I believe Arsene Wenger has a champion side under him. This team has definitely come a long way after losing Thierry Henry at the beginning of the season. In a way, Arsenal have only benefited from Henry’s much hyped move to Barcelona. Earlier the young Gunners must have been under immense pressure in the sense that Henry was the talisman at the time and hence he was expected to do too much. Sometimes one felt he was given the ball while not necessarily being in space or in a scoring position. Now the Gunners look a new outfit capable of toppling the big names.
The midfield is world class material. Rosicky, Fabregas, Flamini and Hleb have marshaled the midfield brilliantly. A lot of Arsenal’s goals this season have come from the midfield and with strikers like Adebayor and Van Persie, the attacking front has been in awesome form although it must be added that Van Persie’s absence has been a huge loss to the team. His vision is great and he’s picked up the mantle in Henry’s absence with ease. He has been sorely missed at crucial times. But Eduardo and Adebayor have justified the faith placed in them by coming up with strong performances.
At the same time it is good to see that Wenger has kept faith in the other strikers by publicly stating that he will not be buying any players in the transfer window. This could also be the reason behind Eduardo doing so well off late with goals in the Champions League as well. Theo Walcott has also emerged as a force to reckon with but predictions that he could be the next Henry are far from accurate. His quick feet are an asset to the team especially when he can come on late and spring a couple of surprises. Eboue and Clichy have put in some good crosses all through the season and Gallas has led well despite many still feeling Wenger need not have appointed him captain. Almunia is beginning to look solid in goal and the road ahead looks bleak for Jens Lehman unless the former commits suicidal mistakes.
If one had to point a weakness in the team it has to be the defense. With the exception of Kolo Toure there is a dearth of experience in the ranks and the team has paid for it in the form of a couple of precious points which could have made sure they stayed ahead of the chasing pack at this crucial time in the season. At times they have looked vulnerable with the set-pieces and this is a grey area Wenger must be closely monitoring. But as long as the front-line stays in top form there should be no major alarms.
The season is approaching a thrilling climax with Manchester United leading on goal difference. Man United have quality players most of whom have tasted success at the highest level. With all due respect to them I still feel Arsenal will pose a stiff challenge and hopefully come away with the Premier League title. This is the time when the temperament of the young Gunners must come to the fore. They have already done enough this season to show the world that Arsenal still has what is needed to win silverware. But then the Premier League tile would be the icing on the cake.
A lot of people might say that Arsenal may succumb under the pressure but then Wenger will be only too happy to prove them wrong. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a bigger fan of Arsene Wenger than the club itself. The fight is on and it’s not over until it’s OVER!!!
[Imagec courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/298414213/]