Race for 4th: Experience Is Key by DS
This time last year Arsenal had an almost identical February and March, within days knocked out of two cup competitions and sweating over a top 4 finish. Arsene Wenger responded by taking the pressure off his younger players and fielding as many experienced heads as possible. While no Gunner was distraught to see Benayoun return to his parent club Chelsea, the likes of the Israeli and Rosicky gave the side a certain assurance and calmness to proceedings. The result… Arsenal finished 3rd with the Czech one or our most inspirational players.
Rosicky could also make an argument that he is yet to have a proper chance this season, no one’s fault as yet again he has been plagued by injuries. However when he has played he has made a difference and was arguably our best player in those two cup defeats.
To be fair to the younger players, the response since we lost the North London Derby has been good, two solid 2-0 wins at two tricky places to visit, followed up by a convincing home win. However we are still in a situation where we have to keep on winning. There is hope that Spurs are once again letting the pressure get to them but any Tottenham slip ups count for nothing unless we don’t keep winning, not even draws are good enough now.
Gervinho scored against Swansea and Reading, while Chamberlain looked good. Ramsey in midweek looked the best I’ve seen him since his broken leg while Giroud was also an international goal scorer and took his goal well yesterday. But the brutal honesty is we are no longer in a situation where we can rely on these type of players, we can’t afford to see if Gervinho is feeling confident, if the right Giroud shows up, if Ramsey believes in himself or if Chamberlain fancies his chances.
These players have had their chances this season and most of the time, when the pressure has been on they haven’t delivered. It is my opinion that we are in a position where we cannot afford to be leaving the few experienced players we do have, Podolski and Rosicky on the bench, these are reliable professionals who have played enough big games where we can trust them not to freeze, can we say the same for the less experienced names?
Look at Chelsea. Yes another season where they have been criticised laughed at and ridiculed. But do you ever wonder why when it always comes to April they are in with a shout for some type of silverware? It’s because they have the likes of Ashley Cole, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech, etc. to (no matter what we think of the m personally) offer experience of how to deal with this stage of the season and the pressure it brings. Arsenal don’t have the luxury of having that many leaders, the ones we do have we should use. We can wait till next season to continue the development of our young talent/ new faces to this league, let the experienced ones ensure that when we are doing that we are doing it in the Champions League.