By David Swaden
Well I don’t know about you but I was pretty impressed with what I saw from Arsenal on Sunday. Yes, the lack of an end product, as we all know, is a big issue. With our opposition’s focus in both games so far being to snuff out our goal threat, it needed something or someone (Dutch?) pretty special to break them down.
Fact is we just don’t have the understanding or experience up front yet to deliver that X-Factor. I could go on, but the point is pretty self-evident, and the only solution seems to be patience as our new-look forward line builds its understanding. Even a new face would need time to settle.
As their shirt provider’s motto goes, Liverpool will come, not to play, but to win next week and so a clean sheet may be far more difficult to come by. They left last year’s Champions truly rattled so let’s hope our gelling process is proceeding in earnest. But really I wanted to focus on the other self-evident point from yesterday. Arsenal were simply terrific defensively.
The back line rarely looked troubled, even with a third choice goalkeeper behind them. In the past, the slightest unfamiliarity or alteration like this would have been enough to send our fragile four into a state of chaos, not so this time. A word in particular for the performance of the much maligned Carl Jenkinson
Indeed, it was difficult to find a player in the Arsenal side who did not seem up for a physical battle. The moment when Lukas Podolski literally bulldozed through the Stoke ranks will linger long in the memory. That seemed to really stump Stoke and, for once, it was the opposition who lacked an effective Plan B. If we can use this performance as a benchmark going forward, future trips to the Britannia shouldn’t be anything like as ominous as before.
Not that their fans will make it any more welcoming. The ferocity with which Stoke supporters appear to hate all things Arsenal and Wenger is really quite something. I understand that our styles differ, but did that necessitate the endless tirade of abuse for crimes so heinous as Cazorla’s possession of class a feet, something that Stoke could only respond to with persistent fouling? Or maybe it was the unforgivable sin of having one’s leg snapped in two on the hallowed turf, as Aaron Ramsey is rightly booed for?
Perhaps, when your traditional arch rivals are Port Vale, it gets a little lonely up in Staffordshire. Bless ‘em. On, then, to an early look at the week ahead, before the merry-go-round picks up in earnest. A defensive midfielder is a priority, as well as a defender of some ilk. But I’m in the camp that believes that the most gaping hole remains up top.
That is not, I should add, because I am disheartened by Giroud or Podolski, far from it. Nor is it that the new striker could be an instant solution, it’s never that simple. It’s more that Chamakh, Bendtner and Park simply won’t do. None of the “three stooges” have been in either squad so far and all seem destined for an imminent exit. That leaves us with one potential top-4 standard striker and a support striker. To quote Roy Walker, “it’s good but it’s not the one”.
My ideal next few days would be to sign a defensive midfielder who was also capable of defensive position, and use the rest of our considerable arsenal (small a) to purchase another front man. Will it be that easy? Is it ever?
Watch this space.