Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Arsenal: Where did it all go right?

Article by James Harris 
Unbeaten since the opening day and the most wins in 2013, it would be hard to argue that Arsenal are not enjoying one of their finest spells in recent memory.
The introduction of Ozil has been brashly labelled as the sole reason for their up-turn in fortunes, yet it would be foolish and deluded to think that the €50m German has turned Arsenal from European football hopefuls to Premier League contenders in just two months.
There are a variety of contributing factors that have helped the Gunners to the top of the league, and in an unbiased (or attempted unbiased!) outlook, I aim to address all of these in this piece.

Manager Movement.
The summer was filled with the chopping and changing of bosses in the Premier League and most noteably, at the top. Manchester United, City and Chelsea all introduced new faces, and while all talented and experienced squads, a settling in and adapting process was always going to happen. Obviously this has affected Manchester United more than their other fellow title contenders, but it must also be noted that City and Chelsea are both sitting on fewer points than this time last year. Arsenal are on 7 more points than this time in 2012/13 and Liverpool are on nearly double their point count. The stability and routine of Wenger against the instability and freshness of Mourinho, Moyes and Pellegrini plays a small part in Arsenal's start.

The Flamini Factor.
The forgotten man and in my eyes, one the most under-rated signings of the summer. The experience and know-how of the Frenchman, who signed on a free in the summer has offered numerous beneficiaries defensively, offensively and mentally for his side. In Wenger's 4-1-2-3 formation, Flamini has proved the solid rock in front of the back 4. A role which since the departure of Patrick Viera, Arsenal have struggled to conclusively fill. Arsenals defence was continually called into question last year, and while no new faces have been introduced, there appears to have been a sudden silence in the criticism. So what's the difference this year? This guy.
Offensively, Flamini, though not directly, has proved as much of an impact. Where has this Aaron Ramsey been for the past 4 years? Why is it now that Wilshere is CONSISTENTLY putting in these world class performances? The 'safety net affect' of Flamini sitting behind the midfield has, for the first time in years given these 'flair' players a licence; a licence to run with the ball and attack. Ramsey is scoring goals, Wilshere is scoring goals, Ozil is scoring goals and Giroud is as well. Suddenly, these players are allowed to fly forward, get into these dangerous positions and supply the striker.

Mesut.
I guess it would be stupid of me to suggest that this man hasn't had any impact on Arsenal's flying start. He's a world class talent and one that Arsenal desperately needed. If there has ever been a cheap purchase at €50m, this could be it. In the extraordinary modern day football economy, the signing of a genuine world class footballer for anything under £50m is seen as outstanding piece of business and rated amongst the world's elite Ozil is nothing short of that. He already has 3 assists this season along with the two goals he netted on Saturday and has a world renowned reputation for his ability to supply his team mates to score the goals - in fact, he had most assists in La Liga 2012/13 with 26 and featured amongst the most in Europe too. Arsenal will hope to see another 20+ assists from the German maestro this year along with a few goals thrown in there too!


Strength in depth still remains an issue for Arsenal and injury to one or two players could swiftly see a change in their fortunes. As the old saying goes "form is temporary, class is permanent" and although the quality and class of this Arsenal side cannot be questioned, their young side will surely experience a sticky patch this term and it is at that point, when we can judge the true title credentials of the current league leaders.

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