So far this season hasn’t thrown up many surprises. Some may point to Everton beating Man United at Goodison but with Moyes exploiting Fellaini’s height and power and the fact Goodison has been a fortress for Everton in recent times, don’t expect this game to be on Wrighty’s shocks of 2012 DVD.
It may be that a team from London that has become known as a seller club by some, has had a pretty steady start to the season. One goal conceded, none lost and some new signings really showing promise make Arsenal the surprise package in the birth of the 2012/13 season.
On Match of the Day last night Arsene Wenger said that his Arsenal side can challenge for the title and why not. They brushed aside a defensively poor Southampton team with ease and showed they can travel when they beat Liverpool at Anfield 2-0 in the previous fixture. A minimal amount of injuries and some consistent performances from key players mean that Arsenal won’t have to count upon any London rivals having a shocking end to the season to make them look more respectable.
Let’s not kid ourselves though, Manchester City are the team to beat thanks to the riches they have available in financial terms as well as in terms of their squad’s depth but with a serious run in Europe needed from Mancini to stop the Sheikh from looking elsewhere, who knows what could happen this season. Especially if Mancini continues to make substitutes like the one made on Saturday when Gareth Barry replaced, 4 goals in 5 games, Carlos Tevez.
The start of this season is a stark comparison to that of last year when, due to injuries and the selling of top players, Arsenal looked completely off the pace and were humiliated by Manchester United in a memorable game ending 8-2. This year though with the big names leaving early and Wenger actually replacing them, the Gunner’s look prepared. Along with a lack of injuries to some vital first team players and a new assistant manager making defensive organisation his main priority, I have to say I like the look of Arsenal this year.
As previously mentioned the new assistant manager Steve Bould has really made a difference at Arsenal, something noted in the Guardian recently. In the opening two games of the season Arsenal drew them both nil nil, something very dull but it seemed that previous Arsenal teams may have folded later in those games threw frustration of not scoring, so the fact they hung on was a small victory for Wenger’s side. Thomas Vermaelen talked up the influence of Bould in the Guardian: “He works a lot on the shape of the team and that is very important. He is very focused on details. To to be honest, I am learning a lot from him. I think having your shape right is one of the most important things in football, whether you have the ball or don’t have the ball. We are working really hard on that and Steve does the job really well.”
And once Arsenal found there shooting boots new signings Cazorla and Podolski both obliged to pitch in with a few goals and assists. The Polish born German star was the pick of the bunch with his second goal in an Arsenal shirt coming direct from a sumptuous free kick. The influence that Cazorla has brought to the team has been the most important in terms of changes on the field. The man that turned down Real Madrid because he wanted to play every week was the star that got Malaga in to the Champions League last season and only left due to financial problems overwhelming the club. At only £16.5million Cazorla could be one of the transfers of the season. His vision, creativity and wonderful passing make him a fine example of what Spain do best at the moment, midfielders.
A few questions were asked when Alex Song was let go by Wenger and joined one of the clubs Arsenal players, it seems, only consider joining when life at the Emirates won’t do any more, Barcelona. Those questions were answered however at Anfield by Abou Diaby. His man of the match performance as holding midfielder next to Mikel Arteta gives Arsenal’s midfield a complete shape. Arteta the holding passer, Diaby the marauding power house and Cazorla the attacking creator.
This isn’t the first time in recent years Arsenal have looked to be finally able to challenge for some silverware but with significant changes behind the scenes and a new look to replace the previous goal scoring regime, they should be considered dark horses for the title.
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