The changes that have been made over pre-season are really beginning to shine through

The changes that have been made over pre-season are really beginning to shine through as the season continues to start well.  Wenger was confident going into this season which implied something had changed.  With two senior players leaving and only one coming in, many doubted Wenger.  After all, he had said that we were not good enough at the end of last season and changes were needed.  Many believed that Wenger would delve into the transfer market to fix these problems; that is simply not the Wenger way!
Wenger has a project and he has analysed the players he has to try to change the small things, rather than the nucleus of the side.  Bringing in too many new faces would set back the side even further as these new players would have to settle into the side and into Wenger’s philosophy.  Wenger sees these players week in week out and trusts them for a reason; granted nothing has been won yet, far far from it, but it seems that these players we have can do just a good job as those players available, unless he wants to spend £30m+ on a player.
Two seasons ago we benefited from a full pre-season and started brilliantly.  The confidence we took from that enabled us to stay at the top until that horrific day in Birmingham.  That season we played some awesome football and this season is reminiscent of that.  In fact the football is superior to 2007/08 and again Wenger has used a football-less summer to focus, develop and mature his squad.
Much of the media looked on last season when Pep Guardiola looked to bring back the glory days to the Nou Camp.  The squad had flopped during the previous season and Pep decided change was needed.  The talent was there but the work rate was not so he put all his players through vigorous training to change this.  He was successful as the new look Barcelona side added work rate and pressing to their beautiful football.
Over the summer, released many pictures of Arsenal players using medicine balls and sprinting with bungees which I thought spoke volumes.  Previously, the only photos we have seen have involved players with the ball and having fun.  I never had a problem with that but now I think a message was sent out.  This Arsenal side is ready to put the work in to play their football.  A similar change has occurred to that of Barcelona and now the pressing game that the Catalans employed last season has been replicated at the Emirates.
Guardiola showed that a manager can show his players how to make such a defensive tactic work on a large pitch; they do not come much bigger that the Nou Camp.  We saw at Everton that we were suddenly winning the ball high up the pitch and were turning defence into attack in the oppositions half.  Last season we tried to soak up pressure a bit too much and that is why we conceded goals last season.  Suddenly, the whole team is defending and this is where the biggest change is.
When a team defends as a team all over the pitch, teams hate it.  We are not a big side but we make up for this with constant running and pressure; we are suddenly a nuisance.  The fight is in the side and we hunt the ball in twos and sometimes threes.   Teams are not allowed at our back four as much and when they are we look more assured anyway.
Wenger has not only chosen the 4-3-3 to employ the pressing game, but also to get the best out of our midfielders.  Fabregas and Denilson were too similar last season to play together as there was not enough defensive cover. However, Denilson was fantastic when alongside Song, as was Cesc towards the end.  Song was soon becoming crucial to the side as a destroyer and is now first choice for me.  Fabregas cannot be left out of the side despite a poor last season but Denilson was starting to show his potential.  Therefore, all three together seemed to have the potential to work, and this system proves it.
Song sits in front of the back four and breaks up attacks as well being able to slot in at centre back when Gallas and Vermaelen go rampaging forward.  Denilson is the perfect player to read the game and intercept loose opposition passes that are forced by our pressing.  Fabregas is now able to play his game freely and we turn the ball over so quickly which provides him with space to find a pass or get forward.  The central three also suits the likes of Diaby and Nasri as we have already seen and Wenger has made the perfect decision.
Lastly, the way we are playing going forward is different.  The ball is being moved at a far greater pace and players are rotating positions across the front three.  Teams are struggling to mark players without being dragged totally out of position because they know that any gap will be exploited by the quality of the likes of Arshavin, Van Persie or Cesc.
Also, we have already scored more counter attacking goals than we did last season (I think).  The only one I remember was Eboue and Diaby’s break away at Villa last season.  Into two league games we have scored two blistering counters; again one involved Eboue and Diaby.  What I loved about Diaby’s goal was that Eduardo had also made up the ground and was there to put the ball in should Diaby fail to make contact.  That reminded me of the good old days when someone like Pires or Ljungberg would always bust a gut to make up similar ground.  Arsenal are devastating when we do this and it was crucial that we got this side of our game back.  Our squad is so full of pace that is was a shame that counter attacks were such a rarity

LOGIN to Comment
LOGIN to Comment