In Arsene We Trust?
I remember when I wrote ‘Arsène’s Wish List‘ at the end of last season praying that someone on the Arsenal board would adhere to the requests of a begging fan. Who would of known that Arsenal’s fortunes would have improved so greatly by taking NONE of my advice.
When Arsène Wenger brought back Mathieu Flamini I was concerned, it made no sense to me at all. He was a free agent being thrown out by AC Milan – “why must we take the sloppy seconds?” – were my initial thoughts but he has since become the steel in midfield that Arsenal have been longing for since 2004. Building a long-lost resilience, keeping the team together at crucial moments this season.
On the opening day of the season Arsenal lost 3-1 at the Emirates to Aston Villa, at that point I instantly counted Arsenal out of any title race. Arsène Wenger was under intense pressure but it seems the team have just gone from strength to strength since that day. Going on to break the bank in the record signing of Mesut Özil and a 12 game unbeaten run in all competitions to say the least.
Almost everything this season conspired against my hopes and plans. Not that I didn’t want Arsenal to be in the position they are now but it just didn’t happen how I initially envisioned it. I had high expectations of the low performers and low expectations for those playing at the highest level.
I was hoping to see a big season for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but the Ox has been laid off through injury and has yet to produce the big performances that lands him his ticket to Brazil. Aaron Ramsey’s improvement has been a major shock for me, has been by far – until injury – Arsenal’s brightest star in a congested midfield and Per Mertesacker is finally proving his worth. Oh yeah, I forgot Bendtner is back in the squad as well.
The cohesion in the defensive partnership Mertesacker and Koscielny have established has given the team an assurance they haven’t had in years. Wojciech Szczesny, benefitting from the defensive solidarity, has matured a lot this season with the fewest goals conceded (19) and most clean sheets (10) in the league.
All of this has contributed to Arsenal’s consistency as Premier League leaders. This has been an absolutely amazing season for the Gunners. Aside from the slip up at the Etihad, they have dealt with all obstacles much better than in past seasons. The confidence in the team has set up one of the best January’s I can remember.
People argued about the games leading up to Christmas but January is generally the more shaky period. There’s been no League Cup distraction this year which is almost always our achilles heel and with a comfortable 4-0 victory over League One opposition Coventry City in the FA Cup, this is setting up to be a very exciting period.
This is usually the point when I’d cry out for some additional signings during this January transfer period but from what I’m currently seeing of the team, we probably don’t need any. There’s been plenty of speculation but as of right now I’m convinced it’s not a necessity. I’d love to see Yaya Sanogo come back from injury and be another person to prove me wrong.
Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)