Wednesday, October 24, 2007


In Arsene we trust

At the start of this season there were a few doubting voices rounds Emirates Stadium as non believers questioned the wisdom of Le Boss. Selling Henry so soon after seeing Vieria leave and have no one replace them was seen as a bad move and that as a club we were saddled by massive debt. The sales of Henry and Vieria with no big signings coming were percieved as weakness while around clubs were spending water like a drunk at the end of happy hour. In a magazine interview Arsene said trust me. Most of us did of course but there's always a few, every club has them.

Here we are now, nearly in November and the doubters have crawled back under their toadstools while plaudits rain down from the printed and on line media after a sumptuous Fabregas/Walcott inspired Arsenal put Champions League newboys Slavia Prague to the sword. Observers are running out of superlatives while Arsene, in his soft, understated manner says this team still is still perhaps running 80% short of its full potential. Should the rest of English football be afraid? Very afraid?

You can't knock a run that has seen us drop two points, thanks to Jens Lehmann, up at Blackburn. A run that has seen us score 11 goals without reply in Europe. Seen our next generation brush a full strength Newcastle aside in the Carling Cup and has seen us score 21 goals in the Premiership. And seen us win the Emirates and the Ajax Amsterdam pre season tournaments. Kind of difficult to knock many holes in that really isn't it.

People try though. We haven't played any of the big teams. Yeap, sorry about that. Perhaps in football you can only play the teams you've been scheduled to play.

You've only played three away games in the league. Yeap. West Ham and Blackburn who have been bogey teams and Tottenham, let's not go there.

You made hard work of beating Sunderland and Bolton. Yeap. You know the type of numbnuts who plucks this chestnut out of the sky? The same numbnuts who last season said we didn't know how to win dirty. How to scrap.

You're beating easy teams. Yeap. And you know what, it's putting points on the board. What would you rather have, points on the board now or play catch up later? Ask Rafa what he would prefer.

This Arsenal team are not yet the finished article. Forget experience and strength because they are coming with every game. There are though areas on the pitch that cause concern. Adebayor has been causing problems for defenders all season and of course he works hard but he worries when going one on one with the keeper. It will come, I'm sure, if it doesn't then he'll be out but Arsene will be aware of this part of his game if I am and they'll be doing something about it. He can do it, witness the peach he scored against Tottenham last year?

Carry on Emmanuel. Eboue. Hot tempered, rash yet blessed with pace, Eboue needs to breathe a bit deeper at times. He seems to have kicked out the rolling around that sickened many last season, next he wants to think a bit more about the game. His drive, high and wide, against Bolton was worthy of the Liga Indonesia but in England it should be more controlled. Breaking the net would be nice but you wonder whether Gary Lewin carries a needle and thread with him just in case.

Central defence. Senderos needs games; the more games the more confidence then we could indeed see a Swiss Tony Adams. Instead we get a bit part player frayed at the edges. Problem is with Arsenal pushing for big trophies this season they don't have the time to blood a new defender. Personally I think it would have been better for Senderos to go on loan and get games while Djourou, who looks unflappable, stay and be a gap fill. But then in Arsene we trust.

And then we have the goalkeeper. Mad Jens and Peroxide Manuel. What a choice. Wenger doesn't like spending big on goalies. He signed Richard Wright and probably felt so guilty he paid the club back. (Expensive year for AW that 'cos he also brought in Francis Jeffers!)

Things are going well with the team that Arsene built part III and you can be sure Sir Alex is fully aware if the threat Arsenal pose to him keeping the Premiership. But with this team you can see Arsene looking forward, beyond even May 2008 when the medals are handed out. Arsene, with his new bust now ensconsed at Emirates is aware of the history of The Arsenal and you can be sure he has his eye on a couple of landmark achievements. First, he would love to be the first Arsenal manager to win back to back titles since the 1930's. Second? Moscow, 2008. He wants that so much...

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