As the troops roll in from the wilderness of international football, Arsenal fans look forward to a mouth-watering prospect of seeing the long awaited new faces grace the hallowed turf at the Emirates. Ordinarily, playing Swansea wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s safe to say that Arsenal probably didn’t get the memo about the Premier league starting on 13th of August.
Well, considering our freakish start to the season, a game against Swansea at home, with shiny brand new signings and a rejuvenated spirit is the only way to go. Everyone from the tea lady at Stoke City FC to my 82 year old neighbour has had something to say about Arsenal’s alleged crisis.
Perhaps the most rewarding thing in all this dooms day nonsense is that despite the worst start to a season Arsenal has ever made in my memory, Tottenham are still below us on the table. There are indeed still small mercies in life. Even when you consider the witch hunt against the Arsenal medical staff for allegedly engineering constant injuries to our players, the only other team with a worse injury record than us are Tottenham.
My sense is that it’s a good thing that we’ve got the demons out of our system early this season. It’s hard to see how things can get any worse than they have been, and thankfully, the ghastly transfer window is closed for another 114 days. It’s been a summer of torturous nonsense, speculation, conjecture and outright bullshit peddled by all and sundry in the name of “exclusives”, “transfer talk”, and everyone thinking they know what is happening yet they know bugger all.
The negativity around Arsenal has been nothing short of suffocating and some sanity should be restored when the football comes back. There’s no hiding from the fact that since we lost the Carling cup final, we’ve only won 2 Premier league games against Blackpool and Man United. Clearly, that isn’t good enough, and steps have been taken to improve this. We need to let the changes take shape and back the team to the hilt when they step across that white line.
It’s a long season and Li’l Jack and Vermaelen in particular should not be rushed back under any circumstances. Abou Diaby is also due back in training by the end of this month, with Song and Gervinho being let out of jail after this weekend. With the 9 new additions, the squad looks healthy and we can focus on the football.
There are many who still have a hangover about the prodigal son’s return to Broke Back Barca, and the assertion that he should have been replaced therefore we are a weaker squad. Assuming you can find a replacement for “he who sold out to Broke Back Barca” – you have to ask whether elevating an individual to superstar status is the answer.
Surely, Thierry Henry and the prodigal son should have taught us the downside of building a team around an individual. My sense is that we need more players in the team to take responsibility and not to have the expectation that the team will be carried by an individual with superhuman ability when times get tough.
We now have experience with the introduction of players like Santos, Mertesacker, Arteta, Benayoun, Gervinho and Park to complement our resident generals like Van Persie, Vermaelen, Sagna, Arshavin and Rosicky.
My sense is that Wenger is tweaking our style of play to a more direct “in your face” counter attacking style to deal with the teams that come to the Emirates to park an aircraft carrier in front of goal. Possession football has its flaws and hopefully the pace of Theo, Gervinho, The Ox and Ryo will help with getting behind the defence lines.
The season starts Saturday and we’ve got everything to play for.
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