Today I am delighted to welcome back my good match day friend Pete Martin (@PeteMartin1981.) Last time, a few months ago he wrote his first very personal piece about his own journey into Goonerdom, in which he encouraged fans to be the fans they want to be and not be influenced by social media. It is after all a personal thing and you can read that superb passionate piece here. Today I was up at 7am to find a new piece from Pete in my in box. I will let him explain from here……
I’m lying here, sleep deprived yet wide awake and thinking about Arsenal and what is different this year. Please indulge my insomniac ramblings before my son wakes up screaming for his feed as to what I think it may be.
First up, the most obvious answer…..our £42.5m signing. Mesut Özil. Maybe he hasn’t quite set the league alight yet but his influence cannot be underestimated. The lift he gave the club and continues to give. Not just the first team but the whole club from the fans to the youth set up. Personally, Old Trafford aside, I feel he’s done extremely well. Expectations need to be tempered, a lot of players struggle slightly as they adapt in their first year and money doesn’t guarantee success but I’m confident he is the catalyst to the banishment of the doom and gloom we were under after that fateful opening fixture that seems forever ago now. He is understated mostly on the pitch, happy to let others take credit and the limelight it seems, this is a refreshing change from some of the ‘look at me’ attitudes we’ve had in our recent past.
Secondly, the emergence of the team. By this I mean the collectiveness, the will to win, to fight for each other, to give everything. They all seem great friends and the fact we didn’t have to sell anybody this summer was huge. There are no egos out there undermining what we want to achieve, no player any bigger or more important than the next. The balance of humble and ruthlessness appears to have been perfectly tuned. The fist pumps from Per, the face contortions from Flamini driving everyone on, Giroud bullying defenders the way they occasionally did to him last year, Szczęsny commanding and now a huge presence while Arteta is assured, calm and composed with just enough bite. All this tempered with a real likeability from front to back…..well…..if you’re an Arsenal fan. Mix that with the well documented qualities of Sagna, the emergence of Ramsey and the run of games from Gibbs and it is turning out to be an exciting season, albeit early days.
Thirdly, this seems to have been picked up on by the fan base. The connection between fans and players has sparked back into life thanks in no small part to the personalities of the likes of Per, Szczęsny, Jack and Poldi. The atmosphere was poisonous at that opening fixture, in stark contrast to how it is now. Even the “One Arsène Wenger” chants have started again and I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear it. Again, the importance of this cannot be underestimated. It means the players can play without fear; they can play knowing if they give everything they will have our support. They can try that Hollywood pass, they can take a risk or two and it shows in the standard of football we are again producing. It is nothing short of hypnotic at times and when it’s not, well, that brings me to my fourth point…..our resilience.
We showed last year we COULD be resilient but not as consistently as this. We can’t play champagne football all the time, it is not possible. Sometimes it has to be a bit Lambrini and we have to swallow it. We have to grind it out and we have learnt to do that. I couldn’t give a toss whether it’s through Arsène or Bould I just love that we have it. We have a vastly underrated centre back pairing and a captain who is hungry to impress again. The strength in depth has contributed to that resilience. There is a genuine fear for places now and where arguably there isn’t, we have a player in Giroud that needs no motivation, he isn’t complacent, and he is hungry to succeed.
All this adds up to a massive difference in terms of quality, atmosphere, resilience, but, more importantly, points. It is early days yet, I am trying not to get carried away…..but that doesn’t mean I can’t be excited as every Arsenal fan out there should be.
This is just the beginning and if we build on this I can’t imagine the glory days are too far away again. Doesn’t it feel good? So let’s enjoy it!!
Thanks Peter. I am enjoying it and I very much enjoyed that read. See you Sunday!
Make sure you follow Pete @PeteMartin 1981
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