Do Arsenal Finally Have a Plan?

Well that was a strange few days – two clean sheets, one goal, through to the next round of the cup and a point away to Chelsea. Usually that would be classed as a pretty decent week – and it was, but you can’t help but ask if the two performances, rather than results ‘should’ have been the other way round.

Football is a strange game and when you play so well at Chelsea and get a point but only manage to score one past Doncaster at home albeit with a changed team, you start to wonder!

The performance at the Bridge was a pleasant surprise. Aside from the Pedro chance in the first half and perhaps a half chance for Hazard, Petr Cech was generally untested. We had our chances, a glancing Danny Welbeck header, a Lacazette attempt and Aaron Ramsey hitting the post all in the first half. In the second, we so nearly got our deserved goal and if Mustafi had just held his run, we would have had a lot more to celebrate.

It’s been a while since we’ve been to Chelsea and looked solid defensively and we seemed to play as a unit rather than individuals. The question will go on about if we’re actually better off without Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez until we deliver a similar performance with the big two in the team against one of the big boys away from home.

Everyone has been examining Alexis Sanchez’s body language and every little wobble seems to get a reaction from football fans and the media – but in my mind, it’s quite simple; nothing has really changed. He always has been quite a moody character on the pitch and that perhaps is what makes him such a winner but I honestly can’t say he has changed much this season. I’ve had the fear for a while that he may develop into a bit of ‘play for yourself’ player purely because he doesn’t know where he will be at the end of the January transfer window and if he does stay, he most probably won’t be here this time next season so where Arsenal finish, isn’t really a huge concern for him. Put it this way, if you were Sanchez and someone said your club (that you have no real affiliation with) will finish 6th but you’ll score 20+ goals, you would be tempted to take it and pocket that huge signing on fee elsewhere.

The injury to Welbeck means an opportunity to put Sanchez back in (and Ozil replacing Iwobi) and probably rightly so but there are many Arsenal supporters out there who need convincing and Alexis Sanchez has a lot to do to get back 100% of the support he had in previous seasons.

Generally, the atmosphere on Sunday in the away end was positive and in terms of ‘internal politics’ between our own, it was fairly non-existent and it just shows that if the team put in a performance with heart and desire, the support will stay with the team and even the manager. The only debate at the end was if we should have won or if the draw was fair!

The problem at Arsenal over recent years has always been consistency. We’ve had positive results against the big teams (mostly at home ), but have never been able to take advantage.

Sure; Arsenal have been on good runs before, end of last season, start of last season after losing on the opening day to name two but In order to really compete at the top, you need long consistent runs and at the centre of it is your home form. There have been a few exceptions to the rules, Arsenal didn’t lose a game away from home in 2002 or 2004 but more often than not, your home form is key to any success (thank God, it’s not us at Wembley eh?).

Arsenal have two Premier League home games and with the two back to back defeats in Aug, maximum points is a must. West Brom and Brighton will offer completely opposite tests and it will be interesting to see if Arsene Wenger decides to go back to a back four for either game.

Another interesting aspect is if we see Jack Wilshere featuring in any of them games – We’d expect to see Xhaka and Ramsey starting but there hasn’t even been a place on the bench in the Premier League for him as yet. The expectation is that he will feature in all the Europa League games and the majority of Arsenal fans are praying he grabs games by the scruff of the neck and really states a claim to feature in the Premier League and if he does that, you would expect a new contract to be waiting for him.

To see Jack run the game against Doncaster was pleasing, putting aside the opponents, it was nice to see him back fit and running games from the centre of the park. He is a player with so much to offer for both club and country and I have no doubt has a big part to play for Arsenal football club this season and beyond.


Akhil Vyas

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