We now got leaders, we got a spine and we are slowly getting our Arsenal back!! by Patrick Karani
Good morning Gooners from the land of the big five, the beautiful East African country Kenya. It’s a while since I wrote my only other article. Arsene was still our manager, we were still searching for his successor. The club was supposedly on the brink of appointing Mikel Arteta as the new manager/coach. My article then attempted to justify why that intended appointment was not such a bad idea after all. Then came Unai Emery, at the last minute! And boy oh boy, what an appointment it has been. A masterstroke if you ask me. I know many of us Gooners have fallen in love with Unai mostly because of his tactical prowess, but for me, there is another reason I have fallen in love with with our new manager/coach.
For years, we were accused by pundits of lacking leadership. Many were the times that many teams would literally bully our boys into submission. No-one in our teams would stand up against such bullies. Other teams would wind us up and get under our skins. Many are the times we lost games because we lost the mental battles against these teams.
Credit to Unai though, things seem to have changed, and for the better. Nothing typifies this better than our game against our bitterest rivals, the Spuds. When Dier scored that goal and ran towards our fans, our players on the bench couldn’t stand it. While I don’t advocate for such chaotic scenes in football pitches, that act by our subs, particularly Litchsteiner, demonstrated to all and sundry that those times when we could be bullied into submission are well and truly gone.
It may also not be lost to many of us fans how some of our players have really stepped up, not just in their games, but also in their mentality. Who would think of Xhaka donning the armband a few months ago without a worldwide uproar? Look at him now, he may still have his flaws, but you cannot question his leadership. Look at Bellerin, he now appears ready for a fight. And Kolasinac? He hasn’t wasted a moment to show opponents that the boys mean business. It would also be a great injustice if I don’t give a mention to Papa Sokratis who has equally been up there whenever he has played.
For me therefore, one of the reasons why we are not losing games is because of our players gradually taking responsibility, becoming leaders, generals so to speak. When as a general you are leading your troops to war, you want them to fight to the last drop of their blood. And that is exactly what Unai’s Red and White Army is doing currently.
I know we are still not at the level of Liverpool or Man City, but surely we can compete against most other teams. That is why, for the first time in several years, I feel so confident against Man United on Wednesday night. It is regrettable that we shall not have Xhaka (who would think I would be saying this a few months ago?).
Thank you Gooners and great day ahead.