Arsene needs a leap of faith to return to former glories by KM
Hello fellow Gooners around the world. How have you been? Are you having your 9/10 perfect day like Arsenal’s form in the League? I hope so. So what’s really interesting in the Arsenal world of late ?
Well to start with, we are on course to finish with 3 points more than last season if we win our last 4 games. The FA Cup final is looming again and it really looks pretty much like it did last year. Just that this time, we are finishing strong instead of starting strong.
So have we really made progress? The stats say that points- and trophy-wise its pretty similar. The league table says we will most likely finish in a better position with a better goal difference. If we beat Man United we’d have a better record against the top teams than we did last year. There are valid cases for both parties here, but looking at things on a deeper level there is still a balance in the force between the smirks of positivity around some events and the same old story of stubborn Arsene.
We had the worst start of our season for 30+ years. We started with not enough defenders, 3 world cup winners and a shiny new Alexis Sanchez. We started with a rusty win against a battling, beheaded Crystal Palace side. Although it was a tough one, you thought we’d easily make it two in a row. Well that actually took until December maybe?
At the turn of the year things were looking so bad, we weren’t sure if Arsene was going to last the season, but the players decided to take control for themselves, sit and talk through the problems and it worked. Except for a silly defeat to Spurs and an off-day with Monaco which cost us our Champions League last 8 spot, we’ve looked good.
There’s always that ‘Arsenal feeling’ that we could’ve done more, but the improvement we’ve had from a crisis club, to an almost ‘Champions contenders for next season’ is interesting indeed. If we take a Sherlock-like deep dive inside our transformation we will see that for once, we have a fit squad.
Shad Forsythe has been a real addition our squad missed. Just look at Ozil and the muscle he gained. He’s arguably playing his best football for Arsenal since joining. Fit players feel good with their body. They feel strong and comfortable in it and when you don’t get injured every 3 games you start to gain form. Messi and Ronaldo score immense number of goals because they play literally all the time. It’s interesting to see how Wilshere will work out. He’s the last of the injured players returning who you’d feel might have an impact on our squad.
Another thing we improved was our top 4 display. We drew with Chelsea, beat City away, beat Liverpool and we have Man United yet to play. Wenger quoted “looking at the tapes” after some games which is something we’ve been missing – video analyses. We started to respect opponents strengths and work out ways to counter them which is something i’ve been crying out to see. We still need to beat United, because I am not sure one FA cup win means we’ve broken the Old Trafford Hoodoo, but if we don’t go all suicide, we have pretty much of a good chance.
Tactics-wise, Wenger opened his eyes to the less possession, better results side of the game. We sometimes drop deep and wait on the counter. We’re good on the counter, because of quality. We now trick opponents by making them think they have the game under control and then we hit. Just like teams have done against us for so long. Maybe Wenger realized that total football is not what the current Arsenal squad is best at.
The problem with Arsene is that you can never be sure if this is a permanent thing or a periodical peak of our performances. It has happened before, so unless we spread this kind of form across a whole season, you cannot be sure. Arsene still doesn’t rotate too much. Our starting line up is predictable without a crystal ball. Wenger has either too much faith in some, which doesn’t always repay itself like it did with Ramsey, or he sidelines them for no reason and there’s no coming back – like it happened with Podolski and is looking ever so likely to happen with Walcott.
Wenger has a father-figure status at the club. He’s brought every single player in the side (not hard when you manage a side for 18 years), he is getting all the credit for our stadium move and all the credit for the elegant style Arsenal is associated with. That has made him careful though. He still doesn’t waste money. He will not risk 40 million on a player that might flop and he’ll hardly look for a player in a position where he already has one.
Will he finally do it. Will he risk jumping off the cliff with the chance to fly like a bird – or crash like a rock? Have we made progress? It’s impossible to say unless you put progress to a specific topic, like points gained, players injured, top 4 wins, number of trophies and so on. But the signs look promising for next year. They always do for the Arsenal fan…
It’s the hope that gets us on every time. The ‘nearly men’ need to become the Champions. The jump from Elite mediocrity straight to the top. It’s always a tough one, but maybe for once we need to close our eyes, take a deep breath and see where we land…..