I saw this comment on Tim Stillman’s blog at Arseblog.com and it inspired me to create an overview of what makes Wenger’s current Opus better than his last 5 versions. Here are some of my reasons:
1) AFC now have a relatively settled starting line up. The same lineup started at Norwich and against DB but if it needs to be changed, Aw is willing to do it in order to rest vital players like RVP.
2) I know this is going to enrage some people but the team displays a greater diversity without Fabregas. Players who used to rely on him sculpting play now have to share that responsibility and step up. This can be seen in the more fluid and committed teamwork we are currently seeing.
3) Arsenal look a more dynamic team that attacks with greater tenacity. It i no longer a one man show through Fabregas or Nasri. They appear to be more efficient and dangerous, more direct and with more counterattacking nous.
3) We no longer have just youth to rely on but the maturity of Arteta and the blossoming of Ramsey have provided us with the perfect mix of experience and enthusiasm.
4) When rotation will be required, Wenger has the bench strength to feel secure in doing it. If we look at the likely side that will play against Olympiacos, we have Fabianski, Mannone, AOC, Park, Benayoun, Frimpong, Arshavin, Miyachi, Gibbs, Jenkinson, and Chamakh along with a few regulars to round out the squad….not a bad side!Last year the bench deputies weren’t able to do effectively replace the injured or knackered first team players over the run-in and with Nasri, Cesc and Chamakh out of form it cost us.
5) The cohesion built up since September is beginning to reap rewards, as this team actually looks like a true brotherhood, showing confidence and understanding lacking previously.
6) This season, we could avoid the time consuming, energy sapping replays we faced last season in the FA Cup and the CC, provided we maintain this finishing-winning attitude.
7) What a difference a year makes to our 2010 squad players who are showing greater maturity and more enjoyment as the entire team generates positive feedback and confidence.
8) We have loaned out,shipped out or sold callow players such as; Bendtner and Denilson, Vela and Eboue. This has allowed us to experiment with our new transfers and our promoted youth.
9) I am excited about the race between us and the Spuds. Fair competition is healthy and promotes an increased level of motivation, enthusiasm and will to win. Last year we didn’t seem to be overly concerned about that lot but this year, despite what AW says, the players want to repeat the usual domination in North London.
10) The squad has remained positive, during the difficult period when things were going south and this has been rewarded with excellent results both on and off the pitch. Last year, after the CC debacle, we lost the belief we could win something and it showed.
11) ¨People have understood that I am doing what I can and that, in the face of a storm, I have been solid and I’ve stayed on course. I don’t for a second have a desire to leave Arsenal.¨ Wenger’s own words highlight the rock that he has been for Arsenal and the players. When your manager is calm and reassuring even in the worst storm, the players tend to be so as well.
12) It is obvious, as Wenger has stated, that a new cycle is starting. The team is going through another period of rebuilding again and starting with a more-or-less fresh slate can have very positive and liberating effects on those who are at the core of the Club.
13) Despite the above, AW has created solid foundations on which he can obtain success. He hasn’t abandoned his youth adventure entirely, despite the ignorant claiming this. He has modified it with experienced players and a shift away from relying on one player in the midfield.
14) Historically, Arsenal have been courageous, innovative and faithful to their values and this is finally starting to show results. ¨They try to do things with class and style. That’s why I defend them with so much fierceness. Because of these values. ¨ – again Wenger’s own words.
15) Wenger has had the fortune of working with complete freedom and this has allowed him to fine tune the Club and start producing a winning side in his original mold. The real luxury in Wenger’s job is his having time, as he said. The Board and management have given him more than enough slack to achieve the rehabilitation of AFC, which not many managers get. This is a man who has realized his own mistakes and has responded accordingly, whilst still staying true to his footballing principles. Throughout the ‘storm’ he always behaved with integrity, never shooting his mouth off or over-reacting.
16) Wenger’s vast experience and expertise developed over 25 years as a Football professional allow him to recover from just about any circumstance. He said, ¨That makes me think I’m the manager of an entire generation.¨
17) Being the class act he is, he has never said anything bad about the fans, players, board or our history. He never derides a player or the team in public and contrary to SAF, he doesn’t even own a hairdryer!
18) I see another change in AW’s style this season. He is more focused on NOW than what the team is going to be like in 2-3 years time. This is a subtle shift but has been reciprocated by his team.
19) Contrary to the likes of Hleb, Flamini, Adebayor, Nasri, and Anelka, the current players he trusts show the same class and are repaying his trust in them with heart,commitment and a will to win it for LeProf and themselves. He seemed truly and personally hurt by Fabergas and Nasri leaving and has learnt that no player is entirely predictable or reliable but he still preserves his class and trust in the team.
20) The Team so far seems wiser, more gracious, more competitive and is showing unswerving commitment and dedication to AFC Footballing values and to Arsenal. In the past he expected the kids he’d brought into the club and transformed into the players they are to have the same sort of commitment and enthusiasm for the project as he does, that remains true today.
21) The Board and Arsene are consistent in their style of management and dealings with each other and the players,fans and media, despite temptations to be otherwise.
22) Szczesny: ¨That’s what you call presence, charisma, confidence. It must be a mixture of all that. He is a deep thinker, you do not play at this level and make the decisions he makes if you do not think about the game.” AW’s praise for his keeper is justified and the difference in nets this season has ensured that even our reputedly ¨unstable¨ defence has recovered the solidity that AFC traditionally displayed.
Players like Song, Walcott, RVP, Gervinho, Ramsey, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Santos, Szczesny and Arteta have stepped up their game when it really counts and deliver the goods week in and week out since September in all competitions. This has been a victory of the sum of AFC’s parts versus the sum spent on ¨superstars¨ at other Clubs. Here’s to it continuing until the end of May!
Article written by Don McMahon.
If you would like to follow Arsenal Opinion on Twitter, then please click on the ‘follow’ icon below.