Ten wins on the bounce and Arsenal are starting to look like a scary prospect this season. It’s too early to confidently say whether they’ll challenge for the title, or even the Champions League, but they’re playing really well… REALLY well, and as an Arsenal fan it’s taking a lot of effort not to get my hopes up.
If Arsenal win anything this season it will have been nine years since they last won silverware, and those years have been littered with glimmers of hope, brief moments of glory and more than anything else, disappointment.
Wenger has taken a beaten from fans toeing the line between rightfully expectant and out-right deluded, but now his vision and faith are paying off with a team that is beginning to play with real confidence.
Not losing a Cesc Fabregas or Robin Van Persie figurehead this summer has been a huge factor. It allowed a team bolstered last season with the additions of Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podloski and Olivier Giroud to build on the prior season rather than learn how to function without their best player.
The return of Jack Wilshere from long-term injury, Aaron Ramsey’s resurgence at the tail-end of last season and Theo Walcott finally singing da ting all played a part too, but ultimately the current success is because we had no stand out player to focus on.
Keeping Van Persie would have been fantastic, but in the season that followed losing him Arsenal were no longer taunted for being a “one man team”. Even now, with our latest addition and biggest ever signing, we’re still a team of 11 rather than a star man and 10 supporting characters.
Signing Mesut Özil saved our transfer window from being a huge disappointment. As good as he has been though, he hasn’t been our best player – that would be Ramsey.
Ramsey’s role right now is less as our leading man however and more as the physical embodiment of where the club currently is. He’s endured his share of mockery over the last few seasons and come back from a major blow just as the club has come back from the loss of major players in the past.
As good as Ramsey has been, if he were to be injured it wouldn’t be as scary for us as if we lost Giroud or Wojciech Szczęsny. After all we still have at least five players able to take his place.
There are still problems up front and in squad depth, but if this Arsenal team can make it to the January transfer window without a major slump in form – and depending on who we buy, if anyone – then the club’s prospects will be easier to measure.
Not losing Giroud to injury will also be a huge part. He’s our only quality striker, and the prospect of Nicklas Bendtner replacing him should send a shiver up any Gooner’s spine. A striker in January has to be the priority and Wenger has admitted as much himself, something he certainly wouldn’t have done only two months ago.
Wenger looked like a man defeated after we lost 3-1 to Villa on the opening day of the season, but true to form he remained stubborn and stood by his beliefs. It’s starting to pay off now, but his rejuvenated confidence could so easily crumble when the win-streak ends and Arsenal are dealt a dose of reality.
I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, nor am I claiming to be a realist, but Arsenal will lose eventually, and their squad depth will be called into question. I hope we don’t and I hope it isn’t, but it is going to happen.
It will be in judging the team’s response to the setbacks that are sure to come that Arsenal fans can dare to dream of Wenger lifting a trophy once again.