The art of Arsetrology
With days to go before our next ‘must win game’ I thought I’d pass the time by examining the factors that have combined to deliver us to where we stand today in this rollercoaster of a season. Since karma is definitely involved, and the footballing gods have stepped in to restore the natural order of things, I have decided to use the mystic power of Arsetrology (the ancient art of using an acronym to explain events) to reveal those factors that have guided our fate so far this season.
Bonkers you may say, but just think about it….. Arsenal, Arsène, Arteta, Arshavin (OK, he’s not everyone’s favourite), its no coincidence, the answers lie in ARSENAL.
A is for Arteta
I have made no secret of my appreciation of the vital role Mikel plays in the team. I am certain that had we not secured his services in the final hour, we would be several positions lower in the league table as it stands today. His reading of the game, work rate, range and accuracy in passing have all combined to make him the lynchpin of our midfield. On top of that, he seems to be having the time of his life and has chipped in with important goals. He took a pay cut to join us – watch and learn Na$ri, this guy has real class.
R is for Robin van Persie – who else?
Apart from the small matter of the 33 goals he has scored for us so far this season, the main and somewhat surprising bonus is that he is an excellent captain and has galvanised the players in a way few thought possible. Mr. Wenger’s habit of making the star player (or should it be wantaway player) captain hasn’t always been a success. Robin has been a much better captain than either Henry or Fabregas. His first thought after scoring is always to seek the player who provided the pass as he knows (and he wants those watching to know) that we are not a one man team. His support of Theo Walcott in particular has been unwavering and probably has a lot to do with Theo’s rich vein of form at the moment.
S is for Simple
Football is essentially a simple game. The technically gifted players we’ve had in recent years have engendered a style that often sacrificed incisive attacking play for clever possession. The new players and dare I say, the departure of some ‘stars’ has encouraged a return to basics. The effect has been to make us more solid at the back, to use width and pace down the wings, to move the ball quickly through the midfield (forwards) and to take a risk once in a while and have a shot instead of looking for the clever pass.
E is for the Emirates Stadium
Gradually Ashburton Grove is beginning to feel like home. I think I’ll always be awestruck whenever I walk up those stairs and emerge to see the perfectly manicured pitch, the sea of red and white and to be reminded that we have the best stadium in the Premier League. What many don’t realise is that without the extra £30-40m income the Emirates generates more than Highbury, we would be struggling financially. But more than that, the Emirates has played host to some wonderful games recently and the memory of those games is now ingrained in the fabric of the stadium. Visiting teams are beginning be intimidated by the power and stature of the Emirates and as a by-product of that, our supporters have sensed the change and begun to find their voices at last.
N is for No Surrender
Some of us will have found the repeated trotting out of phrases like ‘team spirit’, ‘belief’, ‘mental strength’ etc hard to stomach in seasons when we have capitulated too easily at the vital time. We all now know the reasons for those past failings, but we also know that this crop of players, led by RvP really does have those attributes in abundance. Coming from behind 4 games in a row is testament to the strength of character and the harmony that now exists in the squad. Goal celebrations tell you a lot about a team, and ours this season have been the most inclusive and joyous I’ve seen.
A is for Arsène Wenger
What can you say about the man that hasn’t already been said? He’s been under pressure on and off the pitch more this season than ever before. No-one knows what goes on behind the scenes, but what we do know is that if he can keep the team playing as it is now, he will once again have confounded his critics. Arguably finishing in the top four this season would rank as one of his greatest achievements.
L is for Lady Luck
Well I don’t want to upset the old girl just as she is finally smiling upon us, but we’ve had some dreadful luck in the last few years. I wonder what odds would you have got for a top 4 finish from the bookies last summer if it had been known that we would be selling our best two midfielders and the rising star destined to take their place (Wilshere) would be out for the season, not to mention the loss of all our fullbacks for a large part of the campaign? The balance is slowly being redressed. We’ve had a slice of well earned luck recently in games we’ve won when not playing our best. Key players are finally returning from injury and the squad looks strong, unified and focused, maybe luck is no longer needed, we have the quality.
That’s my quickly assembled ARSENAL list – the challenge now is to come up with one of your own using the letters of our name to reflect the way you have viewed our changing fortunes this season. The theory also works when applied to the names of our rivals but strangely the associated definitions are less flattering …. I’m thinking particularly of the team that starts with S!
Written by Rasp