Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Living in the moment

In football there’s a tendency, certainly in the media anyway, for a kind of live-in-the-moment short-termism. The only thing that counts is what’s happening now.

For example, a very average player can have a few good games and all of a sudden hype dictates that he is the great white hope, the new somebody where somebody = an established and well thought of player of proven quality. This is known as the David Bentley effect. Conversely, a good player who goes through a bad spell in his career is written off, not what they used to be, and possibly finished. This could well be described as the Wayne Rooney factor.

This sort of thinking creates headlines, sells papers and generates hits for websites. Which is fine, once we all realise what it is, and without presuming to speak for the majority (lest I be cut in half), I think most of us do. As does Cesc Fabregas who is refusing to go overboard after with the win over Man City. He says:

It looks like after every win you have to say ‘oh, you are more mature than last year’, but it is just one more game, let’s not get carried away. In football, you know what people will say when you win, and you know what people will say when you lose.

The time to talk about if we have matured or are better than before will be at the end of the season.

The win against City was good but I’m not sure it was a true test of either side’s title credentials. Arsenal can take positives from the result and most of the performance, City can take heart from the fact that even with 10 men they gave us a game until the second goal went in. Yet you can’t say that either side really laid down a marker. You can’t judge a team on one game. Or even just games against the top sides. A couple of seasons ago United had dreadful results against the other teams in the ‘big four’ yet went on and won the league.

What’s important for this Arsenal team is to take confidence and belief from the City game but also to realise that it’s just a small part of the job they have to do. A win against City away is great – but it comes just a few short weeks after losing at home to West Brom, which really isn’t. I hope that Cesc is making sure his teammates are getting the same message in the dressing room – the focus and effort has to be part of every game, not just the big ones.

I suppose the living in the moment thing can also be applied to Lukasz Fabianski. Arsene Wenger has spoken about how the Fabianski of recent times is much more like the one he’s always seen in training and goes on to say:

Sometimes in our job you have to be steady and fight against opinions. It’s easier for you when you know the player has the talent and I believe he has the talent.

To be fair to the manager he has always been consistent in his belief in the Pole only to be let down by the performances. For me it’s still way too early to say that Fabianski has turned the corner and become the top-class keeper Arsene has always said he is but he’s definitely moving in the right direction. The run of games seems to have done him some good, the City performance will have given him a lot of confidence yet he’s got to maintain that level of performance and add some consistency before we can say he, like Major Tom, has really made the grade.

One man who has added consistency to his game this season is Samir Nasri and, according to The Guardian, he is to be rewarded with a new deal. A three year extension is in the offing, keeping him at the club until 2015, and I don’t think anyone can argue that’s not a good thing. It’s easy to forget that when he arrived at the club he was just 21 and his best years are well and truly ahead of him. We’ve seen flashes and brilliant moments from him in seasons past but there’s no doubt he’s becoming far more important and influential.

Perhaps the price tag, which was very hefty by Arsenal standards, was a bit of a burden and raised expectations too early, but there’s no doubt we were paying for his potential too and thankfully that seems to be money well spent.

Nicklas Bendtner has spoken about his first goal of the season, calling it ‘fantastic’. His last Arsenal goal was in the 2-1 defeat to Sp*rs back in April. Since then he’s been injured, played in the World Cup when he probably shouldn’t have, and hopefully now his injury problems are behind him. He’s had to kick his heels and watch Marouane Chamakh come in and do the job he wants to do for the team – and do it exceptionally well.

On last week’s Arsecast Tim from Vital Football described Chamakh as the footballer Bendtner should become and I can’t agree with that more. Bendtner has time on his side and still plenty to learn. Chamakh, at 26, is more experienced, a more complete footballer, but what will be interesting is how Bendnter reacts to his arrival. He can learn a lot from the Moroccan about movement, about holding the ball up, about when to give it etc. They both possess real quality in the air and for me they’re more obvious centre-forward choices than the mythical Robin van Persie.

Some players don’t react well to competition, they sulk and complain but I hope Bendtner will view this as a positive challenge, one that will not only benefit him as player in the long run but also Arsenal as a team in the here and now. From his comments it seems as if that’s very much the case. And having that option on the bench is good news for us at a time when Carlos Vela seems to have been completely frozen out by the manager.

Vela could well play a part in tomorrow’s Carling Cup game though and he’s got to show that he can respond to being left out in recent weeks. I expect Bendtner to get a start up there, along with Gibbs, Eboue, Walcott and Wojscez©® in goal. There’ll also be room in the squad for Koscielny, Denilson and some youngsters like Lansbury and even Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (who is rumoured to be off to QPR on loan). We haven’t got any squad news on that yet but we can preview the game properly on tomorrow’s blog.

And speaking of the blog, if you do notice any strangeness or weirdness, it means that Tom is tinkering around with various things to try and improve performance. We’re still getting used to coping with the traffic and various spikes in traffic so bear with us. Also very much on the agenda are a mobile specific theme, for all mobile browsers, and a ‘work friendly’ theme which you can bookmark and use and pretend to be doing actual work when in fact you’re arsing about on the blog. I’m still going through emails received last week but I hope to get on top of those today, so if you’re waiting on a reply it’s coming, I promise.

A bit like winter sadly, this morning is dark grey and minging – like an elephant’s ringpiece. Better leave it there for today so, more tommorrow.

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