A perfectly decent start
By Simon Rose
So let's build on it
Two wins and two draws from four games, 8 points from 12. I think that is a decent return. We've drawn 0-0 with Sunderland and Stoke, beaten Liverpool 2-0 and now Southampton 6-1. Some fans still feel a bit miffed that we didn't beat Sunderland, but rethink those results for a moment. Say that we had instead beaten Sunderland 2-0 and got through a tough 0-0 at Anfield, then we would now be looking at two home wins out of two and two goalless away draws from two, at tough places like Stoke and Liverpool. Suddenly those returns seem more than reasonable. Nothing breathtaking, but a perfectly decently start.
Nothing breathtaking that is, other than Santi Cazorla. You could see after one second of his debut against Sunderland that Cazorla has got it. This guy has the F Factor, he can play football. He is a hummingbird, flitting from one moment to the next. Some Arsenal fans are already comparing Cazorla to Cesc Fabregas and deciding that Cazorla is the better player. There is no need to be premature or to rewrite history. Cazorla has played 4 matches for Arsenal, Fabregas played over 200 games for the club. But Cazorla certainly seems faster and potentially more dangerous than Fabregas and can switch the ball quickly between either feet with great balance and speed better than any midfielder I can remember.
The opening fixtures have worked out quite well for us, with rather decent timing, removing matches and certain players from our schedule that others can now have the pleasure of facing. Sunderland are tough and well organised, with the dangerous Steven Fletcher now in their frontline. We didn't have to face him and now we only have to play Sunderland once more in the league. Other clubs will have to face Sunderland and Fletcher twice.
We won't have to visit Stoke again either - there's a relief - and now they have signed Michael Owen. It might be a big if with Owen, given his sad fitness record, but if he stays fit enough and clicks with Peter Crouch then Stoke away will be a nightmare trip for many clubs and that is one nightmare that we won't now have to face.
Liverpool may no longer be effective title challengers - and certainly less so than we are - and possibly not top 4 contenders either, but there is no doubt that they will get their act together at some point. I was quietly pleased to see that we'd visit Anfield early in the season. I thought that we could catch them cold, especially as Steven Gerrard's fitness has been weak in recent seasons and I wasn't convinced that he would be ready to drag Liverpool to a strong result, like he has so often in the past.
And so it proved. We were immense at Anfield, Liverpool couldn't spark into life and Gerrard was frankly their weakest link, rather than their saviour. We won't need to visit Anfield again in the league this season, but everyone else will (Man City apart, who have already been there too) and Liverpool will get some sort of act together. We won't have to run the gauntlet of a more agile Liverpool at Anfield, but Chelsea and Manchester United might.
Now we have faced Southampton too, a promoted side who have already led both City and United, before being unlucky to lose to both of them. They could have visited us buoyant and primed to be feisty opponents. Instead, they were not ready for our speedy first half attacking onslaught and we caned them 6-1. They'd been softened up by their harsh early fixtures. We may not have fared so well to have played them right at the start of this campaign, or later when they may have toughened up a bit, so that timing worked quite nicely for us too. So here we are, four matches in, 8 points from 12 and we look to be developing some exciting elements to our game.
I said in the summer that selling Robin van Persie could lead to us becoming a more democratic team, a more balanced side with the licence to perform spread more equally around the team. I spent much of last season begging Gervinho to shoot and to lay the ball back to teammates. He wasted so many openings by wanting to take on extra opponents and then head back into danger by re-taking them on, which ruined umpteen moves. In pre-season he looked a transformed man. It was like someone had changed Gervinho's settings and moved him up from beginner to professional. You can say that Southampton were accommodating opponents but Gervinho was unplayable at times and can be well pleased with his two goals. Perhaps it will prove to be his 'Pires moment', that I talked about last season.
So now we have to take our newly-exciting, more democratic, more equally-licensed Arsenal side into power matches against City and Chelsea. I went to City last season and we were unlucky to lose 1-0. This time, we are well equipped to score and that may be enough to bag at least a draw there. Chelsea skanked the Champions League but have bought some dangerous players and are sure to visit us in formidable shape. If we can emerge from both matches without defeat that would be a positive outcome. One win and a draw would be immense. Two wins and expectation is going to burst through the roof. Here's to expectation.
16th September 2012
User Comment and Reaction
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Michael 22:37pm 16th Sep 2012
Another mad article from Mr Rose.We have been here before in 2008,10 and 11.It will all end in tears - Post No. 28907
Realist Gooner 22:48pm 16th Sep 2012
Simon Rose i would ask you to go back and read what you wrote about RVP in the summer.You said nothing of the sort that we would become a more democratic and balanced team.You were begging RVP to stay and become an Arsenal legend."Please stay Robin dont leave us and join nasty Man Utd" you cried.Not only are you the king of the AKB's but you suffer from amnesia.You will never get it into you head as long as Wenger is manager a top 4 finish is the height of our ambitions - Post No. 28908
Mark 23:00pm 16th Sep 2012
Arsenal will have a good start to the season up until christmas then when we need to strenghten in january Wenger will again fail to sign anyone except Henry on loan.We will suffer injuries in the 2nd half of the season and fall away as usual.Sadly we have been down this road before.I said we will finish 4th before the season started nothing has made me change that opinion.We still need cover at GK LB and striker - Post No. 28909
thatsimonrose 23:29pm 16th Sep 2012
Ha ha! Thanks Michael! I said all last season that we'd finish in the top 4 and above Spurs. I was told that I was nuts and rose-tinted. I was still right though ;) - Post No. 28910
Joe S. 7:07am 17th Sep 2012
The Liverpool result was a fine one,the others more or less went as expected points wise and the real test begins against City.We all want the team to do well but let's not get carried away.Arsenal seem to be on track for a fourth placed finish but are you really expecting more Simon? If Jack can get his fitness and team up with Santi,then I might hope for something special.By the way what happenrd to our editor? I hope he didn't have another run in outside the ground. - Post No. 28911
RJ 8:16am 17th Sep 2012
Simon - another excellent piece of rose tinted joy - as a pure optimist myself, I am delighted with the way things are going. And to the naysayers - what is wrong with a bit of belidef 4 games into the season - Michael, Realist Gooner, Mark - maybe you will be proved right, but it must be a gloomy world you live in where things are bound to go wrong at any moment. Let's get behind the team, support them to the hilt (atmosphere at the Emirates is getting better and better) and maybe we can surprise even ourselves. This time last season we had already given up on the EPL, and came back for a gutsy and fortuitous 3rd - this season, we can actually still dream 4 games in. Top work. COME ON YOU GOONERS - Post No. 28912
chris dee 9:06am 17th Sep 2012
Good solid start,but that's all it is, something to build on I hope. I also hope that Arsene accepts that there are periods during certain games when the team collectively has to slow down take a breath and concentrate on defending instead of attempting to attack for 90 minutes whoever we are playing. I still think we need an experienced goalkeeper because Sirchesney once again showed he is capable of schoolboy errors,his mistake on Saturday was cringeworthy,and the look of anger on Arsene's face was a sight to behold. The kid's obviously got talent but that ain't enough for a top class goalkeeper Concentration,concentration,concentration is the name of the game.Hopefully Steve Bould will give him a kick in the b******s to help him remember that. - Post No. 28913
Ron 9:48am 17th Sep 2012
Save it until end of September. Liverpool are as bad as theyve been since the late 50s. Any decent team would have beaten Saints and Sunderland are nothing but a gritty team of battlers. The point at Stoke was well merited. Theyre a batter team than people give them credit for. Its too early by far to take a view that nearly 8 years of 'same old, same old' might be in the infancy of a reverse. - Post No. 28914
Stroud Green Road Boy 10:33am 17th Sep 2012
The 'we won't have to face them again' part of your article doesn't really stack up. You could make similar arguments for any four random teams in the division. The counter-argument would be we haven't played anyone yet. We're about to though - Man C and Chelsea. In the longer term, let's also see if we don't once again collapse for significant parts of the season, as we have done for the past several. - Post No. 28916
Mike 11:49am 17th Sep 2012
I can't believe the posts here - it is a perfectly respectable start- The defence has had it best start for 88 years. It would have been an all time record had they not let one in - Cazorla looks to be a gem - Padolski is showing more work ethic than anyone before him - Diaby has played more than one game and is looking good - Gervinho has scored two goals - I agree with Mr Rose - a perfectly decent start despite people trying to make out that the opposition is poor - they play as well as you let them - Post No. 28917
Richie Powling 12:18pm 17th Sep 2012
I am certainly no AMS but I am quite satisfied with our start to the season - there are reasons to be optimistic for sure. The team does have a better shape to it defensively and that is a good sign. With the (hopefully) returning players combining with the current first team, we will be a tougher team to beat. Whether we win anything or not remains to be seen - but I am feeling better now than for any time in the last few years. I still think we are 2 players short of being able to mount a serious challenge for the PL, but that makes a pleasant change from being 5 players short in recent times. - Post No. 28918
GoonerGoal! 12:43pm 17th Sep 2012
Hang on, Southampton are bottom with 0 points, Liverpool with 0 wins are 17th, Sunderland with 0 wins are 15th, and Stoke also with 0 wins are 11th. Not exactly what you’d call in-form teams are they? Definitely a decent start yes, but let’s wait until at least the end of September before you start shouting the odds. There's always one team in a false position at the top at the start of every season. This season it could be Everton, but then it could also be us! - Post No. 28919
Tony Evans 12:44pm 17th Sep 2012
Good to see a performance like that at long last but I do tend to agree with Mark's comment. If we are still challenging at Christmas and don't have half the team out injured like we normally do I may start to believe again. We do have the makings of a proper team for a change and much credit has to go to Steve Bould for his undoubted input with regards to defending but as Mark has said keeper, left back and striker are worrying weak points that could be the teams undoing. - Post No. 28920
GoonerRon 12:53pm 17th Sep 2012
The title of Simon's article is 'a perfectly decent start' - how can anyone disagree with that? I wouldn't call it a rose tinted view but a very realistic, steady analysis. For all of those saying we've not played anyone yet, in any season Liverpool away is a tough game and I don't think Stoke lost to any of the top 7 at their place last year. I'd put those away games into the top 7 most difficult away games for us and on that basis our points haul is good at this point. Clearly even bigger tests are just around the corner but I'm pleased that the signs leading up to these big tests are extremely encouraging. - Post No. 28921
Ron 13:41pm 17th Sep 2012
Tony - Smack on about the Keeper. Hes reasonable to average at best, but because he once said something spikey and derogatory about Tottenham to some feckless hack who had nothing else to scribe about in a rubbish tabloid, hes held up as a cult hero! Wenger, get a goalkeeper! 9 years without a proper and reliable one is long enough. - Post No. 28922
Belfast Gooner 13:58pm 17th Sep 2012
As always on this site, can never quite understand the criticism. Yes by all means wait until the end of September to praise, but don't quite seem the need to criticise when things are going well! Also, if you look at City's start to the season, they have played three of the same fixtures as us - Southampton (had to come from behind late in the game), Liverpool away (lucky to get a draw), and Stoke away (probably unlucky not to win). So against that benchmark, I'm happy so far. - Post No. 28923
Roy 14:53pm 17th Sep 2012
Whilst I take on board all the views on this so far, all of which have merit I have to say, a quick shout here for a certain tall German. Ok he may be exposed as turning like a Trident submarine when the tougher games kick in, but then again maybe not. To me Mertesacker has hardly put a foot wrong so far, so credit where credits due. The Steve Bould effect again maybe ? Let's keep it going. COME ON YOU GOONERS. - Post No. 28924
MarkH 15:03pm 17th Sep 2012
For F**ks sake. Did we not just win 6-1. At least enjoy that before you all start moaning and whinging. - Post No. 28925
jjetplane 15:09pm 17th Sep 2012
OK - we all thought one way or another that Arsenal were dying a death season by season. But looking at bouldie on that bench you can see why things have changed. Wenger is now getting the respect from the players and they really are enjoying it so far. Almost thought for a moment the ghosts of Pires and Wiltord had returned for The Saints' awakening. Even Theo knows his place now and he had better get used to the pay packet too. When was the last time we were in awe of one man in shorts on the coach bench. Bouldie - you always were the main man - ask Tony Adams. And one for all the 'told you so's' out there - real Arsenal support has a right to a moan - even if its a seven year one.Rosie - your right. Cazorla is a midfield Messi - sorta makes Fab look one-dimensional. And as for Pursie - on the bench where he belongs by default. - Post No. 28926
HowardL 15:24pm 17th Sep 2012
What a load of negative claptrap! I'd go further than Simon and say this has been a very encouraging start. Some of the fluent football played against both Liverpool and Southampton took me back about 10 years. I was astonished that when we went 4 up on Saturday some of the fans around me stated talking about Newcastle's comeback (but not how much help they had from the spineless ref). No one's yet talking of titles but this time last year we had lost to Blackburn, in addition to the 8-2 massacre, so I think there is cautious cause for optimism. - Post No. 28927
maguiresbridge gooner 15:34pm 17th Sep 2012
Certainly a decent start although a win against stoke or sunderland would see us top nothing significant in that at this stage of the season i know but it would have been even better for morale and given us something to defend and play for (even this early) going into the game against the blue mancs and the chavs.Yes Caz has had a great start to his arsenal career/season but for fans to be already saying he is better than cesc is premature indeed.You sound like we should be grateful we got a draw from stoke and sunderland and only have to face them once more especially sunderland with a world class player like fletcher in their side i suppose you could be right if previous seasons are anything to go by but there used to be a time when we would swot teams like this aside instead of being grateful to come away with a scoreless draw.Hopefully our new exciting team can raise expectations and wins this week and next would certainly do that but expectations have been raised before. - Post No. 28928
Tony Evans 15:47pm 17th Sep 2012
Ron - it is almost unbelievable isn't it how Wenger has given the crucial position of keeper so little real attention for so long. Almunia was given years instead of months, then Wenger dabbled with Flappy and even now Scsezney is not the solid presence between the sticks that is required. He is a vast improvement yes but still liable to cost the team at crucial times during the season. Steve Bould has sorted the defence out it seems, now we need someone to tell Wenger about goal-keeping. I wish I could pass the buck like that and still earn £7M a year! - Post No. 28929
Dave 15:51pm 17th Sep 2012
For 76 minutes on a Paris spring evening in 2006, the future of Project Youth at Arsenal looked nerve-shreddingly rosy. 14 minutes and six seasons later the main objective, namely sustainability through home-grown talent, had atrophied. In reality, the lid was nailed firmly in place with the loss of Cesc Fabregas in 2011, the man around whom the legacy was to be created; the loss of RVP was the last shovel of earth dumped on the coffin. As the thousands of mourners drifted away, contemplating the waste of a young life unfulfilled and the prospects of a bleak future, the father of Project Youth, AKB (increasingly known as AMG), looked on as the leaden grey-skied north London rain chastened his greyed hatless pate. As the sobering rain dripped from the end of his beaky nose, AKB realised that loyalty, even when a boy had been mollycoddled by the club from an early age, could only be bought with at least five zeros on the end of a cheque. Of course, the thousands of other mortals now wasted at the wake, could’ve told him that four years ago when the loss of Cashly was followed by a succession of others offered more than AKB was prepared to pay. However, even if he was slow, he wasn’t stupid and even before RVP had left, AKB had figured out what to do. He went straight back to his wardrobe and, there, under a pile of Barcelona-like away shirts, was his magic hat. The new policy doesn’t have a name (Project Pragmatism?), but with his old hat firmly on his head, the ideas began to flow again: defence = Stevie Bould; transfers = Podolski, Cazorla; a firm line with the Walnut. Solidity returned to midfield, and gone was the candy-brained We are the World optimism of Project Youth. Arsenal looked like a real team again and slate grey skies had given way to an Indian summer. - Post No. 28930
Dave 16:12pm 17th Sep 2012
There was a joke from the 1998 season, after Arsenal had beaten Manc U to the double double and had to do with the long unbeaten run in the last quarter of the season. It goes like this: Fergie, wanting to know how Arsenal’s players had maintained such high levels of fitness and stamina throughout, went to London Colney and asked AW what his secret was. “You Britishers understand ze importance of physical fitness, but you fail to appreciate ze importance of mental fitness,” replied le Boss. Fergie asked him to explain, and AW asked Dennis Bergkamp over. Turning to DB, he said, “I have a riddle for you, Dennis.” “Fire away, boss”, the Dutchman responded. “Who is your father’s son but not your brother?” The legendary number 10 paused for a moment before answering: “It’s easy; it’s me.” Impressed, Fergie left for Old Trafford and decided to use the same question on David Beckham. Calling him over, he said “I have a riddle for you that I picked up from Arsene Wenger. Dennis Bergkamp was able to answer it, and I want you to as well. Who is your father’s son but not your brother?” David Beckham paused, looked blank, and said: “That’s a tricky one boss; do you mind if I sleep on it?” “Fine”, responded Fergie, “tell me tomorrow in training.” That night David couldn’t sleep. He told Posh his problem, and she advised him to call Japp Stam, as he was Dutch and would understand the riddle. He called Stam up and asked the question: ‘Who is your father’s son but not your brother?’ Stam thought for a while and then responded: ‘It’s easy; it’s me.’ David was thankful and went happily to training the following day. When Fergie called him over for the answer to the question, David responded, ‘It’s easy boss; it’s Japp Stam’; to which Fergie responded, “Ach, ya fool; it’s Dennis Bergkamp”. The old AW is back. - Post No. 28931
Dan h 16:29pm 17th Sep 2012
Cazorla & Podolski have hit the ground running with obviously bigger tests to come.The willingness so far for the wide men to track back & cover has helped the defence should not be overlooked.Arteta sits & prompts from deep and has also kept his discipline position wise promising start but comments about the next fixtures are fair. - Post No. 28932
Matt Schtick 20:18pm 17th Sep 2012
As others have said we have played and beat no one yet.None of our opponents so far have won one game.Now if we beat City and Chelsea then you can start dreaming but not before that.Mert has done well but i would have Kos back against Tevez and Aguerro. - Post No. 28938
Fozzy's mate 12:36pm 18th Sep 2012
A reasonable and promising start especially in comparisons to last years debacle. But lets wait until post City and Chelsea before hailing our side. Those who criticise Simon (and I have done so many times in the past) should read his articles and bear in mind his unflinching opitimism. He tends to say we will win everything plus the grand national and british grand prix while the rest of us point to our empty trophy cabinet! - Post No. 28946
thatsimonrose 0:14am 19th Sep 2012
It's amazing how often people exaggerate here what I have written, to justify them making an exaggerated response. People certainly like to put words into my mouth, to suit their own agenda! I genuinely think that some Arsenal fans just want to be negative. Personally I'd rather take heart from the positives in life. AKB? Never. I'm just an optimistic realist. Rose-tinted glasses? I don't even wear glasses! - Post No. 28957