Alf Fields - an instrumental Arsenal Man
Thank God that’s over. It’s been a long time since we had anything remotely interesting to say about The Arsenal, hence the lack of a post since the back end of last week. I toyed with the idea of previewing England’s game with Spain, and then with telling Fabregas to keep his views to himself as he no longer has anything to do with Arsenal. I decided against doing either as I have no interest in England (unless it’s Summer) and I really couldn’t care less what Cesc has to say. Having said that, I was a little irked by his decision to pass comment on Robin Van Persie. You never heard Henry or Vieira or Overmars or Petit having their say after they had left, so why does Cesc feel the need answer questions about Arsenal?
There was also, more importantly, the death of Arsenal legend Alf Fields. Paul Davis credits Alf with a large part of his development as a youngster, and also that of the likes of Michael Thomas and David Rocastle. You can see from that how we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to a true Arsenal man. I hope the Club does something to recognise the contribution of such a figure.
With the international football out of the way (and that’s it for a little while now) we can get back to normal. The break has interrupted a run of fine form for Arsenal. I hope that the distraction hasn’t had an adverse effect on the momentum that has been building this past couple of months. Certain internet forums may still have a number of contributors who purport to be fans of Arsenal, but never give anyone from the Club any credit, but any level-headed individual must surely note the improvement in the team.
When we lost at Old Trafford, and then at Blackburn, the knives were justifiably out for everyone involved. However, since then the boys have put together a terrific run. They were criticised after an unlucky defeat at Spurs, which had followed some wins, and the main point being made was that as soon as they played a half-decent side they were beaten by them. Another run of victories was likely to be ended at Chelsea, but some genuine spirit got the win that Arsenal deserved. The players deserve a lot of credit for what they have done recently.
I don’t believe in the whole “turning a corner” thing as your next defeat is always not very far away. What can be said for certain is that this group of players have performed admirably to get themselves back up the Premier League and in a position to challenge for the European places – something which was completely out of the question just two short months ago. I feel more of an affinity with some of the players we have now than I have for a good few years, and that's a direct result of their desire to put things right. I think we might have some real Arsenal spirit returning to the side.
I think that, as we go forward from now, we have (on paper) a decent run of League games. It is important that as many points as possible are taken from such fixtures. However, I believe there is a critical game coming up in a couple of weeks in the Carling Cup. Arsene Wenger must field a strong team against Manchester City. The possible consequences of a heavy defeat could be far reaching, and it wouldn’t be the first time that momentum had been stopped in its tracks by a heavy defeat for a weakened team - remember Shakhtar Donetsk many years ago? Or how about Man Utd in the FA Cup in 2008?) Both of those defeats were the start of terrible runs that ultimately cost us the Title.
On the other hand, a win against City would not only be a massive positive for Arsenal, but it could have a detrimental effect on the opposition. City are on such a good run that they are looking to be too good for anyone right now. However, as I’ve said above, a defeat can be catastrophic. Who knows how City might react? Such a result, and the damage to their obvious confidence, could have the effect of bringing everyone back in to the Title race, including Arsenal.
Of course, City could quite conceivably beat a strong Arsenal team, but it would be unlikely to be a thrashing, thus having less of a knock-on effect on our season. Despite the good recent run I think the confidence of the squad is still brittle, and the chance to avoid any heavy defeats should be taken.
Hopefully I’ll have some more to talk about tomorrow, once we know that players are all back.