“We have our Arsenal back!!!”
I think most heard the chant “We have our Arsenal back!!” at the Fulham game. Surely those who attended and those watching on TV, caught earshot.
My thoughts were it was premature. Yes, I can empathise with why they said it.
But in my view, we only will have our Arsenal back on some key conditions.
As of now, I think it was a reaction to the sexy football/Emeryball on show. We did play some slick stuff at times, and this was for me reminiscent of the Wenger heyday.
There is more to it than that though, whilst this run is a good one, caution is required
Wrongs under Wenger
The Wenger heyday, let’s say from 1996-2005, was a different era of football, naturally. But then there are often some key football universals which apply in all eras:
- Technical skill
- Tactical strength
- Mental strength
The best teams in all eras have these in abundance. City does now, as do Real Madrid and Barca. Prime Sir Alex Ferguson United did, and prime Wenger Arsenal did too.
From 2005 to 2018 we had the technical skill but lost the tactical, mental, and physical facets. This was good enough for top four in this period, but not for winning the league. And of course, once City and Spurs got good, this lead to losing the top four, and ultimately Wenger’s job.
Whilst Emery is in now, his task along with getting us back to Champions’ League and challenging for the title,
Too early yet
Some cite the opposition we’ve played. But some balance is required here.
We are slowly correcting the old faults of latter Wenger, but it’s too early for sustained judgments.
We’ve been a bit lucky in some games, notably vs. Everton and Watford. Both teams pressed us high up the pitch, and we were able to hold on some cases. Everton, including old boy Theo, couldn’t finish. And Watford too (along with Mr. Cojones…) also lacked the capability to finish their chances.
The Europa League teams were also not at our level, and we should finish top of the group.
Even still, there are some signs of encouragement and a new style of play is nascent:
- Passing from the back is improving. Cech pre-injury and Leno are both more adept at this new style. And we’re experiencing less mistakes vis a vis the City game.
- He is from Uruguay and only five foot high, but he has added something we’ve lacked for years now. A strong team always must have a good midfield balance. Iniesta had Busquets. De Bruyne and Silva have Fernandinho. Even Spurs have Alli, Dembele, and Wanyama.
- Tactical changes – since Emery has changed formations mid-game, and brought on substitutions that have won games. Iwobi vs. Watford is a prime example. He also is willing to change things at half-time and is the tactical manager we’ve needed for a while.
- Touchline presence. I noticed at the City game that Emery was near constant at the touchline, giving instructions, orders, comments, berating, and encouragement. The players would respond to this well, via better accountability and direction. Even though our defence is still suspect at times, at the least, there is the boss at the touchline saying it’s not on.
This isn’t a knock at Wenger at all.
But then we’re seeing, in some ways, the anti-latter Wenger methodology.
We’re retaining sexy football, but then have augmented it with some Emeryball, as it were.
The Ramsey goal was nice to see, and it was very telling of the Wenger heyday. But for me, we need we’d only get our Arsenal back if:
- We had a strong defence, and conceded no less than 35 goals per season.
- Put in a strong PL challenge. Even if we folded, it had to be near the end, but not in March, or earlier.
- Do well in the Champions League, and stand toe to toe vs. one of the big boys. Barca and Bayern have given us plenty of beatings – I’d love to defeat Messi/Bayern in a two-legged game for once.
Even last season, there were games where we played sexy football. Everton away, Burnley at home (Wenger’s last home game of course), and even Man U at home were examples. Yes, we lost to United, but we played very well despite this. So stellar football alone doesn’t change anything.
Maybe it was the fans, at last, are seen change and hope? Possibly. We’re not only changing on the pitch but off it too, with some world class appointments at the top management level (Sanhelli/Mislintat). So the overall feeling at our club is more positive.
We’ve been compared to Man United, in that both Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson represented old-school managers in terms of powers, who controlled all footballing facets of their clubs. The difference is that United still haven’t found their way yet, and not having a sound structure above Mourinho is the major (but not sole….don’t forget Jose now…) cause of their comical issues. We’ve evidently rectified this – and the fruits are starting to bear, even if they’re very small at the moment.
Call this biased or even deluded, but because we’ve identified our faults and altered them, I believe we will win the league before they will. They have a long way to go to get to that position, and getting rid of Mourinho alone won’t change this.
So for me, we don’t have our Arsenal back. But we’re on the way, but not yet.