One-Man-Team jibes don’t suit Arsenal

Over the last few weeks, Arsenal have been on an incredible run of games, now winning 7 out of their last 8 matches in all competitions. I say its incredible because no one was giving them a chance to recover from their early season form and lack of world-class players. How they have turned the tide is a testimony to the resolve, commitment and rise of a new fighting spirit in this squad.

The media always seems to be on Arsenal’s back, finding reason after reason to launch accusations or ridicule towards the club. The latest one being, labelling Arsenal as a one man team. Much of Arsenal’s renaissance has to be attributed to Robin Van Persie. The Dutchman has been in scintillating form this season, having bagged 10 goals in the league and an additional 2 in Europe. While it is true that Arsenal depend heavily on  Van Persie  to score goals, calling Arsenal as a one man team is going too far. Van Persie has been scoring crucial goals for Arsenal this season, most notable being the brace against Sunderland, but underrated players like Arteta, Ramsey and Gervinho et al. have not been getting the attention that they deserve.

In my last post I praised Arteta for being consistent, while hoping for  Aaron Ramsey to finally deliver upon the promise, and he seems to have taken note of it : ). The Welshman has now provided two assists in the last two games both of them being of the highest quality. Elsewhere, Gervinho has suitably filled the gap left by Samir Nasri. The Ivorian is a tricky footballer to defend against because he always has a step over waiting for you. Against Chelsea, he effortlessly went past Bosingwa on multiple occasions as the Portugal international seemed confused as to when to tackle him. What this does is create space and time for the central midfielders to make late runs into the box. Also, Theo Walcott produced a good performance on the right-wing, putting in pin-point crosses  in the first half from which both Gervinho and Van Persie should have scored. Nonetheless, Walcott’s goal was just the reward that he deserved on the afternoon. The defending has always been appalling from Arsenal and will continue to be so, until Wenger changes his tactics of defending with a high backline. Against Chelsea, they were ripped apart in the opening 10 minutes because of the high backline, but were fortunate enough not to concede any goals. Only Laurent Koscielny has performed consistently at the back, and is proving to be an absolute rock at the heart of the defence. Koscielny is another player who has not been getting any attention, maybe because of the reason that he is a quiet lad and not a goal getter like Thomas Vermaelen.

One reason for Robin Van Persie’s scorching form maybe the reason that Arsenal have started playing a far more direct game as compared to the slow build up game, which was Arsenal’s trademark during the Fabregas era. This can prove to be a good platform for someone like Walcott as well, as he can be absolutely lethal with a sharp early ball played behind the defenders.

Every team has players around which the entire team is built. Manchester United had the Beckham era, the Ronaldo era and now the Rooney era. So have Arsenal had the Viera era, Henry era and the Fabregas era. Perhaps, they are now entering the Van Persie era and the Dutchman absolutely deserves the recognition. But in the process, due recognition and acclaim is also deserved by his teammates, who have shown tremendous heart to have comeback from the position they were in.

Mikel Arteta – Is he really under Fabregas’s Shadow

One of Arsenal’s frantic deadline day purchases was Arsene Wenger’s long term target Mikel Arteta. The 29 year old Spaniard, once part of the youth system at Barcelona has been a steady, if not spectacular, performer in the Premier League for quite some time now. His signing was one of the few bright spots during Arsenal’s tumultuous summer during which they lost their star players Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri. Although, Arteta was bought as a replacement for Fabregas, it is clearly evident that he is not in the same class of his compatriiot. However, what Arteta provides for Arsenal is versatality. He has had experience playing on the wings at Everton, and as central midfielder and as a central attacking midfielder. He is also a better tackler than Fabregas.

In my opinion, recent performances from Arteta have been extremely consistent. He is Spanish. He was part of Barcelona’s youth system. My point being, Passing is in his Genes. And this is what suits Arsenal. He was used as a central attacking midfielder on his debut against Swansea and he immediately showed his ability with two extremely well played through balls within the first ten minutes itself. However, in recent matches against Marseille, Sunderland and Stoke, Arsene Wenger has started using him in a slightly more deeper role while playing Aaron Ramsey in an advanced position. So instead of filling Fabregas’s boots, Arteta has started performing the role that Xabi Alonso performs so admirably for Real Madrid and Spanish national team.Spraying the ball throughout the match and helping Arsenal keep possession. And he is doing it extremely well.

While it may not be what the fans initially expected of him, but it has started paying dividends now as the Arsenal midfield now looks more compact than at the start of the season. He has forged a good understanding with the ever improving Alex Song, wherein one of them sits deep when the other one attacks, thereby always providing Ramsey or Rosicky with an option to pass the ball onto.

One criticism that I have regarding his game is that he plays too much through the centre.With Fabregas’s vision it was possible for Arsenal to play this way, but Aaron Ramsey has not yet shown the same capability.

Hopefully, Arsenal’s squad will start gelling together soon and Aaron Ramsey finally starts catering to his hype and you never know we can have the same old Arsenal back, playing football at its fluid best.