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