Cast your mind back to early December.
Arsenal were completely in disarray at Stoke. The Gunners let in three goals before half time, and although they pulled two back, the defeat remains the nadir of Wenger’s recent years. Fast forward three months and Arsenal are the form team in the league with six straight wins, gunning for second place and have a place in Wembley for the semifinals of the FA Cup. The 1-3 loss to AS Monaco at Emirates Stadium aside, it has been quite a renaissance by the Gunners.
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While Louis Van Gaal and Brendan Rodgers are hailed for turning around their respective club’s seasons, it’s puzzling as to why Arsene Wenger doesn’t get any credit at all for bringing Arsenal from the brink. Is it because the media hate Arsenal (which often seems the case) or is it that Wenger’s success is taken for granted far too often?
Regardless, we at All Arsenal give credit where it’s due. We fully appreciate Arsene for the revival and in this two part post we take a look at the players behind the Renaissance.
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What a couple of months for the Frenchman – he’s on course for his highest goal tally for a season with 17 goals already despite missing three months early in the campaign. His mental strength also came to the fore after his non-performance against Monaco. Lesser men would have wilted but Giroud responded in the best possible way. He has scored in all the games he has started since and although Arsenal were eliminated once again, Giroud’s positive response will no doubt help him in the future. His two goals against Everton, West Ham Monaco(away) and Newcastle were the mark of a man on a mission to avenge his profligacy. If Arsenal are to have a winning end to their season expect the Frenchman to be in the middle of it.
The vine of Cazorla skipping past challenges and weaving through a clutch of Man City players went viral after Arsenal’s landmark victory against the Citizens. The image of the diminutive Cazorla competing against thugs Fernando and Fernandinho will always be etched in memory.
The Spaniard didn’t appear quite himself at the start of the season but when he was moved to the centre, boy did he deliver. His ability to hold on to the ball in tight areas helps to release the pressure and his supreme technique is paramount when we play a counter attacking game. While Santa may not have bought any presents for Arsenal this Christmas, Arsenal’s very own Santi continues giving the gifts.
While Santi and Giroud may have been directly responsible for the goals scored it is important not to ignore the contributions of the defence. Monreal, the small but steely Spaniard, has been quite immense – be it at the centre or at his customary left back position. Kieran Gibbs has a battle on his hands for his place in the side; such has been the form of the former Malaga man. He has not only been a rock at the back but his sensible attacking play means he’s always a reliable option going forward.
While Gibbs is quicker, his final ball leaves a lot to be desired and he doesn’t get his positional sense right at all times. Nacho is more of a midfielder than a winger in the way he passes and attacks. His forays forward are measured but meaningful. It was his movement that drew the foul from Vincent Kompany that resulted in the penalty at City while he quite emphatically opened the scoring at Old Trafford. Quite some place to score a goal. Keep it up Nacho.
The second part of the article will be up soon. Who do you think will feature?