Of Kites And Winds: Arsenal Need To Respond – Again
Winston Churchill once famously said:
Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it.
Well, the wind was definitely behind us in the form of a seven-game winning run when we took on QPR last Saturday, until it was knocked out of us by a very dogged and determined show by the home side. Now, we are firmly against the breeze once more, Manchester City expected at home on Sunday.
This Arsenal team has shown twice already this season that they have the strength to soar against the wind, and that spirit will be required in abundance from here on.
At the end of the season, I am sure we’ll look at this QPR result and realise it was the turning point. But a turning point towards what? A withering away of the collective will such as that which we displayed at the end of last season, or a steely resolve forged out of adversity after a dismal start to the campaign?
Of course it will be the latter, no doubt. This bunch of players have displayed it before, and I can see us really putting City under pressure at the Emirates. The crowd will have to do their part, just as they did against the spuds. Sunday just can’t come soon enough.
Robin van Persie thinks so too, he believes the players would have preferred to play sooner after a lacklustre performance at Loftus Road:
Everyone is disappointed but towards the end of the week I am sure the spirit will be how it was. We’ll have a couple of days to be disappointed but after that our focus is on Manchester City. It is a shame we have (to) wait eight days for the game, but it is how it is. Losing at QPR is a big blow but we have to look forward and the next one is a big one.
We do need Robin van Persie to find his scoring touch again. The Dutchman has not scored in the last three league games, a barren run by his current high standards, and incredibly only for the first time this season. However, in each of those last three games, he’s created opportunities for himself and others, which is encouraging. With goals coming from elsewhere in the team, it would add just the right momentum and confidence if Robin can get back on the scoring charts vs City.
In the race for securing Champions League next season, a lot has been made of the supposedly easier run-in for Tottenham. At first glance, this may seem the case. But looking at their fixtures again, they play away at Sunderland on Saturday, before returning home to face Norwich in two days time on Monday. They will be favorites for both matches but the result is definitely not a foregone conclusion. Of their remaining five matches, four are against relegation contenders with three of those being away from home. Somewhere in between that is an FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea and the final, if they get through. It is not as straight-forward as it seems and they will surely drop points along the way. Which is why we have to keep grinding away, even if we don’t get the desired result against City.
In other news, Marouane Chamakh could be heading for trouble with the manager, caught on camera smoking a shisha pipe with his Moroccan compatriot Adel Taarabt, who scored one of the two goals that consigned us to defeat at QPR. The fact that the picture was allegedly taken after that defeat has added fuel to the fire.
It’s difficult to comment from the outside, but the Moroccan’s waning of form and draining of confidence is perplexing, given the flying start to his Arsenal career. He’s now looking more and more ineffectual every time he takes the field. Although, I do have some sympathy for the striker, we do not play the game he’s suited for which is throwing crosses into the box. He comes on for 20 minutes at most and is expected to produce something magical – a quality he never possessed to start with.
It could be that he’s not really settled into London, or that he’s found the rigours of the English game too much, or that he’s just going through an extended spell of bad form. Whatever the reasons, it is difficult to see at this point how he can have a future at Arsenal. The shisha scandal may be the last drag that sends his Gunners career up in smoke.
Until tomorrow, fly high.