Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winning ugly after a defeat shows how much Arsenal have changed since August

A couple of points after yesterday's win:

* The game showed how far we've come since last season's post-Carling Cup final collapse. Those defeats hurt, and so did the start of this season, but we ultimately managed to clear out a lot of primadonnas and mediocre players from the squad. We have less players that go missing, or make silly, repeated mistakes - I'm looking at you, Denilson, Eboue, Nasri. There also seems to be less of a culture of complacency and entitlement among the current team- every seems to know they have to work hard in every game, something that I haven't always seen in the last few years. Altogether, we seem to have eradicated the culture whereby we go on a massive sulk and lose a couple on the bounce each time we lose. That is very important in the long run.

* That said, we hardly sparkled. While winning ugly is important, I am now seriously worried about how much certain players in the squad need a rest. The chequebook better be deployed in January.

* I like Frimpong, but I don't think he's ready to start Premier League matches for us. Especially with Jack back in the new year, I'd be tempted to loan him out. I know that goes against what I said in the previous point, but Frimpong looks very far from being a reliable understudy to Song at this point. He will be Dench; just not yet.

* Mertesacker has made a few high-profile mistakes since he joined (like two of the goals against Chelsea) but he's still made a massive, positive difference to our defence, in my opinion. It's such a joy to see a defender who is calm and thinks about the game, rather than just motoring around, frantically trying to mop up mistakes. I think by next season he'll become a rock, next to whoever's partnering him.

* Benayoun needs more minutes. He offers more than Arshavin and Rosicky. He has a combination of talent and work-ethic which is great to see. I hope he signs a short-term, say two years or so - permanent deal in the summer.

*  Did anyone think Robin was going to miss the penalty? Thought not. His booking was absolutely risible and should be rescinded. A clear penalty.

* Hutton is a disgrace, and there were horrible shades of Dan Smith on Diaby about his tackle on Vermaelen. Luckily TV doesn't appear to have picked up an injury. For every skilful player in the prem, there are still too many neanderthals who lash out violently on a regular basis. Remember, this is the same player who committed a horrific foul on Shane Long earlier in the year for which he received no punishment. Players like him need to be eradicated from football, and the FA needs to bring him longer bans for violent conduct.

* Chelsea play Tottenham tomorrow and for the first time in a while it's difficult to know who, on an non-emotional level, we want to drop points. At this rate, it looks like it will be between us three for third and fourth spot. Chelsea look weaker at present, but still have huge resources and could splash out in January. Spurs are flying, but usually fade when it comes to the crunch. Should be an interesting match. Let's hope they both lose. Badly.


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