The cancellation of the Stoke game appears to have robbed me temporarily of the use of my blogging faculties. There’s just not been a whole lot to get my off my sofa and onto my laptop.
In fairness, Wenger’s since come out with some festive tit-bits, praising loanee Lansbury at Norwich and admitting frustration that the weather means Ramsey has spent more time driving to Nottingham than he has done actually playing for them.
It’s hard to say how much either player might be able to affect the remainder of the Arsenal season. I suspect it could be too early for both of them. The example of Eduardo makes me extremely cautious about Ramsey coming straight back at the level he was at when his leg was snapped, and Lansbury, who has already had his month’s loan extended by another month, might be best served getting more of these games under his belt.
With Christmas now looming, and the transfer window following it, I glanced back at my posts at this stage last season and it’s interesting to note that the three main issues vexing me most back then (and many others) were the injuries, the lack of strikers and the team’s inconsistency.
Well, to be fair two of those issues are not hugely pressing a year on. By some miracle (says he touching wood and wafting special incense), our injuries are clearing up faster than they are occurring, leaving us with a few short-term ones (Fabianski, Gibbs), a few more mystifying ones (Vermaelen, Diaby) and one rather convenient one (Almunia). We certainly can’t use a lack of players as an excuse.
And as for strikers, suffice to say we have not had to call on Arshavin to lead the line this year. Judging by his recent form, that is something of a blessing. Chamakh has been a hit, van Persie and Bendtner are finally fit and Nasri/Walcott are chipping in from the rear. We made next to no inroads against Man Utd but otherwise, we are the league’s second top scorers and if we didn’t dither around so damned much, we might well be the most explosive in terms of goals scored.
Onto infuriating inconsistency, and this is what I said after the 1-1 draw at Burnley on 16th December last year:
“We blow so hot and cold as a side that the fans are getting chill blains. The inability to push on is probably the most infuriating thing for me.”
Well that’s not really gone away, has it? Our league record this year is peppered with two or three wins in a row being followed by a loss or two. We’re lucky that the other sides at the top are showing their own weaknesses (a bad run of form for one, too many draws for another). I just can’t help but think that while it’s the kind of form that seems redeemable right now, the first side that clicks into gear will be in the box seat. It needs to be us.
And while we are well served up front, Vermaelen’s absence has been key and our defending can be added to the list of areas requiring some New Year WD-40. Does it need wholesale changes? Defenders of our defending would point to the fact that only four teams have conceded fewer goals than us but we have let too many soft goals in and four clean sheets in the league tells its own story.
So in short Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year so I want some better defending and more consistency and ruthlessness for Christmas. (PS – the last two things I recall asking for last year but they never came in my stocking. Just a polite reminder).
And if I don’t squeeze another post in – Happy Christmas and holidays one and all.