A guest post from Muppet ( @MupetGooner )
If you are not a Wenger supporter, look away now.
Wasn’t it a great win on Sunday ? Superb. Simply superb. For numerous reasons. We beat the premier league champions at their own ground. We ended the 3 year barren run of away wins against City, Chelsea and Man U.
There was a good news story in Coquelin, who was up against one of the best play-makers in Europe, in Silva, and produced a performance that was quite astonishing given his relative lack of experience at this level.
There was a good news story also in Bellerin, who also looked accomplished at right back, at the tender age of 19.
Cazorla was magnificent, combining mesmerising footwork and gritty resilience to produce a phenomenal performance.
The whole team were disciplined and maintained a shape and organisation that had the pundits stunned, and purring, for Ospina had nothing to do. This is no exaggeration. Souness said he was stunned, so did Carragher.
In the aftermath of the result, we started to hear that “The penny had dropped” for Wenger. This was no “Mourinho tactical masterclass”, heralded after the chavs 1-0 win in February last year. No, this was “the penny had dropped” for Wenger, and he had been taught how to do this by Mourinho, despite Mourinho failing to repeat the trick himself in September, drawing 1-1. The style of the performance was manna sent from heaven for the wobs. The “Bould effect” was attributed to the result, as well as the end of an era of “Wenger Stubbornness”.
It’s a good thing that Arsenal fans are happy. It really is. But the level of delusion in some quarters is worrying. There are those that believe that if you have a good defensive midfielder, sitting in front of the back 4, it is the road to premier league and champions league glory. Just sit that man in front of the back 4, the “Gilberto” screen, inbetween the defenders and the midfield, and he will cause this stunning transformation that will provide untold glory and riches for the team. The same people believe, that in 18 years of qualifying for the champions league, finishing with an average position somewhere in between 2nd and 3rd in the league, that we have never defended, or held an organisational shape. Neither have we beaten big teams. And also, if we are so inept, how did we manage the 19 clean sheets last year, and how did we manage to have the best away form in the premiership in the previous season ? I take it we didn’t have any shape in any of those games ? I also would like to know how Everton, with their favoured 4-1-4-1 formation, didn’t achieve anything during Moyes’s tenure, as after all, he always deployed a gritty DM in front of the back 4.
Then there was the AW failing of not beating the top 4 big teams away from home. The damning graphic would be produced of our recent away form against City, Chelsea and Manchester United – ignoring Liverpool – as we won there in 2012. Also ignored is that AW is the man who ended the 100 year run of an english team going to the San Siro and not achieving a win. This is also the man who became the manager of the first english team to go to the Bernabau and achieve a win. And what glorious wins they were. These were not Stokish, smash and grab raids, having a man on the goal line standing on the goalkeepers shoulders at every corner. These were 2 memorable wins, exemplifying class and pure unadulterated football. This is also a man who went unbeaten in the premiership. A man who has transformed the club into one of the most popular amongst neutrals. And all we hear in the British press is a narrative that is underpinned by ignorance and commercial expediency. The results in Dortmund and Munich away, not seen as achieved against a big team.
We were told at the beginning of the season – look at Martinez and Klopp. Young, dynamic, fresh – exactly what we need. Yep, young, dynamic and at the bottom of the table, or heading that way. We were told that Wenger had committed mistakes in letting Vermaelen, Jenkinson and Sagna go, and not signing replacements. In reality, in came Debuchy, Chambers and Bellerin. Nobody wanted to consider Bellerin. He was too young. Not a serious squad contender. After watching him against City, not only is he under consideration, people are now saying that we don’t need Jenkinson back. So does the manager deserve some credit here ? Does the manager also deserve some credit for pursuing an internal solution with Coquelin ? Does the manager also deserve credit for the Monreal signing and his deployment at Center back as cover – a player who is now looking exceptional. I say yes, yes and yes. This is without even considering the acquisition of Sanchez and Welbeck. Welbeck rates 7 out of 10 for a transfer, but Sanchez is in the stratosphere. £35 million ? What ? I hear you say. If you don’t want to give Wenger credit for that, then well.. words fail me.
Whenever one listens to the press or some of the bloggers on the state of Arsenal, one hears the largely negative narrative, but not a positive one. Of course, it’s hip to be realistic. Be too optimistic, and overrate your players – you’re deluded. Keep it real. Of course, of course. But frankly, there are some amongst us, who believe that we are on the cusp of something special here, can see the vision, and have seen it all along. A long term plan that is being effected at Arsenal. Pay off the stadium loan, grow the commercial revenue and build the squad. The squad building exercise is not a supermarket sweep at Harrods, which we can’t afford. Instead, there are patient acquisitions, internal solutions to problems. There are positions in which we can still strengthen, and will strengthen. Unlike certain other clubs, we don’t have any problems with FFP, and we will be able to spend big in the transfer market.
Even though it is already January, we still haven’t seen a team with Walcott, Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla and Giroud. Which suggests to me that we’re playing at 80% of our potential. We see City and Chelsea line up with their best players, and wonder one day if that will happen to us. I hope that it will.