I posted my thoughts on the new season this morning but the blog got a bit lost in the landslide of similar titles. This being the case I have posted again so if you read the morning apologies!
The end of a superb week of Indian passion where I have only written introductions and thanks. It has been an incredible journey and I have met some amazing Arsenal supporters along the way. Fitting then that my first blog of the new season should mark the end of the Indian leg of the ‘Global Gooner Passion’tour by adopting an Indian influenced theme.
The superb design above is also from India, by @The_Zama and the text on the top left corner is Sanskrit & reads “Tamaso Ma Jyotirga Maya” which means Lead us from darkness unto light. The term is from an ancient Indian text – The Upanishad. Although in essence it is a prayer it is not necessarily linked to a particular religion and more a manta by which to reach self realisation in life. As Zama highlighted it to me it is a perfect end to India week and a good analogy for the new season.
asato ma sadgamaya
tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
mrtyorma amrtam gamaya
Lead me from delusion to the truth.
Lead me from darkness to light.
Lead me from death to immortality.
(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)
I tend to write individual articles as you know but as it is the start of the new season I propose just a collection of my thoughts ahead of the campaign. I did not have my own site last August so did not have the luxury of a GoonerDave ramble. I hope it’s a new dawn and as the ancient script says it is time for Arsene to lead this club and its supporters from delusion and untruth to the truth and in an extreme way out of the darkness into the new light and just possibly lead this new side he is are assembling to immortality.
I will focus on the positives and whilst I will be accused of being naive and blind by some that is my way. I am not happy that RVP has decided that our ambition does not match his, but I am not convinced that is the whole story. My belief for what it is worth that he told Wenger he wished to leave to play in Spain. I feel his interview with the Dutch journalist in which he spoke of his understanding with Affelay and Fabregas pre Euros, followed by the 4th July statement were both ill-advised pleas to Catalonia, which ultimately backfired. His actions which did not lead to either Spanish giants to come knocking backed him into a corner, by which time Wenger and Arsenal had moved swiftly and decisively. That is enough for today as others have written so eloquently on the subject already and I wish to look forward. Also I don’t give a toss for ex-Arsenal players, while they are still playing. Robin and I will both look back when his playing career is over and our perspectives I imagine will differ. Just the way it is I’m afraid: Stapleton Zero, Brady Hero.
Reasons to be Cheerful:
A new style of Central Attacking midfielder required and provided!
I have been consistent in a series of blogs since May in suggesting that Arsenal at their most dangerous are a team with multiple threats. Since 2005/5 I feel we have, initially intentionally with a fading/injury prone Henry and subsequently intentionally set the team up for one player. Even by 2004/5 when we won our last silverware, without Henry in the Cup Final we had no shape, or threat even with such great players as we had played so much to Henry’strengths all season. We then shaped a new team around the talent and vision of Cesc and this also failed to pay off and the shape last season without him left us predictable and slow in endeavouring to service the sole striker the team set up had left us with, how ever good that man was. However it is my belief that Arsene learned a valuable lesson from the latter part of last season and that lesson ironically came courtesy of a player many had cast aside, Tomas Rosicky. We had become pedestrian trying to operate our 4231 without the vision and passing range of Cesc. We passed around the penalty area but the ability and guile to play the incisive pass was lacking. I don’t blame Ramsey as they were large boots to fill, but it was the alternative fast running style of Rosicky, the quick give and goes and the pace of the pass that proved the turning point in our season. It earned Rosicky a new contract but I feel showed Arsene that if he was to persevere with the current system the new CAM should be blessed with not only passing range and vision, but also be able to run at defences when the slow passing build up was proving ineffective. This is a change in thinking from Wenger and I have written it often enough in the past, as he would buy tricky dribbling central midfielders and then play them wide, a la Hleb, Rosicky, Ljungberg. So I could be wrong but I see this as a huge positive and I feel our short and medium term future in this role have been sorted with Oxlade-Chamberlain the heir apparent no doubt, but Santi Cazorla the incumbent and the mentor from whom the Ox will learn. I cannot leave this section without praising Wenger for bringing Santi to Arsenal and a ludicrously low price.
Santi – New style of CAM
Multiple Goal threat!
As I highlighted in my blog in May http://1nildown2oneup.net/giroud-podolski-walcott-must-all-score-10-plus-for-arsenal-to-win-the-title-in-2013/ teams just do not win the EPL with one main goal threat and very rarely even with 2. In most seasons the team lauding it over the other 19 come May, will be doing so having had 3 players in double figures for premiership goals. Arsenal’s best ever season under Wenger was 2001/2, not 03/04 and the double winning side had goals from everywhere. Arsenal had 5 players in double figures in all competitions. Henry, Wiltord, Bergkamp, Ljungberg and of course Player of the Year, Bobby Pires. Now Arsenal have not truly held this multiple goal threat for 8 years and last season with the whole team operating to service the skipper it was less likely than ever. The departure of RVP and the arrival of Podolski and Giroud will mean a significant departure from recent seasons, Both are clinical but at the same time very much more team players. Both will assist and score in equal measure and my gut feeling is that there will be 2 other main beneficiaries this year in Theo Walcott and Gervinho. I see these 4 rotating in the forward positions with Podolski playing centrally when Giroud is rested. Theo, Lukas and Gervinho will rotate in the wide forward positions. I see it as entirely plausible, as Gervinho seems to be growing in confidence that all 4 of these players will hit double figures in the league.
In fact I will be so bold as to predict that these 4 players – Giroud, Podolski, Walcott and Gervinho between them will score 50 plus premiership goals. Save this crystal ball statement and let’s talk in May. If I am right then this will put us in a far healthier position than with RVP on 30, Theo on 10 and our next top scorer a centre back!
Goals, Goals, Goals!
Speed of Attack
My next positive feeling is around speed. I feel this centres around 2 areas for me. Firstly I see us playing with greater speed and urgency moving forward, Between 97 and 2005, the pace and fluency at which we moved from defence to attack was the essence of our style. Yes the quality of the passing and swiftness of mind is still present in our beautiful game but in the recent seasons the fluidity of that passing on the break has disappeared. In our pomp we simply blew teams away moving the ball so quickly from our own area to the opposition penalty area. Cole, Vieira, Pires, Henry goal. 4/5 passes on the break . Of late we have slowed down and our build up has become dare I say predictable. Players like Song and Ramsey have slowed our passing speed, but Arteta, Diaby, Cazorla, perhaps still even Sahin? can do the opposite. In the first 45 minutes against Cologne there were signs of a new directness and acceleration. Speed of mind yes, but decisiveness and speed of passing too, combined with the movement into space which we have always done better than anyone else. The pace of whichever of the 3 wide players is on the pitch will enhance this further and Olivier ‘Big’ G will be on the end of many a break me thinks.
The speed of the above will lend itself to the other area of speed I am refering to. This being the the ability to begin games swiftly and finish teams off in the first half, particularly at home. This was another feature of the early Wenger era sides. We used to accelerate into matches from the kick off anmd score 2,3 or even 4 goals in the first half. Often I would sit in the North Bank frustrated when we took our foot of the gas in the second half, but with Mid week games so often this clinical efficiency early in games will be welcome again. With the fleet of foot and speed and directness of passing from midfield I believe this could also be a feature of Arsenal the 12/13 model.
I have found a video which demonstrates the style of swift counterattacking football I am talking about from the early Wenger years. It is at the bottom of the blog. 10 minutes long but treat yourself.
Defensive Frailties resolved
Sorry Pat and Bora but the shake up in coaching staff was long overdue. Ferguson has been through 6 coaching regimes constantly freshening thought and outlook, whilst we have had the same set up. So welcome Steve Bould, Arsenal defensive legend to the set up and there needs to be early signs that we are tightening at the back. We love you rampaging forward Kozza and TV5 but really now there is no need. Wait for set pieces for your forward forays. Whoever is selected as our deepest lying midfielder should have total discipline and he and the back 2 CBs should stay back. We have attacking full backs and pace and trickey to burn ahead of you so this year stick to your main task please. Readers will know from current crop I feel Arteta can make this role is own. With a fair wind behind us, more luck with injuries and a defensive coach who was amongst the best defenders to wear the red and white things must improve. The simple fact of the matter is our defenders individually as as good as those in any other team, but they must be taught more restraint, discipline and to defend as a unit. I have a target here rather than a prediction. If Arsenal concede only 35 goals maximum we will be in the top 2 and will have a shout at the title. Concede less than 30 and we will be champions. Don’t ask why other than history tells me so.
That is enough for today. I hope I have added to your anticipation for the season and got you even more pumped up for 3pm. I hope also I have highlighted some real positives to look out for and some benchmarks and targets to bear in mind. So in summary the aim is to have 4 attacking players in double figures and with over 50 EPL goals between them and we need to be conceding less than a goal a game to win this league. Look out for the faster style of play, more running at the opposition, faster passing and interchange and more directness from box to box.
Until next time thanks for reading and please enjoy the video below just to remind you of the counter attacking style I am refering to. It is well worth 10 mins of your Gooner life!
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