In the past I have been accused of being negative or having some form of personal agenda against Arsene Wenger. Accusations, that unsurprisingly, originate from supporters who wear rose-tinted spectacles where our manager is concerned.
These are accusations that I strongly refute and would argue that perhaps it is those who choose to focus on perceived negatives in balanced articles, who are the supporters suffering from a negative mind-set. After all, there is a difference between negativity and honesty.
I have always believed, that all true Arsenal supporters, only want what they think is the best for the club. Some supporters however, have difficulties accepting that we all have different views on what the best is and how it can be achieved.
Although it is still early in the season, the manager and the team are currently giving us all plenty to smile about. The team is winning games and Arsene is making the right decisions. Whilst both of these are happening, the criticism of Arsene quietens and the domino effect of that is that Arsene stops publicly belittling those who question him. This in turn is helping to create a happier atmosphere around the club.
Theo Walcott’s obvious improvement this season has been well documented and I won’t dwell on that too much. What I will say though, is that his form is going a long way towards helping Alexis Sanchez disprove my theory that he is not suited to playing as a centre forward and leading our line.
It remains questionable whether Sanchez is a better forward than he is a wide player, as he was a frequent scorer when playing out wide too. However, when he has vacated his role as our focal point, to involve himself deeper in our build up play, Theo has stepped into the void admirably. Although the gilt edged chances missed by Theo against Swansea, show that there is still room for improvement in that department.
In addition to the good form of Sanchez and Walcott, Francis Coquelin looks to be back to his best after an indifferent campaign last season. I questioned whether there were better alternatives out there during the summer, but he’s taken the bull by the horns in the battle for a starting spot in our engine room recently.
Some supporters believe it has to be a choice of Xhaka or Coquelin but I’m not one of them. My opinion is that they bring different strengths to the table. Xhaka doesn’t have Coquelin’s energy or dynamism and by the same token, Coquelin doesn’t possess the same vision or elegance as Xhaka and he certainly isn’t as dangerous from 25 yards. There will be occasions where it makes sense to play them both.
It is not solely Coquelin who has impressed of late. After initially thinking it would take a while for Shkodran Mustafi to settle in, his partnership with Laurent Koscielny has shown a great deal of promise. I enjoyed his battle with Sam Vokes at Burnley and he is proving to be both a natural leader and an aggressive ball winner.
There are, however, instances where perhaps the better option would be to stand the opposing player up instead of attempting to win the first ball. He did fail to win a few headers that you would expect him to win against Swansea, in a game where our whole defence looked particularly vulnerable, but I am confident that he won’t it to become a regular occurrence.
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In fairness a few old habits crept in from the team collectively during that game and even in the 6-0 midweek thrashing of Ludogorets, the opposition found too much space in behind our back four. It is a concern that better opposition would take advantage, if presented with similar freedom in the final third.
Shkodran’s compatriot Mesut Ozil, appears to be enjoying playing his football at Arsenal more than he has done at any previous point in his time at the club. He has also added goals to his game, a past criticism of an immensely talented player, and I have seen him take on greater responsibility in terms of leadership too.
The only real criticism that I have seen doing the rounds has been the recent form of Nacho Monreal. The Spaniard admittedly, hasn’t been matching his previously high standards, although I do question how much of this is down to playing behind Alex Iwobi though, who offers very little in the way of protection or support defensively.
Alex is an exciting talent when attacking but he does need to improve the defensive side of his game. It has been fairly common to witness Nacho calling for additional support from Alex but I am sure this is something that Alex will improve on over time.
We’ve won nothing yet but I take far greater pleasure from praising Arsene than I do from criticising him. Following seven consecutive wins, I anticipate us making it eight in a row against Middlesbrough….