What I Love About Arsenal this Season
In Nigeria, today was meant to be the day scheduled to the presidential elections but with the date moved to due to *coughs*, it’s time those lovebirds to do what they do best on a day dedicated to love, loving, love making and you know, the whole nine yards.
With love being the order of the day, I felt it would be nice to write about a few things I loved about my dear club this season…
Business in the Transfer Window
Arsenal has had the unwanted tag as being known as a “selling club” due to the mass exodus of some star players in the past. But while selling players isn’t a bad thing entirely, Arsenal was faulted for not replacing the departed blokes with players of equal or better quality. This season, all that changed.
Lukasz Fabianski rightly left to Swansea in search of first team football as he couldn’t challenge his compatriot, Wojciech Szczesny, for the No. 1 spot but Arsene Wenger replaced the Pole with David Ospina, one of the standout players for Colombia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It took Ospina a while to stake a claim for the first team shirt due to injuries but Arsenal fans are reaping the benefits of Arsene Wenger’s wisdom yet again, as Ospina has displaced Szczesny to make the No. 1 shirt his.
Further up the pitch, Bacary Sagna left for the
greens bench of Manchester City and he has been replaced by Matt Debuchy. Gabriel Paulista came in to replace Thomas Vermaelen which essentially means that the new addition s(not replacements) in the team were Calum Chambers and Alexis Awesome Alexis Adorable Alexis Alpha Male Alexis…sorry I got carried away (you can’t blame me)
Square Pegs in Round Holes that Actually Worked
Sometimes, injuries pave the way for some other players to get a run-out in the first team but when you ask a player to feature in an unfamiliar position he’s not used to, it could be a challenge. Astonishingly, the story was different at Arsenal. With Debuchy injured most of the time, Calum Chambers, then Hector Bellerin were tasked with putting shifts on the right wing but when Laurent Koscielny suffered niggling injuries, coupled with Vermaelen and Ignasi Miquel sold, Nacho Monreal was asked to play at an unfamiliar center back position and despite his initial struggles, he put up solid consistent performances in that position, even doing better than Per Mertesacker, a natural center back back by trade.
Further up the pitch, the plethora of options in central midfield prompted the manager to try his 42.5 million pound man, Mesut Ozil, on the left wing. The player didn’t do well in that position and suffered a long term injury that sidelined him for a while. Since his return from injury, Ozil has been a different beast, scoring and assist like he’s renowned for on the left wing while Santi Cazorla continued to do his thing in the middle.
Better Away Performances in the Premier League
Last season, for a team challenging for the Premier League title, Arsenal’s away form was downright shocking against their rivals. Arsenal shipped in six at the Etihad and Stamford Bridge, five at Anfield, a solitary goal against a shitty Manchester United side and even three unreplied goals against Everton at Goodison Park.
This season, the Gunners have visited four of the five aforementioned venues and have recorded one win, two draws and a defeat at Stamford Bridge (2-0 was disappointing nonetheless than but I’d take over a 6-0 thrashing anytime). Liverpool had to score a very late goal to salvage a point against the Gunners but the reverse was the case at Goodison Park with the Gunners grabbing a draw from the jaws of defeat. At the Etihad, the Gunners put up a resolute performance to grab all three points.
The Emergence of Some Youngsters
This season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has lived up to that potential we knew he had with some solid performances and his goal in the Champions League this season was one that rolled back the years. With Theo Walcott’s injury layoff and Alexis Sanchez versatile enough to play on the left flank, the Ox featured predominantly on the right and played with such intelligence that bellied his youthful years.
In defense, Hector Bellerin is another lad that saw his chances due to injuries to senior players and he has been very consistent with his placed effort against Aston Villa crowning his efforts. Calum Chambers is another youngster that has excelled admirably this season in the appearances he made. His versatility also ensured that he featured as a center back and a right back.
The Resurrection of Francis Coquelin’s Career
For all the talk of the Gunners to get a defensive midfielder, it’s quite astonishing to know that the Gunners looked from within to sort out the issue they had in this position. I love Mikel Arteta’s lego hair, his composure, influence, passing range and the way he dictates tempo but he isn’t the kind of defensive midfielder an attacking team like Arsenal needs. Times without number last season and even in the handful of games he played this season, he was carved open by opposition attacking midfielders, leaving the Gunners in precarious defensive situations.
Since Coquelin happened, a whole lot has changed. His tackles, interceptions and composure on the ball ensures that his teammates had confidence to attack with the mindset that they have a dependable general in midfield that can mop things up. His stats on WhoScored are on a different level of awesome.
That’s it folks.
Do have a lovely valentines day celebration with that special someone.
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