According to the media, our young team is now the best thing since – well since the Invincibles – and all of a sudden everyone reckons we have a good chance of winning the title.
It really does make me laugh. Yes, we’ve had a great start and lie second in the table, but come on, how can you judge on the season ahead after just three league games plus a couple against a very poor Sparta side. It’s as daft as writing off Chelski and ManUre cos they’ve dropped a few points. Don’t get me wrong, I am thrilled with what I have seen so far – tough and battling performances right to the end of each game – and with plenty of the old flair on display. But we have only played the one league game away from home and have had a fairly easy start fixture-wise. I think we will know a bit more about our chances of doing something special this season at about half past three on Saturday.
With the most important signing of the past four years now completed, and with no real Arsenal news during this tedious international break, I have been musing to myself on the comparisons between Arsene’s last great team of 2004 and today’s. In my opinion, they compare very favourably.
Firstly it must be obvious to everyone that, since the departure of Henry the magnificent, we seem to be more of a team, rather than a collection of brilliant individuals. Not that there was much wrong with our team spirit in 2004 of course, and it was demonstrated many times during that thrilling season. It’s just that today we seem to have a bit more hunger, spirit and desire about us.
Looking at the individual players is an interesting one. Starting with the goalkeeper, and you would have to say that the Lehmann of 2004 was a better player than the Lehmann of 2007 – at least so far. We do however have an improved Almunia this year and a new youngster who might just be good enough to break into the side some time during the season. Nevertheless that’s one up to the team of 2004.
Lauren was a marvellous right back – very underrated I feel – yet the performances of Bacary Sagna to date have been up there alongside Ralph’s, so I reckon even-Stevens on that one. Kolo is just Kolo so that one’s another draw. Gallas versus Campbell is a difficult one – they are different types of centre back, but I would have to give the benefit of any doubt to big Sol at his best. So another for the team of 2004. (0-2). Ashley Cole against the current Gael Clichy? I hope you agree with me that Gael in his current form is better than the greedy little shit was in 04. (1-2)
Midfield is interesting. Today’s Gilberto looks to be better than the 04 one so that’s another one for the current team (2-2). Freddy versus Alex? Until the start of this season it would have been a real easy one – a hands-down win for Freddy. Not so now I feel, and I am inclined to prefer today’s Hleb to the fiery Freddy of 04. (3-2). Rosicky or Pires? I like Tomas a lot and he still has bags of potential, but Robbie Pires was one of our greats and he must win this one. (3-3)
Possible the most controversial and difficult one to choose is of course between Vieira and Cesc. Despite Patrick having been one of the best players ever to play for Arsenal, I would have to choose Cesc – especially as he is now starting to score goals. I think at his age, he is simply the best midfielder I have ever seen in my life. (4-3).
Alas, from a winning position of 4-3, today’s team are pipped on the post as it were, by a wonderful finish from the two strikers from the Invincibles. Henry and Bergkamp were miles ahead of our current two – Robin and Adey.
So – apart from the strikers – there isn’t much to chose between the two sides. One other important thing is that the current one has far more strength in depth. A bench of Walcott, Eduardo, Bentner, Diaby, Denilson, Djouro, Senderos, Flamini, Diarra etc. is surely a lot more exciting and comforting than one with Aliadiere, Wiltord, Kanu, Edu, Parlour and Cygan!
If Eduardo can convert his amazing goal scoring record to the Premier League, and RvP can continue his development, I think we might just be seeing the emergence of Arsene’s third great and all-conquering team.
But then again, I may be just a tiny bit premature in saying it.
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