The year of the Ram

Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal

Every now and then I do that thing where I wonder what some of our home-grown players would fetch on the open market. Jack Wilshere, of course, form and injury notwithstanding, would command a pretty fee – a most handsome fee. But what about Aaron Ramsey? In just this last year his form has gone bananas, taking him from a squad player to a first choice teamsheeter. From being a victim of grumbles, he has emerged into the sunny uplands of the best form of his career. “What he has achieved is fantastic”, said Wenger. Damn right it is. We all saw that injury. My own leg goes wobbly even now, just thinking about it, so imagine how hard it has been for him to recover from that, both physically and mentally. To force yourself into a team, and then to make it stick.

This is what Wenger means, I suspect, about building your team rather than buying it ready-made. When you get someone who so utterly turns his fortunes around, it’s hard not to have a massive grin on your face. It says it all that on Ozil’s debut, it was all about Ramsey. His first goal was volleyed so hard the keeper couldn’t even drop a foot to block it. And his second was coolly slotted home after some ping-ping passing of the highest order.

Ozil, what about him? Top class despite having spent the day on the can (if it’s ok with you I’d rather not analyse this too much). Setting up Giroud’s goal and feeding Walcott the tastiest morsels. And that was just his debut. We’ve all read a lot about him, watched all the presentation videos, seen the fallout of his departure, so it was just a joy to get that first game done.

And so to Theo, a classic confidence player whose form is not quite that of his Welsh midfield mucker. Wide players – wingers, call them what you will – are the kinds of players who can drift in and out of games, due in part to their geographical location. Walcott was not peripheral yesterday, it’s just that he missed the chances he was presented with. I suspect he can’t wait for that first goal to come. Easy to forget though that he was our top scorer last season. It’ll come. As for his chances, the first one was the best. The header was a header, and he’s no Smudger Smith.

We got a bit of luck, for sure, and we seem to have developed an addiction to conceding penalties, which is not so amusing. But these are iron-outable things, I think. Maybe at the tail end of last season we veered too far into solid defensive territory at the expense of rip-snorting football, and this year we’ve veered too far the other way (these are eye-opening technical observations, I’m sure you’ll concur), and we need to get the balance right. Or maybe we just need Per back.

And Giroud? He says he’s ok. “He is the player at the moment that would be very difficult for us [to replace]” said Wenger. I am tempted to drop a sarcastic comment at this stage, maybe adding a throw-away soundbite about Bendtner, but given we find ourselves in a happy place, and in some good form, I might just button the old lip.

Onwards to France. Vive le genou de Giroud.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jeff

    We’re on a nice run, although it feels like playing with fire to have such a thin bench. Seriously. That would look ok as a League Cup bench, but from Frimpong, Akpom, Ryo, and Gnabry maybe only one of them should be making the bench. Is the current injury crisis any more epic than usual?


    Plus Diaby, Zelalem, and Sanogo, and maybe now Giroud, and Mertesacker might still be sick; and Vermaelen is just coming back from injury.

    I like not having a bunch of dead weight like Squillachi and Chamakh, and it would be nice to move on Park and any other dead weight, but it’s a high risk – high reward strategy: save on the wage bill and splurge on transfers. Wenger must be thinking that 17 year olds are no worse than Squillaci and Chamakh (guys who were starters for decent sized clubs before they came to Arsenal). I’ve been saying that I’d like to see him take a risk, and given how completely useless the squad players have been, just using the reserves is probably worth the risk.

    At least that’s what the optimist inside me is going with.

  2. East Lower

    Yes and you could also say that with all those fit, it’s a hell of a bench. A bit more needed though, I think.

  3. PDDD

    Arteta & Rosicky as back-ups give me assurance whereas the them both as first team players used to give me palpitations……apart from the Giroud situation the squad looks pretty strong. (I’m assuming Viviano will soon be on the bench when he settles in which will make it look even better, Fabianski as our first option if Chesney gets injured is an embarrassment for a club of our stature)
    Flamini is already clearly immovable. He’s a much better option there than Arteta ever was & ever will be. What might have been if he’d signed a new contract in 2008…..welcome back Mathieu.

  4. Jeff

    I missed the beginning of the Sunderland match – when I started watching, it really looked to me like Ozil was mostly playing wide left in a 4-1-4-1:

    Ozil Wilshere Ramsey Walcott
    Gibbs Koscielny Sagna Jenkinson

    I’m enjoying Jenkinson at the moment. He hasn’t been under much pressure to defend, really, that I’ve noticed, so he’s had plenty of opportunities to get forward, and he looks fairly useful helping with the attack.

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