Sport | Arsenal – season so far

Victoria Concordia Crescit. Victory through harmony. It was a summer of torment, ridicule, anger and capitulation, according to the media and the fans alike. But in the shadows, the man they call “Le Professeur” had a sharp smirk on his face.

After 8 years of trophyless torment and the consistent loss of world-class players, pressure spiraled. The“Arsène out” brigade were in full force at every game, at every interview, at every corner. It was time to turn the tables, to change the script, to make it count. After a dramatic 3-1 loss at home to Aston Villa in the season’s curtain raiser, there were fears that it was a case of same old story. But then…

10:21pm. 2nd September 2013. The world was in shock, as Sky Sports News announced the game changer – a signal of intent. German midfielder Mesut Özil was a Gunner. It was instantaneously clear that Deadline Day’s antics sparked the genius within an Arsenal side that was due a bout of success. Arsène Wenger’s red and white army started to do what they are best at – defying the odds. A confidence boosting 3-0 win away to Fernebache gave the Gunners the belief that they could beat anyone at any time, if they set their minds to it. Four consecutive Premier League wins later and the chants of “We are top of the league” replaced the choruses of “Wenger out!”

Whom or what is responsible for the side’s remarkable turn of fortunes after a summer of discontent? The shock form of Aaron Ramsey is something to be marveled at, the young Welshman’s full potential finally coming to light after his broken leg hampered his development. Not only has his skill, technique and vision improved, but his 8 goals in all competitions has had him spoken about in the same breath as the elite.

Olivier Giroud has finally become the striker that his boss had always envisaged, making perfectly timed runs to expertly finish the opportunities that his creative army have to offer. It’s difficult not to mention the telepathic understanding between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, their defensive solidity allowing Arsenal to concede fewer goals and see out games for all three points.

In addition to Magic Mesut, Fantastic Flamini and Wonderful Wojciech, credit for Arsenal’s start to the season can be aimed in the direction of a certain Frenchman. Arsenal’s 4-3-3 formation had started to falter last season, the wingers finding themselves running into no man’s land while the lone striker found himself isolated more often than not. That’s why the tactical nous of Arsène Wenger cannot be overlooked as the reason for the Red Army’s rise to the top, while disappointing starts for Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City only add to their prospects this season.

The new 4-2-3-1 set-up allows defensive minded players such as Flamini and Arteta to break up the play and give the side that extra fight that has been lacking so regularly in previous years. At the same time, the use of three creative attacking midfielders in the form of Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere give Giroud service that has supplied his six goals already this season.

Podolski, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Cazorla, as well as the bright wealth of talent seeping out of the academy’s pores, the manager now has a bigger squad. It’s early days in the 2013/2014 season, but if the past few months indicate anything, it’s that form is temporary, class is permanent and Arsenal, are ready for the battle of their lives.

Jason Phillips

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