Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunderland vs Arsenal: A game for the fans to introspect?

By Rohit Arora.

Well, I admit that the title may seem dubious to many but then, this piece is specifically written for them who find it so. First of all, cheers to 3 points fully deserved, made hard to earn in a typical Arsenal style, creatively moulded by the red carded Jenkinson though. There is nothing to blame the referee – both the tackles were a little reckless and could have been avoided; this, in particular, will be a part Jenkinson will have to work on; his performance, apart from the two tackles, was cheerful. But somehow, when he made the first of his tackles, I got a feeling that he was not in the mood to play soft today; the second tackle was something I could sense. Those complaining of not substituting Jenkinson on time should realize that the manager refrained due to lack of options at the back and it’s not like we had a 2-goal lead (which was just coming, any minute now). But as the Gods of football always want to see – Arsenal were plundered. 

Szczesny played a crucial role in Arsenal's win over Sunderland

Now comes the time, and the reason, what sparked me to give that dubious, if not utterly insane by now, title to the article. In the last 32 minutes that Arsenal played with 10 men, we saw something, something that we always knew was there but were slowly losing our belief in – The Arsenal, the Arsenal of the past, of today, made by players slowly, one by one, grouped by Arsene Wenger with great belief in their abilities. So let’s see what exactly our Arsenal and its players brought to us –

First, our team didn't give up, or lose hope, or surrender in fear, or even sit back. We attacked, played our natural course of football, beautiful and fluid. And more, we defended, like a team; each player shared the responsibility and contributed well. There is no doubt that we dominated the game since the beginning but the fact that we didn't completely lose out on the hold and continued with a slimy, though dangerous, grip on the game even after going a man down, showed the true quality of the team and showed how much the manager’s typically used jargon – belief and mental strength – held true. 

Aaron Ramsey

Second, I think it was the third or fourth game in a row in which Ramsey excelled and, boy, did he excel. Apart from a few sloppy passes in the beginning, he was tremendous in the midfield and played like an Arsenal player. You could see why he was once touted to be a great player and you could see why Arsene still sees him to be that. Even when moved to the right back role, which, by the way, he accepted with no complaints, he played great and looked equally comfortable in sitting back and going forward. 

Third, the people who doubted Giroud are proved wrong by him time and again. He wasn't great today, but we have to agree that the guy has a strong physical presence in the field. He won countless headers, won the ball in the middle with solidity and moved in a number of good positions. He does need to work on his decision in front of the goal but we need to keep in mind that it still is his first season and he has been under tremendous pressure to deliver goals – both being equally powerful when it comes to impacting a player’s performance.

Now, the fourth and the final point – Can anyone name the bench we had today? Well, we had Podolski, Chambo and Rosicky (who didn’t play) and Diaby (who did). Okay, I won’t count Diaby since no one knows how long he will be there. Still, we had 3 players with undoubted ability to impact games positively on bench, a good sign again. With Koscielny and Vermaelen not too far from returning back into their full action, the team looks to be in good shape. 

And why the hell did I point all those things out? There is just one reason – a player, the next favourite of fans after the ‘sloppy play from arsenal’, ‘poor defence’, ‘pathetic Ramsey’, ‘senseless Giroud’ and ‘lack of depth’, called Gervinho is coming back into the team next week. We could chaff him like we always do with all the players (and the manger) after their poor performance or we could try to believe in him, for once, because he is an Arsenal player and because the manager still sees something in him.

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