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.