Thursday, January 21, 2010

Top Dogs but We Need to Buy: Arsenal 4-2 Bolton

What a strange league it has become. Who would have thought after that defeat at the hands of chelsea that Arsenal could be top less than two months later. And even more surprisingly, the pretty passers have accomplished this by grinding out wins without really playing well.

While a comeback from two goals down to hit top spot in January creates a special kind of euphoria, there is trouble afoot. As I've always said, I thought we needed to buy anyway but the injury situation has dictated that to stay in this position, we simply MUST. And since I don't think we will, I'm not going to get carried away.

Diaby went off injured lastnight, and since he's proven to be important in some way that I still can't quite put my finger on, it is a blow. With Nasri, Ramsey and Song unavailable at the moment the injury list is reaching epic proportions again, just in time for a daunting run of games. Ideally, we'd be fielding a strong side against Stoke in the FA cup, because with United and Liverpool out it's probably still our best chance of a trophy. Now, Wenger will probably have to play mostly reserves and hope for the best. But even then our starting eleven for the games against Villa, United, chelsea and Liverpool in the league will be far from full strength.

At the very least, we should be signing a striker. Maybe a midfielder aswell with the injury situation the way it is. I know we've already got Fabregas, Denilson, Diaby, Ramsey, Nasri, Rosicky and Song but only one of those guys is suited to playing that holding role and if you show me someone who thinks Eastmond is going to be adequate against the better teams in the league I'll show you an optimistic fool. Added to that, three or four of those mentioned are injury-prone. I just don't think our luck can hold with the squad already stretched to breaking point.

But let's be honest. The team deserves a mountain of praise for the character they've shown since the chelsea spanking. This run of seven wins and two draws out of nine has been achieved with Eduardo and Arshavin leading the line- one shorn of confidence and snatching at chances, the other playing through pain and unsuited to the role. Abou Diaby, who I constantly deride, has played his part. But the captain must take a huge chunk of the credit. English pundits will tell you that he "now takes games by the scruff of the neck like Gerrard or Lampard" but he's always been a player with the ability to dictate a game that those two actually lack, for all their talent. Now that he's added consistent goalscoring to his arsenal, he is arguably the world's best midfielder. If he's fit and available for at least the majority of the remaining sixteen league games, anything is possible. But I still have the nagging feeling that the manager could be doing more to surround cesc with the teammates he deserves...

A word for Tomas Rosicky aswell. I wouldn't be a big man for fairytales but wouldn't it be something special if this guy was a crucial figure for the rest of the season. He lit the torchpaper tonight, and also got that late equaliser against Everton. I've always been a huge fan, since before we even signed him, and his injury record is such a pity but it already looks like Wenger's faith could be repaid. He's such a class act that even though he's in and out of the team consistently, his contribution on the pitch never wavers.

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