By Tony Attwood
We all know who we signed this summer.,,
- Mathieu Debuchy
- Alexis Sanchez
- David Ospina
- Calum Chambers
- Danny Welbeck
Not a bad haul. Some were raved over from the off, like Alexis, some had a load of manufactured abuse from make-believe supporters egged on by Sky, such as Danny Welbeck. But all turned out to be good buys.
But I’d like to suggest we had two other newcomers. Not real transfers, but a bit like them.
The New Jack Wilshere and the New Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Both have transformed themselves so much they are getting to be like new players.
Now I know that we saw real steps forward for both last season – the Jack goal that is now part of the build up to matches at the Emirates was one such moment, but at the start of the season I am not sure that either were thought to be major players in the New Arsenal that was being created.
But in both cases a transformation of form and the injuries to others have allowed them to step forwards.
The age of each is a factor… Jack is 22 Alex is 21, but even at these tender ages the press was full of comments, especially about Jack, that now was the moment when he had to step up, otherwise it was all over. The press seized upon the supposed cigarette episode, and reading the press and blogs, and taking in radio and TV there was no doubt that the abject failure of England in the world cup was utterly and totally due to Jack.
Oh yes, and Mr Wenger was to blame, because you can’t have a football story with Mr Wenger being to blame. A vote in the Metro – one of the most unbalanced newspapers of all time, had 65% of voters calling Jack a muppet. But then since 100% of people who take the paper seriously are muppets, that wasn’t much of a finding.
A Mr Scholes (a pundit with BT Sport) said that Jack hadn’t become player he should have been because of a lack of guidance from Gunners boss Wenger.
“I think he’s a frustrated figure at the moment. He’s trying to force the play,” said Scholes of Jack. “Wenger has to be blamed, he’s the manager. I don’t know how much work he does with him, but I’m not sure he does enough. He has fallen so far behind Aaron Ramsey. They’re trying to find a position for him and I don’t know what it is.”
Now that statement is what we commentators call, “bollocks” (to use the technical term). Of course the fact that Michael Owen name Jack “Man of the Match” in the next game doesn’t actually help Jack’s credibility, and the press are still very unsure about him, but the transformation across the last two seasons is there for all to see – if they want to see.
As even the Telegraph (normally not a paper to praise anything remotely Arsenal) was forced to admit, “he was England’s outstanding performer against Estonia, delivering two passes which would have gilded any DVD or video clip he studies of Xabi Alonso or Andrea Pirlo…. The wonderful, angled, chipped pass with which he bypassed the Estonian defence to reach Wayne Rooney’s run in the first-half would have been envied by Alonso.
“The vision and quick reaction with which he then sent another, longer cross-field ball bouncing behind the last Estonian defender to again find Rooney deep into injury-time was another worthy of Alonso. It was the kind of round-the-corner pass that he – and his former team-mate at Liverpool, Steven Gerrard – have made their own.
“Unfortunately Rooney missed both opportunities….
Around the same time, last month, the papers and blogs started praising Alex Oxlade Chamberlain. Kieran Gibbs was quoted as saying, “Alex is a fantastic player and he just needs games. He’s showing what he can do now and his end product is what he wanted to work on. The results are paying off for him. He’s a good professional and an amazing talent.”
But just as Jack and the Ox come to the fore, so the press have to dig out their old favourites. Five Arsenal players with the England squad? Quick where’s the old one-liner…
“It is a far cry from nine years ago when Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger became the first coach to select an entire squad for a League game without an Englishman in it.” (The Standard).
Just think, do we ever read about the time when Liverpool put out a cup final team without a single player in it who could play for England? No, we don’t.
In fact all the Arsenal players playing for England are getting praise, And Alex said on Talksprout, “I think it’s really good for England and I think it’s nice for Arsenal as a club and the fans. We’ve still got Theo to come back. We can’t count him out because I’m sure he’ll be back in the squad.”
Martin Keown said in the Mail, “When Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain came on, he gave the England midfield a new dimension. He wants to play centrally but rarely gets the chance for Arsenal. When he plays wide it’s as if he has to prove himself whereas through the middle things come naturally to him. On Thursday night he brought something extra and again showed Roy what he’s capable of.”
Now that’s interesting because that was what happened to Ramsey at Arsenal. He was made to play wide, and that gave him his insights into how to play in the middle. Of course Ramsey was written off by a lot of non-attending Arsenal “supporters” during that phase (although few rarely admit it now) but he really came through that period a better player. I think Alex is already a better player.
As I suggested the other day, despite our serious run of injuries, we are actually developing an astonishing team at the moment. The five new men grab the headlines, but Jack and Alex are like players reborn.
Add to the new men, Jack and Alex, and the players who even the wildest AAA ranters won’t reject, and then the next thing you know is that we actually have quite a decent team out there.
And there is even seemingly decent news on Danny Welbeck after he was injured playing for England (that’s the downside of all these players playing for England. Hodgson said, “‘I don’t think he’s injured. He just rolled his ankle slightly and the doctors are not worried about it, It’s no danger and he’ll be fit [for Arsenal.”
The list of recent articles and our list of anniversaries of the day are on the home page.
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- Manchester City v Arsenal: the referee and the FA Cup