If ever you needed evidence of the newly improved team spirit at New Arsenal, you just have to read some of the recent match reports.
Here on AA yesterday Harry’s excellent dissection of the victory over Everton was comprehensive and entertaining.
He plumped for Koscielny as Man of the Match, but clearly did not feel his performance was way out ahead of the rest of the team (Kozzer was one of four players whom Harry gave an 8 out of 10. He also gave 7.5 to three others).
If you scan around the Arsenal blog world you will see other writers picking out Ramsey, van Persie, Song, Vermaelen, Arteta and Walcott as their choice for MoTM from Saturday’s game. The same has been true in other recent performances, where there has been no concensus as to who was the stand-out player on the day.
If you’re Blackburn, not having a stand-out player probably means you had 11 equally inept piles of hippo dung stinking up the place.
But in the happy situation of being the Arsenal, it means that we had an outstanding team performance with players working so selflessly for the greater good that it’s hard to pick out an overall star.
Last season Cesc was usually MoTM in the games he played. Sometimes it was Na$ri and, on a few occasions, Wilshere. But there always seemed to be a player whose efforts exceeded those of his team mates.
The difference this year is not that our “stand out” performers have dropped to the level of the players who were just putting in a shift. It’s that the whole team is playing better together, with the result that in any given match most players have raised their level at the same time.
Fun to watch, but a nightmare if you feel the need to single out a Man of the Match.
Clearly we have an out-and-out star performer for the season so far in Prince Robin. He is probably the best striker in world football right now and would be the stand-out in any team (even the Catalan diving squad). But Robin’s amazing achievements are very much built on the solid foundations that are now firmly in place following the chaos at the start of the season.
Personally, I’m thrilled that in recent games it has been so hard to pick out a MoTM. When Cesc was our regular MoTM we were a poorer team overall.
Perhaps there was an element of “Thierry Syndrome”, with players feeling that they always had to pass to our former Number Four even when better options were available.
Or, more likely, we functioned less well as a team last year because we lacked team spirit and togetherness.I think we all know that Cesc was not a great captain. And with the constant “will-he-won’t-he” background noise of his move back to Barcelona, it can’t have made for stability in the changing room.
Na$ri, meanwhile, was clearly a malcontent and trouble-maker who did not get on with some other members of the squad.
When those two left (for love and money, respectively) and we acquired the likes of Arteta, Mertesacker, Santos, Benayoun and Jenkinson instead, not many people believed we were a stronger squad than before.
But what about now?
How are you feeling after eight wins and a draw from our last nine EPL games?
How did you feel when Prince Robin went over to celebrate joyfully with the bench when he rifled home the winner against the Toffees?
We lost our two best players (supposedly) and gained what some have described as a bunch of journeyman pros.
But which team do you think is more likely to actually win something?
I know my answer. It’s obvious to me that New Arsenal, with its mix of precocious young talent and seasoned experience, will have a better chance of grabbing some silverware. At the very least I don’t expect New Arsenal to wilt when the pressure mounts, like last season’s model.
You may feel differently, in which case make your views known in this poll: