Stone Cold Friday: Live & Let Learn
A man comes. He travels quickly. He has purpose. He comes over water. He travels with others. He will oppose. He brings violence and destruction. His name is Darius
Last Sunday’s Blue nosed smash and grab was a coupon buster that will in time, be seen as a necessary evil. Necessary because it provided a reality check against any dose of unhealthy arrogance from the team that will self inflict more heartache in this and other campaigns to follow.
I really feel dirty saying this, but Chelsea’s acrimonious victory over United made it more bearable to lick our wounds and start seeing some light at the end of the tunnel that wasn’t an oncoming train. The positive game that dispatched Orient also went some way to cleansing the soul and spreading a bit of positivity.
My sense is that none of our players will want to ever feel the way they felt this past week. That can only be a good thing, and as they say, what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. We still seem to be counting the cost of our recent endeavours against Stoke and Birmingham.
That Robin Van Persie is out with injury is massively unfortunate. However, we don’t have the time to gnash our teeth on this one. Nicklas Bendtner and Marouane Chamakh have no choice than to get rid of those cobwebs and get on with the job.
Robin was only doing what he knows best by scoring ridiculous goals and you can’t ask for any more. The fact of the matter is that any team will miss a world class striker of Van Persie’s calibre. No matter what labels people attach about his perceived fragility, you cannot legislate for the types of injuries that he has had, especially from unsavoury tackles.
What we will definitely miss for a few weeks is RVP’s artistry, confidence, sublime skill and most importantly, his sheer impact on the game. He is so different from the often touted ‘world class’ strikers like say Torres and Drogba. RVP is not only as lethal as the others in front of goal, but he is also a play-maker extraordinaire, one of the best in the business.
When he’s not scoring, he is creating. He is linking up play with adroit mastery. He is assisting goals selflessly and taking out entire defences with cultured passes that few can envisage. Yet with the others, chances are that when they’re not scoring, they’re passengers.
Bendtner and Chamakh have these big boots to fill and they have no choice but to stand up and be counted. Both have form and very good returns with Bendtner in particular having the knack of coming up with critical match winning goals when things were tight over the last two seasons.
Chamakh has literally carried the front line in the first half of the season and it’s fair to say that the work he did created the foundation for RVP to build on during the middle part of the season.
As we enter the home straight, expectations are higher and rightly so. The team must garner the courage and rise to the challenge of overcoming the recent setback.
Injuries aside, we often shout the virtues of our squad, sometimes even describing it as the best by a country mile. There is absolutely no point in waxing lyrical about what is a truly exciting squad and when the inevitable injuries and suspensions bite, we get all tangled up in our proverbial knickers about using the squad.
It’s unrealistic to expect to play our strongest team for every game, and the return to form of squad players in recent games has been a welcome sight. Especially in the Premier league, I have a sneaky feeling that Arshavin, Diaby and Bendtner will have the last laugh as they get more game time by providing relief to the regular starters this season.
As supporters, we must continue to stand firm against the negativity abound, and we must continue to have faith. The snide comments, the disdain and contempt, the cynicism and bias that often lace opinion and reflection about Arsenal are not likely to go away until we cross that threshold.
Many this week have questioned whether this team is capable of winning anything and whether they’ve learnt the lessons that need learning, making a misguided assumption that learning is a static state of affairs. This team has the character, tenacity and mental strength to do it. They’ll just have to show it the hard way when prizes are being divvied up at the end of the season.
Unlike previous seasons, this campaign is within our destiny and our own performances will determine the level of our success. We mustn’t get all giddy about Chelsea and Liverpool doing us favours by beating the common enemy. That matters not if we cannot put the points on the board ourselves and that continues with the visit of the Black Cats tomorrow. An ideal opportunity if ever there was one of exorcising the demons of Wembley.