Arsenal have reasons to be cheerful

I was asked to metaphorically cut the metaphorical tape with metaphorical scissors for the not-metaphorical launch of Chapman’s Goal, so here’s the article which is the metaphor for the cutting of said metaphorical tape. You can follow them on Twitter here, and check out the original article here, if it makes any difference to you, or love it so much you want to read it again but with a slightly different setting.

The headlines at Arsenal this summer have been the departures. Robin van Persie and, more recently, Alex Song, both packed their bags and spat in the face of/were gladly helped out of the door by (delete as applicable) the man who made them what they are. Following the precedents set by recent seasons, in which first team players have left and we’ve failed to win a trophy, the media have automatically assumed the same will happen again.

Poor media. Their blindness to the positives at Arsenal will inevitably come back to bite them in the, ahem, arse. It’s happened before when they predicted us to finish outside the top four, and those who don’t think we’ll challenge will be chewing the bland, rubbery humble pie they know so well at the end of the season. They should know better.

The reason for my confidence is what the media have overlooked – the quality of the replacements Arsenal have brought in. Van Persie’s departure has been offset not only by the signings of international strikers Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud but also Santi Cazorla, who I’m sure I don’t need to tell you anything about. Except those that are calling him “Carzola”. Stop that.

It’s important that people realise Van Persie was so important to us because we didn’t properly replace Cesc Fabregas – Aaron Ramsey was in no way ready for ‘the Cesc role’, and because the most central (in terms of location and importance) role was being filled by someone not quite up to the task, we suffered, and Van Persie was required to win us games on his own.

Later, Tomas Rosicky began to make the role his own, and it’s no coincidence that the loss of Van Persie’s form went fairly unnoticed at the time. The vital piece of the puzzle was sufficiently placed by Rosicky, and our efficiency increased – Van Persie wasn’t the only way we could win games, as demonstrated by a 3-0 win over Aston Villa with no contribution from The Lying Dutchman.

Still, Rosicky was only an adequate stop gap, and the perceived wisdom was that Arsenal would need someone to fill the Cesc-shaped hole properly – especially with the Czech’s injury problems which have unsurprisingly crept up once more.

For once, our luck was in, and we managed to wrest Santi Cazorla from Malaga’s relenting grasp due to their financial problems which came fairly out of the blue. Cazorla is, let’s be honest, not quite as good as Cesc. Very few players are. But since Cesc’s time at Arsenal, some of the players he was surrounded by have matured, and we’ve brought in others to improve the team.

Per Mertesacker was brought in last season, and should have adapted more to the league so as to be able to better instil his calming influence and exemplary reading of the game. Laurent Koscielny became one of the best defenders in the league last season. Thomas Vermaelen, despite occasional struggles last season, should improve with the added responsibility of the armband, and for once we’ll have a captain who can lead as a general, rather than a soldier, if that analogy makes any sense whatsoever.

Moving up the pitch, Mikel Arteta was superb last season with his precise passing, retention of possession and positional discipline and will continue to use his experience to help the side. Jack Wilshere, touch wood, returns in October, and will add guile and energy to the midfield. Abou Diaby is another who is hoping to put an injury nightmare behind him, and while performances might be inconsistent to start with, he has the potential to be an important player for this team.

It’s hard to place Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in this article, as he could be in the midfield paragraph or forwards paragraph, but I imagine he’ll play as a wide player this season give that we need a less direct option who’s happy to help keep the ball and probe against deep-sitting, bus-parking opposition. After a season under his belt he’ll have improved, as will his competitors on the flanks, Theo Walcott and Gervinho, who both showed signs of that in pre-season.

Lukas Podolski will also play out wide, but will be vying also for that central spot with Olivier Giroud also in contention. Last season Van Persie was our only option, with Chamakh a stuttering, nervous wreck and Park possibly not existing. This season we’ll be able to rotate up front, as well as in other positions, meaning we’re much less predictable.

And finally a mention to our new signing, Nuri Sahin. At the time of writing he’s not been confirmed officially, but I’ve already been assured I can order my Turkey away shirt with ‘Sahin 10’ on the back without worrying the move will fall through. At Dortmund he was fantastic, and while a loan deal is always slightly disappointing, he’s sure to be a great asset this season, and will allow for even more rotation and, by extension, unpredictability.

All in all, Arsenal’s options, on paper, look promising. An opening day draw against Sunderland has drawn criticism from some quarters, but teams don’t click overnight, and this one will need time to begin firing. The team showed classic signs (I’m sounding like a shrink) of being a team in need of time to gel and in particular patience, and they deserve that before our fans start ripping their hair out and throwing it at Arsène Wenger. Who, by the way, knows more about football than pretty much everyone who has criticised him.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have his faults, but look at our signings this summer – Olivier Giroud, top scorer in Ligue 1 in a title-winning side who came from nowhere to clinch it; Lukas Podolski, 18 goals in a relegated side and over 100 caps for Germany; Santi Cazorla, widely acclaimed as the best player outside of La Liga’s ‘big two’ and winner of 46 caps in a Spain midfield including Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta; and finally Nuri Sahin, Bundesliga Player of the Year in 2011. I could list more accolades, but I’ve written too much as it is.

So that’s four fantastic additions from Wenger, and many more reasons to be cheerful at the Emirates. It may well be a far better season than many are predicting. I for one am looking forward to it.

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11 responses to “Arsenal have reasons to be cheerful”

  1. Dgob says :

    Well said,

    Lot’s to look forward to and an equal amount of old baggage to leave behind.

  2. Sebastian says :

    “Cazorla is, let’s be honest, not quite as good as Cesc”

    I’m not sure this is an accurate comment.

    As good as Cesc was/is, I feel, and in 100% honesty always did feel he was very very slightly over-rated. He wasnt as good as Vieira or Petit in my opinion. Very good at passing, didnt score enough goals.

    From what I have seen, Cazorla has more strings to his bow, I’d argue he is actually more complete, as he can play in more positions and has a better shot. I’m not sure I’d swap them back!

    • Sam Drew says :

      Bear in mind that Cesc was my first proper hero as I grew up with him emerging, but I just can’t agree with that. I think if anything people underrate him – he was incredibly consistent, so much so that I can name two games in which he wasn’t good (West Ham and Newcastle when he wasn’t fully fit in 2010/11). Remember he was roughly 20 when he was running games for us.

      Other than being two-footed, I don’t think Cazorla is more complete than Cesc. To me, Cesc is one of the most complete players in the world – he can tackle, head, finish, dribble, pass over short and long distances, shoot from range, dictate play, he’s pretty much the complete midfielder. You could play him anywhere in midfield/attack, as Barcelona do, and he’ll be great. He’s basically the world’s greatest utility player there.

      I disagree with the ‘didn’t score enough goals’ and Vieira, Petit and Cazorla are all odd players to be comparing him to in that aspect (Vieira & Petit odd players to compare in general as they weren’t tasked with attacking very much) because none of them are known for goal-scoring. Cesc didn’t score consistently over seasons but he had a couple of fantastic seasons goals-wise, scoring 16 in 07/08 and 19 in 09/10.

      • thegoon says :

        totally disagree- cesc was not complete he did not produce as many goals as he should have, was slow and not with as musch trickey as santi, cesc left too early, santi is at his peak and so we will see more goals than we did with cesc. in terms of assists, ofcourse cesc was with us longer but i cann assure u santi will probably have more or bar the same tatio per game

    • Matthew Daryl says :

      exactly bro youre spot on with your rating of Santi. He’ll be more influential than cesc ever was.

  3. Us ayu says :

    Wenger! With “panic buy” as english media term it,still U manage 3rd pos, Pls right now u ve professionals not leaner,calm ur mind,do the right sub even when two goal down b4 half time and remember we may complain u remain the moses of our time from highbury 2 Emirate…Lead us right….In Arsene we Trust

  4. The Real Gooner says :

    Well I see things so differently to you only one of us can be anywhere near right……AWs tactics have been rumbled O’Neill showed that at the weekend. Giroud is Bendtner 2…..Podolski will be played out of position Arshavin 2…Cazorla won’t be properly supported, he’s already calling for replacements…..Sahin probably lyrics won’t come…probably no one will and the big question; if we don’t make top 4, and I do think think we will, will AW go? Probably not….btw I do hope I’m wrong…

    • Sam Drew says :

      Much, much too early to judge! Have patience and faith in Arsene’s signings, he knows what he’s doing.

    • kulastu says :

      How is Giroud Bendtner 2???? He has played 20 minutes in the Premier League – give me strength!!!! This is why sometimes players do not play to their potential – they are not given a chance. Giroud is going to be a fantastic signing, he has shown me enough in the 2 pre season games that his movement is awesome. Yes he should have scored on Saturday but he had only been on for 10 minutes – the first 10 minutes he has ever played in the Premier League, Come on let’s be more positive – we have only just signed him. Trust me his no Chamakh!!!!!

  5. ayo says :

    If truly Sahin is coming and Another defensive midfielder comin too then we are going places Insha Allah. Good time await us soon.. We are shocking the world soon

  6. Josh says :

    Fab was fabulous. Cazorla is an opposition surgeon. Right-left shots & through-balls. Don’t dare compare them, pleeease?

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