The apposite picture painted at Arsenal would be that of an intractable manager, distressed group of fans and a board which is more mysterious than Michael Jackson’s life story was. The perpetual gloom at the club over the summer has been a juxtaposition of two things – Arsene and the Board’s inability to spend in the market, citing lack of ‘super-quality’ as a legitimate reason and the fans’ failure to support the team when it was really needed. The latter can be a classic case of Catch 22 with the writing being pretty clear on the wall – spend some ‘insert appropriate adjective’ money!
The parsimonious Arsene (read Arsenal board) though, believes that spending money won’t necessarily bring in instant success, it would take much more than that – exactly why despite ‘spending’ late nights ‘working’ on getting things done, nothing has materialized so far. Which leaves the arsenal fans at the two possibilities – either Arsene’s belief in dark humor has crossed its nascent stage or it is ‘actually’ difficult to get super-quality players with decent wage demands. Whichever it is, with eight days and 17 hours to go before the dreaded window shuts on the face, things are not going to get any easier for the board or for the fans.
In middle of all the speculations and daily tabloid-based harassments, one thing doesn’t change – Arsenal play their games with whatever resource they have. With one very important game coming up, the immediate and even distant future could all be decided on the result of the game.
Where are the Positives?
Emmanuel Frimpong – Champion ‘On and Off the Field’ already
The fact that Frimpong left the field on Saturday under rapturous response from the Emirates faithful proves that despite his deplorable temperament, his work was appreciated. He had given his ‘heart’ and ‘soul’ in a performance that would be remembered for ever. With the unremitting calls of finding a substitute for Alex Song doing the rounds, somebody from within the club rose to the occasion and proved his mettle in style – earning a red 20 minutes before time was a little too modish for everybody though.
Not only did Frimpong earn respect from fans with his on-field work, he had a bit of ‘fun’ off the pitch too. Piers Morgan, known for his notoriety in Arsenal circles took a dig at the young Arsenal midfielder; in return he got quite a ‘nasty’ bit back from Frimpong.
Piers Morgan –
Emmanuel Frimpong –
No, it didn’t end there –
Piers Morgan –
“Listen @EmmanuelF4 – I’ve been supporting #Arsenal for as twice as long as you’ve been alive. And was a very ‘Deeeench’ striker in my time.”
Emmanuel Frimpong –
“@piersmorgan I will Go easy On tackles promise everyone that we can stick u on a treadmill for 10mins Loose some pounds piersbigbellymorgan”
Gervinho – A Breath of Fresh Air, ‘Work in Progress’ on Final Delivery
The only significant deal stuck this season in favor of Arsenal has been the signing of Gervinho. The directness of his approach to football is like a breath of fresh air in this pandemonium that the club is in. He brings in pace and skill on the left flank which was deserting Arsenal with Arshavin looking more and more ruffled with his demeanor on the pitch. With time and experience on English soil, the Ivory Coast International can surely be an asset to Arsene.
For Gervinho to become more successful, RvP needs to work closely with the wide striker. The captain needs to combine well in training with him and help him in his development at Arsenal. As the two try to work things out, there is one particular signing that can bring even more out of Gervinho – Eden Hazard. The two already have a telepathic combination, having plied the trade together at Lille and earning plaudits for the same.
Thomas Vermaelen – An Immovable Object
The “new signing” from the Medical Room, Vermaelen, has been absolutely rock-solid in defence so far. Arsenal dearly missed the services of the Belgian last season, a reason why they leaked in so many goals in set-pieces – the highest in the league, in fact. Not only does Vermaelen provide defensive solidarity, he gives confidence to his fellow center-back – the young Koscielny. The vice captain has been brilliant with aerial balls, while Koscielny has been his usual solid-self with ground tackles. The two have already formed a deadly partnership, but injuries are a curse on Arsenal and they need backup already.
This is a very important season for Vermaelen, having missed the last season, he needs to prove a point or two about being the best center-back in the league; in that process, he can help in amending Arsenal’s defensive woes too. Thomas can be a leader on the pitch as well, with van Persie less vocal a captain; the Belgian can do a better job with leadership from the back of the field. According to many Gooners, he is, infact, a better captain than the Dutchman.
Szcznesy – All set at the back, Some kind of Relief
The ‘goalkeeping’ department had been in shambles at Arsenal for quite some time, before the mighty Pole – Szcznesy – emerged from being fourth-choice to first choice in just one season. He has been very solid in front of the post, even being extremely vocal for his age and experience. Many had complained about Almunia not communicating enough with the defenders, which led to defensive mishaps. The Szcz is different; he even takes full command of dead-ball situations by coming forward and plucking balls from the air.
In a recent interview, Arsene has mentioned that goal-keeping is the last department he is concerned about right now – such has been the contribution and performance level of Wojciech. Defensive organization is a very important aspect that a keeper can take control of – Casillas does it, van Der Sar used to do it. Szcz comes from the same family of keepers, keeping balls out of his four sticks is just not enough for him, he shouts and makes his defenders stay in their right positions, guard the right men, make the right interceptions – all a part of a good keeper’s game.
Samir Nasri – If played in Italy, will play for Arsenal this season
It has come down to the last few hours in which Samir’s future will be decided – Mancini making a clear statement about ‘doing the deal’ in 48 hours. The Italian has also expressed his concern about Nasri playing in the Champions League ‘biggie’ on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Arsenal has gone ahead and announced their team for the trip to Italy which incidentally includes Samir Nasri. If the Frenchman plays a part in that match, he is Europe-bound to Arsenal and that can be a major disaster on a possible deal with Manchester City.
It all leaves one with the important question – Is Arsene fine with letting Samir go on free next summer? If Yes, Nasri can be an important cog in Arsenal’s side this season. In the absence of Cesc, Samir can take up that particular role, in which he thrived last season. He has already shown his commitment to the club by providing a very decent performance against Liverpool. The fans also appreciated his efforts having done a 360 degree with him as far as relationships are concerned. If Arsenal are not buying any center attacking midfielder this season, retaining Samir is the key!
Going to Italy with an advantage
Winning the home tie without conceding a goal was crucial for the Gunners as they face a daunting task ahead of them – a trip to Italy to save their Champions League campaign. The match against Udinese will have a direct impact on the club’s and Arsene’s future. Ahead of the match, the club is infected with ‘bad luck’ as far as injuries are concerned. To make matters worse, the incredible UEFA has slammed a ban on Arsene Wenger for reasons known only to them. The ban can be appealed though, which is a possibility as Arsene would certainly not want to see the worse from the stands.
It goes without saying that the team needs to stand up and get counted. They need to fight for their manager, for themselves, for the fans and for Champions League survival. A failure to hold on to the lead means Arsenal would not only lose top-tier European Football, but also signing of potential top players, who would come only with the lure of European Football. Ahead of such a big night, the team needs a lot of support from fans. They need to understand the importance of the match and perform to their potential. Wednesday night will be the decider of many things at Arsenal!