More than any other club, it seems that Arsenal suffer the most with the calibre of their squad members. We had a ridiculous number of players at this summers World Cup, meaning that in terms of starting the season, we’ve been at a big disadvantage.
The new season is only 12 days old but we’ve already played Manchester City, Crystal Palace, Besiktas twice and Everton, and despite the obvious physical limitations as well as the quality of our opponents, we haven’t lost a single game yet.
We’ve failed to get out of first gear and our performances are nowhere near the standard we can achieve. When we’re in full flow, our football is outstanding but at the moment, we’re relying on sheer grit and determination to get us through.
Fitness, sharpness and the performances will come as the season progresses, but the fact we’ve managed to be where we are now is testament to Arsene Wenger and the players.
Arsene has had to manage players coming back at different times over the summer, organise new signings and rotate the squad more than he would like at this stage – and we’ve had big players missing due to injuries and suspensions, such as Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Kieran Gibbs.
At Crystal Palace, we struggled but the desire got us a narrow 2-1 victory. At Besiktas, we fought well to get an away draw and at Everton, when we were 2-0 down no-one gave us a chance. But sheer will and determination secured a dramatic 2-2 draw.
And to last night.
With a team obviously lacking in match sharpness, Arsene Wenger must have been extremely proud of what he saw. To a man, every single player gave 110% effort. Whereas at Everton you could accuse a couple of players of strolling through the game, every player on the pitch against Besiktas was unbelievable. The performance might not have been as slick as it can be (that will come with time) but the fight, desire and determination shown at The Emirates was phenomenal. Players such as Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere ran and ran and ran, showing how much playing for Arsenal means. We might have rode our luck with a couple of decisions, but there’s no doubt that these players play for Arsene Wenger.
And if you look around the Premier League table, how many managers can say the same?
The effort and fight shown by the players so far this season shows the belief that something special can be achieved this season.
And when we do click into gear once everyone is fully fit, then we will be right up there competing at the very top.