Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cesc We Can!

Currently our team is in rampant form. On the back of three splendid victories, we're still in the mix for 4 titles this season. The win against Ipswich has brought us tantalizingly close to silverware and it looks like an omen of the good times to come. There are more reasons for the supporters to be happy and one of them is the strength, quality and overall balance of our team. Looking around at the others in the league, one could easily deduce that this Arsenal team is the finest of them all. But even if we compare with the teams abroad, only Barcelona and Mourinho's pricks could be rated better.

I couldn't care less for the puke-eating trolls of Jose and due to our upcoming encounter with the DNA-boys, it makes immense sense for me to restrict my focus on them. Barca without doubt is playing some fabulous football this season. They are scoring 3 to 5 goals in every game, against even the decent teams of La Liga. I think their opposition never plays with the mindset of winning the game but rather are happy to minimize the scoreline. Their team is a perfect mixture of home-grown talent and expensive acquisitions and has become the powerhouse of world football. Going into our two-legged affair with them, our team has been branded as the underdogs. The tag suits us, Arsenal is always uncomfortable under the spotlight and prefers to go about their job unnoticed. Many so-called Arsenal supporters whom I happen to know, also believe that our team has no chance of going past against Messi-ers and give the example of last year when Silvestre was one of the CBs. That says it all really.

The situation last year was very different and I believe that our current team can bury the hoodoos and come on top against the Catalans. Although Almunia gave a stellar performance in the first half of the game at the Emirates, he was at fault with his positioning for the Imbrahimovic goal. That goal would remind some of the Belleti goal in the 2006 final, his only goal for them, where Almunia had committed a similar error. But this time, we have two young Poles to start between the sticks. Fabianski's recent solid performances and Szczesny's confident start to his Arsenal career will require the much needed belief in the goalkeeping department. The CB pairing of Vermaelen/Gallas was quite good and I believe that Djourou/Koscielny can also put in a good shift there. 

There has been improvement in our midfield where we now boast of much better balance with Jack and Song putting in the defensive midfield duties, leaving Cesc to surge ahead and play his game. But the major change from last year has been the emergence of Nasri. He has grown in confidence and is playing with more swagger this season. Nasri scored few goals pre-season and has carried over that form and brilliance. He's our top-scorer and also shares the creative burden of Cesc. One can't ignore the growing maturity of Theo who has also given some very good performances. He has been at times faulty with his decision-making in front of the goal but his overall contribution to the team is invaluable. The main reason that makes me believe that we can beat Barca, is the comeback of the father of Shaqueel Van Persie, Robin Van Persie. In the last three games he has shown what he's capable of, destroying teams i.e. scoring goals from difficult chances and lifting the level his team-mates. Despite being tackled heavily, he has looked strong and solid. I think Arsenal medical staff has finally cured him, at least for good few months, and he's now playing without any inhibition and probably the same is true for other players too. 

This season, the approach of our players to the game is different. They're hungrier and stronger than last season. They know that the team has found the correct balance and if they work hard, they can beat any opposition in the world. Barcelona themselves are in top form and this season they're playing Messi slightly deeper which allows Pedro and Villa to also score few goals. I reckon it will be a close encounter between the two practitioners of beautiful football and Arsenal will eventually come on top.

Cesc we can!

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