Were Arsenal ever really a soft touch? I don’t think so, but I have no doubt that referees allowed opposing teams to ‘give it to us’ without consequences and then dish out cards to our, Wenger-mostly-foreign players, left, right and centre. Wenger’s first teams were full of strong, hard, athletic players who were perfect at combining strength, speed, intelligence, touch and finesse. It was total bliss.
Then came the Fabregas years and we exchanged physicallity and speed for touch, quick passing and elaborate, beautifully crafted team goals; a trend I think continued till last summer. It was good to watch but it wasn’t enough.
Having watched the Watford game again yesterday, I was wondering whether Arteta is effectively combining the two big eras of the last 25 years into one: power, speed, touch and team-finesse at the highest level. Is this the real Arteta-ball, ready to make us competitive again?
The new signings all appear to have a good first touch, pass the ball round well AND are strong and fast.
Lokonga has Vieira physicality and engine. Tavares has the speed, power and menace of Ashley Cole.
We all know about Big Gab’s Soll Campbell like qualities and Ben White is bossed by nobody.
Tomiyasu is as keen and physical as Lauren.
Partey is pure power and physicallity, and all our attackers put themselves about and don’t shy away from a physical battle. Even Young Emile and Bukayo stand their ground and cannot be bullied. A powerful CF may well be next arriving at the Home of football, even though Laca is giving his all every time he is donning the famous shirt.
Yet all these players are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, have a good touch and pass the ball round well. I have no doubt Arteta/Edu will get a few more players like this in the coming transfer windows, and only those of the squad will survive who are able to combine touch, intelligence and power to the max.
Arteta-ball remains a work in progress, but are we now able to see what it will look like? Nobody bullies us anymore, we give away few chances, work for each other all over the pitch, start to create more chances, keep clean sheets and more than occasionally play some good passing football.
What’s not to like at this stage?