I struggled to think this week. Arsenal news and events were limited by an International break, and with the transfer window closed, gossip has been temporarily restrained as well. It is currently Thursday evening, and up until this point I have failed to think of a sensible topic to address in this column, so have decided to mix things up a little.
I asked my Twitter followers (you can follow me here) to hit me with some Arsenal-related questions for my piece this week, in order to establish a Q&A style column. I may choose to revert to this method of writing at some point in the future, but for now, I’ll see how this goes. Thanks to everybody for contributing and for helping me out. So, here goes:
@BearMcDoom:”What would Arsenal have to achieve this season for you to consider it successful?”
Winning two FA Cups on the trot has alleviated some pressure off of the fans, players and managers over the past two seasons, but the battle hasn’t yet been won. Yes, the progress we’ve made has been welcome and refreshing, but I think the team have to push on now. As far as what I’d consider ‘successful’ goes, I think any season in which the team captures silverware can be regarded as a success, but my own belief is that a truly successful Arsenal season would revolve around winning the Premier League once again.
@chris_kinsman97: “Should we play Ozil on the left, like Germany do?”
Absolutely not. To get the best out of Mesut Ozil is to play him in his favoured central role. His best performances in the white of Real Madrid and the red of Arsenal have come in the hole behind the striker, and I don’t expect that trend to change. I think playing Ozil on the left is a strange decision, as he often lacks the required pace to play there, and his passing is reaped far more frequently from the middle. I think it best he stays in the centre.
@Ampugh14: “In your opinion, who will Arsenal’s most important player this season be?”
This is a tricky question to answer, as I cannot predict who will suffer injuries or who will exceed expectations. Last week, I wrote a piece (which you can read here) about why Gabriel should partner Koscielny at the back permanently, so he could be a strong contender. I do, though, remain strong in my belief of Francis Coquelin’s talents. I think he will be Arsenal’s most important player this season for two reasons. Firstly, his immeasurable consistency has been pivotal to Arsenal’s solidity, and secondly, we lack depth in his position. Coquelin for me.
@IEGooner4life: “Is an attacking quartet of: Alexis up top, Walcott and Chamberlain on the wings and Ozil in the middle, viable to you?”
Good question and a tough one to answer. Those that follow me will be familiar with my unwavering support of Olivier Giroud, and my appreciation for what he brings to the Arsenal team. I think your suggestion could work well, but only some of the time. When Arsenal play against bigger sides (physically) or deeper sides (defensively) I think your thesis could perhaps be rendered useless. The attacking setup that you’ve suggested, however, could work well away from home or when playing in a truly counter-attacking system. I wouldn’t rule out your choice of players, but it depends upon who we play.
@garethcmurray: “Who will Arsenal’s breakthrough player be, this season?”
For regular readers of my column, you’ll no doubt remember the piece I wrote last week on why I thought Wenger should partner Gabriel and Koscielny on a full-time basis. I think Gabriel will inevitably prove himself to be Arsenal’s next defensive hero, and should take over – certainly in the long term- from Koscielny. I can only hope that Wenger sees the huge potential in him, and opts for his selection on a more frequent basis.
@ChriStephenson_: “Would you consider Olivier Giroud’s transition from French football to English football a success?”
Unequivocally so, yes. No major life transition – no matter what walk of life or who is involved – goes without doubt or trouble. Giroud’s involvement in English football has been accompanied by his fair share of critics, but his contribution to Arsenal is nothing to laugh at. Only Ian Wright and Thierry Henry outscored him in his first 100 games, his personal caps for France have soared since his arrival, and he has helped his team to end its trophy drought and improve defensively. These are major successes, whichever way you look at them.
@Magic_Ozil_: “Do you think Arsenal will ever win the Champions League under Arsene Wenger?”
As much as I love to try and stay positive, I have to say I don’t believe so. I think the competition (footballistically and financially speaking) is just a little too much for any Arsenal fan to realistically think so. No disrespect to Arsene Wenger, I just don’t see it happening. Shocks in Europe can happen, of course, and I’ll point to Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League victory as evidence of that, but the pessimist inside of me refuses to entertain the idea.
@goonerandy35: “When did cups won and amount spent become more important than the belief & excitement of following your team?”
Until now, I hadn’t given this much thought. I support Arsenal because it is the only team capable of making me feel at home, affecting my moods, sharing my identity and encapsulating my thoughts. Trophies and money are bonuses, of course, but I think fans tend to get far too engrossed by them. I am refreshed and pleased by honest, positive fans that remain true to their team despite losses and disappointments.
@kings_abdul: “Do you think we should let Wilshere go, before we have yet another Diaby situation?”
I like Jack Wilshere, and as I wrote a few weeks back, I am more than worried about him as things stand. As unpopular as this may sound, if a reasonable bid came in for Jack, I would certainly consider it. His injury record – through mostly no fault of his own – has completely stalled his career progress, and the road ahead may be a bumpy and unpredictable one for him. I think we should let him go if we receive a generous bid for him, but only in those circumstances.