Incoherent, apathetic, soft, quiet, hard, loud and finally revolution-inspiring – all words used to described the hit Nirvana track “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but also words I believe can describe Arsenal’s season and the team too.
We started the season, indeed the summer, incoherently. Nobody outside of London Colney could understand the noises that were coming out of the club or make sense of the few garbled phrases that they could understand. Much like Nirvana fans needed a release of the lyrics to comprehend the words Cobain was singing it took an exhilarating thumping of Tottenham for us all to make sense of what the club had been trying to do and finally get off Wenger’s back.
I truly believe that this season will be looked back upon as the catalyst for the revolution that re-instated Arsenal as not only title challengers but winners too.
I’ll make one quick statement about the past 7 years and leave it at that before I carry on with the rest of this article. It’s a cliché and a total cop-out and something some or many fans will completely disagree with but I honestly believe that the Emirates (or Ashburton Grove for the traditionalists out there) should be seen as our ‘trophy’ or our ‘success’ for the past 7 years. We have, probably the best stadium in the world. I don’t say that because I’m a Gooner, I say that because it is true. We have sacrificed silverware for the most magnificent arena but we have also competed in the biggest club competition on Earth for 15 straight years on a shoe-string and will probably make it 16 now we’ve shown those pretenders in N17 who the real Kings of North London are and that the only 12 points they’ll ever keep on us is the 12 between N5 and N17.
I said earlier this season that I honestly believed that this team would be a stronger team without Cesc and Nasri. Many of you laughed at me and quite a few of you stopped following my blog calling me an idiot. The reasons I felt the team would be stronger without Cesc is that he wasn’t mentally at Arsenal in his last two seasons and as a result didn’t dominate games the way he used to. Don’t get me wrong he was still by far our best player and losing him was a massive blow and given the choice I’d have preferred to keep him but his performances were below what I considered to be his average of the previous 4 years.
With Nasri, we sold a player that we could have kept and who would have continued to play well for us but someone who I think would have been bad for the dressing room with his want-away mindset.
Losing those players forced us to move for Arteta and Chamberlain who have been two of our best players this season and especially since our ‘revival’. The Ox obviously joined before Nasri left but Wenger knew $amir was going and was just holding out for more money. History has shown that when Wenger wants a player he scouts them for ages but when he moves for them he moves quickly and if he doesn’t get his man for what he wants and as quickly as he wants to he drops interest (even if only for a while, a la Chamakh) and when he sells players he drags it out so he can get as much money as possible a la Nasri, Adebayor, Henry, Vieira, Cole etc although Cesc was his biggest transfer error in my opinion. We should have held out for more. Negotiations for AOC probably started the minute Wenger knew that Nasri was off to City and that it was only a matter of negotiating the fee.
I’m digressing but the point I am making is that this team is stronger this season than last and will prove it come May. There are 9 games left and I fully expect Arsenal to win at least 8 of them but for the purpose of this article I will say that we will only win 7 which means we add 21 points to our 55 which gives us 76 points. 8 more than last year and in total a better points tally than 5 of our last 6 seasons. (I actually secretly believe that we’ll win all 9 and that would take us to 82 which would have won us the title last year).
The point I am making is that the so called weakest team Arsenal have had in years could actually finish as the strongest team Arsenal have had in 6 out of the last 7 years.
The biggest change I believe is not just additional experience but passion, fight and spirit. This Arsenal team I believe ‘want’ it so much more.
The whole team is oozing passion right now in every single position and from every single player. The passion on Theo’s face when he scored the 4th goal said everything to me about the passion in this team. There are no good photos of it online but if you watch the highlights again watch Theo carefully and you’ll see him clench both of his fists and shake them in triumph as he screams his head off. Some will call it relief, I call it passion and fire.
For the first time in years it looks like we are going to finish the season strongly and the biggest challenge for Arsene Wenger this summer apart from keeping RVP is strengthening the team in the right areas to improve the team spirit this plucky side are showing. Sadly I don’t think many Arsenal fans will be best pleased with the players we should buy as opposed to the players many want us to buy.
And for the first time since the invincibles I think we have a team that finally has real collective spirit and that, combined with the undoubted talent, experience and exciting youth we have will finally bring some silverware to The Emirates.
Here are a few photos that I think shows this teams passion and spirit (it is only coincidence that there are 12 photos… Mind That Gap!).
Something smells in North London and it’s not the smell of decomposing cockerels, no, that smell is being overpowered by something else… I don’t know about you but to me it smells like team spirit.
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