Boys to men

Al­though Arse­nal are the form team, Spurs could just nick a re­sult on Satur­day.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FOOTBALL -

IT could fi­nally be Arse­nal’s sea­son. It could be their sea­son be­cause the Gun­ners don’t seem to mind do­ing the dirty work any­more. And no, we are not talk­ing about per­sis­tent foul­ing here. Rather, it is the sight of play­ers throw­ing their bod­ies in the way of shots and the dogged re­silience to chal­lenge for 50-50s.

The sight of To­mas Rosicky and Samir Nasri putting their “frail” bod­ies on the line in the 2-1 win over Ever­ton must have im­pressed many a Gun­ner as such com­mit­ment is the stuff cham­pi­ons are made of. And if that was not im­pres­sive enough, the heroic show­ing of the “more fal­li­ble” Johan Djourou cer­tainly was.

For­get Dim­i­tar Ber­ba­tov. Arse­nal are the true fu­sion of silky play and the labour of love. Al­right, foul­ing does come into the pic­ture – think of Se­bastien Squil­laci bring­ing down Louis Saha – but it is, at times, a ne­ces­sity and Arse­nal’s cur­rent dis­ci­pline record is miles ahead of the vin­tage squads mar­shaled by Tony Adams or Pa­trick Vieira.

Go­ing back to destiny, it could be Arse­nal’s sea­son be­cause for once, in­juries have not crip­pled the squad. Well, Wenger still grap­ples with a se­lec­tion headache at times but the young Gun­ners have kept a cool head in­stead of los­ing their mar­bles.

Per­haps it’s the case of same old, same old. Play­ers like Robin van Per­sie are go­ing to be in­jured more of­ten than not any­way and a ma­tur­ing Arse­nal has de­cided to get over it. And in­ter­est­ingly, an in­jury has ac­tu­ally gone in Arse­nal’s favour for once.

Manuel Al­mu­nia’s in­jury al­lowed Wenger to throw Lukasz Fabi­an­ski into the lime­light with­out bruis­ing any egos – if Al­mu­nia hardly had any left af­ter his horror shows – and Fabi­an­ski has cer­tainly passed the test with fly­ing colours.

His hat-trick of saves to deny Jer­maine Beck­ford, Steven Pien­aar and Saha last week bears tes­ta­ment to this and the Emi­rates faith­ful can only hope that Fabi­an­ski’s form con­tin­ues. The Pole has ef­fec­tively made the goal­keep­ing po­si­tion his own and with a pair of safe hands, Arse­nal can fi­nally claim of de­pend­abil­ity in ev­ery depart­ment.

And if all this is not proof enough, it could be Arse­nal’s sea­son be­cause for once, for­tune seems to be smil­ing on them. The Gun­ners have slipped up on oc­ca­sions ever since the class of 03/04 and while this sea­son is no dif­fer­ent – as their de­feats to WBA and New­cas­tle show – Arse­nal’s ti­tle ri­vals are screw­ing up just as badly – or worse.

Af­ter set­ting the pace, Chelsea now ap­pear vul­ner­a­ble and they were lit­er­ally pum­meled by Sun­der­land at the Bridge. Few – if any – can re­mem­ber the last time Manch­ester United have drawn this many games and

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