Monkey in the Arsene Shadow

Howdy, it has been an exceedingly long time since I wrote on the blog. A combination of mad deliverables at work, writer’s block of epidemic proportions, the struggle to keep up with energy levels of my two year old and a huge dose of laziness made certain that I couldn’t just bring myself to it. For everyone who visited the site during the period or tweeted to ask why we went AWOL, thank you.

My lack of blogging activity seems to have coincided with Arsenal going on an amazing run of victories. How these two are related, I do not know but if anyone has some Hiro Nakamura powers and can establish a relationship, I will be very willing to sacrifice this blog post and future ones on the altar of Arsenal victories.

The amazing run since the turn of the year has seen us in second place and in the final of the FA Cup. Finishing with the cup and second behind potential winners Chelsea would make for a good season which could have been “bettered” by an improvement in our Champions League performance.  How we managed to bungle it is still one of the greatest disappointments of the season and I strongly feel if we had gone past Monaco and got Juventus, over two legs we would have knocked them out. I always fancy Arsenal over any Italian opposition. No need crying over spilt milk so moving on….

If any tears are to be shed though, they would certainly be hot tears of amazing joy seeing how well our team has come together over this period. Just reading tweets after an Arsenal game and the varied opinion of who the outstanding performer was further goes to show how much we have developed as a collective unit. I have watched Arsenal for a few years now and I don’t think I have seen our team as diverse with players having the ability to perform in different positions as we have now.

This was highlighted whilst discussing this post http://arseblog.com/2015/03/can-theo-walcott-dance-to-arsenals-new-tune/ with fellow Tim Stillman worshippers in Nigeria about Theo Walcott and his inability to get back into the team, a large percentage of us agreed with Tim’s summation

“The problem for Walcott is that he is becoming a very specific type of player for a very specific type of situation, which simply has not arisen much lately. His technical shortcomings can render him ineffective against deep, well organized defences. Here, the superior dribbling ability of Oxlade-Chamberlain is preferable. “

I completely agree with Tim on his analysis of Theo “very specific type of player for a very specific type of situation”. In the past this would have been a good trait, however Modern football demands that players have the ability to perform more than one role and Theo faces this risk of going the way of Arshavin and more recently Podolski.

A review of the current Arsenal’s First team gives further credence to this position

S/NPLAYERRole
1Nacho MonrealLeft Back , Emergency Centre Back
2Calum  ChambersRight Back, Centre Back
3Tomas RosickyAttacking Midfielder, Central Midfielder, Right Winger
4Santi CazorlaAttacking Midfielder, Right and Left Midfielder, Central Midfielder
5Jack WilshereAttacking Midfielder, Central Midfielder , Defensive Midfielder
6Mesut OzilAttacking Midfielder,  Left Winger
7Alex-Oxlade ChamberlainCentral Midfielder, Left and Right Winger
8Aaron RamseyBox to Box Midfielder, Right Winger
9Danny WelbeckAttacker, Right and Left Winger
10Alexis SanchezAttacker, Right and Left Winger, Attacking Midfielder

Of our eleven established midfielder and attackers, eight have already played effectively in at least two positions this season. If that doesn’t give you confidence nothing else will. I think the Invincibles were the best unit we ever had but I am not sure even they had the versatility of our current team, I am open to be proven wrong. Theo has not been helped by injury but the table above helps show why he is still struggling to get into the team as Wenger seems to prefer a team that can switch positions all through the game and still remain effective.

I think our team looks ready to challenges for top positions and the consistency we have shown recently is a pointer to the fact that should we maintain a high level of fitness throughout a campaign we really will be better. “Dear Shad Forsythe”.  Personally, the days of fussing over who starts for Arsenal for me are over, whatever team we put out there, in whatever position they seem to be playing in, I trust the manager to have made the right decision. One less thing to worry about, we all have enough on our plate already.

Chelsea is the dish we are being served this weekend and let’s be honest under their current manager they have not been a really tasty dish.

In some way beating Mourinho is the final monkey on Arsene’s back. Started the season with two trophies, beaten the big teams this season, back to back FA Cup final and potential to win it, equalled the record for consecutive wins in premier league, it just seems everything in the universe is lining for Arsene right now and a win over his current greatest foe would be the added spice to his monkey stew.

Wenger has shown this season how he is willing to switch tactics to suit a particular opponent so it will be interesting to see who he starts against Chelsea especially down the right side with Hazard on the prowl. Experience over form and pace in Debuchy vs Bellerin, high pressing attack over solidity in Walcott vs Ramsey and Welbeck? I think the injury to the BFG made the decision of who to start at centre back easier for him. It was strange that Calum Chambers did not make the bench for the FA Cup game against Reading, so we should hope he is alright as an injury to any of CB’s would see us reverting to possibly Nacho Monreal or Debuchy in that role which is not a good position to be in at any point of the game against Chelsea.

It really should make for an interesting match and I fancy us to win it. We need to.  Hope you enjoy your weekend and thank you again for visiting the blog, hopefully there should be some more frequent content.

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