by Daniel Snowden
Arsenal have now played two matches following the acrimonious departure of “he who shall not be named” (HWSNBN), and have failed to find the net in either of them, despite accumulating more than 40 shots. This has led to some journalists drawing the simple conclusion that the lack of goals is a direct consequence of “him” leaving.
While there may be some truth in these reports, especially after his effort for United this weekend, there are signs that Arsenal are adapting to life without their captain, and could even end up being a stronger side in the long run, with the team having more options in front of them.
Indeed, at times Arsenal were too reliant on the captain last term but now teams are going to have to work harder to offset the duel threat of Giroud through the middle and Podolski off to the left. In addition if a team chooses to try and negate Giroud’s strength and height by playing further up the pitch then it should leave some space for Theo Walcott to get in behind, assuming he stays.
Op top of this Arsenal have finally replaced Cesc Fabregas with the truly world class Cazorla, adding more unpredictability to tactics and play. However, the introduction of three new players and a new style of playing is naturally going to take time before it bears fruit. Granted had HWSNBN stayed then this adjustment may not be so radical or perhaps even necessary but this is a player who has only managed to pull together 18 months of playing time in a row in over 10 years. He can’t play a whole season (who can anymore?) and given the way Arsenal struggled without him last year then some sort of adjustment was going to be required at some stage anyway.
There is also an argument to be made that HWSNBN would not have scored in the last two matches for Arsenal anyway. The Gunners conceded a massive 49 goals in the league last season, a record in the Wenger era, and this had to be addressed. The appointment of Steve Bould (he’s got no hair but we don’t care) has seen the team tighten up and work together to aid the defence, contributing to two cleans sheets so
far, although I am not sure how interested in scoring Sunderland actually were. Nevertheless, HWSNBN did go through a dry spell at the end of last season, showing that he is human after all.
To finish off, it is also worth noting that £24mn for an injury prone 29 year old is a great bit of business. Yes, he may have a couple more great seasons in him, but Arsenal don’t make a habit of giving out long term contracts to players over 30 and given the wages he was after, it may even have been in the club’s best interest to get rid of him while he still commands a decent free.
Looking forward I am pretty sure the club has done the right thing here, although given the “captain’s curse” maybe we should have given the armband to Ashavin or Park etc to get them off the wage bill sooner rather than later. The sale of Song also looks to be sound if reports about his recent behaviour at the club are to be believed.
On a side note, the Stoke fans are an utter disgrace to the human race. Why boo Aaron Ramsey when he came on at the weekend? It is not his fault that your stupid player broke his leg and then cried about it. Ramsey missed a whole season with that and Shawcross just a few matches.