Three months of the season have passed, 17 games have been played and Arsenal fans can be relatively pleased with the start the Gunners have made.
There have been several key players, who have been instrumental in helping Arsenal climb to third in the Premier League, sit comfortably in their Champions League Group and progress to the quarter finals of the Carling Cup.
With only two defeats and two draws so far this season, the Gunners are performing above expectations, as many pundits and opposing fans alike wrote Arsenal off at the beginning of the season. Arsene Wenger and his players however, are determined to prove their critics wrong.
Arsenal’s defence has often been seen as the main reason for four trophy-less seasons, but Wenger has strengthened the back four with the signing of Thomas Vermaelen. Not since the days of Tony Adams and Martin Keown have Arsenal had a hard man at the back but the Belgian international looks to be in that same mould. Despite his lack of height, Vermaelen is good in the air and strong in the tackle and on numerous occasions, the ‘Verminator’ has put his body on the line throwing himself in front of oncoming shots.
Not only has Vermaelen excelled defensively for the Gunners, he has surprised many by being a huge threat going forward and has already knocked in five goals. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of Vermaelen’s start to life at the Emirates is the partnership he has formed with William Gallas. The Frenchman seems to have found a new lease of life after some turbulent times in an Arsenal shirt. Gallas is enjoying playing on the right hand side of the central defence and together with Vermaelen has added a new solidarity to the Gunner’s back four. Gallas has also contributed at the other end of the pitch scoring four times. It means the team has a new dimension at set pieces, with both centre backs being capable of hitting the back of the net.
One of the most improved players in an Arsenal shirt this season is Alex Song. The Cameroon international has adapted well to Wenger’s new 4-3-3 formation and will be a vital part of the team if the Gunners are going to win any silverware this season. Sitting in front of the back four, Song may not be grabbing as many headlines as some of the more exciting talents in the Arsenal team, but his role is just as important. The 22-year-olds no-nonsense style of play has considerably strengthened the midfield, tracking back to protect the defence and being strong in the tackle – something the club has been missing since Patrick Vieira left.
With Song performing a crucial defensive role in midfield, it has given Cesc Fabregas the license to push forward and show his ability. After two quiet-ish seasons at the Emirates, Fabregas is back to his best showing why he is one of the most sought-after midfielders in the world. If the Gunners are going to challenge for honours this season, the Spaniard will have to continue his fine form. If Fabregas plays well, so do Arsenal and this season is looking like it could be the midfielders best in a red shirt. The Gunners’ new formation has allowed Fabregas to express himself by getting forward more frequently and finishing off moves. He has hit the net six times already this season, including his solo run against Spurs last week and has played a key part in many other goals.
Another player who has started the season in blistering form is Andrei Arshavin. Playing on the left of a three man strike force, Arshavin has started the season how he finished the last. His close control and speed when running with the ball has dazzled defenders and his wonder strike against Manchester United was simply brilliant. Despite his small frame, the diminutive Russian is not afraid of the physical nature of the Premier League and this attitude, as well as his undoubted ability has made him a popular figure with Arsenal fans.
After the departure of Emmanuel Adebayor, many critics questioned who would score the goals if Arsenal were to compete in the top four this season. However, there was no doubt in the mind of Robin Van Persie. The talented Dutchman has been as good as any striker in the Premier League and has already notched eight goals this term. Last season’s top scorer has also made a number of assists and seems to be involved in most goals Arsenal score. Van Persie’s lethal left foot is second to none and he now has the composure in front of goal, which he may once have been lacking.
With so many good performances already this season, it is tough to pick out which one player has played the most important role. The Gunners have made a promising start to the campaign though and if their form continues, then it could be an exciting season in North London.
So who do you think has been our best player so far?
Editors Note: Sorry for lack of activity on twitter, I am not in the country for another week and internet access is hard to get. I hope to connecty with many of you on there after next weekend.