January 31, 2016

Past, Present And Future Of Arsenal

By Michael Clements

In FA Cup's past, Wenger has taken the opportunity to field some youth, sprinkled with some experience. Recently we've seen him deploy some stronger sides in the early rounds which I think had to do with this tournament being our most realistic chance at a trophy in recent years, thus the boss putting all his eggs in one basket, so to speak. Fairly encouraging form in the league along with being injury ridden, the boss mixed things up quite a bit against Burnley and there were some things to look forward to. 

New boy, Elneny would have attracted all eyes if it were not for the return of our Chilean superstar, Alexis. How good it feels to have that kind of energy back on the pitch. He lights up the whole field and doesn't seem to have lost a step with his latest injury setback. Another player that took the attention away from our new Egyptian midfielder was youngster, Iwobi. He's obviously impressing the manager on the training ground, as we've been seeing him on the bench and making cameo's for quite a while now, and in his first senior start for the club we got a glimpse of exactly why the boss has so much faith in him. He got my attention right away with his confidence and calm demeanor on the ball, but it was his work rate that impressed me the most. He was always moving, trying to get into space and I'm sure once he gets to know his team mates and where they will be looking for him he'll fit in even more.

Callum Chambers has made Gooners a little nervous with his performances over the last few months, but had a very encouraging performance at right back. I forgot how much pace he had, and although he looks a little tentative pushing forward he had enough confidence to finish with some style for Arsenal's first. Not a center back's goal by any stretch of the imagination, beautiful finish.

Oxlade-Chamberlain continued to frustrate himself and fans with his performance. You certainly can't fault the lad for lack of effort, but he's just not getting the luck he deserves at the moment. I hope he doesn't lose confidence in himself and continues to push on, because this point in his Arsenal career is vital in defining how valuable he is to this club. 

While Gabriel didn't have his best performance so far in his Arsenal career, the man behind him in goal had a cracker of a game. While Ospina probably won't be with us next season (he seems too good, or at least too motivated to be a back up), he did wonders for his sale value against the feisty Burnley. Koscienly and Gibbs held solid at the back, which is what you'd hope to expect from such experienced players. Giroud seemed frustrated, and with his form of late being so good I'm not going to look too much into that performance. I'm sure he'll find his feet once League football resumes.

And finally, the new boy, Mo Elneny. One of my fears when we signed him was that he would limit Coquelin's playing time, so it was very satisfying to see them both start the match. Contrary to what many of us thought, Elneny is not necessarily that classic defensive midfielder that we assumed he was, with Wenger referring to him as a box-to-box midfielder. I couldn't agree more. His work rate is fantastic, and he seems to fit into the team incredibly well, almost seamlessly. His short little passes in the middle of the park were on point, he seems like a very intelligent player with great vision and he ventured forward a couple of times with the presence of mind to have a couple of cracks on goal. For £5million, he looks to be an absolute bargain, albeit only seeing him for 90 minutes. Best of all though, we still get to have our big Coq out, solid as ever.

So, while the performance wasn't text book, we still outplayed Burnley and continued our epic unbeaten run in the FA Cup while also showing off some of our potential. Unfortunately, 20 minutes was too much for Tomas Rosicky, and he'll sit out for another millennium, but we've got some interesting players to watch.

Hull City have the pleasure of being our next speed bump on the way to Wembley.

She Wore, She Wore, She Wore A Yellow Ribbon!