Daily Archives: April 6, 2013
Arsenal: Thoughts on Competition for First Team Places
With the Manchester clubs running away with the top two places, three teams from London have been battling for the remaining Champion League spots and it has been a very intense dogfight between Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal. All three sides know that dropping any points at the stage of the campaign will be suicidal.
Since that morale-boosting win over Bayern Munich, things have gone for the better as the Gunners have managed to get their acts right in their bid to save what remains of their woeful season. Going so further behind league leaders, Manchester United, has been a bitter pill to swallow but the mere fact that Arsenal relinquished their cup places to lower division teams has been shameful to say the least.
Arsenal’s assistant manager, Steve Bould, still acknowledges the Bayern game as a turning point and he had some refreshing words to say about Aaron Ramsey,
“Aaron has been fantastic. Seeing him in day-to-day training, he works extremely hard.
“He never moans, gets on with his game and has done everything he’s been asked to do. He’s physically fantastic and he gives something to the team. I think he’s improving all the time.
“The great thing about Aaron is he never looks tired. “He’s never weary. He adds something to the team, he gives that physicality and on the ball he’s improving all the time.
“He was getting a bit of stick [from some supporters] to begin with and I think he felt that a bit. It takes a big character to come back and he’s come back massively.”
Arseblog published an emotional post on Ramsey’s progress and it showed that the lad is a real asset for this team. Stepping into Cesc Fabregas’ shoes was a big burden on his shoulders and he clearly couldn’t cope but the vitriol he got from the fans was quite unbelievable in my honest opinion.
I’d shared my reasons why Arsenal fans had to get off his back, citing his age, depth of the squad and his pre-Shawcross performances as the key reasons why he doesn’t deserve to be on the end of such criticism but Wenger must also take part of the blame for trying to make him a jack-of-all-trades, yet master of none.
Ramsey has been in and out of the team this season so he had to work really hard to fight for his place in the team. That game against Bayern was certainly an eye opener as Arsenal fans watched in amazement as their boss gathered the balls to leave out his first-choice keeper and his captain, and in all fairness, their deputies performed admirably.
Wenger repeated the feat against Swansea in their feared home ground in South Wales but the Gunners had to wait for a while before breaking the deadlock through the unlikeliest of sources. If you think Nacho Monreal’s goal was awkward, seeing Gervinho clinch the game was certainly not in the script.
Last week, Arsene Wenger rewarded Gervinho with a rare start against Reading despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s heroics for his nation during the interlull and the much-maligned Ivorian repaid his manager’s faith with a scintillating performance that saw him score his first goal since September as well as laying two assists for Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud.
In all fairness, the Ivorian winger had a great day at the office.
With Gervinho showing what he’s capable of, the onus will be on the Ox too step up his game when he’s summoned into the pitch. The youngster has clearly failed to live up to the initial hype all around him but he also made an instant impact against Reading by winning a penalty for his team that was finished aplomb by Mikel Arteta.
Theo Walcott might probably be one of the apples of Arsene Wenger’s eyes but we may not expect to just walk into the squad in his return from injury. Yes, he’s Arsenal’s top earner and highest goal scorer but in recent times his form has been absolutely shocking, coming from a player that the mere sound of his name brought chills down the spines of opposition defenders.
Another position very much for the taking has been the left back slot and the arrival of Monreal from Malaga has somewhat steadied the defensive ship of the Gunner’s shaky defense. Kieran Gibbs has been a bright spark for Arsenal and he has been tipped for great things in the future.
His manager rates him very highly and has spoken about his vast improvement as a player. With Monreal nursing a knee injury, Gibbs will be odds on to be handed a start against West Brom and like his fellow young Englishman, Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal fans can rest assured that the fullback will put up one hell of a show to stake his claim for a first-team berth.
If this would give Arsenal fans any solace, Mr. Calamity himself, Andre Santos, has expressed his desire to stay in Brazil.
Unlike Gibbs that would be odds to play this weekend, the same can’t be said about Wojciech Szczesny, as former Arsenal goalkeeping legend, David Seaman, is unsure whether the young Pole can usurp his older compatriot, Lukasz Fabianski, for the right to become Arsenal’s custodian between the sticks.
Since Fabianski’s return to the starting lineup, the Gunners have been pretty impressive in their defending and the Pole has made some good saves along the line. Had Hal Robson-Kanu failed to score last weekend, the Pole would have celebrated three clean sheets in a row, a feat Szczesny hasn’t achieved this season if my memory serves me right.
Szczesny’s cause wasn’t helped with the fact that his old man launched a full-scale attack on the manager for his dip in form but the lad has apologized for his dad’s actions a while ago. Arsene Wenger has all the cards in his deck and I’m sure that his players are willing to give their all on the pitch to aid the team’s cause.
Competition can only bring out the best in the players and in my opinion, it’s an eye opener other under performing players in the team to step their game up.
It’s really funny when you hear a
n indispensable player like Thomas Vermaelen say that he’ll fight to win his place back in the team. Who would have thought so after his early commanding performances in Arsenal career that endeared him to the fans and won him a place in the PFA 2009 Team of the Season.
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