Written by Mean Lean on Friday, 19 October 2012 13:18
It has felt like an eternity since we all leapt for joy after watching Santi Cazorla strike the ball so cleanly late in the game against West Ham. We negotiated through what was supposed to be a tricky game pretty well. It was the type of game that Gallas, Denilson, Cesc and Nasri could have lost in the past. The type of game where we dominate possession but not able to find the breakthrough only to concede from two corner kicks and then having to watch Sam Allardyce chewing gum and raising both hands on the touchline. Not a very nice thought is it?
However, this Arsenal team has somewhat of a stronger backbone, well at least it looks that way early on in this season. I guess we will not truly know until the season is over as to how strong this squad really is.
We have played some tricky games away from home and the points tally from those games has been pretty decent. I am sure not many teams would turn down the opportunity to have our away points total to date.
Arsene Wenger has spoken as to why he thinks we are strong away from home and this is what he said:
“The games are a bit more open and because we have a positive attitude away from home,” he told Arsenal Player.
“Sometimes we take more advantage of our chances [on the road]. I’m very happy with the behaviour of the team, [be it] away from home or at home.
“Maybe [we’ve] played with less freedom at home - with a bit more pressure. Let’s do well at Norwich, and I think that will put the team in a better position at home as well.”
I think part of the reason as to why we look better away this season is our defensive improvement from open play. Last season we would have plenty of the ball but looked vulnerable in defensive transitions. Players in the past like Samir Nasri were never as helpful defensively as the likes of Lukas Podolski and it makes a difference. The players look to have an understanding, a game plan when we do not have the ball rather than standing off the opposition until we are given the ball back. I hated that with a passion.
What is also making a huge difference is that of our two Spaniards in midfield. One has great defensive awareness and the other can use the larger spaces to make things happen.
Without wanting to jump the gun here as I have Norwich City firmly in my thoughts but I am looking forward to our trip to Manchester United. That will be a good test of this team as it was a good test at their blue neighbours.
Manchester United have not always been the better team against us but they have certainly been the smarter team in recent years. They implemented a game plan that would deny us space to play and also exploit the often large spaces behind us.
Depending on which players we have available for that game, we should be much smarter and more organised than in recent years. Plus there is that small matter of stopping that number 20 they have.
Anyhoo, that is further down the line instead we have Norwich City to focus on and our squad dynamic looks interesting now. We knew that injuries would come our way and that is the case today.
Szczesny, Fabianski, Diaby, Gibbs, Walcott and now Koscielny are all on the treatment table and will have no part to play in the game on the weekend. However it looks as if the injury door will transform into a revolving one as long term injured players are edging ever closer to a first team squad comeback following a 90 minute reserve match against Chelsea in midweek.
Bacary Sagna, Jack Wilshere and Emmanuel Frimpong are all close while Andre Santos has been catching up on some match fitness as he prepares to step in for the unfortunate Kieran Gibbs.
Santos apart, I don't see any of the others starting just yet, not just because of their own lack of sharpness but because the players in their places are doing a very good job of it. That being said, it is being reported that Jack Wilshere will be in the squad for the weekend match at Norwich. Great news for the lad but it wouldn't surprise me if he was an unused sub for this weekend. Arsene is building him up for the league cup game against Reading.
I am very interested to see what happens with the Jenkinson vs Sagna situation. When is it ever a good time to drop a player in form who hasn't done a thing wrong? Not so sure that there is one. But can you leave out the best right back in the league when fit? I'd happily make that decision if I was getting a PL managers salary but I'm not so I shall leave that decision to the qualified guy over there.
I've already spoken about Wilshere's return many a time in these short few weeks but I will reiterate. While I am most excited about his comeback and his obvious potential, I just do not see a need to rush him back to Premier League football. Let him prove his longer term fitness and then he has to force his way in with spectacular displays in Arsene's training games at London Colny. Aaron Ramsey has started the season very well and it is only really the Chelsea game where he was not at his impressive best.
But we know how quickly injuries can set into one position so Jack Wilshere will get his chance at some point. He should play another reserve game on Monday and if he comes through that then the Capital One cup game at Reading looks like a game where we could have Jack back starting for the first team.
Right, time for lunch. Happy Friday to you all.
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