Friday, October 05, 2012

Why 2012/2013 could be Arsenal's season

By Chris Gouw.

For two successive Summer transfer windows, Arsenal FC, have sold their 2 best players, one to a rival club and the other to Barcelona, and yet somehow, Arsene Wenger has managed to make the team look stronger not only on paper, but on the field as well. I firmly believe that this season, will be the best for Arsenal football club in years, and may end our Silverware drought, that has bogged us down for so long.

And here are the 5 reasons as to why:

Team chemistry
Lack of a big ego
Great transfer deals
The “Bould” effect
The transformation of Mikel Arteta

In truth all 5 are inter-related somehow, and form this wonderful football club we have at the moment, but I will discuss each point in detail and why they might lead us to glory.

Team Chemistry
Something that I think cost us greatly last season and the season before is team chemistry. It wasn’t that we didn’t have it all, our chemistry was on show in all those comeback wins we had. But at times I thought we looked out of it, disinterested, unmotivated, and this had something to do with the players chemistry between one another. Of course, we will never know for sure what’s going on behind the scenes, unless one of them writes a book about it. But I think there was certainly some sort of rift between the players and somehow, it led Robin van Persie to believe that we weren’t interested in the winning whether it was true or not, I guess we will never know, but the outcome of it was, we lost not only Robin, but Song as well.
Lose bad eggs, add talent and motivation = Right Chemistry
This season however, it seems like our players are finally gelling together. On the field, Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud are already working well as a team, Arteta has been simply immense. The back line is moving back and forth as one now and we no longer look like the headless chickens we did at times last season when we got countered. The link up play between Cazorla, Arteta and Podolski has also been influential in the games against Liverpool and Southampton and will be important if Arsenal is to break their trophy drought this season. On the training pitch, team chemistry has been evident as well. They seem happy playing together, working together, and are always seen having a laugh or having fun. This may seem like a small thing. But it will definitely be important in the later stages of the season, especially when if/when we lose form and the going gets tough, the players must be able to pick each other up if they are to win a trophy this season.

A lack of a big ego
One man team they called us. To be honest, we really were. 40% of our goals were scored by Robin van Persie last season. That means 4 out of every 10 goals Arsenal scored, were finished by RVP. That’s the definition of over-reliance right there. We were lucky that more teams did not just try to man mark him. He saved us on so many occasions. Winning a man of the match award once every 3 games, he was invaluable to the team. Alex Song was a strange case, but I think his ego played some part in it as well.
Big Ego, big hair, big loss NOT
In the last 2 or 3 years, we have gradually lost a group of players such as Robin and Alex. All these players seem to have this idea that they are better and/or more important than the club. This “better than the club” mentality was prominent with the transfers of Van Persie to United and Nasri to Man City. Both these players moved on to our modern rival clubs. Many criticise Wenger for selling our top players, but I think what he did was right. We have replaced the players with the “better than the club” mentality with players that love our club, and love playing for our club. I think this is important if we are to be in contention for titles and trophies this year. You can see this with the way we celebrated Koscielny’s goal vs. Manchester City this season. I don’t think we did something like that at all last season after we scored…
Feels like team spirit – Oh Yes boys!
Great Transfer Deals
Santi Cazorla – I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE WE SIGNED HIM. He is by far, Arsene’s best transfer deal in the past 4-5 years. Santi is easily Real Madrid and Barcelona standard, and perhaps would’ve ended up there if it weren’t for his age, his move to Malaga for big money last season and the fact they already have enough creative midfielders. If he was English he would have easily cost us £35m+ but thank god for Arsene, because we managed to get him for only around £15 million reportedly. Long range shooting, prominent with both feet, free kicks, incredible dribbling and passing skills that are up there with the likes of Xavi, Ozil and Iniesta. Santi Cazorla has everything you want from a Creative midfield player. Not only does he finally fill that void left by Cesc Fabregas 2 years ago, but he adds so much more.  He is also versatile and can play on the wings or holding midfield if required.  Able to play both left and right side. In short, he is amazing.
I Can’t believe we got these 2 guys
Lukas Podolski was also another great addition. Unlike Cazorla who was filling a void left by someone, I feel that Podolski was not meant to fill the void left by Van Persie. He is now essentially playing as a Left wide Midfielder, linking up brilliantly already with, Cazorla, Arteta and Gibbs. The left flank at Arsenal FC looks complete now. Gervinho was far too inconsistent last season, and Ramsey was definitely not suited playing on the wings. Podolski also adds a clinical finisher to the team, another free kick taker (as shown by his beauty vs Southampton), a friend to Per Mertesacker and most importantly experience. He has 100 caps in international level. His vast experience on the big stage will be vital for Arsenal FC this season.

Olivier Giroud… to be brutally honest, I doubted that he would be successful at Arsenal. I honestly even thought Solomon Kolou might have been better. (??????) We could’ve done better. Edin Dzeko would have been amazing. Clint Dempsey would have been superb and is always criminally underrated. Olivier Giroud? His movement is impressive I will admit. But I think his position on the pitch (as a target-man CF) does not suit our game style. As long as Arsene has faith in him however, so will I, and hope he will start banging in goals soon. Or he could prove to be another Chamakh. But I will keep my faith.

The “Bould” effect
The term coined in by Arsenal fans due to Steve Bould’s involvement and influence on this current Arsenal team, in particular when we are without the ball. The Arsenal defence has been outstanding this season. I know it is early. I know we have a long way to go, but we look SO MUCH better than last season don’t we? We defend as a team, and attack as a team, yet when opposing teams break, I don’t skip a heartbeat and close my eyes waiting for them to score, because I have faith on whoever is defending, our back line is defending as a line, compact and deep, and it is great to see. We have only conceded 6 goals in 8 games so far this season. In the first 10 games last season we conceded 19 goals (including the 8 against United, though I think if you looked at the starting XI that day, we were always on a hiding to nothing). That says it all really. Steve Bould has done an immense job.
Bould Effect?
Another thing I have observed is that in attack while we play the standard 4-2-3-1 with Cazorla in the trequartista role with (the currently injured) Diaby and Arteta behind him. We change into a 4-4-1-1 with Podolski and Chamberlain dropping to left and right midfield roles leaving Cazorla in the space between the midfield line and Giroud/Gervinho. What this has meant is that we have played a very rigid, compact, deep defensive line, ensuring that the opposition could not get close enough to the box to get a shot in. This was very prominent in the Liverpool game.

Last season we looked frail, weak, fragile and lazy at the back, in particular against a team who can play long, or are good against set pieces, this season however (barring the Chelsea game) we looked composed, confident and our work rate has been superb, especially Jenkinson and Gibbs on the flanks. It is very promising to see. Steve Bould might just be the best signing Arsenal make this season…

The transformation of Mikel Arteta
Arteta, our vice-captain for a good reason! He is the heartbeat of our team he really is, if he is not ticking, the Arsenal team are not ticking. This was obvious in the Chelsea game because when he was mistiming his passes or tackles, Arsenal would not tick also. Everyone knows of his passing count and passing accuracy stats this season. However, all this was much the same for us last season. So what has changed this season? In short his positioning has. Last season he was our main creative outlet along with Alex Song. They would at times, work in tandem, when Song moved up the field Arteta would sit back, when Arteta would move up, Song would sit back. It worked beautifully most of the time, but some of the time, Song would go up when Arteta moved up, and there would be huge gaping holes between our defensive line and midfield and this cost us many goals and many points.
The transformation of Mikel Arteta
This season however, we have bought a proper trequartista / Creative attacking midfielder in the form of Cazorla which means Arteta can now sit back and be a holding midfielder for 90 minutes. It has been simplicity at its best. Song got criticised last year for lacking composure and not playing for the team, but I think it was just too complicated. Fluidity is good, but too much of a good thing can have negative consequences. What Steve Bould has done I think, has made things simple. Not sure whether this was Steve Bould’s influence as well, but Podolski’s work rate in defence has been a pleasure to on the left wing as we were too used to seeing Gervinho or Arshavin not supporting Gibbs at times last season.

I think most of you know why the holding midfielder/ Defensive role that Arteta plays now is important in any team but here is a great piece on it: EPL index

In conclusion, we have made vast improvements from last season, that much is obvious, but what pleases me is how much more potential we have got, Jack Wilshere just started in his first game for the under 21s after 14 months. Frimpong is back, Sagna is back and Rosicky is back in training. It is important to note that the Chelsea game did not really mean much in terms of our development and long term contention, because in truth, Chelsea always had a better squad than us (Editor disagrees!) and we were out-played tactically as well and lacked lady luck. But what counts is how we come back from it. It is sad to see Diaby injured again. As he was finally showing the promise and potential Wenger has been telling us in the past few seasons. He really looked like the final missing piece of the Arsenal starting XI that wasn’t a holding midfielder, but rather a ball-playing, rampaging mid-fielder, in the mould of Yaya Toure or Patrick Vieira. I hope he comes back soon. The Walcott situation I won’t discuss, as I don’t think we know enough about it to be honest, as most of it is happening behind doors. But I would not be too fussed if he left in January, as long as we get a good enough replacement.

It’s not that we are moving two steps back one step forward, but rather, I think we are moving one step back two steps forward. Yes it is annoying. But people must understand that we do not have the financial power (and irresponsibility) of the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, the Mancunians, Chelsea etc. we can’t compete with them in transfers. But what they have in individual stars, we can match as a whole team. I don’t think we will win the UCL or EPL no matter how much I would like to believe it, but we are due for a trophy this season. Whether it is the Capital One Cup or F.A Cup that is the question.



  1. Good insights. I just hope giroud fights and ends the season well.

  2. Clap!Clap!Clap!. Best readings of the month. Good review. Once in awhile out comes some positive review froma true fans. Keep it up. GoGunners4Eva.

  3. UCL might be difficult but looking at chelsea last year, i want to believe. anything can happen in football