Robin Delivers an Early Christmas Present – But Are We Over-Reliant on our Santa?

On a historic day for Arsenal, RVP hand-wrapped an absolutely sensational gift to us Gunners with a cracking volley that had even the onlooking Theirry Henry impressed. Today’s result of 1-0 to the Arsenal was certainly fitting of the occasion.

Celebrating 125 years as a club today, the organization put together a fantastic display on at the Emirates, which included a touching tribute to many former legends like Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Frank McClintock and George Graham, to name a few. While the club is criticized at times for being a little sterile and overly corporate, I thought they did a great job today putting together a proper amount of fanfare for a storied club like ours. Full marks.

As for the game, our visiting opponent today was an Everton side in decent form (despite coming off a loss) who sit comfortably mid-table. David Moyes is without investment dollars or a top striker at his club, but he’s continued to bring great success to the Merseyside outfit and always has his boys up for a fight. I’m a huge fan of his and was impressed with his team’s work ethic throughout the 90. For Arsenal, this was a big win against a tricky opponent; the 3 points today was a huge boost heading into next weekend’s mammoth fixture.

The team’s performance today was good, but not near clinical enough, and the result serves as a poignant reminder of the difference a world-class player in the squad can make. As with several other games this season, RVP grabbed us 2 points we probably would have gone without otherwise. This raises the notion of Arsenal being a “one-man team”… and I say no. Mostly.

Any team who wants to be competitive at the top level needs players who are capable to make a difference. Ideally you have one or two – or if you’re City, Madrid, or Barcelona, you just go and buy a team worth. This isn’t to say the quality of your other players is moot, quite the contrary in fact. But when those players aren’t able to break the game open, you need that one exceptional player who is able to provide that few seconds of magic that is enough to make that inch of space that can turn the game on its head. Robin is that player for us. Yes Theo, Ramsey, and Gervinho are good, but when they waste their chances we still have an opportunity to get a result due to the form of our star player. That is the mark of a club that is ambitious and that expects (and needs) to play at the highest level every game, every week.

To criticize Arsenal for having a game-breaking player is essentially complaining that Arsenal are aiming to be an A-1 tier club. United has Rooney; Chelsea relied on Drogba for many years; Liverpool have had Gerrard and/or Torres for those qualities. How many times did a top-drawer effort from one of those players steal a result for their club? But the media never complained about that.

Where the problem lies however is that we have absolutely no cover for RVP, despite clearly having the riches as a club to acquire one of those talents. This is true in two respects. Firstly, Fabregas was our ‘other’ game-breaker, capable of shooting and scoring from a variety of distances while also being able to make a pass with surgical precision. But since losing him, we have added quality to our team but not replaced that “wildcard” dynamic he offered us. Secondly, our cover for RVP is far too thin, particularly with the African Cup of Nations looming which will take away Chamakh and Gervinho, our best two replacement options.

I am far from convinced Theo would be a revelation at centre striker, and Ju (-Young Park aka JYP) has yet to look significantly effective in his few appearances. We need a consistent, reliable option that will take a little pressure off of RVP. Form is not a forever thing, and we don’t want him to lose confidence when we expect goals from him every, single, game… and no player is going to score every game, no matter how talented and/or ‘hot’ he is.

Our current squad is good enough – when they play at their level – to beat any team in the world. But we still need another player to give us that extra, difference-making boost when it’s not RVP. Wilshere’s return will help, and Theo can do it on occasion, but I would love to see another real world-beater come to this club to take some pressure off of our other players. Another Gunner with the potential to dig out a result with a moment of exceptional, Twitter-trending quality – that would be the sweetest belated-Christmas present I could get, come the January window.

Until then, I wish everyone a Happy 125 Years of Arsenal being better than the Sp*rs… and to all a good night!

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