Damn these international breaks, no one really gives a hoot anymore. The only time the Euros or World Cup actually piques my interest is when the actual finals are taking place. The qualifiers far often seems to be a spanking ground for the lesser quality opponents, and is something of a farce. Arsene agrees, and fears that the interest in international fixtures is waning. He is right there, give me back my Arsenal, and leave the weekends be. It is bad enough that we have to suffer 2 months of droughts in the summer because league ends. Furthermore international breaks far more often than not means one of our players get injured for a long period of time.
Since there is no football over the weekend, we have the ample opportunity to scrutinise our season far. A quarter actually is more or less 12 or 13 games, but let’s make do with 11 league games so far. So, here goes.
At the start of the season, we were really in the doldrums. Key players were lost and not adequately replaced in the earlier part of the summer. In Fabregas and Nasri were two of our most creative players. It was not surprising that we were struggling at the start of the season. The draw with Newcastle followed by the loss to Liverpool was to be bested by a spanking by Manchester United. Fans grew frustrated, I cried murder, Arsene signed 5 players.
In came Arteta, Benayoun, Park, Mertesacker and Santos. The match against Swansea saw several of the newcomers featuring, yet they made little impact, as Arsenal still struggled creatively, and defensively were still unstable. The cracks in that Arsenal side were accentuated in the game against Blackburn, where we contrived to leak in 4 goals and lose despite scoring 3 goals.
A win over Bolton next went some way in allaying fears, but we flattered to deceived and failed at our first real hurdle against Spurs. In truth, it was a game we should not have lost, but a certain cunt handball and poor defending costed us. We failed to show our consistency in winning against less mediocre opponent ( STILL MEDIOCRE TEAM).
However, since then, the team seems to have improved, and slowly gelled together to be a formidable opponent.Wins over Sunderland, Stoke followed, and this Arsenal team showed glimpses of its potential to run over opponents with its seamless and flowing passing game. Our next big test against Chelsea was passed, with slightly good grades, having scored 5 goals at Stamford Bridge, and winning.
After the win against Chelsea, the thought struck me whether we have truly turned the corner. We beaten a top 4 competitor, and have won 3 on the trot. Dare I believe it? When we won against Manchester United last season, I was confident that the lads would do well in the run in to the end and achieve 3rd or 2nd. Alas, we managed an astounding 4th spot. So you can imagine that my faith was slightly shaken, and I still have my doubts whether Arsenal have truly return from the dead and are soaring.
This doubts were slightly put to bed with the routine win against West Brom last week. It was as though we were treated to a show of the Arsenal of old. Dominating possession, passing the ball around with ease, scoring and winning.
Yet, you can’t help but still feel that Arsenal have not truly made a comeback yet. First off, most of our wins have been achieved at the Emirates. Apart from the win at the Bridge, the other victories were all at home games. Understand I am looking strictly at the league form, and not adding in the games in the CL and CC into my analysis. If we are to truly say that Arsenal is on the rise again, then we need to show that Arsenal is capable of winning, both at home and away. There was a season when we were unbeaten at home for the longest time ever, but all we won was, well nothing.
Next, the defense still needs to be sorted out. The defending at set pieces are atrocious to say the least, and should be stamped out if Arsenal wishes to continue its climb up the table. The weakness at defending set pieces is costly, and many teams have been looking to exploit at our inability to head the ball away from goal. Just look at the game against Chelsea, the first goal came from a corner. If we could defend set pieces most composedly, we wouldn’t find ourselves pegged on the back foot most of the time.
There is also the lack of cover for RVP, at the moment. We are still reliant on our skipper for goals. The forwards like Walcott and Gervinho have to share the responsibility, and relieve RVP of the burden of having to score bucket loads of the goal. However, that said, it is still early days, and the last few games have shown that the aforementioned players are capable of scoring a goal now and then.
So, Arsenal are on a run, and a winning streak at that. However, until we have won more games, both away and at home, and improve our defense further, there is a real danger of Arsenal dropping into the abyss. Again.