As we approach being a third of the way through the Premier League season Arsenal are sitting pretty at the the peak of the Premiership, looking down at all the pre-seasons favourites. We have a 4 point gap and are fully deserving of our lofty position, whatever the pundits might think or say. Of course we have done this with out any injuries and it is widely recognised that if we do get any bad injuries to key players such as Cazorla, Walcott or Podolski we will be knackered!!!!
Er hold on a sec!
Lazy journalist make actually be starting to take notice not that we actually give a damn. Here’s a few reasons why I feel we should be feeling rightly cheerful and why Wenger might just be a ‘Happy Chappy!’
1) A Mean defence – I have already said that if at the half way point of the season we have conceded less than 17 goals statistical precedent suggests we are on for the title. We are on target to concede 31.66 at present. In 3 of the last four seasons that total is less than has won the league. Only City in 11/12 conceded less than that with 29.
If we can stay as tight as we have been off late and continue to cut out the individual errors and concentrations lapses the outlook looking very positive on this front.
The form of the whole back 4 is something for the coaching staff to be extremely proud of in my mind because being talented individually was never enough to challenge. It is a defensive unit that will win us titles and including Szczesny we now have that
2) Olivier Giroud – Our French striker has 10 goals in all competitions and crucially 7 in the league. He is on target to exceed 20 in the league. If he continues at the same rate he will hit 22. Despite popular belief 20 league goals in the bench mark of top quality in this league.
Only 9 players have scored over 20 in a season the last 5 EPL campaigns – Drogba, Rooney, Bent, Tevez, Lampard, RVP, Aguero, Suarez and Bale. Virtually all of these players also take their clubs penalties and barring yesterday Olivier does not. Indeed in 2 of the last 5 seasons 08/09 and 10/11 no striker exceeded 20.
I should add that he has missed only 4 or 5 games in his professional career through injury so finger crossed.
3) The goal scoring form of Aaron Ramsey – So much has been written about our young welsh dynamo but perhaps the biggest surprise has been the new found composure in front of goal. Just how significant might this be?
Well Ramsey like OG has 10 for the season but again let’s just consider his potential contribution towards a Premiership title charge. If he carries on at the same rate his 6 after 12 matches would extrapolate to 19 league goals, without taking penalties. Not likely we might all say but possible.
What does this mean for a team having a regular supply of goals from central midfield?
In 5 of the last 9 years Frank Lampard has finished the highest scoring midfielder in the Premiership. In those 5 years Chelsea either won the title or were runners up!
Lampard however despite all his exploits has only once hit more than 15 league goals and that was in Chelsea’s record breaking 2009/10 campaign when he scored on no fewer than 22 occasions. Does anyone think that Ramsey hitting 9 or so more is impossible?
As a matter of interest the ONLY other central midfielder this century to hit 15 goals in the Premier League apart from Lampard was??? Dare we make the comparison?
4) Ozil and Podolski – I am rather embarrassed to see Arsenal fans selling Lukas Podolski off in January on social media or part exchanging him for a younger German model.
Not much gratitude being shown by some for a player who carrying an injury scored 16 goals for Arsenal in his first season, any of them decisive and provided 11 assist for his colleagues. Add to that his rather obvious positive influence on the training ground and in the changing room.
Now I would agree he cannot do the same role as Olivier Giroud but does that mean he cannot play centrally. Our players are good enough to adapt and a plan B is essential and it has often been lacking in the past. I am not saying I have a crystal ball but I am sating we should wait to see what Wenger has in mind because the fact that Ozil and Podolski have performed together for years, with huge success is indisputable.
We all know that Podolski has had injury issues last season, even if we are not exactly sure what they were or to what extent they affected his mobility and stamina. Wenger and his international manager both confirmed he was hampered and it impacted his selection for Germany. This being the case it would be fair to just look at the 3 seasons before in which Ozil and Podolski played in the same German side.
So from 09/10 when Ozil was first capped to the end of 2011/12, Mesut played in 28 internationals for Germany and Lukas in 31. You might be intrigued to know that across those internationals in a 3 season playing together Ozil scored 9 times and Podlski 11. Ozil assisted 13 times and Podolski 5. 20 goals and 18 assists between Arsenal’s 2 German attacking talents playing on the world stage and many of our fans are even a little bit interested in seeing them together in Red & White?
Put it this way if you asked Ozil if he would like Podolski around what do you think he would say?
5) The return of Theo Walcott – Without wishing to cover the same ground as so many others have trodden, there is little question that Arsenal have missed the pure pace on one flank. Cazorla can play wide effectively but he tucks in continuously and Ramsey and Wilshere have ‘done a job’ wider when required.
However having the threat of pure pace back in the team changes the dynamics in our favour, still further. It is not just what Theo brings back to the team in goals and assists it is what he brings just by being there.
The threat of Theo’s speed on its own will make the opposition left full back wary of pushing on too much, particularly when you marry that threat to that of the distribution capability of Mesut Ozil. I like most Gunners am looking forward to those 2 renewing their fledging acquaintance on the pitch.
This time last season after 12 games Walcott, despite only playing 90 minutes on 4 occasions and only starting 4 games, had already scored 4 in the Premiership and assisted for 5. After 12 matches he had only at this point last season played 600 minutes. This means his contribution was effectively 4 goal and 5 assists in about 6.5 games.
Fast forward then to the business end of the season when Champions League football needed to be secured. Theo scored 3 in 5 in January and then had by his high standards an indifferent spell from February to April which saw Theo substituted most weeks. So with 5 games to go we are only 2 points clear of the Spuds and they have a game in hand. Our destiny was not in our own hands. Cometh the hour, cometh the Theo. Let me remind you why Theo returning can do by taking you back to last season’s run in:
Fulham Away – 1 Nil to Arsenal – Walcott Assist
Man United Home – 1-1 draw – Walcott Goal
QPR Away – I Nil Arsenal Win – Walcott Goal
Wigan Home – 4-1 Win – Walcott Goal
Newcastle Away – 1 Nil Win – Walcott Assist
Welcome back Theo Walcott my 5th reason to be cheerful is probably the one that tops the list.
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