10 Things That Have Transformed Arsenal From Frustrating To Fantastically Efficient Part 1

By Bilal Zaidi

This article has ended up being a lot longer than first thought so I have posted the first 5 of 10 reasons I think Arsenal have transformed from frustrating to fantastically efficient this year. However for reference here are the full ten I have thought up:

– Henry’s departure
– Gallas’s passionate form of captancy and him feeling important to a successful team
– Flamini energy over Gilberto’s calming influence
– Sagna at right back
– Overall spread of responsibility amongst goalscorers
– Fabregas Adding Contant Scoring To His Already Consistant Form
– Hleb having a more free role
– Nobody expecting Arsenal to be where they are now
– Eboue’s penatrative play further up the pitch with less defensive exposure
– Ability to come from a goal behind and WIN rather than DRAW. Also an element of luck

Now before I start this article I would just like to say that everyone has their opinion on this issue. It has been discussed before and I have seen peoples comments made. Every football fan has a strong opinion on his or her club, especially when talking about a successful team compared to a previously “frustrating” team as said in the title. Many people would say; “We haven’t added any players apart from Eduardo who hasn’t hardly played and Sagna, we were always a good team and it is over analysed as to why Arsenal are doing so well compared to the last two seasons.”

This is a fair point, many people may share this opinion but I urge readers to understand that these ten points are simply my opinion and this is an opinion website…Please don’t leave stupid messages saying “YOU ARE WRONG…NOTHING HAS CHANGED…etc etc”. If you think I am wrong that is absolutely cool…not everyone will agree with what I say…everyone thinks that their opinion is right otherwise they wouldn’t hold that opinion. You wouldn’t ever say: “It is wrong that the sky is red rather than blue but I still hold that opinion.”

Anyway…I am interested to hear what people think about what has changed from last year, if anything has changed at all or have we just been lucky to win games compared to last year. In this article I will give my reasons as to why I think we have managed to be consistent and sit merrily at the top of the table. The ten points aren’t in any particular order just written as they come to my head.

– Henry’s departure

As Mr Va Va Voom was sold in the summer, the footballing world stood in amazement as to what had happened. A few months earlier Henry had said he would not be leaving and only the summer before he had chosen to extend his contract with Arsenal instead of going to Barcelona after losing to them in the final of the Champions League.

This point of Henry leaving perhaps ties in with a few of the other reasons I am giving, but not many predicted Henry leaving would instantly be a positive thing. Apart from Wenger of course who let him leave at the right time in his career. For two seasons we have underperformed in the league, finishing fourth twice in a row, even if we got to the champions league final a year ago…this is quite obviously a bad premiership record for a team that has always remained in the top two of the league since it was created.

With Henry leaving, the general strain of goal scoring and responsibility has been spread around the team (which is one of the points written later in this article). Many players talked of “being scared of Henry when playing with him” in that they didn’t want to not pass to him when he wanted it, even if they thought another option was a better one. Fabregas being one of these players. That is the price you pay to have a superstar and living legend in your team, Henry was our most feared player…not just for the opposition but within the team itself.

– Gallas’s passionate form of captaincy and him feeling important to a successful team

When Gallas was given the armband over both Gilberto and Toure I admit to being perplexed as most would have been. Gilberto had proven to be such a fantastic captain last term and Gallas had hardly been at the club long enough to be given this great honour. But you can see Wenger’s philosophy…he had faith in the squad he had, it did after all take him to the champions league final and narrowly missed out on winning. He had belief in them BUT FOOTBALL IS ABOUT SEQUENCES AND PATTERNS…Gilberto was the captain of a PATTERN THAT WASN’T WORKING…A PATTERN THAT PRODUCED A TEAM THAT CAME FOURTH IN THE LEAGUE TWO SEASONS RUNNING.

Gallas brings a different approach to the captaincy…you can see now he feels he is a valued as an important member of the team. Something he may not have felt at Chelsea. A new captain and a fresh new start for the team…this has to be a contributing factor in our success so far this term.

– Flamini’s energy over Gilberto’s calming influence

Flamini came SO CLOSE to leaving this summer after finding his chances limited last year and at left back in the magnificent champions league run where he was brilliant. Last year he never really hit the ground running….It is clear to see that the extended run in the team he has had this year has now made him a crucial part of the dynamic of our midfield. With Diaby, Gilberto, Denilson, Diarra all competing for a place next to Fabregas in midfield…not many would have predicted that with that array of talent available to Wenger…Flamini would be the one outperforming them all.

He has been outstanding this season so far….his continuous running and energy shines through his play and his positive energy flows through the team. Gilberto last year along with Toure and Fabregas was probably our most consistent player but Flamini has proven everyone wrong with his performances this season. Gilberto is a world class player still but his sort of game differs to Flamini, he is about positional sense and intercepting…calming the play down with his short accurate passes. Flamini is energetic and exuberant, he is a big loss tonight after picking up an injury on the weekend.

– Sagna at right back

Wenger today called him the unsung hero of the team and rightly so. Full backs in Wengers teams are so crucial to the attacking play and the balance of the team. Ashley Cole and Lauren were fine examples of what Wenger likes in full backs. NUMBER ONE – ACCURATE PASSER AND PACY…both Sagna and Clichy also fit the bill. Sagna has slotted in like he has been there for years, no “settling in” as they say has been necessary. Something that he should be credited for. His defensive quality is the main positive he brings to the squad from last year, with Eboue sometimes straying out of position and costing us vital goals. Sagna is efficient and has pace, a decent amount of strength and also has a great crossing ability that was shown against Villa on the weekend for Adebayors goal. A huge improvement in my opinion in our team has been the defensive steel of Sagna combined with Toure and Gallas at the heart of the team…they have been a formidable force.

– Overall spread of responsibility amongst goal scorers

In all competitions so far this season; Fabregas 11 goals, Adebayor 8 goals, Van Persie 7 goals, Eduardo 5 goals, Hleb 4 goals, Rosicky 4, Flamini 2.

When Henry left…the main concern was where our goals were going to come from. After all if you lose someone with his track record…it is hard to imagine one person filling those boots. It is surely too much pressure on one player to say SCORE THE GOALS HENRY DID…Henry was a one off player…a livin

g legend in the beautiful game…our clubs record top scorer and arguably the best player to ever wear the Arsenal shirt (lets not go into this discussion).

This season we have seen Fabregas, Adebayor and Van Persie all scoring a decent amount of goals…Also take into account Van Persie has been injured for a long time…11 starts 7 goals…a fantastic early record that can hopefully continue when he returns. Adebayor has scored some crazy goals already this season and Fabregas has been immense. Also Eduardo has had 8 starts and 5 goals…considering Wenger has said he is still “settling in” this is a more than decent record. Our goals have been spread out, the risk of our footballing model is stronger and more effecient this way. If one player is injured another takes over…Van Persie got injured Ade took over…Last week Fabregas got injured and Hleb and Flamini both really stepped up.

It is this attitute more so than anything else that has got us where we are. Gallas said in an interview after a game “IF WE HAVE TO DIE WE WILL DIE TOGETHER!”. Even though this was rather dramatic…it shows what I mean about his passionate way of getting his team hyped up and if that is the mentality they have then fine…it is working so far so good…lets hope it does tonight against Newcastle. More on team news a bit closer to the match, check back for updates and watch the game on the live stream via sopcast at the link below.

These are the first 5 points…the next five will be posted later on tommorrow with a full analysis of the Newcastle vs Arsenal game which can be streamed here live. Good day and any comments will be greatly appreciated.

Newcastle vs Arsenal LIVE VIDEO STREAM HERE

  • Anonymous

    Very very good article. Keep them rolling, seldom does one get such a well thought out piece.
    kalahari blues.

  • PG

    I think another key element to our success this season is our fitness levels. We can keep running at our opponents even in the 90th minute when their legs are tiring. The fact that we have scored more than 20% of our goals in the last 10 mins is a testatement to this increased fitness. Of course, it needs to be combined with the sheer winning mentality that you talk about, but in a physical sport the body has to be as willing as the mind.

  • Anonymous

    Nice article well written and analysed. I agree with most of what you have said and your point on Gallas is especially interesting. I too thought it was wrong at the time but time has shown it was the correct decision once again by Arsene. I will be back to read the second part.

  • ArsenalReview.co.uk

    Thankyou kalahari blues. Where are you from? Just because the name seems interesting lol

  • charlie

    Very good points and agree with them all. I boil it down to 3 main factors for our success this year:

    1. Maturity – This year is essentially the same squad as last year, and last year we dominated possession, created a boat load of chances, came from behind in a few memorable matches, much the same can be said of this year’s outfit. This year the lads have shown an improved mental maturity in turning losses into wins and draws into wins.

    2. A good start – At the end of the year out first match against Fulham, coming back in the final 10 miutes to secure 3 pts will be seen as the most important match. It allowed for greater confidence and belief in the squad and contributed to a fighting, winning attitude.

    3. Change of tactic from Wenger- Arsene now plays matches much further up the pitch than last year. When we lose possession, the squad quickly close down and win it back. Save for the 2nd half against Villa, this takes place at the half way line or in our attacking end. Last year we were more passive, sit back and absorbing.

    Go Gunners!

  • AUA

    point 11: no baptista

    the chances he had last season and his conversion rate were terrible.

    when we got kicked out of the fa cup to blackburn in 2 games we dominated, he couldve scored a few

    when we lost to chelsea in the carling cup final, he again missed a few sitters

    when we dominated psv, he again missed a handful

    and in the league? there were many games where he could easily have found the net, like in our one home loss against west ham where we completely dominated but could not convert chances, and yes again, great julio missing a whole load.

    if we had a better finisher we maybe could have done a little better than we did last season. im not using him as an excuse, but well….yeah.

  • ArsenalReview.co.uk

    I see AUA is back in town…UH OH (in lethal bizzle tone of voice)

    It has been a long time since you have graced my comments page with your comments

  • Anonymous

    Nice article

  • Anonymous

    An awful lot of words to say very little in my opinion. More importantly it tends to look at effects, rather than causes.

    Is there really any excuse not to check spelling and grammar before posting an article?

    As for Gallas, there were quite a few people on awimb who predicted and suggested this before the announcement. Admittedly there were a few idiots who didn’t understand the appointment though.

    Gallas’s body language at OT last year told us everything we needed to know about him.

  • ArsenalReview.co.uk

    More importantly it tends to look at effects, rather than causes.

    Could you give me an example as to what exactly you mean by this? As I said…don’t make comments that are not backed up by facts….I already said I don’t mind if people don’t share my views but if you are going to criticise then at least back up your comments with something from the article that explains your comment. Then explain that specific point.

    Just to add my title does not say “10 REASONS why…”…it says “10 THINGS why”…if anything you have misread or misunderstood the point of this article. It is a mix of both causes and effects.

    Also about Gallas…you are right in saying certain people predicted his captaincy…but he had hardly been at the club. Even if people predicted it…it is fair to say it didn’t make sense in MANY WAYS. For instance when Henry was injured why wasn’t Gallas given the captains armband back then? Both Gilberto AND Toure were above Gallas in the order of captains last year.

    Look at the captains before him, Adams, Vieira, Henry. They were players who had served the club for the majority of their careers.

    It is quite ignorant of you to say people were “idiots” for not understand the appointment. It is easy for you to say that now after a successful start to the season. Also add to that in the summer Gallas was the same player who was publicly complaining about the players and saying things he shouldn’t be saying in public. I think you have either forgot all of these points or you chose to ignore them. Speak facts…Respect other peoples opinions and don’t think that others are “idiots” if they don’t think what you do.

  • Chidy

    You are Wrong… Nothing has changed? ha ha ha.

  • Anonymous

    Nice article. One key reason, in my humble opinion, for our good start is the absence of Lehman.

    This isn’t necessarily linked with Almunia’s form, more a case of one less player who acts like a child, winds the opposition fans up and generally sets a negative tone. This petulance seems to have disapeared save for the odd lapse from Eboue – the Seville game a case in point.

    We seemed to have shed this baggage with Pires, Reyes leaving and RVP growing up and it is essential that we maintain this sense of togetherness by cutting out the histrionics..

    Enjoy the game tonight fellow gooners.

  • ArsenalReview.co.uk

    Lehmann was another thing I was supposed to mention but the article was already getting a bit long winded…but definately….your point is a good one. He is a top goalkeeper…but his negative attitute is exactly what Wenger doesn’t want. Enjoy the game fellow gooners and non-gooners…watch it live through our stream:

    http://tinyurl.com/ypb4fd