October 16, 2011
I really should remember to get up earlier on early kick-off days. This post’s going to be relevant for about an hour and a half and then the game will be on and no one’s going to care particularly how I thought we might line up. So yes, I should get up earlier. But that would mean like, getting up earlier. On a Sunday. And that just makes me feel a bit sick.
Today marks our latest – absolute, not messing about this time, those other times we were joking, they don’t count – start to the season and this time we mean business. Look out. Arsene’s confident as ever and he’s been talking up the new signings. Again:
Santos is a good player, Arteta is a very good player, Mertesacker for me is getting stronger in every single game. Park is getting stronger and has just come back from Korea, where he scored three goals in two games. They only arrived one month ago basically, you know.
It’s true. Usually our new signings take a few months to bed in but we don’t notice it so much because they come in one at a time and they join a reasonably settled team. When your squad has undergone such a major overhaul though you don’t have that luxury. We need these players to start performing and fast.
This week the boss has particularly been talking up Per Mertesacker:
I like him. He is getting more aggressive, is a very intelligent player and will be a big asset. He’s not the quickest but uses his brain well. Trust the Germans, they can fight!
I trust he’s talking about their single-mindedness on the football pitch and not their propensity to start wars because I don’t particularly like the way that analogy ends for poor Per.
I know many have been disappointed with Mertesacker’s impact so far but I think he’s done reasonably well. So much of defending is about a clear understanding within the unit and that takes time to build but to me he seems to read the game well and importantly provides a bit of a calming influence at the back.
New signings get judged very quickly but if the team doesn’t win then nobody is good – it is like that. The players who are mentally strong – and I think Per is – will get over that. I’m happy with what I see from him.
I talked earlier this week about the lack of leadership on the pitch and lack of talking. Wenger mentioned it yesterday too:
I inherited a fantastic defence but what people forget is that it was not the unbeatable ['Invincibles'] defence, it was not the best defence. People say we never had to build a defence but that defence with Lauren, Sol Campbell, Kolo Toure and Ashley Cole was the unbeatable one. The four defenders we had were talkers as well.
We have had quieter defenders recently but I think Mertesacker can be a talker. He will come out of himself, don’t worry.
Let’s hope so. Let’s hope he’s like a kid at a birthday party who you worry about when you drop him off because he just stands in the corner not talking to anyone, and then you come back to pick him up and he’s eaten a whole packet of Iced Gems and now he’s running around shouting with all the other boys and he doesn’t even want to come home.
I expect the line-up today will be: Woj – Jenkinson – Koz – Per – Gibbs – Song – Arteta – Ramsey – Walcott – Van Persie – Gervinho. It’ll be interesting to see if there’ll be cameos from the likes of the Ox or Park ‘Bench’ Chu Young following their exploits for their national sides.
People are saying that now’s a good time to play Sunderland but as we know with this Arsenal side it’s not really about the opposition. We’re perfectly capable of defeating ourselves. Today we need to be switched on for the full 90 minutes and banish those mistakes, those defensive lapses, those drops in concentration that have cost us. I’d like to see us show a bit of ruthlessness up front. I’d like to see us hassle and harry and close down the opposition like we did against Chelsea last season. Sunderland have got problems. Let’s make those problems worse.
It’s another start to the season. Let’s do it right this time. Come on you Gunners!
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