur”.

    Garry Monk had been the next best thing after sliced bread as late as 30th August (a victory over United) only to come on the brink of sacking after one victory in eight matches. Why I mention Swansea? Well, they have had just three goal-scorers since the beginning of the season and one of them (Gomis) hasn’t scored since aforementioned victory over United. Six of our players have scored in the league so far, with OG (not Olivier Giroud) scoring twice to get us 4 points in games against Palace and Newcastle.

    On the other hand, Arsenal and Leicester are only teams with two players in Top 10 goalscorers (Vardy and Mahrez, Giroud and Alexis).

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    Excellent point, Admir. 🙂

    I have been analysing the PL top scorers’ list as well and have come to some interesting conclusions, which I will write about at some point this week. Spreading the goals throughout the team is so important to avoid becoming over reliant. I am convinced this is why Wenger was happy enough to let Van Judas go in the end and add Giroud and Pod to the squad a few years ago. We need a few more from midfield though, but surely this will come.

  15. allezkev says:

    Wengers comments re: doping, the chemical as opposed to the financial, are interesting and a little worrying…
    The tip of the iceberg or endemic?

    There’s a lot of money and interested parties riding on all this.
    I guess they would rather it just all went away…

  16. njk84sg says:

    I do not think the players will dope. Its long term and the other sports that dope are short term ones.

    I might be wrong, but am aware of the strong repercussions on the health side if it is used long term.

    Cheers,
    JK

  17. Looking forward to that post, TA, and I might try to write one myself one of the mornings… Agreed with Admir about spreading the goals around… I was very curious why Swansea loaned little Nathan Dyer to Leicester. Inch for inch that guy can score more than most…

    Also, I’ve got another positive…which maybe you’ll get behind a bit more than the bench players doing their job…(You’re right, they weren’t so convincing, but my point was that they went from zero to 4 matches in 12 days and at least seemed fit enough to make it through…) Set Pieces.

    To me, it looks like we’ve been practicing (practising?…) them. Of course, putting Giroud in (rather than Theo) makes a big difference, but I think it’s more than that. Ozil’s deliveries are very strong and Kos has gotten in on the goals and I’m guessing the rest of the CBs will not be far behind. Santi, Alexis and Theo can all take right-footers and it will interesting if one of them emerges as the guy to take the left-sided corners or if it will be all Ozil, all the time as it was (except when Alexis stole one…) vs Totts…

    Personally, I’ve never liked the lottery element of set pieces (they should count as 1/2 goals, I think, good for breaking draws…hahaha…) but it’s better to feel that we’ve got an advantage in this realm rather than the opposite we’ve felt all these years. If we are working on them in training, my hunch would be that having Cech’s experience is really helping–though maybe he’s making guys go for tighter and tighter corners and he’s the one responsible for Giroud hitting bars and missing wide… 😀

    Finally, doping in football? No; Never; Impossible… Sorta like nobody on the take at FIFA or EUFA… Russia and Qatar are just the best countries for hosting World Cups…

    Clue #1. Guy (with acne) scores goal, rips off shirt and flexes his muscles… Over here we know that all the money is in beating the tests and very little in keeping the tests ahead of the drugs…It’s not rocket science…In fact, there’s more money in it than rocket science… 😦

  18. TotalArsenal says:

    Great positive, seventeenho. Our set pieces are so much better now compared to previous seasons when we almost never scored from corners and freekicks into the box.

  19. FLO8 says:

    Really nice write up TA!

    I have to say I was very disappointed with the outcome versus Spurs and attribute that to a lack of rotation versus Bayern (a match we had a very slim chance of winning in any event). Whilst I fully appreciate that Arsenal were missing Ospina, Bellerin, Koscielny, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Rosicky, Ox and Walcott (i.e. 9 of Arsenal’s top 22 players) for the Bayern match I really struggle to understand why, in a marathon of a season, where we were already on the verge of being eliminated from the Champions League, against the best club side in the world, on their home ground and with a very slim chance of winning that competition in any event due to the calibre of the competition, we would compromise the fitness of our remain top 22 players and the chances of beating Spurs in what should be our priority competition (the Premier League) by requiring Cech, Per, Monreal, Coquelin, Santi, Ozil, Sanchez and Giroud to play three really tough games in a week?

    Whilst Arsenal would have similarly lost (and possibly by a larger margin) if Arsenal’s line up versus Bayern comprised of Macey, Debuchy, Gabriel, Chambers, Gibbs, Kamara, Adelaide, Iwobi, Hinds, Flamini and Campbell, it would have provided Cech, Per, Monreal, Coquelin, Santi, Ozil, Sanchez and Giroud invaluable rest which in my view would have enabled Arsenal to put in a more energized performance versus Spurs and given Arsenal a better opportunity to secure another Premier League victory.

    Whilst I think our injury problems at the moment are horrendous, I think better squad management and a bit more pragmatism about what Arsenal can realistically win in light of our injury problems, will go along way to determining whether Arsenal can genuinely sustain a title challenge this season.

  20. TotalArsenal says:

    Freddie, thanks 🙂

    Good point from a team technical perspective, but the CL is big money and reputation matters too. Turning up with a second string team will not go well with our main sponsors and UEFA, and Wenger rightly would not mess with these.

  21. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post

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