Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Six changes Wenger made this season are propelling Arsenal to the title. Last Part
By 1970’s Gooner
Back in May of this year when Arsenal were stumbling to fourth place in the Premier League I felt the need to write an article on what Arsenal needed to do to challenge for the coming season.
It was written in frustration of the so many things that Arsene Wenger needed to fix that to me and many other fellow gooners were so obviously apparent.
In that article all Arsenal’s weaknesses were deemed to be correctable as a lot of the changes needed involved a change of attitude or better coaching and organisation on the pitch rather than radical surgery in the personnel.
So what has changed from last season to this?
- The defence has tightened up
- Learned how to break up packed defenses
- Now kill teams off when on top
- Have become more physical and learned how to win ugly
- Hit the ground running
- Goals are shared round
In an earlier posting I dealt with the first three changes that have transformed Arsenal this season. This posting can be found by clicking here.
This is the second and last part dealing with the last three changes.
4. Have become more physical and learned how to win ugly
Arsenal have adopted a more physical approach to their game. An approach that says : “if you play football we will play football. If you want to rough it up a bit we will do the same. We will not be intimidated”
This started as early as pre season at the Amsterdam Tournament where Ajax of all teams tried it on but to their surprise found that the young guns could dish it back. It continued against Sparta Prague in the Champions League.
Arsenal have shown this season that when the team is not playing well, when things are not going according to plan that they can summon the guts, determination and tenacity to turn negatives into positives and win ugly or get a positive result if required.
Prime examples are of course the two come backs against Liverpool and Manchester United as well as the victories over Bolton, Fulham, West Ham and the unlucky draw at Blackburn.
The ultimate example of course is the victory over a very strong Aston Villa side.
5. Hit the ground running
Both Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have made the point that starting the season on the right foot sets the tone for the remainder.
It allows the team to get more confidence to see themselves up there at the top with the other protagonists and to be talked about as possible contenders for the Championship.
It’s almost a confidence trick but nevertheless significant when the team consists mainly of young and relatively inexperienced kids.
And Arsenal have certainly done that. Granted, the fixture list has been kind and the postponement of the tough Newcastle away game early in the season removed a possible banana skin so early in the campaign.
Now with confidence high this fixture doesn’t look so difficult as it may have looked back in August.
6. Goals are shared round
The absence of Henry not only forced the rest of the players to take responsibility for themselves it also resulted in the goals being shared around. The team was creating chances by the handful last season but the conversion rate was abysmal.
This season Arsenal are the top scorers in the League with the 31 goals scored by 10 players. But only 13 of those goals have been scored by the two forwards Adebayor (8) and Van Persie (5).
This sharing around has meant that the midfielders are getting on the score sheet. In fact the midfielders have scored one more goal than the forwards.
Fabregas already has 6, Rosicky 3, Flamini 2 and even Hleb who last year was afraid to try his luck has 2. Diaby has also scored.
There is one change however that Arsene Wenger is not responsible for. At least not directly.
And this concerns the vast improvement in all the players, young and not so young, who with more exposure and experience in the Premier League have grown more mature and battle ready.
This is most epitomised with the resurgence of Alexander Hleb who has this season been a revelation.
Inexperience is something which characterises Wenger’s teams throughout his tenure at Arsenal.
That is why we have witnessed in the past the fluctuations in the quality of the performance levels between games and also during games themselves.
But now they have achieved more consistency and maturity, they are producing scintillating, dare we say it, Brazilian type football. Football that will be “untouchable”.