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Injury Returns, Positivity And Patience

Morning everyone, it’s been quite the weekend we’ve been treated to! Two goals scored by new boys, another clean sheet, and owning Anfield cap off a performance that many of us wish had come a little sooner. That doesn’t matter now, as we look towards Southampton with quiet optimism, going into the international break. I’ll never understand some things about football. Mainly, the transfer window and international breaks. Why would you have the window end during the season, why not before? This would encourage teams to conduct their business early, and ensure the team has ample time to gel. Players signed on deadline day have already spent the entire preseason with their former teams, and are then being thrown into the deep end to perform. This effect is made worse if they’re expected to be a regular starter.

On to international breaks, which also hinders teams and players. Out of our three new signings, Santi feels the brunt of these two circumstances. He was signed closer to the deadline day than Giroud and Podolski, and has to travel with Spain yet again to play in a meaningless friendly. Last time it was Puerto Rico, this time it’s Saudi Arabia. I don’t care as much that players leave to play for their country, it’s just the terrible timing of these friendlies. Why take a relatively new player out of his home camp right before the season starts, tire him out, and return him from half way around the world a mere 48 hours before he plays in his home debut? Not only had he not adjusted to life at Arsenal, he’s come into the lineup with the expectation to perform with players he barely knows, while fatigued. It’s silly. I hope the FA and FIFA respectively will fix this in the near future, because it’s nonsensical and detrimental to everyone involved.

Anyway, enough about what’s wrong, and we return to what’s been going right so far. A great game, and more importantly a step in the right direction for the team. We’ve finally proven that our departed players are indeed surplus to our requirements, our arrivals more than picking up the slack. Combine that with the fact that we were playing without a full strength squad and a rather lean bench says it all.

It seems as though Jack Wilshere has made great strides in returning to full fitness, after he went off injured against the New York Red Bulls in the Emirates Cup. Losing him after the departures of Fabregas and Nasri was the final straw for Arsène. He was forced to reinforce the midfield with Mikel Arteta. What he didn’t plan was for Arteta to become a long-term fixture in our starting lineup, as Jack’s injury went from a “slight problem” to an injury that’s kept him out for over a year. When he does return alongside Tomas Rosicky, I hope Jack can find his feet quickly to provide competition to the likes of Cazorla and Abou Diaby for a starting spot. He can’t just walk back into the team, and he knows that. The fact that he’s been handed the #10 shirt shows two things: a sign of faith from Arsène, and a precursor to him being moved up the park. I hope both are true, but Jack playing in a more advanced position excites me the most. If he does becoming our most advanced midfielder of the current trio, I expect Santi to be moved out to the wing. Statistically, the Spaniard is the squad’s most accurate crosser, and his ambidexterity could see him play on either flank. I can’t remember the last player we’ve signed who was as versatile as Cazorla. Last year, he played in every conceivable position in midfield, which is unheard of these days. Yes, maybe there are a lot of players who can play in multiple positions, but rarely do. Having a “utility” player whose skill matches the best in the league and outside of it is immense. I have no doubt in my mind that Santi “Swiss Army Knife” Cazorla will prove useful down the road when injuries inevitably strike again.

It’s happy times for our squad at the moment though, with almost everybody fit. Even Abou DIaby has managed to stay fit from preseason, which is a good sign for his development. With the departure of Song, Abou has been thrust into the limelight, and has been improving steadily with each match. He can only get better, which really excites me for what he can make of himself this season.

“I think Diaby is getting stronger and stronger, we know the efficiency of Arteta and Cazorla is an exceptional football player. Every Arsenal fan has certainly noticed that already.”

It seems every successful team of late has been built around an orchestrating midfielder of sorts. Think Paul Scholes, Yaya Toure, Frank Lampard. These are all players who sit at the back of the midfield, making up the spine. They can do a job at both ends of the park, intercepting or tackling, the getting forward to help the attack. It’s this kind of box to box player which we haven’t nailed down in the past. Song always did one or the other really well, never both. Diaby seems to know exactly what to do all the time though, whether it’s tackle, dribble, pass or shoot. It’s amazing to think that this time last year many people wanted him sold, fed up with his extended injury table stays. Amazing what a year does for you: ask RVPayday. I just hope we can keep Diaby fit and firing, because he’ll be our most important midfielder this year, mark my words.

Not everybody has had an easy time at the Arsenal so far though, and it’s a shame that there’s only been one “under performer” of late in the sense that the pressure is mounting on him. Obviously, I’m talking about Olivier Giroud, and his misfortunes in front of goal. When I look back at the chance at Sunderland and on Sunday, I can’t help but draw from comparisons. Both required him to shoot with his body at extreme angles, where he’s about as balanced as a Jenga tower, and both chances required some luck. Even if he did get both efforts on target, it’s likely they would have hit Asmir Begovic and Pepe Reina respectively. Instead, Giroud went to curl the ball around the keeper, and inside the post. An incredibly hard finish given the circumstances, so I hope he doesn’t pay any attention to his critics. If he keeps his head down, and keeps playing with the intelligence he’s shown thus far, he’ll be alright. Even Thierry Henry and Robert Pires took a few games to find their feet, he’ll be fine.

That’s all for today, have a good one.

Follow me on twitter @MarshallArsenal

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