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Arsenal 2013: the secret of the club’s success

GILDING THE LILY….by Don McMahon

It has been a tumultous and inspiring few weeks since the opening day loss to the PGMOL Villa which had everyone predicting gloom and doom for the Arsenal.

Now we are the adored super Club everyone is talking about and even the media have mollified their anti-Arsenal campaign just a bit.

This sudden calm in the eye of the hurricane has led me to contemplate the factors that have led the Club to its current supremacy. Some attribute this phoenix-like resurgence to the arrival of Ozil and Ramsey’s incredible form so far. Others have said that their incessant whine about spending the f***king money aimed at Wenger has finally moved him onward. There are as many explanations as there are proponents of them and some are almost farcical in their simple-minded over-simplification of a very complex event.

Here is my take on some of the real elements of our supposed resurrection from the dead-zone (4th place) into the light:

1)The age of our players:  We have…

  • Szcesny (23),
  • Jenkinson (21),
  • Gibbs (24),
  • Wilshere (21),
  • Ozil (25),
  • Ramsey(23),
  • Frimpong (21),
  • Zelalem (16),
  • Walcott (24),
  • the Ox (20),
  • Sanogo (20),
  • Bendtner (25),
  • Miyachi (21) and
  • Gnabry (18)

…..which gives us 14 players named on the first team list on Arsenal’s website who are 25 or under! These men have not yet reached their peak playing years yet are tearing up their opponents, many of whom cost their respective teams significantly more money than Arsenal have spent for these players.

2)The team spirit and stability:

The last big name to leave us was Robin Van Persecuted in 2011. We have since divested ourselves of a number of rarely used players or under-performers and it appears the only one really showing his worth elsewhere is Gervinho.

After the WHL loss, the players and manager got together and decided that enough was enough. We then went on to solidify team chemistry and commitment by going undefeated for 15 matches AND beating the eventual CL champions in the Allianz Arena, in front of their VERY nervous fans. This cemented the Arsenal’s self-confidence and conviction that they could win on a regular basis.

3)Wenger’s genius for strategic transfer moves:

Starting in 2010 Wenger brought in the following who are still here: Koscielny, and Miyachi .

In 2011 he brought in  Jenkinson, the Ox,Campbell, Park, Arteta,Mertesacker and Eisfeld.

In 2012 he brought in Podolski, Giroud, Cazorla and Monreal.

Finally in 2013 he brought in Ozil, Sanogo, amd Flamini.

Out of a total of 21 transfers, 16 are still here and 11 are first team regulars. That is a success rate of 75% more or less, meaning that 3 out of every 4 players he buys and nurtures, end up contributing significantly to the Club or have the clear potential to do so.

4)Winning improves everyone’s mood:

I have seen numerous articles, media reports and commentaries about how critical and dismissive some Arsenal ¨fans¨ are of the product AFC presented since 2005. This tiny minority of fans were identified as being ¨the Gooners,¨ spokespersons and completely representative of the ¨crisis¨ that perennially floated over the Emirates, with the AST being quoted as if they were privileged to have insight into what was going ¨wrong¨ with THEIR club.

Well it seems that this scenario has been completely buried under the enthusiasm and positive support the Club, the players and Wenger himself are now receiving. The Emirates is beginning to rock AND every away game has unqualified positive vibes (as it has always had) from the most noble of them all…our away support. The players feel the love and desperately want to merit that approval….so they play with clear heads and brave hearts for their fans.

5) Finally, our ability to take serious knocks in our stride (Cazorla,Walcott, the Ox,Diaby, Podolski, Sanogo, Zelalem, Arteta, Vermaelen etc.)which would have floored us in previous years is proof of a resilience, squad depth, Wenger’s perfect use of multi-positional players, and team coherence that can lead to only one conclusion.

We have youth strength, bench strength, reserve power and, as these injured players return, the possibility of becoming even stronger. We have won 11 games on the trot since the minor blip on opening day, all this despite losing some great players. We are like the famous British square, when one warrior falls, the line seals up and fights even harder.

There are other factors which I don’t have the space to mention but this season we have gilded the lily, which was already a joy to behold. Momentum is on our side and unless the PGMOL decide that  Taylor-like sabotage is needed, we are surely headed for a very special season.

The books…

 

16 comments to Arsenal 2013: the secret of the club’s success

  • A good analysis. I’m very optimistic. We have the best team for many years in my opinion, and they are a joy to watch. I’m sure it’s an arduous season ahead with many ups and downs, but it’s going to be a very enjoyable one.

  • Byo

    And 6), Wenger got rid of malcontents(Nasri, Clichy), and divisive(Adebayor, Song) characters from the dressing room.

    Now I don’t claim any inside knowledge of this. But the body language told it all.
    This squad really like each other and it reflects in the way they play for each other, and celebrate after a goal.
    And you do not see the tension in the team when Flamini yells at a team mate(like you saw with Song), or one tells another what they should have done in a passage of play.
    Just my observations.

    I have always believed the only players I miss are RvP and Fabregas. Wenger could not hold on as they wanted to leave.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Thanks for the good insight. Much better than those claiming that it is because Wenger is now doing what they had been urging upon him, loudly, aggressively and mean-spiritedly.

    The analysis also shows up Wenger’s holistic and incremental approach, which started paying off in the 2nd half of last season as well as our strong potential to keep it up for a long time (despite occasional blips) on account of the youthfulness of our squad, the ability of our players to play in several positions on the pitch and Wenger’s eyes for unknown names and abilities to develop them into stars.

    Yet, permit me to add a tactical dimension to your list: these days, we are better able to hold on to our leads and put our exuberance when attacking under leash such that when we are attacking, we not unduly susceptible to a fast-break sucker punch and when we are leading 2-0 (as we were on Tuesday), we don’t throw it all away in the quest of playing “attacking” football for attacking football ‘s sake. I think the word is: we have become more controlled in when and where we display our footballing aggression.

  • @ Byo

    “I have always believed the only players I miss are RvP and Fabregas.”

    Largely agreed, though I’ve always thought it a pity that Hleb left, since I loved his style of play, and the 2007/08 team in general.

  • para

    When AW signed the core players to long term deals after RVP left (i wonder how he is feeling now, with his one PL medal) it was clear that AFC were going forward and now it has come to pass that the TEAM tweaking has advanced another stage. I am excited at who is the next player to join the TEAM, and know that it will be some one who enhances and fits into the TEAM and not just a “super player”.
    //
    I am a little wary of another “Taylor-like sabotage” appearing very soon, at least the attempt of such, and i implore our players to be careful of needless fouls, there were some in the last 2 games, which i did not mention because i did not want to spoil the euphoria. There were two fouls in the Napoli game which were not needed as it was not an attack that demanded foul, just needed to contain the opposition player, luckily the ref did not give them, even though it would not have mattered, but our players should try not to leave themselves open to getting cards, which can then mount up so quickly in a game and cause a disaster.

  • marcus

    6) DEFENSE!

    Whether Bould is the difference I don’t know, but we subtly morphed from a team that shipped goals to a team that can baton down the hatches.

    Gibbs way better than Clichy
    Jenkinson quietly good
    Per and Koz pretty damn classy

  • bjtgooner

    The team/squad is an excellent blend of youth and experience, immense skill and immense promise. It was close to being a very good team at the end of last season and with a little more development from a number of players and some carefully calculated additions we now have what is close to being an exceptional team.

    That does not mean we will win every match, there is always a question of fortune never mind the cloggers who will try to kick us off the field, or the minions of Riley – a predictably unsatisfactory set of officials – probably the worst in Europe.

    However, the signs are promising.

  • gouresh

    @ byo: Flamin’s vocal presence does make a lot of difference. Last yr 1 of my comments i did raise this point because it was all very quite on the pitch. Met is a great reader of the game and never see him going for rash tackles. But he needs protection when we play up the pitch and i thing that Boldy uncle has made the defence strong and playing as a unit. Looks like AW does allow him on the field unlike some of the media reports. But i am still not a great fan of the zonal marking. But then what do i know compared to bouldy uncle.

  • Stuart

    The biggest difference has been seen when the boo boys didn’t go to the games. We won these and then list when they returned to boo.

  • nicky

    Byo and Gouresh both make reference to the valuable contribution being made by Flamini.
    I find it quite fortuitous that the return of this prodigal son should come to Arsenal in the way he has.
    Arsene seems to have lasting association with every former player so that whenever they turn up in England, they are always welcome to resume training.
    As for Matthieu Flamini, his non-stop industry, bossy nature and organisational skills on the field is quite amazing and if we can keep him away from injury and an excess of cards yellow and red, he will, IMO, turn out to be one of the best signings of the season.

  • Spartan, the black coat labrador

    I’ve only been a Gooner since November 2009 (about 2 months before I came across Walter,Tony,Anne,Dogface and Phil).I have never seen Arsenal win silverware (except for the Emirates cup) and the football was the attraction for me.There were times I got frustrated with the team and the manager but Untold was always there to put things into perspective.(After one of our defeats Tony went dancing:)).The Napoli match was the best Arsenal performance I have ever seen.This year has been been great.Now I can look the glory hunters in the eye and ask them where they were when chelsea spanked us 4-1 or when Manure beat our third team 8-2.

  • robl

    Nice one Don.

    I would also propose a 6) that the premier league needs a star team to help push the product (yuk!), and clearly united are no longer that team. After the Villa debacle we are the flying, beautiful, attractive team and I feel that we may just start to see a more level playing field if the fa want to continue bathing in troff’s of sponsor’s filthy lucre.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Spartan, about the 8-2. I watched that game in disbelief. It was one of the weirdest game I’ve ever seen. Though we were not at our best that day, we werent as bad….as say the Norwich game.

    Some stats from that game. Shots on target ManUtd 15 to ours 13.

  • Sav from Australia

    Very good article Don. You are spot on in your analysis, at least in my humble opinion.

    “and unless the PGMOL decide that Taylor-like sabotage is needed, we are surely headed for a very special season”

    Your last words highlight my own fears. We who know the referees and their antics are all poised, waiting for the attack to commence. It is a shame. Referees aside, who in England, Europe even, can compete with this Arsenal squad/team? Not many I reckon. And as you highlighted, so many are still so young. It sends shivers, contemplating the potential.

  • Sav from Australia

    Well said Spartan! I’m like you, I only started followed The Arsenal after they stopped winning trophies and like you, it was the football that drew me in. And Arsene Wenger, the man is a model of integrity.

  • Goona Gal

    I agree winning does improve everyone’s mood and for me the twin leadership of Per & Arteta within the group probably hasn’t had the recognition it deserves.

    These two along with a few others have fostered team spirit and unity within the group which has been the prelude to the turnaround we have witnessed on the field.

    The determination and doggedness of all the players has been as important as the silky smooth moves we’ve witnessed thus far. In the pre season, I kept saying the squad we have now was quality, especially when we factored in the young players in the development squad. All we needed was confidence and winning games not only improves the mood, it breeds belief.