Our weekend victory wasn't great, sometimes it wasn't actually very good but a clean sheet away from home and three much needed post Champions League points will be very much welcomed. I have to admit and hold my hands up that I expected a convincing victory before the game, I guess I didn't expect Ian Holloway's open approach to football to be scrapped completely. But we have done enough and have done just that domestically for some weeks now.
We have had moments of brilliance, scoring some wonderful team goals, some excellent counter attacking goals and some strikes from player of the season so far, Aaron Ramsey but we've yet to string 90 minutes together of our very best football. I think some of this is actually part of the game plan, take the lead and then invite the opposition to come and join the fun and games only to end the party. Perhaps Arsene is forced to manage the squad physically because of injuries to players he could rotate in and out of the squad. We've done without a key component in our game for weeks now. A wide player who can get close to Giroud, who can get beyond Giroud and score goals. Walcott, Podolski and Chamberlain are all different types but all players who can function in wide areas and get close to our main striker.
So it is with great interest that I look ahead to a run of difficult fixtures we have on the horizon. I don't need to go into what teams we will be playing, I am sure you've already seen the teams. Here is the thing, I look at our squad and think wow, we can beat these teams. Nobody has a better midfield than Arsenal, especially creatively. Not many have a striker playing with the belief of Giroud, we do have a couple of guys heading our way on the weekend who certainly do though. Trying to put bias to one side, I'd fancy us to beat any of the teams we will be facing but perhaps not right now. I am not sure if we are ready to go toe to toe with Dortmund away and win, even going at Liverpool from the off will leave their danger men with chances to have a go at Szczesny.
As I have mentioned above, we are missing a fundamental part of our game. Walcott makes the opposition set up differently, they are forced to adjust to Theo. Podolski's goals (see Fulham) are missed when it comes to taking chances on the break but not only this but Santi Cazorla is not where we want him to be. Maybe by the weekend he might be back at his level but currently, we are missing the Santi Cazorla from last season. Flamini is out with a groin injury and Ramsey and Özil need a good 7-14 days to recover from all their football in the last few weeks.
If we set out to push Dortmund, Liverpool and Manchester United back, throw our full backs at them then we could get undone. We have several gears to go up and that is why I am confident about this squad but before we can replicate the 1st 45 minutes against Napoli for hopefully an entire 90 minutes, I'd like us to go into full pragmatic mode, play not to lose, if we can win then fantastic, we have the quality to counter against teams with our passing if not our pace. You don't expect Özil to go through many games without a collection of key passes, even a Cazorla lacking sharpness will create something positive for Arsenal. So let us make sure we do not allow the opposition to score goals against us and then see what happens.
Getting through this run of games without any losses even if it meant three to four 0-0 draws wouldn't be at all bad. If injuries do not take a serious turn for the worse then I expect this squad to improve dramatically in the second half of the season.
Walcott and Podolski have yet to get started, Özil hasn't reached anywhere near his best, Cazorla hasn't shown up yet, Gnabry will head on an upwards curve if he continues to play, Sanogo may announce himself in the second half of the campaign. This tricky run of games is just that, a tricky run of games and not the end of the season whether we win all or lose all. We will have to play all those teams once more as well as plenty of teams we should beat should we keep improving. Losing 3 out of the 4 for example could damage our confidence completely and we do not need to risk that.
But these are just my thoughts, Arsene may believe that it is time to pour the kitchen sink at our rivals to reinforce our belief should we win. We used to do that in the past. Written off, backs to the wall, we'd go to Old Trafford and beat them after dominating. Interesting to see what happens in 2013/2014.
Before those tasty league fixtures we have the small matter of the League cup clash with Chelsea. Should be two mix and matched teams. I reckon the team that gel faster will win the game. The team that have a better understanding of their team mates will have a huge advantage. Anyway more on that game tomorrow in a preview that will be up in the afternoon.
In other news Serge Gnabry has penned a new contract which is good to hear. 18 years of age and doesn't look at all out of his depth. He has a tough path to get into the first team when the wide men return but you cannot doubt his quality. His quick feet gifted Arsenal the opener which was well dispatched by Arteta. Not so keen on the one's down the middle to be honest, his weekend pen was wonderful though. Sorry I am veering off track.
Serge will have a chance against the much fancied Chelsea to bounce and rock his way past the Chelsea defenders in that unique running style of his. In fact, now I think about it, I wouldn't be surprised to see him back on the score sheet.
Like I've banged on about before, the only thing I'd like to see from him is his movement away from the ball when our midfield have it in dangerous areas instead of always wanting to feet. Arsene worked wonders with Samir Nasri in his final season at Arsenal (6 months) and Nasri started to score goals. Gnabry can do the same if he wants to get on the end of passes.
Before I head off to bed, I just wanted to say a few things about Arsenal Vision if I may. I first started writing in around 2006 which is ridiculous when I think about it. It doesn't feel that long at all. It was a shoddy few html pages and since then it has been redesigned twice. A few years ago I started adding banner ads. Those who own a website will tell you that it is not very profitable unless you churn out a huge amount of traffic. It is enough to keep the site running but certainly nothing more than that.
I have been offered the chance on many occasions to write sponsored articles on various subjects but have declined because they are usually nothing to do with Arsenal yet these are far more financially rewarding. Today I am not really in a position to turn down these offers and thought it would be better if I explained this before hand.
If you do come across a sponsored piece then by all means just ignore it, no problem. If you are a regular reader then thank you for coming back to read, I really do appreciate you guys. I have wanted to pack it in a few times due to other priorities in my life but those who have stuck with me on here and on Twitter have made me come back and squeeze it in whenever I can. I am sure you won't begrudge me some needed cash here or there.
Right enough of all that, back tomorrow (today damn, already!) with a preview.