“There is mountain air in this room. It’s cool and moist and almost fragrant. One deep breath makes me ready for the next one and then the next one and with each deep breath I feel a little readier until I jump out of bed and pull up the shade and let all that sunlight in – brilliant, cool, bright, sharp and clear.”
― Robert M. Pirsig,
Five reason to be positive about Arsenal’s prospect this season:
- We are on a good run. Yes it was broken up during the summer but it seems to be continuing. Arsenal had some great results during the latter part of the season with well fought for wins at Stoke and Southampton and of course that awesome FA Cup final win against the league champions, for example. We beat them again albeit on penalties in the Charity Shield match and we beat the Foxes on Friday. Long may it continue.
- The media have written us off. None of the BBC pundits have us finish in the top three, let alone win the PL. The team will be motivated by this and so will be Wenger. Key, as 17HT has pointed out numerous times, is of course how the fans will deal with a setback. Will they stay behind the team or collect money for silly banners? Our bouncebackability – players, manager, fans – will be tested. I believe we have the players and manager to do this but the media will be on us like a rash time and again. The spine of Cech – Koz/BFG – Xhaka/Rambo – Ozil – Lacazette/Giroud/Alexis is one that has the leadership qualities to make us recover quickly from a setback. The rest is up to the support.
- Consistency. Wenger kept the team together and has added quality in the previous season’s two vulnerable positions of left back and a quality finisher in attack. Lacazette and Kolasinac are quality AND versatile players who fit straight into the first eleven. Furthermore, the squad is large and full of experienced players who are reaching, or are now in, the best years of their short football career. We looked wobbly in defence but I reckon this is quite normal at the start of the season with a number of key players missing. I expect us to play a lot more compact against Stoke (and going forward) and especially the full backs will be told to support their colleagues in defence much better. As a team we need to make sure we don’t stretch ourselves too much when we are playing the ball out from the back. Teams like to press us early and high when we play like this and it makes us very vulnerable as the defenders or central midfielders often become isolated. I am sure that the reintroduction of BFG and Koz as well as Mustafi will help with this, but key is for the whole team to work as an accordion-unit, moving organically with the flow of the game.
- No CL football. In order to win the PL it is a big bonus if a team does not need to commit all their key players in knackering and injury-high-risk mid-week Champions League games. The Uefa games, on the other hand, allow us to give vital, quality game experiences to our fringe players and young talents. Wenger can then try out some of these players in PL games if and when he thinks they are ready. This will make a huge difference if you ask me.
- Our quality midfield: The ROX. We have a deep squad in defence and attack but I am most excited about our midfield. The way Rambo, Ozil and Xhaka eliminated the much praised Chelsea midfield in the FA Cup final was very impressive. I have high hopes that these three players will turn our team into champions. Xhaka deep, Rambo as b2b midfielder and Ozil as the creator are a very strong combination of guile and deadly passing. With Coq and Elneny we have players Wenger can use to adjust the midfield structure if and when required. Wilshere and hopefully Santi will be excellent cover/competition for the ROX. And hopefully Iwobi will progress to the next level this season. And, just to please Johnnie, we may well see Wenger add one more player in midfield before the end of the TW.
So every reason to be cheerful and full of hope for another good and, most importantly, an enjoyable season (don’t focus on the destination, it is the journey that matters).
One Game at a Time (OGAAT) my friends and victory through harmony (support starts with the right attitude).