November 5, 2014

Boys To Men

When I read the Galavanting Gooners blog just a couple of short days ago, one thing made me nod my head furiously in agreement. 

"As long as Sanchez doesn't get disillusioned that the other Arsenal players are not trying as hard as he is and give up."

Well, shit. I don't want to completely rid the Chilean of any blame in the collapse (it takes an entire team to flop that badly), but once again he put in a solid performance full of energy and commitment and was responsible for much of our positive play. It was the lack of that commitment and energy from his team mates that lost us points and prevented us from qualification to the knock-out stages.

When watching Arsenal lately, it looks like a bunch of individual players rather than more of a cohesive team effort. As Arsenal fans, we've been relatively spoiled over the years as far as having a team that works well together with good morale in the dressing room. This season we're starting to see what can happen when not everyone sees eye to eye.

Me theory is this; We've brought in a couple of top quality players both this season and last. Top quality players who come form top quality teams - Ozil (Real Madrid), Sanchez (Barcelona) and Welbeck (Man United). Those three teams are successful for a reason, because of the mentality in those squads, the mentality and belief that they are winners and refuse to lose. Especially when you're 3-0 up at home.

I can't help but think that these players have come into our squad and have seen some obvious flaws with how we operate and how we think in comparison to where they came from. Would Alex Ferguson have allowed the teams that Welbeck played in to implode like we did on Tuesday? Sure, Guardiola had some amazing players, but his Barcelona team never would have been such a force with the sort of attitude our boys had against Anderlecht. 

That's what these boys are used to - winning mentality and strong team mates. Perhaps this is a reality check for some of our players who are on the border of good/great. To cross that line and become a great it's bread and butter to hold onto a 3-0 at home against a good Belgian team.

There have been reports that Ozil is unhappy. I'll be the first to call him out on his effort and energy on the field, but it's hard to argue with his quality. You've got to ask whether he just doesn't believe this Arsenal team can take him to where he wants to go.
Now there are reports splattered everywhere about Alexis being miserable. Frankly, I think we're all miserable after that 3-3 result, but again, you've got to ask whether we can help Sanchez fulfill his potential and dreams here at the Emirates.
Welbeck was always going to lose his place at Old Trafford, so this was a good move for him to get more playing time, but growing under Ferguson must have installed that desire, so hopefully we can harness that and he can help drive us forward.

This all really comes down to the manager, Arsene Wenger. I'll argue all day long that he is one of the best managers the game has seen, and he is the reason we are attracting these top quality players in the first place (they aren't coming because Podolski is funny). However, he might be able to talk the talk and convince these players Arsenal have potential, but can he fill that potential and prove to these fellas that they made the right move in coming to North London? 

This season is far from over, and far from a disaster, but questions always have to be asked after such a poor second half performance and poor result. All we're doing is discussing those questions and trying to make sense of this mess. 

Off to Wales for the boys in Red & White this Sunday and then a week or so of exciting International games. If there's an opportunity to rid ourselves of this slightly greying cloud, this is it. Swansea are good, currently sitting in 6th spot, but we have to respond to Tuesdays performance. I love Wales, I love Arsenal and I love sheep, so Sunday has the potential to be a fun day. 

Come On Arsenal!