By 1970’s Gooner
What stood out clearly during the victory at “bogey team” West Ham, as everyone of course acknowledged, was Arsenal’s new found resilience and tenacity to grind out a victory at an away ground where the opponents refused to let the young guns play their beautiful game.
"One of their characteristics is they put their foot in so it's very competitive out there," said Alan Curbishley.
And the games statistics bear this out. The number of fouls committed by Arsenal (14) was about the same as West Ham’s (16) and there were two yellow cards for each team.
This is indeed a welcomed change which had gone missing after the departure of Patrick Vieira, the talisman, three years ago who would refuse to let these kind of teams intimidate Arsenal.
What surprises me though is that everyone is so surprised. This is, after all, a trait that has surfaced again and again this season prior to this game.
We saw it in abundance at Blackburn where again the performance was not that flowing or beautiful but still the team persevered, battled against that prat Savage and co and still carved out enough chances to win the game.
The goal scored would have been enough to secure a very moral boosting away win but for Lehman’s clanger.
Since then and up until Saturday’s victory at West Ham this resilient spirit has not really been tested. Nearly all the teams Arsenal had to face did not choose or could not play a “in your face” type of game.
They played with 4 4 2 formations and were more open in their approach. Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth, Tottenham away and even Derby did not really adopt the more physical approach.
Still there must have been a lot of talking at London Colney about combating the more physical type of opponents during the preseason.
But there is not a lot you can do on the training pitch to instill resilience! The best kind of preparation for such an eventuality is to actually come against it in a proper game on the pitch.
And that game in Amsterdam during the preseason tournament (that Arsenal won) against a very physical, of all teams, Ajax forced the young gunners to respond in kind. If you kick us we will kick you too!
Just like Flamini did against Scot Parker last Saturday.
Arsenal eventually went on to win the Amsterdam Tournament with a goal in the last minute from that fantastic run by Clichy and Robin van Persie’s finish. They showed that they can play too. The old Ajax way!
This type of attitude and performance resurfaced again before the League started.
It was in a more serious game early in August for the Champions league qualifier at Sparta Prague.
The Czechs’ more physical approach was matched toe to toe by Arsenal culminating in their talisman Tomas Repka getting a taste of his own medicine from all people Cesc Fabregas.
So this is not just “a flash in the pan’. There is indeed resilience, tenacity and competitiveness in this team which may go all the way to the top.
Prompted by Ajax. But emulating them in their old ways.
Fabregas has added a “Peter Storey” attitude to his vast arsenal of talents