“Many grains of incense fall on the same altar: one sooner, another later – it makes no difference” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
For months, so it seems, it has needed no justification or evidence to suggest that we are a club in crisis. I have argued against this previously, top to bottom at the club. Beyond some contradictory statements the board have done nothing wrong – no one knows yet whether ousting Lady blah-blah was good or bad, nor whether Gazzidis was a masterstroke worth waiting for or a disaster. (A hell of a lot good has happened since Dein left, until someone can link that to some chronology it is hard to defend, just like rating us all out to the fat-jab from Russia) Wenger is 9 months removed from an 83 point season and getting robbed in the CL quarter-finals. Whether they are the best right now or not, we do undeniably have one of the most talented and exciting young squads in Europe.
Somehow though this perception of malaise seems to have grown out of all proportion where the current team is concerned. If you want evidence of this just look at the players being linked with us, or who people want signed on various fans forums. The fact is that we have lost 3 games more than we should have, that is all. The games against Fulham and Hull were arrogance; Villa and Stoke were about heart; and Man City was the culmination of a period where our confidence just drained away. Still, if we had won 3 games we would be sitting pretty and praising the lads now – I know we didn’t – but this remains no reason to lampoon the entire team.
Slowly we are regaining our form and crucially confidence. We played some sparkling football at the start of the season, Bolton, Blackburn, Porto, Newcastle and United were displays of real quality and true Arsene brand footy. We couldn’t defend, we couldn’t dig in, and as a consequence when things started to slip and we lost belief there was little to fall back on. Of late we have been defending better, although more improvement is needed. This has given us a platform to play our game, which we seem to be doing more and more fluently. (Undefeated in 8 meaningful games, including 5 wins)
Nasri and Diaby have, for me, been particularly impressive the last couple of games. Whisper it soflty, but so far the team has not been negatively affected by Cesc’s injury, maybe it will actually help the club. Our captain was a shadow of his former self, completely understandable given seasons of heavy use on a young frame culminating with the European Championships, but maybe him sitting will actually benefit the team in the short-run as well as both club and player long-term. Cesc is the best player at the club and the team is structured around its captain, however whilst he struggled perhaps some of our weakness was due to this fact. If nothing else it seems to have forced other players to step up and maybe allowed the boss to restructure with a defensive emphasis.
Whatever happens I think we should guard against both stop-gap and reactionary buys. If there is something we really lack in the squad then lets address this issue, but lets not buy purely to compensate for injury. Also I personally believe that we should not lose faith, those who ever had any, in the players that have got us this far into the season; there is much to be encouraged by despite the team not being where it should really. I see a team that is not where it should be, not a team full of mediocre talent who are not and never will be up to scratch. Song, Diaby, and Denilson have shown that they all possess what is necessary to succeed in terms of talent, just on occasion they and the team are found wanting mentally. So to Djourou, Bendtner, Nasri, and Walcott.
I think that if we stick with these players, appreciate that they will improve and that this season will make them stronger, we will be winning trophies soon. This season that will be tough unless we can stop conceding goals. Which for me this is all we lack, a bit of defensive toughness. We need either a CB or an athletic, aggressive CM, depending upon where Wenger sees Song’s long term future. If it were me I would buy a midfielder and push Song into defence next year, he looked good there in the CC this year with Djourou. Plus with Toure and Gallas on the books we look crowded already at the back. Beyond this a 4th winger would be good, as Rosicky is never fit we are really talking a 3rd winger, assuming Nasri and Theo as first choice.
That is all we need, 2 players of real quality to add something we lack at present: depth on the wings and powerful defender in midfield who can force the issue when we don’t have the ball. If we buy these they should be players of true quality, by that I mean ones who at some stage will, or the boss thinks, win us multiple titles and a European Cup. People may lambast me for seeing a team 10 points adrift and leaking goals and thinking of dynasties, but with players this good – yes they are – this young that should remain exactly the aim. Someone compared the current team to the invincibles on here recently, ridiculous frankly given the different stages in their careers and development each tea was at. Still, I think before Cesc is done he will equal the 2 titles that group won, probably surpass it.
So no junk just because there is a boot sale in the east end or we are getting desperate and anything will do. The idea of adding Upson, Parker, or the like to me smacks of desperation from people who think things are worse than they are. We need world class and they just aint. I would expect our manager, with a global scouting network that surely must have been on the prowl since the summers near misses, to do much better. Im not that much of an expert, but even from my rocking chair I can tell when people are suggesting we settle for second best.
I realise that some people think a goalie should be bought, but I doubt that will happen. As I write this on a Thursday night I know that Arsene’s Friday interview will discusses this, I bet he stands by Almunia and says that Fabianski has convinced him. Im not sure Almunia is world class, but at this juncture it looks a certainty that he will keep the job until the summer, no one will be bought in, and he has probably earned that thus far. As for CB, I hope Toure, who will play alongside Djourou it seems for the next 3 weeks, reclaims his spot. I think the best possible Arsenal 11 at the moment includes an in form Kolo Toure – we just need the form. Come the summer Gallas and Silvestre should go and someone else should be added, as I said I would move Song back also.
It may not be fun or in vogue to say that the team is solid, needs only minor tweaks, and that I have no bloody idea who the next best winger or essien clone is in the world. As far as I can tell (cue crap jokes) that is all we lack and we shouldn’t be overly distressed if we get only one of these. If we can keep this group of players and allow them to develop together, acquire the mental stamina to match their raw talent, then very soon this club will be celebrating again. How many players of the current squad realistically wont be playing at the club in 5 years time? Gallas, Silvestre, maybe Sagna. Adebeyor would be 30 and on current form it seems a stretch, but RVP’s cerebral style should age well. That is it. On the flip side, Vela, Wilshere, Merida, Ramsey, Gibbs (he looks a real talent) will all be in their early twenties. Diaby will be the elder statesmen of our midfield at 27.
Done deal folks, thanks for listening and cue the screams about Villa being the real issue, not 5 years time, and a string of abuse for any of 5 highly talented U21 players. Just for giggles, if it were me, from the names in the papers, I would get Johnson from Boro to play wing. After that the Rossina dude for Torino or N’Zogbia – he was a cut above the rest of the geordies at our place last year and stood out in both games. As for midfield, we need the best and no names mentioned strike me as that, but they must have a motor and a mean streak.
Next 10 league games are as friendly as you will find this year in the league, with the spuds and toffees away as the hardest fixtures – both are winnable. Lets not throw the towell in yet. Honestly lastly, for the love of christ, whoever goes to the home matches and shouts shoot just hang yourself as a christmas present to your fellow man. Or put as Bill Hicks in this youTube excerpt would say it; just substitute marketing for shoot, although I would wager they all do that, or work in the city… NB Parental Advisory
Team VS Bolton with ArseneHollis in the dugout would be:
Sagna Toure Djourou Clichy
RVP Nasri Vela
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