Arsenal have won nothing yet. If you want reminding what lies ahead for this team on its quest for glory just check out the fixture list. Whilst games against Hull and Porto at home followed by a trip to Sunderland don’t seem daunting on current form, just look at what comes after the international break. We play Everton, Fenerbache away, West Ham away, and then Tottenham all in 11 days to round out October. Things get no easier after that, we play every midweek bar 2 up until Christmas. November sees us play away at Man City and Chelsea whilst we host Aston Villa and Manure – all top 8 teams.
This is very much a positive blog, I don’t do any others, but some sense of perspective was necessary. Now we know what we have to face – and that is just this year – let us reflect on what we have seen already. In particular, I would like to highlight 2 key things that I have seen so far this year: firstly the quality of our play; secondly, the depth of the squad.
I would go so far to say that this is the best side since the Invincibles. I base this on the quality of the football we play, both technically but also in terms of production. Whilst a healthy RVP has certainly helped us with both creatively and scoring, I see the big improvement coming from midfield. Hleb is not missed; in fact we have replaced him with younger, more dynamic players who all have end product. Walcott and Nasri have improved our scoring rate whilst not compromising our quality of team play. People may not like Denilson because he is not your typical DM, but the truth is he is playing superbly both in attack and defence. (Check the stats for tackles in the PL if you doubt that last bit). We have scored 24 goals in 9 games and 21 in our last 6 – this is impressive. Say what you want about the defence, but 3 goals in 9 games is mean and the lads don’t look on top form yet individually.
What I found particularly encouraging about this is that we have done it with a variety of players, rotating the squad, and always with multiple injuries. At Bolton last weekend 4 of our front 6 were not first choice players if everyone is fit. None of Song, Denilson, or Eboue would start although all excelled. Vela and Bendtner looks like the best reserve strike force in the country (world?) at the moment – how many teams would they both start for? (As a serious question, who is better Bendtner or Berbatov?) Djourou might be the most exciting defensive prospect we have had since…well for a very long time. Every time I watch him he is impressive and has that last ditch over my dead body sort of style that brings to mind the names of former greats that I would get slatted for comparing him to. (Bould)
Eduardo, Rosiky, Diaby, Sivestre (Bischoff) are all yet to play and Nasri has been missing for a month nearly. Factor in that the first team were still building their fitness when the season started, just check the playing time pre-season, and this looks like a great start. We will need our top players fit at some point but we will need our second string to fill in also. The last two years have shown that this is just as important for a successful season come February and April.
Despite the ages and the relative lack of transfer activity, this team plays Arsene Wenger football and that is a good thing. We may be young but for the first time in years we have players who can come in and do a good job when the first string are rested or injured. There is a hectic schedule up ahead and the big games are yet to come, but I think everything we have seen thus far looks like we need fear no-one up ahead. Hopefully the rest of the season these young stars can keep people revising predictions and changing opinions. We keep up this defensive record and all will be well even for the most ardent sceptics. We can certainly do away with the Wenger went senile 3 years ago theory already; even the lunatic fringe of the antipodeans supporters club has not been heard throwing that around for a while
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