A five point plan to avoid another year of heartache for Arsenal

by Keith O'Connell

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

It may only be early in the season, but we have already approached a major fork in the road, and one that might have a significant bearing on the fortunes of Arsenal football club.  To a man I believe all Gooners would agree that up until the West Brom debacle it has been a quite wonderful, albeit facile start to the season.

And then a familiar and frustrating implosion occurred.

Nobody should have been too surprised.  Atrocious performances such as the one this past Saturday have been a staple of the Arsenal diet for many a year (even the successful and trophy laden ones, it is worth remembering) and as ever it will be the response to such a setback that will define our season.

This response of course includes a trip to Belgrade, followed by an encounter in war torn West London.  Challenges do not come any bigger than this.

Gooners, do not fear.  We are often at our best when presented with a challenge of such magnitude and I have a five point plan to ensure another season of woe does not befall us.

1) Let us start with an easy target – our Goalkeepers.  It seems that Manuel Almunia has another convenient “injury”, although perhaps now it is a terminal one to his seemingly shattered confidence, and most worrying of all the beleaguered Pole Fabianski gets what ought to be his final chance between the sticks.  For his sake and ours alike, I truly hope and pray that he finally finds the confidence and big match temperament to match his undoubted talent, but like most I sadly have my doubts that this will ever happen.  The answer to this one is simple.  Should he foul up as expected in Belgrade, bring Wojciech Szczesny in against Chelsea.  It will be sink or swim and a real test of his character and burgeoning self-confidence, but surely he cannot be any worse than his predecessors.  If the Szczesny experiment fails, we then throw £20 Million at the sinking Scouse ship in January to bring in Reina, and let Wojciech develop as his number two.  A slight loosening of the purse strings may be required here, so once again my hopes are not high, but while we’re dreaming…

2)  Alex Song.  If I were Arsene, I would address him thus.  Your improvement has been stratospheric, gladly proving my initial assessment of you wrong.  However, you appear to be letting the praise and press clipping go to your head.  (Here Arsene’s hypnotic and all seeing stare kicks in) You are Claude Makelele, not Zinedine Zidane.  You are Claude Makelele, not Zinedine Zidane.  Repeat until bored and then HOLD!

3) Jack Wilshere.  As fast as his ascent has been, his feet must be kept on the ground and he has to be protected from burnout.  When Aaron Ramsey returns they will essentially be fighting for one spot (injuries aside, heh) which can only be good for us in the long run.  The future of the midfield, even post Cesc, glows brightly.

4) If Clichy and Sagna could put their heads together and take the best parts of each others game they could potentially develop into one of the best full back partnerships in the world.  Clichy with Sagna’s solidity and concentration and Sagna with a little more of Clichy’s attacking verve and dynamism would be a sight to behold.

5) Follow Your Captain’s example.  This one ought to be a no-brainer, but is it any wonder that Cesc had his head turned in the summer when a significant number of his colleagues fail to replicate his enthusiasm, his hunger for success, his commitment and work rate?  And it is no good just doing it in the big games against the illustrious names, it has to also be matched against the likes of West Brom and the rest of the also rans.  Without Cescs leadership and example running through the team, we coast and invariable slip up.  This season could be seen as an audition for the future captain of Arsenal Football Club.  A rather nice office to hold I believe.  Of course Tommy Vermaelan is a shoe-in, but I’d love to see even a modicum of interest and competition from the rest.  It is a cliché to say that you need eleven captains on the pitch, but all I’m asking for are eleven players trying their hardest week in, week out.

If over the next couple of months we could make inroads into each of these areas we really could be happy and smiling, and basking in the reflected glow and glory of some silverware come the end of the season.

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  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    That West Brom result could be the best thing that has ever happened to us, in that Wenger CAN NOT keep playing those 2 goons in goal, it’s vital that we sign a new keeper on loan, or as you say bring in the young lad, he can’t do any worse then those idiots, 3 mistakes in one week is surely enough evidence that a new keeper is needed, and right now. Everyone seems to know it expect Mr Stubborn.

    I’d take a 1-1 draw with Flapinaski making another mistake, then we’d have to bring someone else in, it really is that simple.

  • Keith O’Connell

    Well, you think back to Blackburn sorting us out 3-1 at Highbury in ’98, Leeds doing us 2-1 at home early doors ’02 and Charlton of all teams storming into a 4-1 lead before seeing it out 4-2 at Highbury in 2003, and in those years it served as a wonderful kick up the arse. We can only hope that the current crop are slowly garmering that sort of character, but my worry is that they don’t quite have it yet.

    I’d rather Lukasz wouldn’t make another error, but if he were to in a 1-1 draw as you say, it certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, though probably curtains for his Arsenal career. I just have a fear that he will one day become a top level keeper, but with somebody else having dropped down a league, or moved to a German or French club where the spotlight isn’t quite so harsh or bright.

  • Tim

    Wenger sees flappy in training every day so he must know something we don’t, either or he’s got a fit mum that wenger likes!

    Let’s not forget West Brom beat a decent Birmingham side, man city with a reserve side so they r no mugs!

    It’s one game, win at either Chelsea or city and we’ll b contenders again, everyone knows the league is fickle

  • Keith O’Connell

    This is true. I had faith in him over Song, Diaby and Denilson, and to varying degress it has been justified. At the end of the day, the man knows rather a lot more about football than any of us do. He obviously feels Fabianski has what it takes to succeed. Let’s only hope he is right and it begins tonight!

  • Keith O’Connell

    Well, it seems my positivity was justified. I’m dead pleased for the lad. Maybe some people will remember he is still bloody young and give him a bit of time now!

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