November 3, 2014

Quarterly Report - Where Do We Stand And What Have We Learnt So Far?

The Galavanting Gooner: Episode 8

Now we’ve reached the quarter mark of the Premier League season, let’s take stock and see how things have gone.  

I think it is safe to say that we haven’t had the start that most of us would have hoped for, but equally, as it stands, we could be a lot worse off (spare a thought for my cousin-in-law who is a Villa fan).  We have stuttered through first 10 fixtures, picking up only 17 of an available 30 points, predominantly attributed to too many draws.  On the other hand we have only lost the one game, but still, that points haul is not good enough for a club of our stature.  

Thankfully, all but Chelsea seem to be dropping points at a similar rate and we find ourselves only three points behind the current champions.  It is too early to say if a nine point deficit is too much to claw back, but Chelsea don’t look like they are going to drop too many between now and the end of the season.  We do have a say over three of those nine, IF we are able to overcome our stupid fear and inability to beat the greying one.  I would love to see the look on that idiots face, he would probably try to poke Wenger in the eye, but I know I will not be super confident the day Chelsea come to the Emirates.  

In terms of our position, we are a very familiar 4th right now.  I am sure that Southampton and West Ham will fall away as the season progresses, I am not worried about them, it is more whether or not we can keep our momentum relative to the other likely challengers (City, Liverpool and Man U).
We have already faced two of our main rivals for the top four spots.  We should have had a win against City, but got a draw and we were pretty well beaten (tactically at least) by Chelsea. But so far, I think we can say it is an improvement on our big game performances from last season.  

We bowed out of the league cup at the first hurdle, which was disappointing, but I hope we can push on in January with a prideful and ultimately successful defence of the FA cup.  That would be spectacular.  We started the Champions League with a poor loss, but since then have found our feet.  We could potentially even qualify today and I still think that, given Dortmund’s current form in Germany, we have a shot at finishing top of the group for the first time in a few seasons.  It is also that last victory against Anderlecht that seems to have kick-started a patch of very welcome and much needed good form.

We started this important run of ‘winnable games’ with a very disappointing draw against Hull.  It looked to continue against Anderlecht, until Gibbo and Poldi rescued the game with two late great goals.  Since then, away to Sunderland was far from convincing, but our first clean sheet in a while, followed by a much more convincing performance against Burnley.  If we can win tonight and keep this momentum going then I feel we can cement a place in the top four for the foreseeable future.  Man U, following the international break will be a tough but good test of our credentials.  If we can shake our mental inability to beat United it will do wonders for our confidence.  Of course our somewhat makeshift defence will have a much bigger test against Vanperstrings, Rooney, Di Maria and Falco than they have in the last few fixtures.  Although Monreal does finally seems to be clicking at centreback and Chambers is growing in confidence every day.  

On the flip side however, the only team in the Prem with a more banged up back line than us is Man U, and our front line is no joke.  This however, as funny as it is right now, may be a big problem for us in January.  Man U are even more desperate for a CB than we are and are also willing to pay a lot more than we are…shit.  Let’s hope there are some CBs out there with real class and would rather play for Wenger than a ball sack exposing Van Gaal.

Now Theo is back in the mix I feel our frontline will go from strength to strength.  He was only on for a short time against Burnley, but he looked in great shape, bigger in the upper body than I have ever seen him, but not at the expense of speed.  He believes he is even faster now, and Gibbs most certainly agreed in a recent interview.  He also looked sharp.  Had a well saved shot and nearly an assist for a goal of the season candidate if Poldi hadn’t have permanently dented the post and instead ripped the back off the net.  Is there a player right now in world football with a more powerful left foot than Poldi?!  Of course Sanchez will benefit from Theo’s return too, not that he needs it.  I do believe that he has now eclipsed Costa as signing of the summer.  Yes Costa has more goals, but is there an Arsenal fan out there that would trade Sanchez for Costa right now…I doubt it.  As long as Sanchez a) stays fit; b) doesn’t burn himself out; or c) get disillusioned that the other Arsenal players are not trying as hard as he is and give up; we can beat anyone we have to play.  

Giroud is also way ahead of schedule, and Wenger even said he has a chance to return after the international break!  What does that mean for Welbeck, will he automatically be dropped to the bench?  I hope not, I hope it means that we have more options and can mixed up the style as necessary to beat the opponent put in front of us.    
At this exact moment I find myself calmly neutral on our outlook, I feel we have it in us to push on, but will not allow myself to get carried away with the notion.  The most important thing at this, and any, moment in time, is that we are ahead of the scum from down the lane!

Up the Arsenal!!!