So, was it all planned or did the Almighty Lord Wenger stumble onto this lot by mistake?
The argument has been put in this blog’s correspondence columns that I forget all that happened earlier in the season and anyway I wasn’t at the games – but I really don’t think that is right. I’m sure I was there, and my bank balance confirms this.
I also think our manager knew what he was doing all the way through.
Here’s the argument
He wanted to build a third team, so broke up the Invincibles and started to rebuild. There was a bit of an issue with Flamini and Hleb along the way, but as we have seen, the continuity of their development (after two moderate years before) was not assured, and Mr Wenger had already brought in cover.
But the younger players inevitably took time to develop. And although injuries are inevitable, to get three of the midfield regulars out all at the same time was a disaster.
It was also clear early on that we had three problems:
a) the team as a whole was not ready for the free-flowing Arsenal of Henry/Pires/Ljunberg, and the defence was suffering if the forwards and midfielders did push up for this type of approach.
b) most of the EPL teams were more than willing to play “park the bus” and make no effort to win the game – they would play for the 0-0 draw.
c) crude tackling would go unpunished in the league, and the team would need to find a way around this.
That most of us could see all of this through the season is not a surprise – what was a surprise was just how far Denilson and Song had developed during Cesc’s time out, thus allowing him the free reign that had been removed in an effort to cope with the Manchester City defeat.
We could also see that the 0-0 draws that followed the Villa and Man C games was due to a restructure of the team, so that the defence got its belief back, and so that it was ready for the return of the midfield.
But still, the reinvigorated ability of Theo, and the fact of Cesc as an old-fashioned inside left (or right, whichever he wants) has changed everything. Plus of course we got Arshavin.
The 0-0 draws could be beaten by a return to the very fast interplay that leaves the cloggers kicking the air – and that could happen once the solidity of the defence was established by pulling the full backs back.
Likewise the nasty fouls can be beaten by speed – you get caught much more if the game slows down.
So that is what has happened, and personally I Lord Wenger knew exactly what he was up to from the start. I’d take the credit for saying I half got it, in the sense that I was talking about Denilson as a brilliant player while most were still calling him hopelessly lightweight, and I did nominate Song as one of my two players who would make a major impact this year. And to guess that Arsenal could do well this year was not that much of a guess – we were not so far behind the champions last season.
But still, I didn’t see just how much more forward Cesc would get and what an extraordinary change it would make on the team as a whole, once he was brought into the team with Denilson.
I believe Denilson is worth a dozen Flamini’s and even if Flamini had retained much of his ability of last season, and continued to play with us, ultimately Denilson would have taken over in the middle. And I’d certainly sooner have Arshavin or Nasri rather than Hleb.
Yes, it all looks planned to me, just as the invicibles were planned and put together step by step, bit by bit (although now all we remember is the final assembly of players.)
I can’t remember how many games it is unbeaten (assuming you treat Roma as a win) but I think it is 22 or something. Which is by and large quite satisfactory.
More of the same please.
(c) A Smug Git. 2009….
- Do Arsenal need to get better or different or both?
- Last season the table after 3 games was headline news. But probably not this season
- 117 players tipped as coming to Arsenal before the window closes
- Why Arsenal recruited a new defence first, then a new attack
- After two games we can start to make one or two judgements