A Few Things I Realized About Arsenal This Week


Looking back at the game against Ipswich and indeed the season so far, I’ve come to realize some changes that are unique to our squad this year- things which were not there or I did not feel were present in the previous seasons. And who better to share those feelings than my fellow Arsenal fans? So here goes:

1) Every player can make an impact at any moment: Time and time again, I have mentioned how full of depth our squad is this season. A simple way of demonstrating this is by randomly dividing our 25 man squad into two halves (well not equal halves of course). Do it a number of times and chances are you won’t be able to tell distinctly which half is better.  Arsene Wenger has always mentioned how he trusts each and every player in his squad and this time, and this time only, he actually means it. The obvious example was Bendtner’s impact last game…it was a match changing goal- possibly the ‘goal’ that will become the key to our first trophy in six years. I have never doubted Bendtner”s finishing ability as some other Arsenal fans did. One thing I did doubt, though, was his technical ability but he surprised me in that aspect this week. The way he handled the high ball from Jack was top draw stuff. ‘Twas smooth as silk to be honest and his finishing was mesmerizing to say the least. This type of performance reminds me that our players are in a constant process of improvement and what they were last season does not necessarily reflect on the current season. But I digress, the players in our team, ranging from from youngsters to more experienced ones, are well capable of surprising us at any moment, making this season more exciting than any in recent years.

2) We actually ‘CRAVE’ to win a trophy this time: I do not know if it is just me but I really feel there’s a different aura to the team this year. I can’t quite describe it myself- just an abstract belief at the back of my head that keeps getting stronger and stronger. Every year when we are on a good run, I find myself wondering when this form will end. I always look backwards. It’s something of an involuntary reflex that is ingrained in my brain, I guess, because we always screw something up and end the season with nothing. But watching the team play this season, I truly believe that we can do it this time around. I truly believe we are all in this together- the manger, the first team, the subs and the fans. I do not look backwards anymore. My eyes lie only forward because we have finally crossed the point of no-return and the only thing that is left is destiny.

3) We have been really lucky with injuries so far (I hope this does not jinx it): We really have. While Chelsea and Manutd have had injuries to the likes of Terry, Essien, Lampard, Rooney, Ferdinand etc, we had a pretty smooth ride down injury lane. We have had only one serious injury which was to Vermaelen, and the rest have been quite ephemeral. To be honest, our only serious concern thus far is to our defense, namely the CB position. Even then, Squillaci is coming back and is apparently ready to be in the squad for the next game. Sagna was taken to the hospital and in any other season, I swear, he would have been out for at least 3 weeks which would later be extended to around 6 weeks. But that is not happening. Sagna is currently  ‘well and in good spirits’ Injury gods such as Rosicky and Van Persie are still fit and running which really surprises me. So yeah, we deservedly have some luck with our injuries this season.

4) Szczesny apparently makes a world of difference: Sure, he hasn’t been world class in any way which is hardly surprising. The lad is only 20. But I think defenders actually trust Wojciech. Indeed, when defenders play in front of a goalkeeper who they really have faith in, there is an extra incentive to defend better. They have the assurance that they are not the last ‘reliable’ line of defense and that load of pressure off their minds really benefits them. Plus, at 6ft 5 inches he is the tallest keeper (and the tallest player) we have. Wojciech has some problems with his distribution but that is not a major concern right now because distributing the ball does not directly influence our defense and I believe his performances, although he has had very little to do recently, played a big part in achieving our current defensive record. I just want to make it clear, that by supporting Wojciech, I am in no way discrediting our other keeper Lukasz Fabianski who had been playing great until he got injured (?). All I am saying is that our defenders have been playing extraordinarily while Wojciech was between the sticks. That’s all.

5) I don’t give a sh*t what Manutd do anymore: I watched the Ipswich game on television and while watching it, I inevitably switched regularly between channels taking quick glances at the Manutd vs Blackpool game that was happening at the same time. It was a bonus to watch our title rivals concede two goals and quite obviously I enjoyed it. But, as they slowly came back to game and eventually went 2-3 ahead, I found myself to be less frustrated than I thought I would be. I realized that this season I genuinely believe we are better than them. This feeling has never occured to me before. I realized that this year, I finally trust our team enough to not care about what happens with the likes of Chelsea and Manutd. This year, we are the real deal and if we keep playing our cards right, we will win trophies no matter what.

But those were my feelings from this week. Next week, we have a very important game against Huddersfield and there’s no reason to underestimate them. After all, they are a club that at a certain time in history won the Championship for 3 consecutive seasons. Yes, I am serious…

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    • mark fitzmaurice
    • January 27th, 2011

    not a bad article,and i have to agree with you 100% about szczesny,he really does give the defence much needed confidence,also i find in the defence the while djoure can play with either of our two new centre halves,the same said to new centre halfs cannot play as a pair together but things are getting better with the squad,wilshire is an absolute joy to watch,song is immense,our speed of play with him in the team is quicker,cesc is cesc,magical and ramsey to come in to that midfield will easily make it the best in the premiership,and given a few years should be the best in the world.we have a wonderful few years ahead of us,if we can keep this team together and add the odd bit of talant year on year.im very very optimistic.

    • eve
    • January 27th, 2011

    absolutely beautiful article, couldnt of put it better myself, im so proud of our guys, even andrey, he has to stop beating hiself up, relax and enjoy the game, his brilliance will soon return.

    • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna
    • January 27th, 2011

    My sincerest compliments to you Haider…this was an excellent blog and the closest to commonsesne accuracy I have read outside LadyArse’s blog! There are other elements that seem to be falling into place this season as well:

    1)The financial and management stability of the club since Wenger’s arrival in 1998 has us now held up as the Club to emulate worldwide for financial and administrative nous. this fact alone will entice top class candidates to come to Arsenal.
    2) Arsene Wenger’s stable, intelligent and long term vision and strategy both on and off the field has allowed us to improve our bench, bring in even more promising youth talent, play OUR Football instead of experimenting with hit and run or park the bus tactics like lesser teams.
    3) The Emirates’ supporters influence which was a bit of a curse at the start of the season BUT has become our 12th player when we are home OR away. We still seem to attract negative and pessimistic so-called Arsenal fans whenever we win,lose or draw, like flys are attracted to offal. However we are making believers of most!
    4)We seem to be getting equal treatment from game officials unlike some years and I am firmly convinced that Wenger’s respectful, uncritical and anti-thud attitude to EPL play has turned the tide for us when it comes to diving, serious foul play and the need to protect all EPL players from assholes like Dwyer and Co.

    Great article!

      • Haider
      • January 28th, 2011

      haha, thanks Domhuaille, your compliment is highly appreciated. And I agree with with all of your points above, especially with 1) and 2). I do not think Arsenal need to copy from other teams to win titles. We will win the title our way. The last thing we need is to lose our identity, trust me. And yes, Wenger is really the master of economics. If ever there was a table of ‘financial and management stability’, Arsenal would be top every year. 🙂

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