Arsenal Impress With Attitude
Much is being made of the fact that Arsenal are scoring a number of late goals this season. The inference is that this is something new, the like of which has not been seen in the Premier League other than in ‘Fergie Time‘ at Old Trafford. It is a convenient label for the media to attach to the team, reinforcing their theory that Arsenal are fortunate to be in the title race at all.
Conveniently, this perception forgets a lot of The Emirates history, points salvaged with some regularity in the first two seasons as Arsenal struggled at times to convert their superiority in possession to actual goals. It also negates the results achieved without the necessity to score late goals. Arsenal has made the step forward of winning most of the games that they should, beating sides on the road against whom points have been dropped in previous seasons. The matches which we are regularly told are the ones that Champions always win.
Manchester United win games through constant pressure exerted through attacking their opponents. This influences officials with constant possession drawing fouls, the more persistent this becomes, the more frequent set-pieces occur. Arsenal tire their opponents; passing and moving requiring the opposition to chase the ball more often, as the match weaves to its conclusion, mistakes occur such as the one made by Myhill on Saturday, gifting the winner to Bendtner. It does not always pan out that way but more often than not, it will.
Primarily the results have improved with experience, younger players learning from the hardships of previous outings. Equally, the whole of the squad has hardened mentally, an attribute picked up on by Wenger:
These kinds of wins strengthen our belief but I think they are more a consequence of our spot-on attitude. It is something special for such a young team to have that. It comes from the desire to win something. We started to build this team three or four years ago. The age is around 22 and now people are saying: ‘yes, but what did you win?’ Well that desire to win something is certainly evident.
The inference from his words is that in the past focus has been an issue, something few would disagree since there have been games where the body language of key players has been, for want of a better word, wrong. Despite losing key players at crucial times, injuries have been less of a mental issue this season. Proving that they can win games without Fabregas, van Persie, Gallas, Arshavin and Rosicky has been excellent for supporters as well as the rest of the squad. Victory brings confidence, no matter what the circumstances. When adversity is an influence, the belief grows more out of positive results.
We haven’t won anything yet and as long as you have not won anything it will play on your mind. We have lost the spine of our team [in recent games] yet we can still turn up and win games. That shows something. We have built a good squad here with an exceptional spirit.
The season is panning out nicely. The prospect of breaking their trophy duck is very real. The motivation is there for the squad, individually and collectively. Having reached the top of their profession, they want to win trophies individually. They want to be looking back in retirement with great memories and silverware to back it up. Collectively, they want to be remembered as a great Arsenal side; they might be for winning a title this season through the adversity will bring perhaps as much satisfaction as an undefeated season.