Isn’t it hilarious to hear the media ramble on about how we can now come out of a troubled summer, when it was their constant fashionable talk of a ‘crisis’ that allegedly made it troubled in the first place?
In reality, there never was a crisis. There is a young side here growing together, and showing the same massive potential that excited us in patches last season. It is so easy to forget how good they were at times because the season ended so flatly, but every supporter who has said all summer that Van Persie can be the top dog next season must feel vindicated today. What a goal he scored yesterday to win the cup, dragging the ball unfathomably with his left foot to score powerfully with his ‘weaker’ right.
Two 2-1 wins, over PSG (who looked phenomenal in hammering Valencia yesterday) and Inter, were enough to clinch the tournament, but instead of reviewing the matches themselves, I wanted to pick out a few individuals who, for good or bad, require a special mention. And where else to start, but with
Robin Van Persie
After a very quiet game against Salzburg last week, the mercurial Dutchman was everywhere this weekend, and his post match interview yesterday was telling – he talked, seemingly genuinely, about the wonderful spirit in the side and playing ‘the Arsenal way’. There are huge expectations on him this season, but something about the man tells you that will inspire him.
One of the candidates for our man of the tournament, he was lively, skilful, incisive, and he even scored. Sitting behind the front men, rather than coming in from a wide position, suits him, and this was how he was deployed in the Bundesliga, but when the season starts, it remains to be seen whether he could be accommodated there. It’s an option, not a likely one to start with, but it allows for tactical tinkering in the game – add him to the list of players who can change position and confuse the life out of the opposition.
He was superb yesterday, playing on the right wing ahead of Sagna (who was also much improved). Perhaps there really is life in the idea of him further up the park. He has pace, he can cross, he can shoot, and his defensive lack of positioning hurts us less there. But even in a friendly yesterday, he made the most of some challenges, completely unnecessarily. Promising, but his attitude is still a worry.
I’ve been impressed so far. His link up play is excellent, his determination to prove himself is equally good, and he isn’t overawed. He also can’t take a penalty to save his life, so he’ll fit it up front for us.
There is a simple reason why Gallas has become disliked in the eyes of Arsenal fans after his continual commenting – his performances are not good enough. Ljungberg will be forgiven his parting shot, Vieira and Henry were allowed the luxury of calling for ambition, because they had all established themselves as passionate Arsenal stars. Gallas has still left his good performances in West London, but brought his big mouth with him. He was at fault again for the goal yesterday, and I’m getting very tired of saying those words.
All in all though, the tournament has created waves of optimism. Wenger and various members of the team have been making the right noises for a while, but over the weekend we began to see why. There is still the worrying susceptibility at the back, but sharpness will hopefully resolve that.
One final point – why are all the papers going on about the complete non-story that is da Silva’s work permit? He has had his initial application turned down, and now faces an appeal. But this always happens with players who don’t automatically meet the work permit criteria. Another pathetic media attempt to portray something standard as a disaster?