Writer: Ozi Gooner
Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
Don't get me wrong Simmo mate, I would just like to say before I start that this is not intended as a piece denigrating your opinion it is just written to contrast and compliment your own from the other side of the fence.
Being the glass half-full sort of person that I am, at least with my football teams, I thought it my responsibility to take on the mantle of disputing our infamously and infinitely negative prediction guru Simmo on the topic of Arsenal's hopes for league glory. Although I am still sat firmly on the aforementioned fence as to whether or not the mighty Gunners will reclaim their place on top of the English football pile, I'm not as pessimistic about our chances as some others and I am simply highlighting the reasons why Arsenal winning the title this season is still a distinct possibility.
For starters there is the fact that we have only lost the one game, a statistic that is rather insignificant if, come May and the end of the season we have less points than United or Chelsea, but at the moment this stands as an immense measure of this teams 'fight' for lack of a better term. The fact that this loss came against Middlesborough, a team who will only stay in the Premier League not of their own merit, but due to the distinctly average teams that make up the bottom half of the table this season, is irrelevant - we were severely depleted by injuries and didn't help our selves by giving away a stupid and unnecessary penalty in the first minutes of the game. Aside from that one game, and with the notable exception of the recent shambles against Birmingham, Arsenal's resolve has been excellent. As with all title winning sides you must get results when things aren't really going your way (Liverpool, Blackburn) or when you simply don't perform to the standard you are capable of (Portsmouth, Man United, T*ttenham, Chelsea and Newcastle). Arsenal have added this dimension to their game and the points it has gained us so far this season are in the double figures, in the last two seasons it would have been 20 or more points in the minus column.
The talent in this side, and the team ethic promoted by both the manager and the style of football played is easily the best in the league. Chelsea have important players in different parts of the field, Drogba upfront, Lampard and Essien in the middle and Terry, Cech and Carvalho at the back, but lack the genuine all round equality and complementary pieces that Wenger has brought in or developed to complete the Arsenal jigsaw. Every player in the Arsenal first team is equally important and capable something that can not be said for United either. United, like Chelsea, have unequal parts to their machine. The defence is strong and will only get stronger with the return of Gary Neville and the adaptation of Hargreaves to the English game but, and it is a big, big but, they severley lack creative options further up the field. With this side Ol' Red/Purple (delete as you wish) Nose's plan is to counter the strong defensive qualities of his team with offensive virtuoso's such as the brilliant Ronaldo and Rooney and the inspirational Tevez, Nani would have been intended to have added to that trio but has not come good quite yet. The problem with this approach though is, as was clearly visible while Ronaldo was suspended earlier in the season, that when one is not playing the options for scoring become drastically reduced. I also remain unconvinced by the pairing of Tevez and Rooney, although time will tell on that one.
In a sense the above point about team equality and team work can be our down fall, as was evident at the Riverside when first team players were missing, it should be noted that we were minus 3 of 4 cogs in midfield, the only survivor being the much improved Tomas Rosicky, and also without another creative engine in the team the eternally absent RVP. Yet the absence of Robin for so long only further highlights the case for an Arsenal title come May, as with the man many a Gooner and pundit picked as the logical replacement for the departed Henry both for goals and excitement only having played 8 games so far this season we are doing fine, great you could say, without arguably the most talented player in a squad full of exceptional skill. His absence has been felt, don't get me wrong, his solo goals and knack of scoring when nobody else looks likely would have been invaluable in games such as Newcastle, Pompey, Boro and Birmingham but the fact we have coped so well without him is testament both to Adebayor and those who have directly replaced Van Persie, be it wither Eduardo or Hleb. The question to ask yourself here is how would Man United do without Rooney or Tevez for 3-4 months and how would Chelsea fair without Drogba, if the lotto chavs didn't just have 15 million to go spend on Le Sulk?
Leadership is another key issue. All great teams have great leaders. Man United had Keane, Chelsea have Terry, Milan have Maldini, Barcelona have Puyol and Arsenal have had in the recent past Adams and Vieira. A great footballer Henry was, of that there is no doubt, a great leader he was not, there is no doubting that either. Gallas though, a man who seemed an interminable pain in the arse-nal last season has become a warrior on the field for us this season. He directs when the team need direction, he calms when the situation calls for cool heads, he yells when players need a telling off as individuals or as a unit and he comes forward to score when all else has failed. This has had an amazing effect on team spirit and results this season. Having a legitimate organizer and leader in defence has lead to a lot of the stupid goals we conceded from corners and free-kicks in years past being cut-out and along with the inspirational performances, and heart of Toure has meant the team are very much led from the back.
So basically the point here is not that we will win the title, I am not going to risk that prediction, but that we do have what it takes over the 38 games. We are a match for any team in the world and on our day probably superior to all but whether or not we can recapture the form of August to November remains to be seen, if we can the title is ours for the taking, hopefully a positive performance against Fulham and signs of a team coming back to life are not a false dawn, and we can at the very least push the more experienced Chelsea and United all the way to the wire. Simmo says this team is still one for the future, I say the future is now! Why Not?
Article submitted by Vital Arsenal member, Ozi Gooner
Date:Tuesday January 22 2008
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