You have to have some depth in your squad to rest the kind of quality we rested last night. But it’s more than just the players who took a breather, who will therefore necessarily return refreshed and stronger for their recumbent relaxation, the significance of the sheer depth and quality of the squad Arsène has patiently put together is best exemplified by the example of Theo Walcott.
In recent seasons we would have missed Theo horribly. I believe that we have missed him this time and in fact would have been winning our games by a greater margin with him in the team. However the difference is that we haven’t needed to rush him back. Players are allowed to ease themselves back into fitness and contention. Players approaching the autumn of their careers to who’s form three matches a week would surely be injurious, can be omitted from the starting line up and then come back into it with the running and enthusiasm of younger men. Ask yourself what good it would have done to have rushed Theo back into the team after his operation, the weight of an expectant fan base on his fragile shoulders only for his stitches to burst and his spleen and various other significant organs to spurt down the front of his tunic spoiling the effect of the prettily designed red and white strip. This tasteless scenario was avoided because of the riches available to our illustrious leader and I think the gains will be long term and evidential.
In case you were wondering, I was planning to deliver one of my contemporaneous match reports but my wife contrived to find me something better to do and so I missed Nic Bendtner’s opening goal and spent a frustrating time stream chasing eventually finding myself in no fit mood to invent a match report for a game I couldn’t watch. However I caught up towards the end of the first half just in time to see Hull enjoy a few brief moments of possession in between our magical passing football. None of their moves amounted to much but I’m sure twitter went into meltdown because the opposition dared to have a go. I don’t join any social media based conversations during the match because people simply prove themselves, time and again, incapable of any calm sense of perspective or in fact the ability to actually enjoy the match they’re watching. Instead all you read are trotted out clichés about how we ‘need a second goal’ are ‘playing nice football but must kill off the game’, and how much they ‘hate Nic Bendtner but will support him as he’s wearing the shirt’. It is tiresome in the extreme and they need to get a grip on themselves.
Talking of our Great Dane, when I finally got to see the highlights of the first half I was amused to see how his goal (very very well taken) came at the end of some superb slick one touch passing culminating in contributions from two of the candidates for scapegoat of the season. Carl Jenkinson’s perfect run and cross and Nic’s beautifully skilful header were all the sweeter for those of us who support the entire Arsenal squad without the self serving need to add the word ‘but’ and some mealy mouthed qualification to that sentence. They are both excellent understudies to two extraordinarily good players. Carl has a huge future in the game, anyone who can’t see it is watching the wrong sport and Nic is a proven international goalscorer. Surely good enough qualifications for our or anybody else’s reserves?
I cannot talk about those who stepped up last night without a mention for one of my absolute favourite players in the first team squad. Nacho Monreal has accepted the second fiddle to Kieran Gibbs virtuoso Left back role with apparent equanimity. Never a murmur of discontent and always leaping from the subs bench to play out of position with an irrepressible enthusiasm and lively passionate ebullience and no little skill. I was delighted to see him given a start yesterday and I speak as one who has followed Gibbs career with a keen appreciation. I think if we have players of Monreal’s undoubted talent waiting in the wings we can put to bed the tired lie about us lacking depth in our squad. Theo, Jack, Mikel Arteta, Tommy Vermaelen, Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby, Olivier Giroud, not in the starting line up last night and yet the team were scintillating.
All of this raises the question – what more do people want from our reserves? It really is pathetic how some supporters cannot just support without telling the world how important and hard won that support is, how the club and it’s staff must in some way ‘earn’ it. If you are one of those all I want to say to you is this. How about you just enjoy what the team have served up so far this season. How about you STFU and enjoy the beautiful football. How about you STFU and enjoy the wonderful goals. How about you STFU and enjoy the solid defending. How about you STFU and enjoy the winning runs. How about you STFU and just enjoy being top of the league.
Oh and if things start to go wrong and we suffer a dip in form and you are so distraught and spineless as to be incapable of getting behind the team when it needs you most, then how about you just STFU altogether.
By Stew Black