Since the start of this season we have been facing a lot of injury problems. At times we have been without 7 first team players. Still we have managed to remain at the top of the table. We have had to deal with a couple of loses on the way but that is part and parcel of the game. The most important thing is the performance and the way you deliver on the field. It’s still early in the season but the way things are moving we are in for one hell of a ride and hopefully it will have a great ending.
Last season we had the same injury problems and we did brilliantly to keep up with the top two till the end. It was however lost near the end as we lost too many of our first team players and our second string couldn’t cope with the pressure. It was also that our more experienced players couldn’t deliver at the right moment and in the big games. Points dropped against mid-table teams also made things difficult for us and add to that the mistakes committed by some of the players it became difficult to keep pace with the top two.
This season however it looks all changed. We have had the usual hiccup still it feels that this season it’s going to be different. The reason being that this season we have seen more than one player step up a gear and perform consistently. The change is visibly noticeable. It might all be due to that the players now know that if they don’t perform they are going to be dropped to the bench as other players are waiting in the line and they are performing. And also that we have gone without any silverware for quite some time. The other thing is the amount of options we have. It is good to have options but when all are performing than it becomes great. And when the players returning from the injury are also near the required level it becomes difficult, in a good way, to select your starting team before each game.
Last night’s game was no different. Our starting lineup was strong as was our bench. We didn’t play well yet managed to get the three points. When our usual performers failed to make an impact, the others stood up and took the initiative. It is games like these that define your season. We were patient and with every passing minute we were trying more harder. We never for once let our heads down and this is the type of attitude that most want to see.
Our whole team has greatly improved but a few players have been outstanding and they are discussed below:
The ones that have stepped up a gear:
Nasri: He really is changed player this season. Since his arrival we have seen glimpses of his brilliance but it never was consistent. This season however he has delivered in all matches and even in the West Brom game he was on a different level than the other players. He really has grown as a player and proving his worth. He is scoring goals, making assists, involved in all things good and even contributing in defence. He has physically improved his game and making some great runs under pressure and is not shy to take his chances.
Rosicky: He too has improved his performance and consistently delivering. Be it that he starts or comes as a substitute he has not disappointed this season. Last season many were calling for his removal as he didn’t deliver on a few occasions and his fitness was always questionable. This season however he has proved the doubters wrong. His fitness level has improved along with his game. He adds the experience and injects pace into our game with his quick, one-touch and direct passing. He is not afraid to shoot from range and his crosses are just brilliant. He has got a few assists and he just needs to add goals to his stats.
Walcott: The exclusion from the England squad has really made him increase the level of his game. Before getting injured he was on fire and after returning from the injury he still is on fire.
Fabianski: A number of high profile mistakes last season were enough for him to be removed from the squad. Wenger however kept faith in him and since starting games in goal this season he hasn’t disappointed. He has given a lot of assured performance and on the trot too. The Man City game especially was the one where he showed his true form. Hopefully he maintains the same level because he won’t be spared again if he makes another mistake.
Players that have been effective but have come under criticism:
Arshavin: He lately has come under a lot of criticism due to not being involved much in the game. Other than that he has been very effective as his stats show. He has scored goals and provided major assists. He is not afraid to test the keeper from range and some of his runs are amazing. If he can only show some more involvement on the field and help the team more in defence, the criticism would go away.
Song: He too has changed as player. Last season he turned into a very good holding player but this season he has been venturing forward a lot. Up front he has been effective and consistent but he has disappointed a bit in his defensive duties. He has been lately making more fouls, losing possession and getting caught out of position. For this he has been criticized. Still his contribution upfront is well worth the lapse in his defensive duties although I would like him to keep it disciplined at the back. If he can do both jobs effectively then there is no harm. Last night he was all over the pitch. Defensively superb, offensively outstanding. That is what is required and after yesterday I feel the criticism will vanish.
The New Signings:
Chamakh: He has been great signing till now. Good work rate, always playing for the team, scoring goals, helping in defence and have won us a lot of penalties. He is a threat on set pieces and links up the play well. He has adjusted into our team seamlessly. Great season ahead for him.
Koscielny: He has been solid. He has committed a few mistakes; otherwise his ability to read and anticipate the game is awesome. He is good in making tackles and interceptions and never afraid to challenge on the high balls. His distribution his good and he can score goals too. Good signing.
Squillaci: He has also been solid. Does his job quietly and seldom makes mistakes. You will not notice him on the field but he is always present at the right place and making vital contributions. Also a good signing.
Wilshere: I have included him in new signing because he has returned from loan and that is just like a new signing and he hasn’t disappointed a bit. Rather it has made some of the other players starting in doubt. He is good in his movement, in his passing and in his defensive duties; he has scored goals and provide some valuable assists. He is what you call a complete midfield player and at his age that is quite an achievement. He needs to be more careful in making tackles though. Surely more to come from him when he returns from his suspension.
Players to look forward too:
Bendtner: He has missed most of the starting games due to his injury but he has made a flying return. With two well taken goals already to his name, surely Wenger is going to have a hard time in selection.
Szczesny: Staying true to his words, Szczesny didn’t disappoint a bit in his first appearance of the season. Still one performance is not enough to make judgment but we know now what we have in backup and what to expect. Certainly looking forward to more appearances from him.
Lansbury: He also impressed in his appearance against Tottenham and surely we have got another good player waiting in line.
JET: Wenger has spoken a lot about JET and his abilities. If what Wenger says is true, then surely we are going to see him sooner rather than later.
Other than these Fabregas, Sagna, Eboue are doing great. Clichy, although he was great yesterday, and Djourou need to improve their positioning and ability to read the game. Vela needs to make most out of the chances he gets. Denilson needs to step up a gear if he is to be selected regularly. We still have Vermaelen, Van Persie, Ramsey, Diaby, Gibbs and Almunia out with injuries. Besides these we have a long list of under-21s that are waiting in line so you can clearly see the amount of options we have.
It has been a good start although there is still a lot of room for improvement. We have to keep the momentum going by being consistent. We have to go game-by-game and never take any team lightly. Looking back to the defeat at the hands of West Brom, I feel that we have learnt the lesson. The loss made us realize that good and technically superior players won’t make you win a match, though it can be an advantage. Performance on the day is what matters. It showed the reality where our team stood. Although it was a bitter blow but it came at the right time and what matters most is how you move on from such a defeat.
Seeing our response, we are moving in the right direction and I hope that it continues and games like West Brom never happen again. We have to further step up a gear or two and if injuries don’t plague our rest of the season we are in with a great chance. Looking forward to a great season and a great ending, fingers crossed.
Keep the faith!