Happy Friday to you lovely Gooners. I hope this one finds you in particularly tip-top shape. It will need to be, because we head into a season-defining game way up there in Newcastle on Sunday. I’m heading up there myself today to partake in my regular frivolities with The Management’s family. Of course it was not a coincidence that Arsenal are playing!
That cheeky old rapscallion Arsene decided that he’d also head up to sample some of the local Newky Brown stuff too I see, having decided to have his press conference yesterday. At least I think he did. I’m seeing a lot of stuff to chew on content-wise and so rather than take a few minutes to check, I thought I’d just be lazy and guess.
Arsene spoke of Arteta’s unlikely appearance at the Wonga stadium and of who could replace him, possibly Jack Wilshire, but I think I’ll save my predicted line up thoughts for my pre-match blogginton on Sunday. Given what has been said about Jack needing surgery though, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has some alarm bells ringing when you wonder whether he should start. Let’s face it, Arsene’s record in the ‘gambling with players fitness’ stakes reads like Paul Merson’s account at William Hill. But we can ponder that over the coming days.
*Quick update* – turns out I’m not that lazy after all, and checked the Arsenal official site – looks like a classic Arsene ‘talk to Arsenal Player before the media hacks get here tomorrow’ job, so I’m sure he’ll spend an hour or two deflecting shots about signing Rooney for most of this morning.
Arsene also spoke about the impact that Cazorla has had this season, and I think it’s air to say that the diminutive Spaniard has been one of Arsene’s stellar signings of the last few years. With 12 goals and 12 assists in his debut season, plus the fact he’s been instrumental in so much that we do, it’s hard not to love little Santi. And for £12million he was an absolute snip. Yes, I know we sort of tool advantage of a club on its knees, but I’m afraid I can have no sympathy for those teams that live beyond their means. We get battered over the head about not signing players, but if you’ve not got a sugar daddy (I know they were SUPPOSED to have one, but that didn’t really work out) to bankroll you, then you can only look at the way you run your own house to find fault.
Santi has been superb though, hasn’t he? I agree with Arsene; how he has not made it into the team of the season really surprises me. Although I suspect it’s more to do with the fact he’s been playing in and Arsenal team that has not exactly hit the highest of heights. In the media’s eyes we’re a club in decline.
Which brings me nicely into another few bits of info added to the official site over the last 24 hours. Info about the fact that this seasons Arsenal team is one of only four teams in the history of the Premier League to have four players into double figures on the scoring charts. That’s quite a feat when you think that we’re now in the 20th year of the birth of the Premier League, and when you think about all of the great teams that have played in it, that’s not a bad accolade. I know you can find positive stats about anything these days, but I see this as a real plus point. I don’t know who the other three sides are (one might be Arsenal with Henry, Pires, Ljungberg and Bergkamp?), but I would imagine the United treble winning team would be in there. So not too bad company to be in there amongst some of the best teams that have existed in the Premier League.
I guess it goes to show you how we’ve shared the responsibility away from one man and handed it to many, mitigating our own risks of over-reliance and meaning that when we lose one player – like Giroud through suspension recently – there are others that can take up the slack. It’s what we all wanted after last seasons desperation for a certain Dutch player to stay fit, so now we have that we don’t all take a collective sharp intake of breath when any one player goes down clutching his ankle.
It is also interesting to look at the table and see that we have one of the best defences in the league. Let’s not forget that this is an Arsenal team that the media love to perpetuate as perennial offenders in the defensive stakes through their lazy journalism. But certainly with the increase in solidity at the back over the last month or so, we’ve seen an improvement in results as a consequence. It ent rocket science people, cut out the errors at the back and you take away the pressure on the forwards to score three or four goals a game. You do feel for Vermaelen, but based on the performance of the current two centre backs, you can’t see how he’s going to get back into the team.
Whilst we’re in the process of debunking some Arsenal myths about this season, let’s look at the points tally. If we win this weekend’s game against Newcastle, we’ll have finished a couple of points better off than last season. Now, I’m not suggesting that last season should be any kind of blueprint for success, but given we were predicted for mid table mediocrity by many of the moronic excuses for media professionals out there in TV, print and radio land, perhaps we should cut ourselves, and certainly the players, a teeny bit of slack. If the team can do the business against the Geordies on Sunday, we’ll have a platform to go out and pick up the two or three quality players we need to make that next step and challenge for honours. Perhaps we really are that close?
Or perhaps we’ll lose this weekend and I’ll be back to bemoaning the lack of investment, questioning whether Arsene is the right man and making idol threats about not renewing my season ticket. But of course I will. I’ll be there next season come rain or shine. But what I hope is that so is Champions League football.
We only have to wait a couple of days to find out.