Arsene Cechmates Jose. So what now for Arsenal?
two can play this game
As much I love supporting Arsenal, I do believe that the team that Arsene has tailored together in the past two seasons is, in some way, below par top clubs in England, let alone Europe. That obviously reflected on the team’s title chances this year, having to make a late dash at the second half of the season and managing to clinch a champion’s league spot without having to play that extra qualifier game. A season of progress for sure, but short of any proper ambition to reach the stature of what the club pretends to be.
This was why Sanchez, the bubbly, energetic and always happy on the ball Chilean wasn’t really happy with the FA cup. Sure, the cup has history, prestige and everything else that a domestic cup brings but it is nowhere near where fans, and players themselves, think the level should be.
And rightfully so.
Unfortunately, this team isn’t Champions league material either. One might explain that we got far too unlucky to meet good teams earlier on, but that’s what’s champions league is about, isn’t it? Facing the best of the best is part and parcel of the competition and not having to face a decent side on the way would be almost like going to a Korean opera; all style but no substance. The fact that Arsenal struggled to beat Marseille last season puts an even bigger question mark on whether we really do have the strength stay on the completion anyways.
So what has to change?
To be fair, it’s a very tricky question. Arsene is still the right guy. He’s intelligible, convincing and very good at the negotiating table. He did it with Ozil and Sanchez and now he managed to get someone who I wouldn’t have dreamed in my wildest dreams that he would play for us; Petr Cech. On the field, his tactics is changing as well; every game isn’t the same old arsenal. With the players we now have, it’s shifted gears into a more dynamic, unpredictable brand of football that wasn’t the hallmark of our play a few seasons back.
There isn’t much problem with squad depth as well. For every position we have, there are at least two if not three solid players competing in that area of the field. The experienced Debauchy over younger, pacier Hector, Ramsey over Wilshire, Gibbs over Monreal, Ozil over Carzola or even Rosicky, Giroud over Walcott over Welbeck, Sanchez over..well no one. The fact that I haven’t even considered naming our captain shows volumes of how this team has evolved since arrival of Das Ozil.
So you wanted to talk about change no?
Right, I am getting on to that. Since the early days of watching cartoon football to actually enjoying real football, I have seen two critical positions that seems to affect how a team performs. Unlike most people who tend to focus on a strong midfield structure, I feel that the two outlying positions are of critical importance. That is to say the guy in between the sticks and the guy shooting the ball to the other guy between the sticks.
Looking in pure footballing terms, winning and losing depends on who puts the ball on the net. That means for a team, the defense starts from bottom up, the golie leading the charge while on the other hand, the attack has to be a top down approach with the central attacker leading the way. When a team has two balanced, equally reliable players on either end of the pitch, the team has a greater chance of actually winning a silverware, given that they are both fit throughout.
With all the title winning seasons arsenal had, you can see the same trend. Two solid leaders on either pitch.
That’s pretty obvious.
So obvious that we seem to not focus on them as we do on midfield or on defense. Bringing in a finished article on both ends is what big teams do, and Arsenal doesn’t. Instead, Arsene relies on pacier, tactically mature midfielders and defenders to do the job. Thierry Henry, a pundit now on Skysports, touched on the fact that Giroud wasn’t the leader and the goal scorer Arsenal need to win titles and I think he has a point.
I love Giroud but he just isn’t. Compare him to the players we had in that position, even the flying crazy bastard Dutchman, and you can see where Henry is coming from.
Arsenal is now a bit bottom heavy then.
I wouldn’t call it bottom heavy. But bringing in a proven world class keeper brings a breath of fresh air to the defense. It’s the first step. The crucial step. I know that because I was a golie before and our team always lost because I didn’t even have confidence in myself, let alone the team. Cech is a HUGE figure and there’s no doubt Jose hasn’t got much sleep in the past couple of days because he knows, with the right addition on top, it’s going to be a very tough title race next season.
So top light then?
Imbalanced for sure. We will get in those single points chipping, but for that extra two, the defining two, we need that animal.
If we look at our attacking options, leaving young Akpom and Gnabry aside, we have Walcott who can play on the right and central role, Danny Welbeck playing on attacking flanks and on the center as well and Giroud, our only pure central forward. You will notice that, comparing to top sides in Europe, our team is nowhere as polished.
Sanchez is more of a bulldozer of a player who wipes and slides and goes around from left to right and from right to left. What I saw was complete freedom from Arsene to roam, kick, defend, attack. Anything. He’s the guy who produces in big games (that holy shit! goal in FA final that left you grinning the whole of next week and the week after that) and he’s the one who will lead the team, for sure.
But not now.
You see, the copa America shite show that’s going now will leave Sanchez out for a good number of opening games that arsenal are going to play. We will see him more involved in the champions league but to get the momentum going from the start, it’s going to be very, very difficult for the team unless one of the aforementioned players step up.
Which is why it’s quite worrying.
Arsene’s strength is also his fault at times. He trusts his players to come good but at the cost of some serious points on board. Giroud showed some sparkling form last season going on to score regularly on ten games but then mellowed out and lost his place to Walcott for the FA cup final. It was quite obvious that Henry’s remark on how Giroud won’t win Arsenal titles had a very negative impact on Mr. Sensitiv (*needs French accent*).
Priority on getting a proven goal scorer than?
Arsenal kept the record of the most goal scorers in any league in Europe last season. Goals were coming from everywhere to be quite honest. But the X-factor of a central striker who not only bulldozes but has natural aura of a leader with an eye in goal will be crucial.
With stories of Vidal emerging and then disappearing and then re-merging again, the likelihood that he’s going to show up on training ground is far too unlikely but it does look like Arsenal are looking in to sharpen up the other end after making Jose, a very unhappy, grumpy old man.
Wouldn’t mind Costa joining in though!