Finally, it’s over. The past 10 days seemed like 10 years, kind of like an exile from this world into a completely different planet. Over the past 10 days, I have questioned my role in this world, pondered over my existence, and been a grumpy hag. And that’s just for starters. The things, days without Arsenal can do to you.
This Interlull or whatever deservingly derogatory term it is assigned had poor timing written all over it. Just when we seemed to be getting the hang of the new team, or rather the new team was getting a hang of itself, bang came these internationals. Thank you FIFA, but no thank you.
The Arsenal site seems to be coming up with innovative stuff to keep fans engaged, or help us through these dark times. Well, there is Ox TV for starters, where Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has replaced Johan Djourou as Arsenal’s TV show anchor. Djourou must really be feeling peeved at being a reserve for everything. Defence, and now even the show. Everyone wants to steal his thunder.
Anyways, the Ox managed to do 50 keepy ups with the ball whilst drinking tea. And he answered a few questions, or was that his avatar, Dr. Chambo or whatever. There’s also the EA Sports player of the month thingy, which seems kind of funny, because we are just 3 games into the seasons. Never the less, Santi Cazorla won it, and rightly so.
The past one year we have been cribbing about how we have failed to replace the maestro that was Cesc Fabregas in the middle of the park. Now, everyone is like, Cesc who! What Cazorla brings is a lot of freshness into the team, I feel. That real outlet of creativity in the centre of the field, possessing vision of a Golden Eagle, two feet like no other, Spanish good looks, er, oh well.
The midfielder was quick to praise the manager for allowing him to express himself in his new role.
I love the style of the team. Wenger’s philosophy is to control the game and I like to be on the ball. Furthermore, the boss has put me in a position, second striker, with all the freedom I want to have.He told me to be at ease and that he’d play me where I could most help the team. It surprised me in pre-season when he put me as the second striker. I’ve come to play on the wings with the freedom to move inside, but Wenger has immediately put me in this position. With Arteta, Diaby, Rosicky and Wilshere, who is recovering from injury, we’re going to have a lot of the ball.
Arteta has advised me a lot, he told me football is much faster and less tactical than Spain. It’s more give and go. Mikel has helped me to learn to see the game and said that if we play rapidly with the ball we’re going to create a lot of danger and we’ll beat most teams.
The very fact that Arsene Wenger has taken a huge risk in ploying Mikel Arteta in an out and out defensive midfield role, goes to show how much his own mindset has changed. Very rarely do we see the manager doing anything of the sort, to disrupt the team’s structure. Arteta has been a solid professional, and his work rate has been massively impressive. Last season, he was not the out and out defensive midfielder, but rather a linkup between defence and attack.
Quite clearly, he has been given a specific task to do, and that’s not to be the wandering Jew. He stays put, rarely goes forward, and in the first 3 games, has been a real outlet to win the ball back and start attacks. That said, Diaby has been the real link between Arteta and Cazorla. Seamlessly integrated into the system, he not only is a buffer between the two, but his amazing control on the ball, which can rival Michael Schumacher in a Ferrari F1 car, has bought a whole lot more to the squad.
This system allows Cazorla to be a completely free, bustling midfielder, released of all his shackles, and do exactly what Fabregas used to do. During the 2007-2008 season, when Flamini was the midfield enforcer, doing all the dirty work, Fabregas shunned all his defensive duties to go gung ho. He went on a goal scoring spree and he really developed into Arsenal’s most important player on the pitch.
What really has been inculcated in the team now, is defensive discipline. Time and time again last season, we conceded really cheap goals, and players would give the same reason every time “We didn’t defend like a team.” or something like “Djourou is the man.” or whatever.
Well, that has changed. The work ethic of the team has a new dimension, and that is to bloody work your socks off, or get murdered by that big fat bald bloke sitting besides the gaffer. It really seemed to have been working. Born and bought up in Stoke, Steve Bould is a really tough guy, and he has been able to transfer this very toughness to the players, or so it seems so far.
Lukas Podolski, largely playing on the left flank in the opening games, delved back throughout, to help out Gibbs, and the same goes for Oxlade-Chamberlain. Heck, he has even scared Thomas Vermaelen, that killer of a captain, with a killer of a shot, to stay put in defence, and not venture forward, well, like a wandering Jew. You seriously do not want to mess with Mr. Steve Bould.
Ok, moving on now. Some news about our want aways, seemingly wanted aways and already aways. Reports are that Dinamo Moscow approached Andrei Arshavin with an offer, which was rejected by the player. The player has said in the past, if he is to return to Russian football, it will be only with Zenit St.Petersburg, and no one else. While others may say he is just sitting on the fat pay packet at Arsenal, and just doing his contract justice, so he can gain British citizenship for his offspring.
Whatever it may be, I have said time and time again, I like Andrei Arshavin as a player. He has the ability to light up games, and he may have a difficult season, but still he is a seasoned professional, and he is our player, so we have to stick by him during his hard times. I think booing him completely drained the confidence out of the poor guy, but still he was there a week later, assisting Thierry Henry on a hard evening of football at the Stadium of Darkness. He had a little cameo against Sunderland on opening day, and did look lively, apart from that one typical lazy moment. Having Arshavin on the bench is always an asset, rather than a liability.
Arsene Wenger has spoken his mind out on Niklas Bendtner, and still thinks the Dane may have a future at the club. He went on about how he really is the greatest striker to have walked the face of the earth, and at Juventus he will prove himself. Personally, I would have preferred keeping Bendtner to Chamakh, because Bedntner can deliver 10-15 goals a season, if given the service. But, there you go.
Moving on, Olivier Giroud has had a mixed start to life in the fast lane. While we were expecting this big, handsome, suave, continental, goal scoring machine, what we actually got was, er, a big, handsome, suave, continental, uhmm, target man.
Notably, he has done more work off the ball running, than on it, and as a lone striker, he has done his job tremendously well. Holding off Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth one week, and Daniel Agger and Martin Skrtel the other, is no job for the weak. And, there are plenty of positives to derive from his gameplay. Playing as a lone striker, is always going to be hard. First, it can be very isolated up there, and holding your own against defenders, allowing the others into play one of the toughest traits in the game.
More so, is helping create spaces and diversions for others requires plenty of intelligence and technical nous. And Giroud displayed a very good example of that against Liverpool, when he attracted the attentions of Liverpool’s defenders, allowing Cazorla and Podolski to conjure up some magic. And, he himself has been into some good goalscoring positions, this season. All that is lacking is the finish and confidence, and that will come, by Saturday, we hope. The signs are out there. Ian Wright, Dennis Bergkamp, Brave Sir Robin, all scored their first goals against Southampton, and went on to be legends. Atleast, 2 of them did!
Some very team news then. The internationals have done a bit of damage, so far. Abou Diaby picked up a knock in the 1-0 win over Finland, where he scored the goal, which meant he missed the Belarus game as a precautionary measure, and he should be just about fit for the weekend. I would like to see Francis Coquelin being given a start, especially after his comments recently about wanting to leave if he doesn’t establish himself. I do feel he should not just wither out of the situation by leaving, but give a real good review on the field of himself, before he can make statements about leaving. He is a real talented lad.
Wojciech Szczesny looks to have recovered from his rib problem, and should be in contention for the starting berth against Southampton, though I feel Vito Mannone deserves more first team opportunities. Theo Walcott is a doubt with illness, and was sent home by Roy Hodgson. Gervinho could be given a rest, following his long commute, to have him raring to go against Montpellier in the Champions League opener.
Laurent Koscielny also should be fit. Good news all round, then, with Jack Wilshere around a 3-4 weeks from full fitness, and Tomas Rosicky around 2 weeks away. This will add a host of options, during a busy time of the season, as well as give the boss some selection headaches, which are always good headaches to have. He will also have to do some motivational work with Aaron Ramsey. The young boy, thrust with Welsh captaincy so early on his career, was in the team at the receiving end of a 6-1 demolition by Serbia, post a 2-0 loss to the Belgians.
He was nowhere near the standards he displayed during the Olympics with Great Britain, and needs a shot of confidence in him, to realize his full potential. I really feel for him. He is a real engine in midfield, but just needs up some sharpening, and he’l do fine.
That’s it for today. Ah, blogging is back. And, so are the sunny days. Bring on Saturday and the Saints.
Jai Arsenal 🙂
If you missed it, here’s the recent series of articles with a detailed look at Arsene Wenger’s youth project, and where the players are now.
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