Troubled Times at the Emirates but Rosicky Calls for Unity
Yesterday’s sets of fixtures closed the curtains on another Champions League group phase adventure and the world has witnessed a few eye-openers here and there. Teams like Malaga and Schalke 04 proved that they were certainly no pushovers as they topped their groups while Chelsea made history for all the wrong reasons, being the first defending champions to fall at the first hurdle.
Arsenal has being going through a very bad patch of form and a win against Olympiakos in Athens would have handed Arsene Wenger’s men a chance to top Group B but it was a chance that was spurned which ultimately means that the Gunners would brace themselves up for a tricky home fixture next February. Wenger rues a second-place finish and he’s hoping for a Christmas present when the draws are made in late December.
Since that enthralling 7 – 5 win against Reading, Arsenal has amassed two wins, four draws and three defeats. This is the kind of form exhibited by mediocre mid-table sides…but hey, Arsenal is currently languishing in 10th place behind the likes of West Brom, West Ham and errr…Stoke City.
One can see the quantity as well as quality of the present crop of players but teams are judged by results on the pitch and in recent times, Arsenal has been found wanting. In terms of quantity, there are many players in this team that do not deserve to play in an “ambitious” club like Arsenal. Don’t get me wrong, they have their “qualities” as well, but they are better suited in some mediocre clubs were they are under no pressure to deliver.
What hurts the most is that there are so many outstanding players in this team but it usually takes an odd moment from one player to bring despair, disappointment and frustration to the fans.
Maybe it’s that simple pass he should have given instead of dallying on the ball far too long. Carl Jenkinson has been so phenomenal this season that he has even earned a maiden England cap in a friendly against Sweden. Last week Saturday, Arsenal was pressing on for a vital equalizer late on but Jenko was robbed off the ball by Nathan Dyer, which allowed Miguel Michu to score the goal that put the game beyond doubt.
Maybe it’s that pass he should have given instead of trying to attempt another dribble. Gervinho has been the biggest culprit of this offense so far and there have been times when the Ox has been guilty of holding on to the ball far too long when a pass to a teammate was a better option.
Maybe it’s that clear-cut goalscoring chance he should have converted. Profligacy has become a watchword at Arsenal, and the club has lacked a clinical striker in the mould of Robin van Persie. Olivier Giroud has scored seven goals thus far but he has had his fair share of misses. Lukas Podolski is by far a better finisher than Giroud, but his primary deployment on the left wing doesn’t really afford him with the chance to be on the end of those juicy through balls from Santi Cazorla and the other creative lot.
Theo Walcott is one player that has shown off his predatory attributes for the Gunners this season but his campaign has been marred by injuries. Let’s not forget that issues concerning his contract have been shrouded in mystery and his future remains on the balance.
Starting with the custodians between the sticks, Wojciech Szczesny is a great goalie in the making and his quality has shone through in his fledgling Arsenal career thus far. In my honest opinion, Vito Mannone and Lukasz Fabianski aren’t anywhere close to the young Pole but I believe that hardwork Szczesny will rule the sticks for years to come.
I don’t fall into the league of Arsenal fans that want a “more experienced” goalie in because signing a quality goalie will dent Szczesny’s progress. With our massive wage bill, there’s no point buying another goalie that would be content with a place on the bench collecting pension.
In defense, the center back trio of Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker are world beaters on their day. Johan Djourou is a fine choice for a fourth center back in my opinion, so Arsenal’s center back problems are pretty much settled.
In the fullback positions, Kieran Gibbs has finally overcome his niggling injury problems to make the left back slot his own but Andre Santos’ defensive frailties cannot be overlooked, so Wenger has to do something about the situation because you can’t rely on Gibbs to stay fit all season long. Wenger has exploited the option of drifting Vermaelen to the left but I feel that a long-term solution to this issue would be to buy a good left back that balances attacking and defensive play superbly.
I won’t mind a top quality crosser of the ball as well, because Giroud could do with such, as his class act against Fulham has shown that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the air.
Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson are consistent right backs that have been outstanding this season but the Daily Mail has reported that Sagna is heading to the exit door after he felt ‘disrespected’ by the Gunners’ offer of a 12-month extension to his deal that expires in 2014.
Sagna earns £60,000 per week and he’s hitting the 30-year-old mark next February so he’d hoped that he was going to receive a huge pay rise in his final contract. It’s shameful to know that Arsenal is planning on taking a Scrooge-esque approach in sorting out the contract of one of the best right backs in the world.
$amir Na$ri made his terms clear that he wanted more money and he opted for the petro-greens of the Etihad where he currently earns £140,000 per week. Robin van Persie was undoubtedly the hottest striker in 2011, yet Arsenal wanted to give him a meager £130,000. Guess what, he earns £235,000 in Manchester United and he picked up where he left off at Arsenal, scoring 13 goals in 16 games for the Red Devils.
If Sagna leaves Arsenal this summer, it will sum up everything the Gunners stand for…being all about their profits.
With Theo Walcott’s contract running out this summer, I won’t be surprised if he’s sold in the winter transfer window despite being an indispensable player to the club at the moment.
These are troubled times at the Emirates but Arsene Wenger needs to rally his team to turn their fortunes around.
Tomas Rosicky’s return to full fitness has been a breath of fresh air and he capped it up with a superb goal against Olympiakos. The Czech maestro understands the fans’ frustrations but he insists if everyone pulls together the Gunners can turn things around.
“I can understand the frustrations, I am an Arsenal fan as well when I was not playing, but also on the other side we have some young guys as well and this is definitely not helping them.
“We have to all stick together, which is what we did last season when everyone was writing us off and we came back stronger.
“You could feel the great atmosphere we created at the Emirates with performances against Tottenham and AC Milan [in last season's Champions League]. If we are all on board, Arsenal is a great place to play football, but we have to stick together and fight.”
The midfielder stated the boos aren’t helpful and he hopes to return back to his old form. In the tail end of last season, Rosicky was a revelation for the Gunners and his late surge earned him a befitting contract extension. With Santi Cazorla becoming synonymous with the first team, Rosicky will have to be at his absolute best to displace the Spaniard from the first team setup.
With Arsenal pushing on for a win last weekend, Rosicky made his first appearance of the season, alongside Cazorla, but their joint efforts were in vain as the Gunner slumped to a shameful defeat courtesy of a Michu brace. Cazorla didn’t bring his shooting boots though, as he missed a couple of chances as well.
All focus should be moved to Saturday’s crucial match against West Brom. In the past it would have seemed like a simple stroll in the park but a return of just five wins from 15 Premier League game ultimately means that every game is a six-pointer from now on, bearing in mind that Tottenham and Everton are becoming favorites to take the final Champions League slot.
Last season, Wenger tagged fourth place as a trophy and in our heart of hearts, Arsenal fans will give anything to finish the campaign in fourth. As Little Mozart stated, we could do with some unity right about now.
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