Archive | March, 2014


8 Mar

As Arsenal approach the final run-in of games, we take a look at the factors that can fire them towards their main objectives.

When I think back to this precise point last season, there was absolute anarchy in the media. We had just been been dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackburn at The Emirates, totally outclassed by Bayern at The Emirates and lost the biggest North London derby in years. Broken cannons were all over the place. Wenger was being questioned to the near point of disrespect which forced him to have arguably, his fiercest press conference to date in the build-up to the Bayern game, which we won 2-0.

At this stage of the season, the Club came under a hostile level of pressure but the Bayern victory, despite still being knocked out of the Champions League, was followed up by a superb points haul of 26 points from an available 30. This was an incredible turn of events which came about after a masterful re-shuffling of the pack from the manager.

It is with very interesting timing that Arsenal have decided to announce that Per Mertsacker and Tomas Rosicky will be renewing their deals with the Club. With Mertesacker showing his commitment, as one of the core leaders at the Club, it was very important for Arsenal to not only avoid a public, seasonal contract wrangling but to also provide the Club with a boost for the League and Cup run-ins.

Season after season, we are always looking at our senior players, questioning their commitment to our great Club and quite often, we have been incapable of satisfying players’ needs, whether it be financially or on the pitch. There are countless examples of this – Toure, Adebayor, Clichy, Nasri, Fabregas and Song but I would say, since Theo Walcott signed a new deal last January, we have shown our desire to keep our most important players at the Club and I tip my hat to Ivan Gazidis.

Arsenal fans have really come to appreciate what a big player Mertesacker is to the Club in all ways and he has now become a huge favourite with the fans and the players after producing quality defensive performances. A lot of players mention our great team spirit and Mertesacker, as a leader, is very important to this and even as a defender, we shouldn’t sleep on the significance of this deal.

Rosicky is another huge part of our squad spirit. I don’t think he has been particularly consistent but he personifies what our game should be about. He understands the Club and while I think the Club has been extremely loyal towards him, despite his many injuries, I have never got the impression he wanted to be anywhere else in all of his 8 years here. He plays with full commitment but always has the urgency in his game to play the technical football our philosophy is based on. In the words of Wenger, he likes to “accelerate the game”, which is key at the highest level of football and is not an easy quality to find.

The manager has also suggested, that Ramsey and Cazorla are also very close to signing new deals, which will give the Club another huge lift. Not only this but Ramsey, who has been out for over 2 months, should be back in contention for the North London derby next weekend. Ramsey had been a huge player for Arsenal up until his injury and definitely an early shout for Player of the Season. At this stage of the season, when weary-legs start setting in, it is very important to welcome back key players at key times. In terms of player/squad morale, there can’t be many better feelings for the players than to have their futures secured. It truly does create a certainty and assuredness in the workplace.

Last year, we done well to salvage a top-four finish but Wenger has recently been quoted as saying, “We fight the whole season to be in these kind of positions. You want the opportunity to show your strengths – we have that now.” This quote represents the managers’ belief that we are set to make the next step this season, as we are in a better position this year at the same point. We are 12 points better off in the League, 4 points off the top and in the quarter-final of the FA Cup and key contract renewals could see us given a lift, equivalent to last year. 

If Arsenal manage to get 26 points from the last 30 again this year, that will give Arsenal a total of 85 points which would be a great achievement but it remains to be seen if that would even be enough to win the League. Furthermore, it would be brilliant to see us win the FA Cup for the 5th time under Wenger and with all the good news I can see Arsenal finishing strongly again this season.