Following a convincing three goal victory over Manchester United in our previous outing, it could be said that the interruption of the domestic campaign to accommodate the latest round of international fixtures, could not have come at a worse time for the team but regardless of the impressive nature of our latest three points, our overall form this season has lacked consistency and there are no guarantees what Arsenal will turn up from one game to the next, with or without a two week interlude between fixtures.
Although the international calendar no longer captures the public’s imagination, on this occasion I am intrigued to see what effect numerous Arsenal representatives getting on the scoresheet for their countries, will have, if any, on their confidence, take Aaron Ramsey scoring for Wales whilst helping them to qualify for their first major tournament since 1958 for example, if that doesn’t give him a morale boost, then nothing will and with Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain and Joel Campbell, not forgetting Serge Gnabry and Chuba Akpom (both currently out on loan), also on target, the mood within the camp since their return should be a positive one.
I mentioned previously, the lack of consistency in our performances and results so far this season, something that Arsene has to shoulder responsibility for in my opinion, after all, when there is no consistency in our team selections from week to week, is it really any surprise that there is also none in our results, to me they both go hand in hand and a look at Chelsea’s starting eleven during the first half of their title success last season, could prove insightful, with seven or eight players starting the majority of their games.
Those Chelsea first team regulars naturally tired as the season progressed and began to suffer from injuries or suffer a dip in form so I am not suggesting that Wenger doesn’t make any changes, unless forced, throughout the season, I am suggesting that the maximum number of changes being made at any given time, is kept at a more sensible number of two or three players, as Goonerdave66 said earlier this week, instead of the five or six that we have seen at times so far this season, in order to minimise the risk of our momentum being disrupted, an unchanged team from time to time would also represent a positive step forward.
After his impressive all round performance against Manchester United, I believe that the time has come for Arsene to make a bold decision about Walcott becoming his first choice centre forward for this season and give him an extended run in the side and although I was admittedly initially unsure about his suitability to play down the middle, he has shown enough promising signs recently that he is at last developing within the role, although Wenger’s policy of rotating between him and Giroud hasn’t help the team or the individuals involved.
Despite Wenger’s rotation of personnel, I have seen our next eight league fixtures being described by some Arsenal supporters as easy games. After the West Ham, Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos debacles, you would think and hope that these supporters would know better by now, especially with encounters against Everton, Swansea and Tottenham amongst these eight games. Three teams that have proved to be difficult opponents in recent seasons so whilst the reality is that on paper we should have enough ability to take maximum points, when have football games ever been won anywhere but on the pitch?
Up next are Watford, who have not only jointly scored the lowest number of goals in the division to date but also jointly conceded the fewest too, and whilst Wenger has suggested that the league is his main priority this season, it will be interesting to see whether next week’s crucial Champion League clash with Bayern Munich will have any impact on his team selection this weekend, especially after our failure to take any points from our opening two games in the competition.
One thing that I am certain of however, is that Arsene’s apparent public dismissal of the Champions League, based on his recent comments to the media and team selection for the competition so far, is very disappointing and difficult to stomach considering it is arguably easier to win a cup competition than a league title and the Europe’s premier competition is the one I want to win more than any other, even if only to silence the taunts from rival supporters about our failure to do so.
What has also made Wenger’s comments even more bizarre, is his continued reference to the number of times he has steered the club to Champions League qualification, why glorify the achievement whilst at the same time, publicly reducing the importance of the competition in the clubs fixture schedule?
Still, despite Arsene’s puzzling remarks, the most important game is always the next one so let’s hope the team can pick up where they left off…..