The Kara Kartallar ‘Black Eagles’ circle in Istanbul by RH
“The problems of victory are more agreeable than the problems of defeat, but they are no less difficult.” Winston Churchill
It is true that Arsenal got their victory against Crystal Palace, marginal albeit. It is a victory that perhaps answered some questions but also asked some more. Churchill’s quote rings true after the weekend’s events but perhaps is also apt, as the great man also new a thing or two about campaigns in Turkey.
It is an insipid man who compares football to war but that does not mean that lessons of marginal gains or planning for that matter, cannot be taken from it. Winston Churchill’s Gallipoli campaign is best remembered for ill planning, even arrogance and the loss of so many lives. Still to this day it leaves a scar that is etched in the country’s history. This week Arsenal enter the cauldron of Istanbul and Besiktas, with much to lose. Although it is not ‘do or die’ it certainly is ‘must win’.
Before the game against Crystal Palace, Arsene Wenger had talked about the intensity his team must start with and the importance of maintaining the technical application during the process. It is perhaps a little disconcerting that Arsenal did not show any of that early explosive attack and in fact started almost a little jaded. The last minute goal from Aaron Ramsey has left the Arsenal Manager with a quandary’. Although this win will be filed under the ‘Playing bad and winning is the sign of Champions’ section, it does not discard the lack of dynamism and defensive ‘switch offs’ that occurred.
Arsenal will enter the Ataturk Olympic Stadium (that’s right the Gallipoli theme continues) with 70,000 Turks raining hell and brimstone down on them. They have been here before of course, as last year they beat Fenerbahce at the same stage in the competition but there should be no room for complacency. The urgency will need to be there but more importantly the defence will need be coherent and disciplined. Wojciech Szczesny’s distribution was poor on the weekend and with Kieran Gibbs and Laurent Koscielny doubtful they will need to be switched on.
The first game is often not a true representation of the season ahead but with Arsenal’s games coming thick and fast and throwing up tough opposition, good and bad habits can be formed in these times. Besiktas are more than capable opponents but they can be silenced if Arsene Wenger can repeatedly persist with his philosophy of tempo and technical continuity.
As Winston Churchill pointed out, winning can be agreeable and most Arsenal fans will have come away from the weekend happy. It does however, pose some tough questions for the team as to whether they just started off slowly or if they were lucky to get the points.
Perhaps Arsene will not look back on the Palace game at all? Perhaps it’s all forward thinking? In the end what good does it do you to look back into the past? Churchill’s outing into Turkey was after all disastrous and did he learn? Perhaps Arsenal fans should all look forward to Tuesday night, D-Day.
By Richard Hall
Follow him on Twitter @TheArsenalChap
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