Arsenal is long overdue for a successful cup run. The closest they have come in recent years is the 2011 League Cup final against Birmingham City. They notoriously imploded upon themselves and began a long streak of sup-par performances, which ultimately lead to their dismantling, at the hands of Manchester United in August of last year. This year is a new year, however.
Arsenal fans around the world are now living in the post-Robin van Persie era, where the Flying Dutchman 2.0 has skived off to the north of England to play with the Red Devils. However, with van Persie’s move, Arsenal may actually be better off.
Everyone knew that he wanted leave the club. Arsenal fans just held out hope that loyalty to the club would overcome, but that was not the case. A, now infamous, little boy inside the Dutch striker screamed to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. He will now get the pay he had been asking for the past few years and be synonymous with Samir Nasri for seeking out money over loyalty.
Enough about that. Pat Rice retired at the end of last season, ending a life-long stay at the Arsenal club. He moved from player to manager and became one of the most successful club coaches and tacticians in Arsenal’s storied history. Steve Bould, a former Arsenal player has taken over his duties now. This defensive master has suddenly transformed a notoriously leaky Gunner defense into an impenetrable wall that teams can just not manage around.
And to think, after three games and zero conceded goals, they still haven’t played Sagna nor Koscielny- two players who are amazingly talented defenders. And then second-string keeper, Vito Mannone, is in between the sticks for the Gunners, leading the league in clean sheets.
No one would have guessed that Arsenal would have the only defense to not concede at the beginning of the season. It has been absolutely unheard of in recent seasons.
Abou Diaby has been introduced to the side, after an extended leave from the game to recover from various injuries. There were many fans of the Gunners, who groaned when Diaby was included in the lineup against Liverpool this past weekend. Oh, how wrong were they. Diaby put in a performance of the ages, winning the ball, creating attacking movement and dominating the physical game in the midfield. He seemingly filled in those massive boots left long-unfilled by former Arsenal big man, Patrick Vieira.
With the inclusion of Diaby next to Arteta in the middle of the park, Arsenal looked very dynamic and dangerous going forward, being able to change out these players with Ramsey and Coquelin, with ease. The midfield is also without Jack Wilshere and Tomas Rosicky. Arsenal can only get stronger as these players come back into the fold, recovering from bouts of injuries.
Let’s get down to the meat of it though.
The diminutive Spaniard, Sanri Cazorla, has been an absolute sensation in the four games he has featured for Arsenal, if you include the match against Cologne in Germany. He has dictated the pace of the attack, cutting and weaving through opposing defensive lines and wreaking havoc upon teams not ready for the mind-blowing abilities of the Spanish international. Becoming an Arsenal hero overnight is no easy task, but it is safe to say that this attacking midfield presence has revolutionized Arsenal’s attacking threat, by sliding into a transitory role behind the Arsenal forward line and ahead of the dual-center midfield threat. He has to be seen as the key to Arsenal’s success this season. His performances are bound to improve upon their already lofty quality; having finally gotten off the mark against Liverpool this past weekend, sealing the win for the Gunners.
The attacking threats of Podolski, Giroud, Walcott, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain, and even Gibbs from the left-back position is far too much to overlook from Arsenal. These players have been coming into form since the season started. Podolski is finally getting to play out on the left-side of the field, his more natural position, and tracking back with Oxlade-Chamberlain, adding to the already-insurmountable Arsenal defense. Giroud, with his aerial ability and his aptitude to play off the shoulder of the last defender, can be seen as a huge threat from the Gunners in the future, as soon as he gets his first goal in the Arsenal red. Gervinho and Walcott can be seen as natural winging options for Arsenal when they need to spread out the back line of their opposition. If they can get their crosses in and on target, or cut inside and attack the defense. There is little stopping Arsenal from dominating this season.
There are simply too many threats going forward and a sturdy defense backing that attack up.
Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea-the usual threats to Arsenal’s dominance- have not shown any of the dominance that has been ‘expected’ of such teams in past seasons, with very nervy games against much weaker opposition. Sure, they pulled out the win, in some instances, but this could be a sign of the changing tides in English football. Injuries can hamper the strongest teams and money lacks the staying power that true talent combined with amazing coaching and tutelage can provide.
Arsenal’s year is this year. They can silence every single one of their critics. They have all of the pieces necessary. All they have to do is just put it all together in one beautiful, flowing example of how a footballing team should play.