Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Great time to be a Gooner, eh?

With Chelsea, United, City and the Spuds slipping up, it was vital that we took advantage of the situation.

And take we did. Arsenal, en route to defeating a tricky Swansea side, have capitalized on their rivals' slip-ups, won 12 consecutive games on the trot, and of course, gone 2 whole points clear at the top. With 9 consecutive victories, we Gooners have every reason to be overjoyed. However, the best part of this extraordinary turn of events is how much we had to wait for this moment to finally arrive.

Since the making of the Emirates Stadium, the club were forced to qualify every year for the Champions League and sell their top players regularly only for the profits, all to clear the stadium debt. We needed factors like hardwork, determination and also a bit of luck (don't forget "mental strength" :P) to see us limp to the top 4 places, especially in the last 2 years. While Arsene Wenger is criticized a lot by pundits, and sometimes by his own fans, we have to give credit to the man who kept us among the big clubs and with a great reputation even with all the drama happening off the field. It was absolutely necessary that we remained financially stable until we finally had the money to compete for major honours.

It was a long wait, but know it seems that the wait is finally over. In my opinion, it was not just the signing of Mesut Ozil that has made us feel that this year could be our year. Arsenal FC currently possess the passing style of Barcelona and the self-sufficient financial model of Bayern Munich. We have a fantastic stadium whose atmosphere rivals that of the Santiago Bernabéu, and we seem to be pretty close to paying of its debt. Deals struck with the Emirates and Puma, not to mention constant qualification for the Champions League means that this club is raking in money. Signing Ozil has put a gloss on what already was one of the best midfields of the country. With Aaron Ramsey in superb form, Wilshere and Rosicky giving their heart and soul for the club and Mathieu Flamini pleasantly surprising me with his Vieria-esque traits, putting Ozil to that list makes me say that this team has one of the best midfields in Europe. Oh, and Santi Cazorla is yet to shine his magic for the club.

Whats more, we're currently on the top of what I consider to be the best football league of the world. The feeling of extreme ecstasy is doubled by the fact that clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea are stuttering in the Premier League, despite having sugar daddies pumping in billions from above. The talk of finally ending our long awaited trophy drought has been on the tip of the tongue of every Gooner, and while I certainly agree that the chances of us winning it are higher than before, pardon me for wanting to intervene and bring a bit of a reality check to all Gooners around.

Arsene Wenger has had an unsuccessful summer. He hasn't fulfilled the primary priority of bringing in a world-class striker, which has left us only with Olivier Giroud. While Giroud's movement, control, hold up play and finishing has increased markedly, people forget that he is still far from the class of Robin van Persie. Is Giroud the kind of guy who would change the face of the game with one swing of his foot? Is he the player the others will turn to when their team is in trouble? While van Persie has been jeered by every Arsenal fan in recent times for being 8 points below us, we all know deep down that we would be lethal in the Barclays PL with him as our tailsman and Giroud as a support striker.

The fact that we enter the first half of the season with only 3 center backs is ridiculous. I'm not even asking for a Thiago Silva to be transferred to the club, but wouldn't promising players like Miquel help fill up the boots? He would get some first team experience and also provide depth in an injury crisis. 2 injuries and we have to shift a reliable and loyal right back to the center back position, or possibly use Flamini over there in the near future.

Having such a thin squad is practically asking for injuries to be a factor in hampering our season. While we are well stocked in the midfield area, this team is light in areas of defense and attack. It would be frustrating if the lack of transfers done in the transfer window would be a factor in our downfall, especially after having the financial muscle and the time to bring in the cavalry.

I'm not saying that this season is destined for disaster. I'm just saying that Arsenal fans are expecting too much of the thin squad that we currently possess. I feel that it would be wise to see where the club is around Christmas and then start to gloat. I secretly am a bit scared that the depth of our squad and our nervy defence might be a factor to destroy what looks like a promising season.

Bar the latest game against Swansea, we don't even have the most rock-solid defence in the country either. While the early games have been against relatively easy opposition where we could outscore the opposition, I'm unsure how we will perform against the big guns.

Which is why today's game against Napoli is going to be an interesting matchup. It will show how much this Arsenal side has grown, and how they can cope with much tougher opposition than the likes of Stoke and Sunderland. Be back tomorrow with a match analysis.

Come on Arsenal.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz