September 17, 2012
The fickle nature of modern football can pretty much be summed up by taking a quick look at Arsene Wenger’s press conferences.
One week he’ll be having to reassure rabid journos that the sale of our latest greatest star doesn’t necessarily mean imminent Arsenalcentric apocalypse, the next he’s doing his best to dampen down the utter conviction that he’s assembled a squad so strong that we’re about to waltz our way to the league title.
It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these days he has to do both in the same press conference.
Not that I’m complaining at the moment. I’d rather see hyperbole about our prospects than yet another picture of broken cannons on the top of the tabloid sports pages (although I think it’s only fair that they acknowledge the fact that it’s mere weeks since the broken cannons were wheeled out. Maybe they could show that the cannons had been welded back together or stuck back on with band-aids?).
But Arsene Wenger obviously doesn’t want anyone getting carried away. He’s been in the job for long enough to know that the higher they build you up the further you have to fall when they inevitably knock you down. So he’s cautious in his assessment:
Last year we were already out of the title race in September so that was difficult mentally. Are we better? We will only know that in the future.
I think we have a chance [to be title contenders]. We will know that after 10 games. We have the quality to do it but we have to show how much we want it.
At the moment I don’t know how strong our opponents are. We’ve not played against any of the title contenders yet. It will be important to see how we do against the bigger teams.
I’m sure all keen Arsene Wenger bingo players will be checking their card this morning for ‘we’ll know more after ten games’. It’s right there next to ‘judge me in May’ and yet this year it seems to have more truth to it than ever. Game ten is Manchester United at Old Trafford and before that we face Chelsea at home and Man City away so it’s fair to say we’ll have an idea of where we stand in relation to the rest of the likely top four this year.
Following the false start to the season caused by so many international breaks the games are starting to come thick and fast now. Having played Saturday we now play Tuesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday and by the end of that lot we’ll also have a sense of just how equipped this squad is to face the rigours of a Premier League season.
We’ll definitely be helped by the imminent return of the long term absentees. And the good news keeps coming as this morning both The Mail and The Mirror are reporting that Jack Wilshere will join in with full first team training when the rest of the squad get back from Montpellier later in the week. That should see him on schedule for a return to the first team by the end of October which in turn would mean he could feature in game number ten at OT.
The difference with last season is that as things stand we’re not desperate for him to come back and I can’t think of a better environment in which to return from a long term injury. The last thing he needs is too much expectation on his shoulders or the sense that we simply couldn’t get by without him. But with Cazorla, Arteta, Diaby, Coquelin and Ramsey all playing well and vying for places that shouldn’t be the case.
We face Montpellier tomorrow and it’ll be interesting to see whether Le Boss is keen to rotate against a side who have had a very poor start to the season picking up just four points from five games.
One man who I would expect to see getting some more game time is Wojciech Szczesny. He’ll be well aware of the mistakes he made on Saturday and I’m sure desperate to get back out on the pitch and prove he can do better. Arsene Wenger is right behind him. Well sort of:
Wojciech is No 1…
Thanks, boss. That’s pretty unequivocal.
…unless I change my mind.
I see. Erm…
You cannot change a goalkeeper every time he makes a simple mistake, because then you have three bad keepers. The confidence is needed.
Maybe he put himself a little bit under pressure because he knows [Vito] Mannone played well at Stoke and at Liverpool. I think he played better in the second half.
I don’t particularly think he played better in the second half. All he had to do was make the odd clearance and he made a hash of a good percentage of those. But I absolutely agree that we can’t drop him because of one bad game. Apart from anything else I still think he’s by far the best keeper at the club. So we need to back him and give him the game time he needs to get back into the swing of things.
All keepers make mistakes. Look at Pepe Reina at the start of this season a goalkeeper who most Gooners would have bitten Lukasz Fabianski’s hand off for just a couple of years ago. Young keepers especially make mistakes but if you murder their confidence by dropping them too soon then there’s a real chance you can stall their career and suffocate their potential. Szczesny still has the potential to be a true great. Let’s give him the chance to show that.
At the start of last season Wojciech Szczesny seemed like a gift sent from the goalkeeping gods. Let’s not be as fickle as the journos at Arsene’s press conferences.
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