By Tim Todd, Eeyore Impersonator
Great weekend for the Arsenal: after Arsenal beat Newcastle 1-0, Liverpool lost 3-0 to West Ham at Anfield, Chelsea lost 2-1 to Palace at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham eked out a 0-0 draw against Everton at White Hart Lane, and Man U lost 2-1 to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium¹.
As the final whistle in the Man U match drew the weekend to a close there was a carnival atmosphere on twitter — full of happy Arsenal fans, laughing at the misery of Chelsea, Man U, and “lollerpool”. I was stunned by the results but couldn’t quite bring myself to gloat too much. In fact, I almost tweeted “great results for Arsenal this weekend, when does the open top bus parade start?” but thought the better of it because it seemed too cynical.
I’m cynical here for good reason though. I mean, did we forget that Arsenal lost to West Ham at home on the first day of the season? How can we possibly laugh at Liverpool’s defeat when we lost in a spectacular fashion ourselves? Or how about how Swansea beat us twice last season? Cynical me guesses we were all excited because Arsenal played better against Palace than Man U. Because I honestly don’t see the reason why fans were so happy.
It’s been a funny old season so far. Only Manchester City look like a real title contender as each of the traditional top four teams have struggled mightily to get off the mark offensively against teams that pack in their defenses.
Part of that is down to spending, not as much as people like to think, but it is true that teams like Stoke, Palace, and West Ham have brought in fleet-footed players with enough talent to give big clubs problems. The real change, though, is that clubs like Palace, West Ham, and Swansea are all playing counter attacking football against these big teams.
It’s an old strategy and one that typically failed in the past. But it’s one that works particularly well when you have more talented players up front who are bedded in to the English Premier League and understand the physical demands of the game.
And we shouldn’t get drawn into the idea that these teams have spent big this summer and that’s why they are winning. Gomis is Swansea’s top goal scorer and he’s been with the club now for two years. Mahrez (supposedly an Arsenal target) is Leicester’s top goal scorer and he’s been with the club for three years. Diafra Sakho is West Ham’s most dangerous player and he’s been with the club for two years. It’s only Bakary Sako, the Crystal Palace forward, who has been brought in this year and is making an instant impact, though he did play for Wolves in the League Championship last season. They spent money, but they spent it last year, there are very few “instant impact” players in the League. In each of those cases the team bought the player and took an entire season to acclimate them to English football.
And before we get too gloaty, Arsenal have a hellish schedule after the Nationalism break: home to Stoke Shaquiri on the 12th, away to Zagreb on the 16th, and away to Chelsea on the 19th. Then a whopping four days rest before Arsenal face Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the League Cup on the 23rd. Three days later we get to see Mahrez up close and personal (unless we buy him) as Arsenal travel to Leicester. And to round off the month of September? Olympiacos at home on the 29th!
The good news is that Arsenal get nearly a week break before they face Man U on the 4th. Then another two-week Nationalism break before Arsenal have to play Watford, Bayern, and Everton in a week.
I don’t know about you guys, maybe all that gloating about the results this weekend won’t come back to bite us, I really hope not.
I’m working on a lot of data mining and applying for various writer’s jobs during this nationalism break. I’ll try to keep posting things here but if the blog goes fallow for a few days you know why. Les and I have a piece coming up about Hleb and I will try to throw you all some tidbits every few days to keep your attention but I have a lot of pots on a lot of burners at the moment and frankly, this break is a welcome relief.
Thanks for all your continued support of the site and don’t worry, I’ll probably never get a real job writing so you’ll be stuck with me here forever. It’ll be something we can tell the grandkids about.