The TAO of Wenger will keep us top of the league

As you already know, because there have been 100 stories this morning, Wenger’s press conference happened today and as usual, the manager had a lot to say. Instead of giving a complete rundown (which could top 3,000 words, seriously, it’s that dense a presser today) I’m just going to focus on the one topic that I love hearing every time it comes up, Wenger’s belief in this team.

The first question out the gate was about how it feells to be top of the league, which Wenger side-stepped a bit by saying something similar to what Andrei Arshavin was criticized for saying the other day: we’re only psychologically top of the league, mathmatically Chelsea still have the game in hand. Personally, I didn’t put too much into the little Russian’s statements because at the very least it’s good to remind yourselves that while we’re top today we could just as easily be back to 4th place unless we maintain our focus and play every game to win. Complacency, as we have seen with Chelsea at times this year, is a season killer.

But it wasn’t the question about how it feels to be top of the table that I liked best. It was the one asking him if he “believed” he could win the title. It’s a pretty incredible question really and he answered it incredulously, saying that of course he believed he could win the title;

I believed it when we were 11 points behind, so why should I not believe?

Wenger’s been saying somthing similar all season. That talent, attitude and opportunity will win trophies; it’s the TAO of Wenger. The talent is probably the one thing that most Gooners question at the moment, looking for Wenger to bring in new folks before the window shuts in just a few days. And I can see why, the Villa game is going to be our first real test without any experienced and sharp holding midfielder in the squad at the moment.

Denilson will probably be the man at that spot in that game (assuming he doesn’t get hurt!*) and on his current form many of us are worried. After some distance from the Bolton game though I think he was possibly not at 100% and still recovering from the sniper’s bullet which hauled him down against Everton. The same thing could be said for the first Villa game, which is where he picked up this mystery back problem.

So, if Wenger holds true to his promise in today’s presser and dips into the reserve team for the Stoke game it means that Denilson could have another few days rest to get 100%. Then he’ll have a real opportunity to show off his talent and the proper Arsenal attitude by dominating the midfiled against Villa.

As for these next four league games against Villa (A), United, Chelsea (A), and Liverpool, Wenger called them an important run but not decisive. I know that a lot of folks are nervous about this period, especially since we’ve really racked up the injuries lately, but I’m going to agree with him. I see them as an opportunity rather than a problem.

After this run of 4 games, Arsenal don’t play a single other title challenger and in fact our hardest opponent will probably be Tottenham away in April. More important is the fact that as we get closer to March the league picture starts to sharpen up and most of the mid-table teams basically start getting complacent with where they are in the league.

I’m not saying that they roll over and put in scrubs like Wolves did against United, gifting ManU three points, but rather that instead of snapping into tackles and harassing the midfield for 90 minutes, teams will let off after a while. Of course they’ll still want to win and the danger is complacency (ALWAYS) but there’s a real golden opportunity for Arsenal at the end of this season. I think 8 points is the minimum target from these next 4 league games and anything more is a delicious cherry on top and sets us up for the run in.

Wenger trains with these players every day and he thinks the talent is there. How many of you were wrong about Diaby? How many about Song? Why not then Denilson? I’ll admit it, I was wrong about Diaby and Song and they both clearly possess the talent to be key players for this Arsenal team. If I was wrong about them, and Wenger sees that Denilson is talented enough, then I must be wrong about Denilson. He must be talented enough.

Does Denilson have the right attitude? What about the other players? Gallas? Etc. I don’t know. I know that Cesc does, you can see it ooze out of every pore as he works his ass off to get us the win — in every game. I know that Vermaelen does, you cen see it when he gets his head stuck in against prickly players like Kevin Cyril Davi*s. That proper attitude lifts the people around you and can infect them. Will it be enough?

I don’t know, but I know that the next two weeks is certainly their opportunity to showcase their talent and attitude.


7amkickoff news; Armoury Square, Welcome Chary, and Podcast Update

Arsenalisation! Yes, they spell it with an "S" it's an English English thing.

Credit: Arsenal Football Club / Stuart MacFarlane.

Some site news today to whet your appetite, we’re proud to announce an official partnership with Arsenal, we’ve officially added a new correspondent, and there’s some podcast news.

First off, you’ll probably notice that I have added a large advertisement in the right-hand side bar. As you all know the site is beholden to no one so I only put up ads to products that I truly believe in and the Armoury Square project is a very important one indeed.

For just £50 you can get a personalized granite stone set in the ground around benches dedicated to the club’s greatest players right in front of the Emirates. It’s a neat way, I think, to show your love for the club but more importantly, all proceeds are going toward the Arsenalisation of the Emirates Stadium.

For those who don’t know, the Arsenalisation project is a massive undertaking by the club that seeks to link the history of Arsenal at Highbury to the new Emirates stadium.  Projects like the clock-end project, which will be moving the old Highbury clock from the outside of the stadium to the inside of the stadium and was mentioned in Chary’s Man at the Match report yesterday. This and other important projects will be paid for with the proceeds of this Armoury Square project. So, go on, click through and see what you can do to help out the Arsenalisation of the Emirates.

Second, I want to extend a very warm welcome to Chary who was 7amkickoff’s official Man at the Match correspondent for the Wednesday match against Bolton (already linked above). Many of us are only able to get over and see a single match a year or maybe have never been able to see a match, so having someone who is able to go see a few matches a year and report back to us on the atmosphere and just general match-day-ness of the experience is really valuable.

Chary won’t be limited to just match day reporting, so look for more fun stuff from him over the coming months. Welcome!

And finally, I’m going to be interviewing Russ, the publican from Doyle’s, tonight after work. He did some research and turned up a scoop on the whole Setanta/Fox Soccer Channel debacle here in the States. I think we’ll also be talking about the fallout from the Bolton game and maybe some other topics. We’ll have to wait and see. I think I know what I did wrong with the last recording, so finger’s crossed that this one turns out better.

Right, that’s it for the moment, I’m waiting for Arsene’s press conference to drop and after that I will publish the Stoke match preview, look for that later today. See you then!

Video of “bad” tackles on Ronaldo in the SPL, Gallas gets off, and Dzeko in London?

I think this video is especially poignant right after Arsenal just spent 3 hours getting kicked all over the pitch by the Botlon hit squad. Imagine if Arsenal was given these tackles called as fouls? We’d win every game. All of them.

Speaking of bad tackles, Gallas is being let off for his, well, at least officially. The press though are keen to remind us of all his priors. Arsenal top the table and right on queue the press are all about “dirty dirty Arsenal.”

Diaby and Sagna out for Stoke, Gibbs out for 5 more months. Poor kid.

Right after reports that Celtic signed some other young center half, reports flood in that Senderos is now off too (spins the wheel) uhhh…. (click, click, click…) looks.. like…. EVERTON!

Fulham say Arsenal are not in for Smalling. Obvious, he’s tall, English, and over 16 years old, that ‘s three strikes in Wenger’s books.

Arshavin, rent a quote!

And finally, proof that you Arsenal supporters will click ANY transfer story, no matter how specious, I can proudly report that my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw Dzeko at Arsenal v. Bolton last night. I guess it’s pretty serious.

By the way, did you have a chance to look at this?