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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Arsenal’s vast room for improvement augurs well for the Premier League title

By 1970’s Gooner

When Arsene Wenger sold Patrick Vieira every single pundit wrote Arsenal’s chances for honours off.

Cesc and the rest got to the Champions League Final.

When Arsene Wenger moved Thiery Henry on every single pundit dismissed Arsenal’s chances again.

Yet Cesc and the rest topped the League in the first few months of that season and if it wasn’t for Eduardo’s horrific injury would have gone on to seriously challenge for the title.

This goes to show that this bunch of players that Arsene has put together have the capability to make up for the loss of significant players and still produce scintillating and high quality football.

This trend is being repeated again this season where this squad has had to put up with key players missing and still came up trumps. The run of recent results have so eloquently proved everyone wrong.

Players missing include:

- Arsenal’s top scorer (when he got injured) Robin van Persie and his young but very promising understudy Nicklas Bendtner.

Arsenal have relied on the diminutive Andrei Arshavin who never played centre forward before and on Eduardo who is still trying to find his feet after being out of action for so long.

- First team choice left back Gael Clichy and also his understudy Kieran Gibbs.

Arsenal had to make do with the third choice left back Armand Traore.

- First team choice goalkeeper Manuel Almunia as well as his understudy Lukasz Fabianski.

In stepped the third choice rooky keeper Vito Mannone.

- Fantastic midfielder Alex Song away on Africa Nations Cup duty.

He has been replaced by Denilson and when not available, youngster Aaron Ramsey as well as rooky midfielder Creig Eastmond who made his full League debut only last week away to Bolton of all places.

- Samir Nasri and Theo Walcott have been away injured for most of the season so far.

Arsenal found the resources to replace them with Eduardo and Rosicky.

Yet despite all these players missing Arsenal are now sitting top of the League (albeit with a game played more than Chelsea).

The conclusion that can be drawn is that there is still quite a substantial room for even more improvement in this team. And I believe that when this happens Arsenal will be unstoppable.

Let’s look into how this can come about.

Bendtner’s return

When Bendtner comes back Arsenal will gain a double benefit. A player that will play in his natural position who will add height and strength up front. This will give Arsenal the variety that has been missing in its forward play.

Up to now the ball has been played to the forward’s feet on the ground by building form the back. This is Arsenal’s usual way of playing of course.

But Bendtner’s height and strength will provide another option. It will also add height when defending corners and dead ball situations.

The other benefit will be the release of Arshavin and Eduardo to play in their natural positions. The effect of this should not be underestimated as these players will become more efficient and also provide Wenger with more options.

Bendtner is penciled in for the game at Aston Villa next week…

Clichy’s return

Granted he was rather rusty against Bolton and should be partly blamed for the first goal conceded.

Yet we all know Gael’s quality and what he brings to this team. Now he is back the defence will be that much more solid. And we will need that with the difficult games coming up.

Can’t wait for Alex Song

If Cameroon go all the way in the Africa Nations Cup then he Song will not be back till mid February. Yet when he does come back Arsenal’s performances and defensive midfield capability for the latter part of the season will be so much more on solid ground.

Theo back on track

Walcott’s comeback (and eventually Nasri’s return in two weeks) will add more options for Wenger in the wide midfield positions as well as provide a much needed rest for Eduardo, Rosicky and even Arshavin who is carrying an injury.

Theo’s return in particular will add pace in the forward positions which has been missing of late.

Now all Arsenal have to do is stay top or in touch with the top after the completion of the next four games: Aston Villa away, Manchester United home, Chelsea away and Liverpool home.

It’s a tall order by all accounts but if it can be achieved then we will be well on our way for the Premier League title.


34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Look it sounds all nice, but deep down it's little flawed. Nicky B is going to take a few weeks to find his legs in a period of time when we need him to hit the ground running straight away. Theo is off writing children's books not coming to promise as a top class footballer and without Song and games against United and Chelsea coming up Eastmond is simply going to get found out.

Anonymous said...

Diaby is out now (again). Merida, Ramsey and Nasri. Bendtner will be shy of top form for a while, Arshavin is carrying a foot injury, Rosicky is fragile, Walcott made of glass. Cameroon just made the quarter-finals, so Song is gone for probably two weeks longer now. Denilson falls down with mystery pains.

I don't know. I hope. But we are one more injury away from disaster over the next couple of weeks. I'm thinking Stoke is a hope now, away and a tough draw for us style-wise. Villa, away? We need Diaby back at a minimum.

I don't know. I think we need to buy some help, even if it's short term (i.e. Huntelaar on loan). I just don't see it coming.

Samm said...

African Nations cup ends on the 31st of January, so Song should be back before mid-feb if they reach the final. To do that, they will have to beat Egypt on the 24th of January them beat Ivory coast(likely to triumph over Algeria) on the 28th. These look remote, considering their current form. Fingers crossed, we could yet see Song earlier than we expect.

Jeff said...

Buying to fill in for short-term injuries is silly. Who do you think will return sooner? A striker from another country who knows nothing about Arsenal, or Bendtner?

Fact is, it takes some time, even if the person is as brilliant as Arshavin, who was able to contribute quickly partly because he is a terrific solo artist.

What Arsenal needs is some defensive depth on the back line. The players out for the year are Gibbs, Djourou and Van Pirsie, so we are weak at the back, and could maybe use another midfielder if Merida really is leaving.

There is always the hope of super current quality, but even a Dzeko would take time to adjust and fit in.

Anonymous said...

Seriously there's a lot to be excited - and hopeful - about. But seriously this year is starting to feel like 2007-08 all over where our refusal to by a single attacking player utterly undid us.

Not replacing Alex Song now could be the difference between us being on top in two weeks and really solidly positioned to win the League or being second or third and while we'd still be in it mathematically and have a better run-in both Chelsea and United will have matches in hand on us and thus be in that much stronger position.

It would be a shame to let everything we have given oursleves a chance to achieve be undone over refusing to add one more quality player we clearly need unless you believe potentially Denilson and Craig Eastmond can help us beat all or any of Villa, ManU, Chelsea and Liverpool the next four matches.

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