An assessment of the squad so far this season. by KM
It’s that International (boring) break time again and while England play Estonia in a pointless game of football where the only interesting news are if Walcott is going to get that front role again, we can take a look at how the squad is doing since August.
As ever with Arsenal the only one word I can think of to describe our season so far is inconsistent. We have flashes of brilliance mixed up with periods of mediocrity. We didn’t do enough in the summer though and that is regardless of the fact we are two points off the top. We were 12 points off last season and there still is a room for improvement in our squad.
We have two first team players who came up from the ranks, not because we want to play the youngsters, but because we simply didn’t have enough bodies to put on the pitch. Having that in a world of football where the Premier league makes a 5 billion pounds bonanza from TV and commercial contracts. It is more a case of bad planning rather than not having money. We are waiting on experiments to work, instead of having a fully armed squad to win the title.
We are always 2 players short, so there’s an excuse Arsene can use. Those 200 millions would’ve surely covered a DM and a solid CB to partner the Boss, never mind the remaining that could’ve easily put in a real striker, rather than hoping Theo would work. Anyway what’s done is done.
Our squad looks okay on paper. I would still put City on top when I look at their best starting XI and their overall squad, but we finally have a proper goalkeeper. The impact of Cech was already highlighted in the games he didn’t play. He brings priceless experience. After the West Ham game he put on a tweet stating something similar to “Made some mistakes and no points today, but looking to the next game”, which is exactly the kind of mentality we need.
Character is the ability to stand up when you are down and recover. It is why Champions win when they don’t play well. Ozil, Sanchez and Cech were sublime against United. They all came from teams where winning trophies is everything. They were coached that unless all the top prizes are won, it’s not good enough. Something most of the Arsenal fans slaughter me about, but I will continue to bang the drums on this topic, until I see the same mentality at Arsenal. And if we cannot teach it in the dressing room, we can buy it from outside. The problem here is that Wenger doesn’t like players with character, who raise their voice and that’s why we are labeled “soft” so many times.
Other players who need a note are Coquelin and Bellerin who I mentioned earlier. They came in as temporary replacements, but made the positions their own and are an integral part of our squad now. Nacho Monreal is another player who deserves more credit than he gets. He is the new Mr. Consistent around here since Sagna left and he’s giving Gibbs zero chance of getting back to the first squad.
Theo Walcott is also a player making serious progress as a CF. Now I still think that against the very best oppositions Walcott will be inefficient. He’s a real threat when we are a goal up and play the counter attacking style, but if we chase a game against a deeper sitting team we are in trouble with him. Sometimes you just need to throw balls into the box and then we really lack a physical presence, which really helps when you need to hold a player off and give other players time to link up. Or other times you need to defend balls thrown into the box and again we lack height.
A striker, a replacement DM and a CB still remain positions where we can improve, but other than that the squad is good. Thanks to the inconsistency of all teams, we are in with a chance. Whoever gets it right the sooner and keeps it up till May will be Champions. Hope it’s us.