Welcome to a brand new week on TremendArse. With next weekend’s game at West Ham still what feels like an eternity away, time now to take a little look at some of the reaction from our 4-0 win over Watford.
First up we have the manager Arsene Wenger, who has been praising the mentality of his side, despite the fact his squad showed all the cerebral fortitude of a shoe, in getting beaten by Manchester United and Swansea City recently. Here’s what he had to say:
We have only one target now. We have come through difficult periods and the team who finishes top is the team who can continue to perform and get results even when the period is a bit more difficult. This team has a good mentality. I’ve had many teams in my life and this team is top quality. They have gone through a bad period but, when you play like that [against Watford], that shows that mentally they are pure. You have to find a team who clicks at the right moment. You have a whole lot of different reasons [for it happening], because your injured players come back like Welbeck and because of the emergence of players like Iwobi.
Personally, I think what’s far more important than mindset is the the footballing chemistry of the team. I mean, I’m sure Aaron Ramsey’s mentality is second to none, but the fact he can’t pass the ball to save his life, yet was playing as our chief distributor from the middle of the park during our ‘difficult periods’ this season, is no coincidence.
Not that it’s all on the Welshman of course, because Olivier Giroud being able to run, or Theo Walcott not being scared sh*tless of the ball, would also have helped immeasurably, but midfield’s the area I would pick as the stand-out problem position for us this season, with it’s lack of adequate functionality in key games being the main reason we’re so far off top spot in the league as things stand.
That said, for all the ridicule Arsene attracts by consistently praising his players’ mental strength, why he does it is obvious – to build confidence among his players. Plus we’ve sorted our problem area now it seems, providing we can keep Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin fit and firing for the remainder of the campaign. Indeed, Arsene was full of praise for the duo after the win over Watford, saying:
Both of them are improving offensively. When Coquelin plays with Cazorla, Coquelin is the defensive player which made them a perfect pair. Then Coquelin focused more on defending and Cazorla more on attacking. Now both [Elneny and Coquelin] share the job, so the balance is a bit [better]. They’re more similar. We have four attackers in front of them so we need people who can defend well in central midfield.
Understandably, the manager also singled out Alex Iwobi for praise after the teenager scored one and set one up in only his second-ever Premier League start:
These people (Arsenal fans) have seen many good players over the years and they know straight away when a player has something special, so they acknowledge that. You cannot cheat people. They’ve seen how quickly he’s improved and how well he’s played. It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game. He’s worked with us since the start of the season and he has grown, gained confidence and when he came in he had an impact straight away. That’s benefited from the fact that he knows everybody and they trust him as well. I didn’t expect that level of efficiency or impact on the scoresheet.
It’s hard not to get carried away by the impact Iwobi’s made in these last few games and although it’s worth stopping for a minute and remembering just how young and inexperienced he still is, the way he’s playing at the moment does make you wonder if he might prove the difference between an all-too-familiar fourth-place finish, or something far better come the end of the season.
Imagine thinking that even just a few short weeks ago. You just never know in football …