It’s tough goings for us Gunners lately, and all I can really ask is… Where’s The Arsenal?
Our manager is lost. Arsene has fallen from what was once an insurmountable grace, and now is floundering both on the pitch and off it. 0 goals and 1 point in 2 (difficult) games has done nothing to suggest we have the quality he insists we do, and we are only a week away from the transfer deadline which has to-date been a significant net loss in talent and experience. I sincerely hope he doesn’t expect us to watch injury-prone Kieran Gibbs at left-back all year, or the young Ramsey to anchor our midfield in his first full season of first-team play.
This leads to item number two. After finally losing our captain to the call of Camp Nou, we’re only a few formalities away from departing with our other creative midfielder Samir Nasri. The root of Sammy’s move Manche$ter City is certainly two-fold, though there is heated debate as to which aspect – the money or the ambition – has really drawn him to the Eastlands. As an ambitious (albeit amateur) footballer myself, I have to admit some sympathy for Nasri. It is extremely difficult to get motivated when the team around you clearly needs improvement, and the manager refuses to make the obvious changes/buys to facilitate that need for quality. That being said, Nasri came here as a badge-kissing, “I love the Arsenal” player plucked from relative obscurity by Arsene, and it would have been nice to see him pay the team, and its fans, a lot more respect (as well as loyalty, but that’s a lot to ask for in this age). It seems there is a diminishing number of worthwhile players to have printed on a kit, and that’s a scary thought when you see City, Chelsea, and Liverpool all purchasing big names.
Of course it wouldn’t be an Arsenal season without injuries, leading to another significant disappearance of key personnel. Jack Wilshere has been out with an ankle problem, and has now had another setback which will see him sidelined for 2-3 weeks further. This frustrates me to an extreme degree, because the obvious is already starting to happen – we are losing games from our world-class prodigy because of 1. overbearing national team demands and 2. a lack of depth which forces Wilshere to do too much, too often, all season. There is far too much responsibility placed on the shoulders of the 19-year-old and we, in this author’s strong opinion, need talented and experienced midfielders added to the squad immediately. In other injury news, LK6 and KG22 miss our critical clash with Udinese tomorrow but JD20 and Traore are fit; Rosicky will be a last minute decision; and Diaby and Squillaci are still injured. It’s a thin team right now.
Tomorrow’s Champions League game will be a huge test for Arsenal. It’s a shaky lead against a determined, talented Udinese side who will not be eager to give up a rare opportunity to play in the Champions League proper. It may very well determine the fate of our transfers too, as many players’ decisions can rest on the promise of playing on Europe’s top stage; not to mention the obvious financial benefits qualification entails.
Let’s just hope our team, and our manager, can find themselves before tomorrow night’s kick-off, as opposed to finding themselves out of the Champions League and without core-depth to challenge over the long EPL season.