05 novembre 2013

What’s the difference between being contender or participant?

Ten games.
Eight win.
One draw.
One loss.

This is the record of a team that, despite sitting quite logically at the top of the table, is not considered a serious contender for the title.
On the other hand, Clubs whose results have been anonymous or disappointing are still considered better candidates than us for the final victory.
Why? Where does this chronic distrust towards the Arsenal come from? Why teams like Chelsea or Manchester United seem to benefit of what appears to be blind trust?

I’ve been asking this to myself since last Saturday but I still didn’t find any plausible answer.
Perhaps I’m way too optimistic or maybe I simply underestimate our rivals, still I cannot understand why we are not on level with other title contenders.
I hope you can help me making this clear, please speak up.

At this point last year, the champions-to-be Manchester United had 24 points (one less than the Gunners) and a goal difference of +12 (one less than the Arsenal here as well); at that moment Chelsea and Manchester City were only one point behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s men; the season before, Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City were five points clear of the closest challenger and were considered as the most credible challenger – and rightly so.
Please remind me: how many points there are between us and Chelsea?
During season 2010/2011, the Red Devils – who eventually won the league come May – had only 17 points after ten games and were EIGHT points far from the top!
In the last five seasons, only once the Club on the top after ten games didn’t end up winning the league.
These are mere numbers, ice-cold statistics you might say.

If it’s not about results, it has to be related to the squad.
I don’t even bother talking about the quality of our group of players because we have the best and most exciting midfield lot of the whole Premier League: Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini have already shown they are at least on par with any opponent in England and Europe while the back-ups have tons of quality, with the likes of Tomas Rosicky, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski more than capable of playing at the top level.
Our defensive unit, not hailed enough, has been solid and reliable and can count on substitutes like Nacho Monreal or Thomas Vermaelen in case the outstanding regulars are suspended or injured; if you want my humble opinion, we are as good as any other opponent’s defense, despite them being pampered more often than BFG, Kos, Gibbo or Sagna.
Up front, Olivier Giroud has confirmed to be more than capable of holding the whole line all by himself – the 5 goals and 4 assists are there to prove my point and to highlight the impressive improvements made by the Frenchman.

It’s not about quality, than.
If it’s not quality, it has to be about quantity.

Yes, we are a bit short of options for our attacking line: is this enough to write off the Gunners, knowing that the transfers market re-opens its doors in two months?
It sounds a bit light for an excuse.
We might be short at the moment overall but we should not forget that the squad has enough depth to cover any position (except striker, at present) and let Arsène Wenger rotate his players avoiding any weakening across the pitch.
I’m talking about quality and experience, performances might drop at any moment but our squad is large enough to go thru the whole season.

What’s wrong with the Arsenal, then?

I’m not saying that we are going to win the league for sure but I would like to hear that we are genuine contenders, not simple participants: this group of players is experienced, united and has huge quality hence my demand for more optimism around the Club.
We’re over the immature kids days, the Mikäel Silvestre’s, Manuel Almunia’s and Julio Baptista’s era is gone now and we should judge this team’s chances based on today’s situation, not what happened in recent years.
Defeats and hard times will come, we will see mistakes and bad performances again but it will happen also to any Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City fan.
We’re no longer the poor, messy Arsenal we used to see a few years ago, we’re not a one-man team as we used to be and we’re no longer a feeder Club that sell its best players – now we splash the cash to bring the best players to the Emirates Stadium.

We already played five games that – according to the so-called experts – should have brought us back to Earth (Tottenham, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and Liverpool) but in the end we won three of them and lost two – and didn’t really deserve to.

What shall this team do to deserve some trust?

I understand that we’ve been let down several times in recent seasons but supporters have to participate to the run by creating a positive atmosphere around the Club – in my opinion.
Each and all of us must decide whether we want to be an Aaron Ramsey or an Eduardo: let the past nail us to the ground or forget the bad times and start to fly again on the wings of confidence.


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