Arsenal Depot

A depository for musings on Arsenal FC

Post-Stoke Sanguinity: Why Gunners Should Keep The Faith

The stalemate at Stoke has given rise to predictions of Arsenal’s impending demise – again. The fact that we’ve shown tremendous promise offensively and marked improvement defensively is easily overlooked. Media pundits are writing the Gunners’ chances off already.

Add to this the usual knee-jerkism from some Gooners and the feel-good factor surrounding our three new signings looks to have dissipated entirely from Arsenalsphere. That these three have actually played well and brought a different dimension to Arsenal’s play seems not to matter at all.

I understand and share the frustration of fellow supporters but it’s one thing to express disappointment and another to jump to ridiculous conclusions after every couple of games.  I am sure this applies to supporters of other clubs too but I can’t be bothered with their opinions or their teams so it does feel like Arsenal has the largest contingent of bitch-fans in the world.

Last year we could hold the club responsible for the late exits of Nasri and Fabregas and the final day trolley dash that ensued. This year though, Arsenal have moved early and secured three players who have shown their quality in the limited time they’ve been on the pitch. It was always unrealistic to expect a much changed side to hit their stride straight away.

It’s true Alex Song would have provided continuity in midfield, something we’ve lacked in both matches this season. I, like many others, felt we should have hung onto the Cameroonian. But the fact he was sold when he still had three years left on his contract suggests there’s a good reason Arsene Wenger cashed in on him. Perhaps it was the bad attitude Song had reportedly been carrying to work or maybe Arsene was looking for a different contribution from a player in his position.

Whatever it is, we fans are not better placed than the manager to understand team dynamics – to pretend like we are is just plain silly. So although I believe Song would have been useful to us in the opening games, the fact is that he’s now proving his usefulness for Barcelona by keeping the bench warm for when Cesc Fabregas comes off early in the second half. So as Arsenal fans, let’s move on and look forward.

And looking forward, it’s hard to dispute that Cazorla is just pure class. It’s equally difficult to be unimpressed by the effort and desire of Podolski, the movement and physicality of Giroud and the increasing confidence of a fit-again Diaby. It’s true they haven’t combined to the desired effect yet but there’s a blueprint for success that was missing this time last year.

And that’s before we consider the trickery of Gervinho, the pace of Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain from the bench, Ramsey’s improving form, Coquelin’s versatility and of course the return from injury of Rosicky and Wilshere.  Perhaps one more creative midfielder would be useful, perhaps a more defensive minded midfielder would allow Arteta or Diaby to play further up. There are so many combinations possible that it’s going to take a while to find a settled starting eleven.

Robin van Persie’s goals were always going to be missed because it’s practically impossible to replace a world-class player in prime form with another. As such, Olivier Giroud should not be expected to single-handedly contribute 30 goals in his first season with the club. Those 30 goals will have to be made up by 3 or 4 players but to do that Arsenal need to build strong partnerships all over the pitch.

Agreed we can’t afford to drop too many points but it’s going to be a long season. And I don’t mean that in terms of games played but in the effort required to win each game. United’s loss to Everton, Swansea’s fantastic form, City’s scare against Southampton and West Brom’s thumping of Liverpool suggest the Premier League is going to be more competitive than ever this season. We saw some incredible scorelines in the last edition and I feel this season holds many surprising results as well.

A point against Sunderland at home is disappointing. A point away to Stoke in a game we dominated also feels like a let-down. But unlike our start last season when performances were as dire as results, Arsenal are on firmer footing this time around. Sooner rather than later, good performances will lead to positive results.

Keep the faith. Until tomorrow.

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4 thoughts on “Post-Stoke Sanguinity: Why Gunners Should Keep The Faith

  1. Sunder on said:

    I think the primary concern is not whether Arsenal have improved or not: even without RVP/Song, it’s clear to see we are a more balanced team, more stable and certainly have more depth. It’s also plain that this combination of players requires more time to gel, get comfortable playing with each other, and that eventually, the goals will start flowing…. However, the concern is twofold in my thoughts: One, that we have not gained the points from matches we (arguably) should be banking as a hedge against the points we may drop when we face tougher opponents; and two, we are seeing massive improvements in a team like Chelsea and also Liverpool which will put tremendous pressure on our own position. I’m not too concerned about adding more players: yes, it would be nice to have the added presence and depth of an M’Villa or Dembele, but the real benefit from additions of note would be the statement of intent Arsenal would be making. However, I don’t see anything happening if we are unable to offload . And given that Arsenal’s management are quite (shall we say) meticulous in their business affairs, getting deals done within a matter of days is a long shot in my opinion. Let’s not forget that Wenger shops for class and value, and at the ass end of the transfer window, while there may still be some quality to be found, they are likely to be more costly than they should be.

    • Sunder, I share your concern on points dropped from matches we were expected to win. And agree with you that competition will be much tougher this year. But that’s not only at the top end of the table. Stoke will give a game to City, Chelsea and every other team that goes there. The primary concern as you rightly pointed out should be our results. While being unable to score is disappointing and suggests work needs to be done (Arsene admitted this himself), the performances have been pretty solid.

      Re: tough matches coming up, I am actually looking forward to games against Liverpool, Chelsea and City. Cazorla looked ominous against Sunderland when he found space on breaks. The bigger teams will play much more open football and that will suit us. With the defense looking much improved, I think we stand a better chance of scoring and winning against bigger teams than lesser teams at present.

  2. Charlie on said:

    I for one remain optimistic. The new players have done well considering that they are settling in and Jack will hopefully be back soon (please no more setbacks). I can’t see how a midfield of Wilshere, Arteta and Cazorla can fail but the key as always will be keeping them fit. I also have the utmost confidence in Giroud and Podolski scoring plenty of goals and we’ve already seen the team improve defensively. My main point though relates to transfers. The Arsenal squad currently has 17 foreign players and I don’t see Arsene wanting to pay anyone 50k when they are ineligible so what Arsene is avoiding admitting to is that Arsenal must sell before they can buy.

  3. Great article, wonderful post. And all the first three contributions are great. Let’s keep the flag flying.

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