January 5, 2015

So Fresh And So Clean

By Michael Clements

Looking at the starting line up for the FA Cup 3rd round against the Tigers would make anyone think we had some sort of squad depth with the rotation that went on. It was really nice to see some new faces out there, and it was even more pleasant to see them prevail. Of course, if we would have lost we would be complaining about our lack of squad depth and the 78 players we need to sign in January (now it's only 43).  But that's just the nature of the best I suppose.

The charm of the FA Cup will never cease to put me in a child-like state of euphoria and excitement. The feel of event and occasion for this tournament is different to any other. I'm not sure whether it lost it's shine over the years, or if us, as Gooners just lost interest because we weren't as successful as in previous years? Whatever it was, it's back now. As holders I would like to think we enter the third round with a sort of swagger. Not over confidence, but just the right amount sprinkled with awesomeness and just a touch of yippee!

I can't be the only one who got excited to see Theo on the team sheet, his first start since his extended time out with injury. He looked rusty, really rusty, but also showed glimpses of the Theo we all have come to adore. His movement was good, and I'm sure in a couple of weeks we'll see him lighting up full backs and chipping 'keepers again. Great to have him back though, and I sincerely hope he gets to  enjoy this FA Cup run with us this time.

Debuchy aside, we had all of our summer signings playing together, including the elusive Ospina. The Columbian wasn't tested much, but he seemed to command his area quite well, and perhaps now he will put up some serious competition for Szczesny and that #1 spot. There's a lot of talk about Szczesny losing his spot, or Wenger signing another keeper (Petr Cech? Please no) but I think the problem with the Pole's form can easily be remedied with some good old fashioned compettetiveness. Ospina and Woj are both world class goalkeepers and now that the former is healthy I would love to see them fight it out and raise each others game - I don't doubt that Szczesny will relish the challenge too.

Chambers and the BFG are beginning to form a nice relationship at the back, but you've got to imagine it's hard for the young Englishman switching positions every time he plays. Most players have the luxury of having a favored position in which they are deployed most of the time with perhaps an alternate position. Chambers, however, has so far played in three different positions, center-back, right-back and defensive mid consistently. As good as it is for his development, I would be excited to see him get a serious run of games in one position. A fantastic utility player nonetheless.

Campbell was promising, but raw and perhaps a little out of shape, which is fair enough for a player with very limited game time over the last four months. His chance at the beginning of the game, the on-two with Alexis was sublime, although perhaps should have been netted. There are calls for him to go out on loan but if the rumors about Sanogo going on loan are true, then I'd be reluctant to let him go too. Perhaps Akpom would benefit more from going out, while Campbell provided cover for Giroud and Welbeck for the second half of the season. You can say we've got Alexis and Walcott as strikers all you want, but they don't play the role that Arsenal need in that position, and it scares me to only have two proper strikers/target men in the squad for the next 5 months. Get Campbell's fitness up, give him a little playing time and I think he could prove adequate cover. We've been complaining about squad depth all season, so why start loaning all our players out now?

Alexis Sanchez... what more can you say about this fella? At 75minutes I thought to myself "Why is he still on? Give him a rest." Then he showed exactly why the manager left him on. At 1-0 Hull could sneak back into the game at any moment, but when Sanchez got that lovely second goal it was all out of reach for the Tigers. The Chilean is all over the pitch, defending, closing down and making runs, it's truly incredible and so far is my candidate for player of the season. One of Wenger's great signings, and it tickles the nether regions to think he's only 26 with 4 more years on his Arsenal contract.

So, our defense of our FA Cup continues, and life is good. Some key players got a nice rest while some players on the fringe proved why they maybe deserve more playing time. Don't get me wrong, we need to get busy in the transfer window sooner rather than later, but let's enjoy our solid performance.

I can't end without taking about Rosicky either. God, I love that man. Such a class act, and even though he's not been a main stay in this Arsenal team he still has the presence and confidence on the pitch that commands respect from his opponents and young team mates.

A nice long week for our boys to regenerate and rejuvenate until we face Stoke at The Emirates. Revenge always tastes sweeter when you smash a boot into the face of Ryan Shawcross.

FA Cup fourth round draw will be made later today, so check out Arsenal Detroit on Facebook and Twitter to find out who we face next in our quest to retain our FA Cup.

Up The Arsenal!