Some Arsenal Optimism
By Ronnie Simmons
Proving onlinegooner is not 100% doom-mongers
Iíll make an announcement before I start Ė my name is GoonerRon and I am an optimist.
This is an affliction Iíve had to live with since a young age, when I thought girls would want to go out with me even if I didnít look in their direction, when I thought Tony would get community service, when I thought Wrighty would never get old, and to the current day when I still think kissing the badge when I put my Arsenal shirt on will somehow help the team at kick-off. As Iíve got older, I like to think my optimism has become doused with a fair bit of reality and objectivity, however.
It is on this basis that I am feeling encouraged by our start to the season (for reasons that Iíll explain).
We have closure. RvP has gone, as has all of the talk about the will-he-wonít-he saga. The media are also having to think of another clichť to replace their default setting of us being a one-man team.
We are a settled group. Weíve had no last-minute incomings (ironically, the club getting stick for no last-minute signings, despite getting stick for exactly that a year ago) and have had a full preseason together with the new coaching set-up.
This leads nicely onto my next point. Our defensive shape and discipline has improved markedly. Three clean sheets in a row is testament to that and, hopefully, more training-ground drilling, the odd throat-grab from Steve Bould etc will see us continuing our defensive evolution. This new-found discipline has been ded across all areas of the pitch Ė when Tommy V intercepted Gerrardís pass for our first goal on Sunday, we would usually see him bombing forward into attack, but he stayed put, as did Arteta, as did Jenkinson. Half an hour into an away game, we are letting the attackers attack and are defending sensibly. We are seeing small shift-changes in mentality which could make a considerable difference. Look at Giroudís work-rate, at Podolskiís hunger to close down high up the pitch, the fact weíve attempted more tackles than any team so far in the league. Itís the makings of a real team we have here.
The blend of the squad is the best itís been for years. Weíve got a great mix of really experienced players like Arteta, Podolski, Mertesacker, Sagna, Cazorla, combined with players coming into their peak at 25-27 years old, like Diaby, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Giroud and mixed in with some genuinely exceptional young talent that will continue to get better and better like Ox, Ches, Wilshere, Gibbs, Jenkinson, Coquelin. I keep saying it, but we shouldnít underestimate how the natural development (through experience, ongoing coaching) of our younger players can deliver serious strength, organically, to our squad. Ox has moved from a League 1 prospect to fully-fledged tournament international. Gibbs, Coquelin, Ches, Jenkinson have completed their first proper full seasons in the first-team squad and can be trusted.
The support Ė I know we are a divided bunch on here, and that is to be expected. We are all different, and interpret the performance of the team on the pitch and the board/manager off the pitch differently. However, I can safely say that every single person in the away-end gave their all to support the team at Anfield on Sunday, so itís good to see any indifference we may feel towards the club isnít translating to lack of support in the stands (the Emirates is a different story, as we know).
The togetherness Ė from the high-fives for blocking a shot to the low-fives for making a tackle, from the pats on the back from stopping a cross to the fist-pumps from Podolski and Mertesacker at the final whistle. This is a group of players that seem to be enjoying their game and thriving on winning.
So there it is, my optimism of the day in 550 words.
My objectivity is kicking in slightly, and whilst still in full agreement with everything Iíve written above, I am tinged with a slight concern about some other things. Do we have enough cover up front? Will our injured players come back in good form? Will we get luck regarding any new injuries? Will Wenger spend in January if we need strengthening? Can we maintain our energy and desire from Liverpool for the next round of fixtures?
I canít answer those questions right now, but for the time being Iíll remain optimistic all the same.
Up the Gunners.
6th September 2012
User Comment and Reaction
User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.
Tony Evans 10:46am 6th Sep 2012
Ron - I liked your article and agree that there are grounds for (limited) optimism at long last. As you say this may evaporate if we get our usual glut of injuries but at least Wenger has given up on some of his daft, idealistic nonsense that was seeing us going nowhere fast. I am still angry at the wasted opportunities of the last 7 years or so but am hopeful common sense is at last getting through to Wenger. Fingers crossed. - Post No. 28750
leo zis 10:52am 6th Sep 2012
Nice article and full of optimism...I too hope for the best. Hope to see Diaby go from strength to strenght to fulfill Wenger's stubborn belief in him..he is a gr8 player but needs to tuck a full season in before i am fully impressed. Up the Gunners! - Post No. 28751
Theo Jensen 11:10am 6th Sep 2012
Seems reasonable to me. Liverpool did actually dominate the game for periods last weekend- the key thing was that although we're a work in progress defensively it was so much better than last season. Another thing to note is that the wingers now seem to be expected to track back and defend consistently, which is great to see- but then why do we still keep Walcott? - Post No. 28753
Jameson 11:10am 6th Sep 2012
Very nice article.... Always a pleasure to find another gooner with an optimistic outlook.... - Post No. 28754
Andy M 11:12am 6th Sep 2012
Here, here! Good post - I share your optimism at the moment. - Post No. 28755
TK 12:16pm 6th Sep 2012
couldnt agree more, but lets not get ahead of ourselves, still a long way to go, but we appear to have strength in depth in midfield and defence, just need a decent striker! - Post No. 28756
Der Projekt ist Kaput 12:40pm 6th Sep 2012
Three clean sheets, four points from the first two away games and a team that at last looks like it's got a bit of muscle as well as the fancy footwork. If this is the Steve Bould Effect, then long may it continue. It's still time for caution though. We've only played three average teams and sterner tests lie ahead. However, credit where it's due. I sincerely hope that our resillience continues and old fogeys like me can soon stop spitting out our dentures at tippy-tappy, unproductive footy so characteristic of Project Youth. - Post No. 28757
Garygooner 12:45pm 6th Sep 2012
Great article GoonerRon i am also the same as you and like to look for the positives and there are a lot to see in these bunch of players. No they may not be world beaters yet but they appear to be willing to put the effort in to try and turn themselves in to that. As stated before, i am much happier to watch this team than others before them and actually look forward to our games with a bit more optimism and safe in the knowledge that if we fail to get a result we will have given everything to try to achieve this. LOng may it continue. Up The Gunners! - Post No. 28758
James 12:58pm 6th Sep 2012
Ron it depends on what you look as on success.Last year some Gooners thought last season was a good season when we finished 19 points behind the top 2.So if we could close that gap to 15 points and finish 4th is that an improvement?Arsenal have proved in the two tight games v Sunderland and Stoke we didnt have that touch of class(dare i say RVP) to break down a tight defence.To me Arsenals beggist fault is the manager.Sagna off next summer?? - Post No. 28759
Timbo 13:22pm 6th Sep 2012
I appreciate your optimism and generally agree although share your uncertainty about the short term future. We will wait and see but without doubt, there were many positives which came from the Liverpool game and three consecutive clean sheets. On a side note, from the homepage, the article seemed like it was going to be a piece on Carl Jenkinson's ascendency to first team football. Whilst he is undoubtedly a better player as a result of his first team experience, he is nowhere near good enough to start for Arsenal. Liverpool targeted him rightly on Sunday and he gave the ball away horrendously a few times. - Post No. 28761
CK Gooner 13:39pm 6th Sep 2012
Good article Ronnie and it very much sums up my emotions at the moment also, as you point out towards the end of your article there are still a few grounds for concern but at the moment let's just enjoy a good, positive start to the season unlike this time last year when it felt like the end of the world almost! - Post No. 28762
Hamza Ali Baksh 13:57pm 6th Sep 2012
Can anyone remember the numbskulls who said things like "The Youth team plays Wengerball under Bould". And went on about how he'd not make any difference cos he'd just be another 'yes man'. Don't those people just look like fools now! - Post No. 28763
billthered 14:12pm 6th Sep 2012
We must reserve judgement at the moment and lets see where we are at the end of the month then the month after and so on.But we do look a lot better collectively than at any stage of last season.And let us as supporters get behind the team whoever is representing us out on the pitch and leave the barracking to faceless wonders that run the club.And one last thing lets all forget the spuds because it is them that always look for our results and hope we lose then get the hump at the end of the season. - Post No. 28764
Mandy Dodd 14:54pm 6th Sep 2012
I share your optimism on this bunch. All going well, this team could develop into a hybrid of Wenger and George Graham philosophies, with Bould the link to the bygone era. I would feel even better if we had a replacement before letting Song leave, but still , this team are showing a lot of promise. The effect of injuries are a wait and see, like a lot of other things. - Post No. 28765
MRMROD 15:02pm 6th Sep 2012
All cheese aside i'm optimistic and confident that we'll achieve silverware this season and the first three games makes me think no differently. I was over the moon that Walcott didnt get a sniff and hearing about Bouldie grabbing Song by the throat; the club comes first not these egos and that will instill greater team spirit. Still, Sagna seems to be throwing a little spanner in the works today, doesnt he? - Post No. 28766
Ron 15:19pm 6th Sep 2012
Nothing wrong with a bit of optimism. To be honest the optimiasm from most match goers in the last few years has always been there. Thats why we have gone to the games isnt it surely? The trouble is that the Board and AW have constantly pulled the wool over the supporters eyes and naturally what optimism there was has been greatly eroded, esp in the last 2 seasons, coupled with the poor tactical approach of the Manager ie attacking and to hell with defence, that has done much to undermine any progress the team might have otherwise made. Dont kid yourself that all these players have left purely for money and glory. You can bet your backside theyve lost faith in Wengers gung ho philosophy too, just like nearly all the fans have. - Post No. 28767
Bard 16:07pm 6th Sep 2012
Good to read an optimistic article. I've seen too many false dawns over the last few years and that's dampened my enthusiasm. I would like to share you're hope but I will reserve judgement until I see them in action against top class opposition, chelsea, manu and Citeh. Liverpool were rubbish and if Agger had scored that sitter in the first hald it could have been very different. But I agree we look pretty solid as unit and the defending was heaps better. - Post No. 28768
maguiresbridge gooner 16:26pm 6th Sep 2012
Ron i think it would be fair to say we're all optimists at the start of every season.That this season is going to be different things are going to change and for so long they haven't with the the same old.Your spot on the start to this season has given us more reason to be optimistic for a while especially the way our defence has started and improved under the guidence of bouldy with its shape and disipline (it's a pity it couldn't have happened three or four seasons ago) and its good to see the high fives and the clenched fists.Clean sheets should be an honor not only for the defence but the whole team something bouldy knows all about.I don't think anybody is getting to carried away at this early stage as there are a lot of big tests to come both home and abroad and we'll know more about this defence and team as a whole then.We're certainly due a season relativity free of injuries lets hope thats the case as when they enter our medical center we never seem to see them again for months.Lets hope the big tests i mentioned that are coming our way this month can be passed and we all can be even more optimistic. - Post No. 28770
BringBackDene 17:29pm 6th Sep 2012
Yes I agree things look good now that we have an improved defence thanks to Steve Bould, but I seem to remember that Pat Rice played in the back 4 for years, what happened to his experience ? The current team look good but nothing on the bench, that includes Walcott. And that is where we all have fears when the come C/L matches begin. But YES things are looking good. - Post No. 28771
mark from aylesbury 18:46pm 6th Sep 2012
Interesting that Sagna has apparently kicked off. It seems to have coincided with our 3 game no conceeding streak.If he reacts to a threat to his first team return like that we can say goodbye to another prima donna. Looks like Bould is shaking things up for the better. - Post No. 28772
Angry & Frustrated 18:51pm 6th Sep 2012
Don't disagree with what you have said Ron, but I still can't forgive Wenger that quickly for not doing the bleeding obvious during the previous 7 seasons. Even a blind man could see our Achilles heel, and it took the retirement of Pat Rice and the introduction of Steve Bould to finally begin to sort out the mess. A question for you Ron, do you think if Pat Rice had decided to continue that our defence would be any better this season? We probably already know the answer to that question, but again it purely highlights that Wenger has sod all to do with this current improvement which doesn't say much for him does it, bearing in mind he is supposed to be the manager on a circa £7 million salary! Which brings us on to all the other Wenger mismanagement items, like the backing of our dross players who are on contracts so ridiculous in relation to their talents that we remain lumbered with most of them, and are subsidising the salaries for the few we somehow managed to loan out, of which one I read today is to fat to even be considered for selection. Like you I want to be optimistic, and agree the early signs are indeed looking better, but to coin that famous phrase of Jim Bowen "look what we could have won" had OGL not been so blindly loyal to Pat Rice, and used his supposed managerial acumen to realize no team ever wins anything if the back door is wide open. It's only because of Bould's no doubt strong character and condition of his promotion that he would have a free hand at the back, because if it was still up to Wenger it would be attack everyone and we would possibly only have 2 points to our name now!! In other words, I still have little confidence in Wenger himself and the current credit belongs entirely to Steve Bould, simply by virtue of introducing the most basic of defensive concepts! - Post No. 28773
Mandy Dodd 18:55pm 6th Sep 2012
very strange regarding Sagna - guess a good question for anyone going to the Tom Fox event being why are the club continuing to let their best players go into the last 2 years of contract? And if this stuff about Sagna is correct - without even trying to get him signed up? Jenkinson has done well in the games this season, but is not yet in a position whereby we can just write off Sagna - Post No. 28774
Peter Wain 20:43pm 6th Sep 2012
We are three games intoa 38 game league season and we have won one game and drawn two. The two we drew were with lower mid table sides and the one we won was the worst Liverpool side I have ever seen going back 40 years. By all means be optomistic but temper it with realism. The management problems which have existed for ssometime will not disappear overhight. It now looks as if Sagna wants to go. - Post No. 28775
DW Thomas 23:51pm 6th Sep 2012
I am more a realist who expects highly paid, pampered young men to work hard for their wages. 3 games in and the last 7 seasons are forgotten? You all must be havin a laugh. Getting Wenger to change is like taking blood from a stone. My biggest hope is we get rid of any and all players who don't work for the badge! Sagna is class and has grit. Remember his thumping header that changed the game vs Spurs last year? We need to shore up the guys like him, add more of the same, and keep getting the team to work as a whole on defense. No more joggers like Walcott. Work or get out. Why is Spain (and Barca as a club) viewed as perhaps the greatest ever? They attack well, sure, but they also are relentless in getting the ball back. I would love to see us win the league. Just like I'd love to win the lottery. Maybe we can do it, but let's wait and see where we are by the end of this month. Even if we are top, 38 games leaves a lot of time for collapses. 2008 is still fresh in my mind. Still great to see Diaby playing so well, Jack soon back, and the new boys looking like work horses with skill too. Let's beat City and Chelsea, rub in their spoiled overpaid faces. Then I can begin to share the rose-tinted feelings! - Post No. 28777
Joe S. 6:32am 7th Sep 2012
Cheers to you Gooner Ron,your optimism has always shone through. We all want to believe, don't we?, and the result at Liverppool brought a smile to even the more disillusioned amongst us. Speaking for myself, I am some times reminded of the village idiots in Frankenstein, ready to " lynch" Wegner while a part of me still wants to believe that his vision for the club is not too different from mine. - Post No. 28778
Ken Dodd 6:50am 7th Sep 2012
By jove,by jove what a beautiful day for Arse-ne to plead with Uncle Bouldy: ''Oh please,oh please Stevie don't tell Sagna he's no longer required at the Bac-ary,it would kill him!'' - Post No. 28779
mike #1 14:12pm 7th Sep 2012
We're a very good team. We've got just enough of a squad to win the league, provided "Bac and Jack come back" along with Tommy boy, we're in very good shape. What happens if Diaby/Carzola/Podolski/Vermaelen get injured? Nothing good that's for sure. But we still cross the road, even 'though we might get run over. Call me an optomist, or an idiot, I don't care, but I messed up last week I have never been so sure we were going to get a result in my life as I was at Anfield (also because Liverpool aren't very good tbh). But missing Arsenal for the Prem at 22/1 was criminal. I got 500 on us at 14/1 from bet 365. Will rue the lost 8 pts, but some is better than none. If we don't win, oh well, btu I like the bet, not just b/c of the Liverpool game, nor the clean sheets, but b/c these players look like they're hungry, hard working and ready to do something big. Song is gone - I believe the last piece of cancerous apathy has been removed fron this squad. If Theo leaves, it will be because he can't be cured either. I don't thinke we'll let Sagna leave. - Post No. 28781
CanadaGooner 17:24pm 7th Sep 2012
Good article. If this team can focus on the League Cup & FA Cup this season just to get a taste of winning, then we can see what they can do in the league next season. I dont see more than a top 4 finish for us in the league this season unless something clicks into gear (and hopefully it does) - Post No. 28785
Bard 17:58pm 7th Sep 2012
Completely agree with Angry and Frustrated; it does seem as though our new found defensive strength and solidity is more down to accident than design, which begs the question what the f*** does Wenger actually do ? Why didnt he get Bould in years ago. And thats the central issue. We look pretty solid right now but is Wenger still up to the job. The current success paradoxically suggests he's not. - Post No. 28786
HowardL 23:43pm 7th Sep 2012
I'm right with you on this - Post No. 28789
au revoir wenger 0:12am 9th Sep 2012
Hill-Wood says we cant compete with the big boys.this from a club that charges the highest prices in world football.Anyone who gives this regime money is a dope - Post No. 28793
the_drizzle 20:34pm 9th Sep 2012
Another great question is how to deal with Sagna when he returns next month. Aside from a few (horrific) errors, Jenkinson seems content to actually play defense. Despite his offensive problems, he seemed comfortable in 1-on-1 situations, which allows Vermaelen and Mertesacker to maintain their shape (Will FIFA 13 have enough time to increase his rating!?). And for all Sagna's speed and crossing ability, he has always come off as a lazy, off-balance defender. Then there's the fact that he submitted his City application earlier this week (Line one of that application reads: "Have you complained about 'ambition' at Arsenal yet?"). But in any event, I wouldnt be too torn up over losing Sagna. One notable aspect of the Steve Bould Effect has been a marked shift away from the total football style that we lived and died by last season. Im not even comfortable with Gibbs making those runs until he learns to send in a cross (but #BlameItOnGiroud). We certainly lose style points playing Jenkinson and Mertesacker in the back, but its been thoroughly entertaining to see a blue-collar, hard working squad on the pitch this season. - Post No. 28795
MarkH 20:50pm 9th Sep 2012
I would rather have Jenkinson playing for Arsenal than the mercenaries parading as players that we have had to put up with. Give me a Gooner before a Adebayor any day of the week. - Post No. 28796
12th December 2013
Online Ed: Late goals hands Arsenal a tough spring assignment