Another solid weekend of Arsenal football and another dismal result from Chelsea. Listening to AVB talk about the future is almost reminiscent of our last 5 years! It won’t rub over there though… the young Portuguese will be out on his ear by Christmas if he doesn’t shape up fast. I personally think he took on the wrong job. If you want to play attacking free flowing football, you don’t take on a slow, ageing defensive side. Still, it is always great to see the Blue side of West London having a John Terry induced bad time.
That said, as we well know, as quick as you’re down and written off, you’re back contending again. I’m pretty sure Chelsea had a similarly torrid time this time last season.
Arsenal have certainly turned a corner. We’re playing with a new confidence and style and we’re playing with a new found maturity we lacked last year.
Theo Walcott has certainly been a major force in our transformation. He took a bit of an early season pasting from many but he’s knuckled down and he’s turned around his and our season with some top performances.
I think the key to his resurgence has been his improved passing and the timing of his runs. He’s getting in behind defenders and he’s learnt to go it alone through the middle. The predictability of seasons past has disappeared. Sure he still frustrates, but we do forget he’s only a 22. That footballing brain he’s lacked for so long seems to be developing. It’s just a shame he’s playing the, ‘I just want to play football and not think about my contract’ card. We all know what that means. Chelsea were sniffing in the summer, I’ve no doubt Kenny Dalglish will be in for the ex-Liverpool fan and even United might attempt a move.
This sort of problem is why I think the coach is considering his future. He can’t effectively build a team anymore. Players are of the ‘now generation’ just as much as the fans. They don’t want to spend 50% of their career buliding for a glorious future that might never happen. If Wenger does have to contemplate losing Theo, Robin and Song this summer, could he deal with the rebuild process? Does he have the energy, or is that a good exit point?
The trouble with all the contract situations is that they have been the build up of 3 years of not signing players of adequate quality. That said, it seems like Wenger has taken some serious learning from this summer.
1) Signings tall defenders when you’re attrocious from set plays helps the keeper and the team. It might not solve all our ills, but it’s gone a long way to killing the basic strategy crap teams take when playing us.
2) Signing mature players with know how and fight is just as beneficial as signing young players with potential by the bucket load. You need a balance in a team. Arteta isn’t an absolute world beater, but he’s intelligent, he knows how to play the game and he upholds standards in our midfield. The younger players thrive off that maturity and ultimately, the squad is benefiting.
Mertesacker is now the focus of many peoples angst. I think he’s been prematurely slagged much in the same way Koscielny was last season. I think he’ll turn around his fortunes and prove to be an immense buy as the season draws on. He’ll adapt to the pace and he’ll be fine. He’s making basic mistakes, but he wasn’t when he was taking Germany to world cup semi finals and he wasn’t when he was winning German Bundasliga. Being a top player doesn’t disappear over night.
The league is starting to shape up rather nicely. We’re level pegging with Chelsea and Liverpool for games and points. Spurs could go 6 points ahead of us, but their slump hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure it will do. Newcastle aren’t top 4 quality, so I’d imagine they’ll slip down the table over the Christmas period. City are still the team to catch, again, they haven’t had a dip in form yet, but I’m sure it will happen at some point. If 4th was the target this season, being level with Chelsea and Liverpool in late November isn’t the worst eh?
Arsenal players are in the festive mood of giving already. They’re all donating a days wages next weekend which is very kind. If everyone on the payroll did that, they’d be donating £340,821 to the cause which is very generous. I remember a nursing charity did something like this a few years ago and they only managed to recoup £200,000 of the initial £1million worth of pledges. Premiership footballers, so classy…
Wenger has taken us out of the running for long term target Gary Cahill. Bolton were too greedy in the summer, so he won’t be arriving… which is a shame, because he’s certainly a very good player. I’d imagine Bolton will struggle to recoup much of his value now, a very poor business move in retrospect (in fact, we said it was a poor move at the time).
We play host to a resurgent Dortmund. They’ll arrive at the Emirates full of beans having beaten table toppers Bayern Munich by one goal at the weekend. Don’t go into this game thinking they’ll be a pushover, they have excellent players and a win would be a superb achievement.
If we do beat them, we’ll qualify. Which would be absolutely marvelous. If we lose, things will be wide open again. As it stands, winning would put us up against…
- CSKA Moscow
If you have 3 Dortmund spares going, let me know, I have a buyer.