Sunday, 30 January 2011

January Review - Arsenal

So one of the busiest months in the history of The Arsenal is over and we are still in both domestic cups and 2nd in the league. Not perfect but very impressive. This month has seen us play a staggering 9 times, the most in a month since April 1980 (via @OptaJean). So you would think we would know a lot more about our squad and the fact is we do and it is it doesn’t make good reading. We have a decent squad but sometimes you can think it’s a lot better than it makes out to be. When we lined up against Leeds I was truly impressed with our line up that day but bloody hell they were awful and that was topped by our abysmal display at Ipswich. The fact remains we can probably afford 2 or 3 injuries but anything more than that and we’ll find ourselves in the same position that we ended last season in. I’m sure Wenger has concerns about this and maybe he’ll venture into the transfer market tomorrow........or maybe not.

When it comes to The Premier League and our 1st team our form has been excellent, taking 10 points from 12. Van Persie has hit form and we’ve looked at different side with a good striker leading the line. Robin offers us so much more than Chamakh and Bendtner, something which is reflected in the fact we haven’t even conceded a goal when he’s been on the pitch this month. That could be coincidental but he holds the ball up, allows others to join in play and leads from the front. Other factors around our defensive improvement could be stability. Koscielny and Djourou have partnered each other 7 times this month and we’ve conceded 2 goals in that time. Who says you need to rotate? Not that we have a bloody choice mind.  They found an understanding this month and they can at times prove to be a little shaky but in truth they are really under heavy pressure and they have grown stronger as the month has gone on. That may also be down to our midfield trio of Cesc, Jack and Song. Song has been more responsible in his play, Jack has been the outstanding in his work rate and passing and Cesc has stepped up when needed. Again, these 3 have only started in the same side 4 times this month (all in the Premier League) and we’ve failed to concede in any of those games. So all in all, when it comes to our 1st team regulars we’ve been pretty solid. We are defending and attacking as a side again and it’s amazing what results that brings.

Our keeper situation looks a lot healthier going into February. Interesting to read that Wenger stated Szczesny is our #1 but Fabianski will be pretty miffed after not doing an awful lot wrong before getting injured. Hopefully Almunia departs tomorrow but with Fabianski’s injury status up in the air it’s unlikely he will. So I’ll give him 3 weeks before he opens his mouth and has a rant about being #3 and there won’t be anyone around to back him up.

Overall a good month results wise but it’s just going to take a little bit more endeavour from our backups to prove their worth to the cause.  Too many of them are happy to ride on the back of our 1st team and reap the rewards that brings but we need everyone to contribute if we are to be successful. Remember in 1998 when we played Palace at home and our side was shot to bits due to injuries? Gilles Grimandi stepped up that day and we got a 1-0 win. It proved crucial and it was one of the results people pointed to in terms of our success that season. If this current crop had that pressure on them I’m not so sure we’d get the same outcome.

Now, every game we play I do ratings for the players and I’ll name and shame the best and worst of the month. So I’ll get the worst out of the way first of all.
In reverse order:
3. Denilson
2. Eboue
1. Chamakh

Now I’m not going to elaborate much on those because it’s all to negative but Chamakh has been anonymous for a while now.  He started the season like a house on fire but now AW clearly see’s Bendtner ahead of him. Something is going wrong somewhere and it needs addressing fast.

Our top 3 players of the month:

3rd. Jack Wilshere
He put in 2 terrific displays against City and Ipswich (home). He’s becoming/is vital to our side and he seems to be expressing himself more lately. That pass against Ipswich was fantastic.

2nd. Samir Nasri
Our player of the year so far but he’s now he’s injured we’ll need others to step up. He was excellent on the road this month, scoring crackers at Birmingham and Leeds.  He’ll be sorely missed.

1st. Robin Van Persie
No surprises. 7 goals in 6 games and it could have been more if he didn’t balloon his pen as well. Robin has been slowly reintroduced into the side since return in November but he really hit the ground running this month. He got a nice break with his free kick at Birmingham and he never looked back. It’s amazing what confidence you can draw from a goal like that. Now we need him to stay fit!

Goal of the Month
Bacary Sagna V Leeds
Why does this man only have 3 goals for us when he can hit strikes like this?  Definitely an improvement on his effort at Everton.
Hopefully he can score again on Tuesday when we play Everton. 3 points is a must as always.

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