Written by Mean Lean on Friday, 07 September 2012 11:17
There is this well known footballing saying that you shouldn't break up a winning team and unlike so many annoying football cliches, there is good reason for this saying. A football team is built upon partnerships, combinations, understandings and team work.
When the team wins together, especially in a convincing way then you want to repay those players and allow them to put their previous good experience into the most important game. The next one.
This Arsenal team have had somewhat of a disadvantage to many teams this early season. Firstly the European championships meant that many of our players missed the early pre season tour of Asia and secondly the shambles that was the cancellation of the Nigerian tour and not having made any contingency plans was a disaster.
When you factor in that Steve Bould and Neil Banfield would be implementing their own training ideas on top of another squad turn around then it is safe to say that Arsenal have had a long way to go before the squad find their automatic cruise control.
The result at Liverpool showed a glimpse of where this team is going and why Arsene has a lot of faith in the players at his disposal. His new players are starting to click into gear individually and collectively. But it is not the new players that I wish to talk about today, that is at the fun end of the pitch, it is the hard working grafting side of the pitch that I wish to discuss.
If you were told in pre season that we would start at Liverpool with our 3rd choice goalkeeper, inexperienced right back who spent large parts of last season injured and our best center back on the substitutes bench after missing the first two games with injury then you would have been given permission to go back home to fetch a change of underwear at the prospect of Gerrard, Suarez and inform youngster Raheem Sterling causing us more than one or two issues. The truth is that the team defended better than we have seen for some time.
Gooner Carl Jenkinson performed a galaxy better than we saw at Old Trafford last season early at roughly the same time of the season. Not sure what a galaxy better actually is but I am guessing it was a darn sight better.
Vito Mannone, a few scary flaps aside put in his second strong display in a row after an even better display at Stoke City and Per Mertesacker shoved the lazy journalist opinions back down their throats with another calm and assured display alongside captain fantastic. I wonder if Per actually ever breaks sweat after a match such is his relaxed demeanour on the field of play.
There is no doubt that the run of 90 minutes games have given these players the platform to produce these performances as a back four and individually. Yeah, I know, I will stop saying that now.
So what to do now? We have to sit here twiddling our thumbs waiting for the passion killer that is International football to hurry up and move on to another time when it can come back and rudely interrupt the proper football that really counts. It is when the Premier League resumes that Arsene has decisions to make, assuming (stupidly of course) that all our defensive players return in one piece. He has to decide whether to defensively stick or twist.
Wojciech Szczesny our number one goalkeeper could be ready to slip on his pink shirt and gloves and Laurent Koscielny who without a shadow of a doubt was our best defender last season. Personally I was calling for him to come in at Liverpool to deal with the smaller and trickier customers on show but Arsene decided otherwise. Who does he think he is? What on earth does he know?
Perhaps this unwanted break is a good time to tweak the team as the break would have eased on the continuity breaks on the players. But bringing in players that haven't played many if any minutes at all may disrupt the unit. Understandings will have to be reestablished. The counter argument to that is that Sagna, Koscielny and Szczesny will have to make that leap at some point and without much doubt those three are first choice for their positions. At least in my mind. You have to play your best players because, well they are your best players.
Bacary Sagna who has been making recent headlines *sigh* is a little further away and we have to see how he responds to having a second leg break in one season. That could be very traumatic for his body. So it gives Carl Jenkinson a little more in the way of game time and hopefully progression.
Sagna is categorically the best right back in the league. Ah, ah! Shhhh I will hear no different. My word is final on this as this is my blog but what happens if Jenkinson goes from strengths to strengths? (as someone would say)
Do you opt for a great right back who hasn't had any football this season and would need to get up to speed physically as well as adapting to the coaching changes? or do you stick with a right back who has improved in performance and confidence every week and who is in the middle of the rhythm?
Sounds silly considering that Jenkinson a youngster who was playing non league football only a few years back or our most consistent defender over the last 5 years or so.
In Kieran Gibbs you can see that game time and belief has taken him up a level so far, very early days I guess but what we have seen of him in pre season and the first few games has been fantastic. I am Andre Santos' biggest fan and was hoping he would be our first choice this season but Gibbs has more than justified his place in the team, the hope is that Carl Jenkinson who has Arsenal DNA flowing through his veins, can follow suit and visually take step forwards so that when the time comes, he can replace the best right back in the league whether that be this, next or a few years down the line.
If injuries do not have their say then the manager will have some tough decisions to make in the coming weeks.
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